So if I haven't mentioned it before -- unlikely -- I'm a bit of a fiction fan. I could build a new bookcase out of the paper backs that are lying around my bedroom waiting to be read. I'm not a big fan of hard covers though. I never have been. Sure, they look nice, but they're cumbersome to carry around and they certainly won't fit in a pocket. And by the time I'm done reading a book, it's been kicked around my house, drug around on the round trip of my daily life, and hauled along after me through every appointment and waiting room I may have encountered, so really it's not going to look nice anymore any way you shake it. My books are well loved.
In that vein, I caught wind of something rather cool this morning and I thought I'd share it with anyone who happens to be out there. There is a new little publishing line that started up last year called Hard Case Crimes by a couple of authors who wanted to revive the old school pulp fiction magazines of the 50s. And what is pulp fiction, you ask? More than a Quentin Tarantino flick, that's for sure. The old pulp magazines of half a century ago were the publishing outlets for some of the best writers of our time, particularly in the fantasy, sci-fi, and mystery genres. Authors like Ursula LeGuin, Ray Bradbury, and Stephen King got their start in inexpensive monthlies like "Amazing Stories" and "Weird Tales." Named for the rough, pulpy paper they were printed on, these little paperback magazines were known for their lurid painted covers and a writing style that reached out, grabbed you around the scruff of the neck, and hauled you right into the pages.
A few of them are still published too. If you happen to have a real newstand in your town that has more on its shelves than 200 copies of the latest Cosmo, maybe you can find a copy of "Weird Tales." Unfortunately they are hard to find. It seems most readers are less interested in these little jems as they are in makeup tips and the best and worst dresses of the Oscars. They are out there though, trying to make a go of it and trying to give you something interesting to read.
And if you're into mysteries, I hear Hard Case Crimes is a good one. And (here's where I got excited this morning) as it turns out, later this year they'll be publishing a brand new novel by none other than the suposedly retired Stephen King. Props to Mr. King for not only recognizing and acknowledging his roots but doing what he can to boost circulation of a little publication title trying to make it out there. Maybe pulp fiction mags can make a come back.
You know, if people buy them and stuff.