Pulp paperbacks were the wild wild west of publishing. I’ll never tire of learning about these books, authors, cover artists, and the barrage of taboo subjects explored during this time of sexual awakening in American history. It was a time that tested the limits of free speech, with many publishers having to defend their books all the way up to the Supreme Court. These books also became an outlet of self-expression to marginalized communities. For better and for worse, admittedly.
I believe the literary quality of pulp fiction is higher than most would expect, but that’s not to say there aren’t clunkers in the mix. For every pretty good book, you have to sift through ten that are terrible. There’s something visceral, deeply subconscious, and a little terrifying about even the worst-written pulps though.
Read more “John Harrison – Hip Pocket Sleaze (2011)”
In the foreword, Radcliffe writes: “This bibliography may be of use some day in the distant future to scholars who, from my observations, appear to be interested in this type of literature only in retrospect, when it achieves the distinction of antiquity, if nothing more.”
These are prophetic words. At long last, we have reached that “distant future” where scholars are intrigued by the literary merit of paperback gothic fiction. Radcliffe’s bibliography catalogs pseudonyms, personal reviews and publishing information for nearly 2,000 gothic titles—a majority printed during the golden revival of the 1960s through mid-1970s. For those obsessed with reading, researching and writing about these novels, it is hard to imagine not having Radcliffe’s book on the shelf.
Read more “Elsa J. Radcliffe – Gothic Novels of the Twentieth Century (1979)”
Gothic romances can be as addictive as crack. Artisans of the genre know what elements appeal to their audience and they deliver them in abundance. You like beautiful people conspiring in spooky mansions? We’ll publish that—times a thousand!!! Some snobs call this selling out, but I think it’s smart business to give fans what they want. A shame that this drug seems to have worn off, but there’s evidence, I hope, of a resurgence. Or, as this book concludes, maybe gothic romances never left. Not really.
While “Gothic Literature” remains well-studied in academia, it’s still Frankenstein and Wuthering Heights that anybody seems to care about. Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, maybe. Few are interested in Dark Shadows or the multitudes of mass-market gothic novels published during the Nixon era—but we do exist! And Lori A. Paige leads the charge.
Read more “Lori A. Paige – The Gothic Romance Wave (2018)”