I love pulp fiction. Nope, not the film, I love pulp fiction from the 30’s through to the 60’s, although I’m no serious collector. I love its straight unpretentiousness, the fact it was designed to tell and sell (and nothing else) and I love the way it shines a light on the society of the time far better than most serious literature of its day does. But most of all, I love it for the lurid covers: menaced trussed-up damsels, Aryan Nazis being slugged by good guys, spooky churchyards, bare-chested dudes fighting the elements and of course Satan riding a black Pegasus, all done as graphically as prudish censors would allow.
I was out yesterday with visiting parents in Anglesey when we came across a second-hand bookshop, after checking as I always do for a copy of Julian Cope’s Krautrocksampler in the music section my dad told me to have a look at what he’d found. It was a bunch of pristine Dennis Wheatley novels in their yellow-spined Arrow Books editions, a bunch of his war stories together with The Satanist and, thrillingly, The Devil Rides Out* My dad used to have them all in that edition, apparently and told me the war ones weren’t anything special, but the supernatural ones were.
As they were all only 50p I also grabbed a copy of The Hound of the Baskervilles** purely for the cover as it’s the third copy of it we have in the house and Thor Heyerdahl’s The Kon-Tiki Expedition^, because I used to have the board game of it when I was 10 and I’d never read it – I love tales of derring-do, they’re exciting and so much easier than having real adventures which tend to make you too hot/too cold, in mortal peril and all too often take you away from a decent Wi-Fi connection and coffee shops.
I’ve started The Devil Rides Out, which four chapters in reads a bit like a cross between Bulldog Drummond and The Famous Five – starring Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Beelzebub the dog. Great stuff. Now where did I put that Venom LP?
458 Down in the crimson and steel depths of Hades (still).
*one of my favourite Hammer Horror films too.
**one of my all-time favourite books, I can still remember the sharp thrill of reading it for the first time when I was about 12 (I guess).
^plus I am intrinsically jealous of anyone who has the Christian name Thor.