Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lousy Literature - (lousy like a fox. A fox infested by louses)

While in the San Francisco Mystery Books store last year, I picked up a couple garbage pulp non-classics. One was Plugged Nickel - a train mystery about a stranger who appeared to have been split in two on the tracks - but wait! The bottom belonged to a woman and the top half belonged to a man - whaa??? It was horribly written and fantastically so. The other book was Henry Kane's Death Is The Last Lover, which promised to be both crappily entertaining and mildly pornographic. Plus it had what looks like a large rat bite out of the side. (or a large louse bite)


Sold. It is quite possibly the worst piece of writing I've ever read. And I love it. It has yielded such masterful constructions of the English language as:


and:



Awesome. Why has it taken me 35 years to discover the joy of crappy mysteries? I'm hooked. Hooked like a fish on a hook. Like a sardine that's going to be crammed into a can of sardines. Here's another sample for your reading pleasure/pain:

Mousie Lawrence, born Morris Lawrence, was a fifty-year-old man with all the moral scruples of a despondent rodent. He was small, wiry, rough, tough, and heartless. Fifteen years ago he was still groping, clawing for his niche in the world of his peers - that was when he was apprehended and jugged for armed robbery. But Mousie was not stupid and he had come a long way since then. Ten years ago, he had hooked up with a major narcotics outfit operating out of Mexico City and he had been paired off with Kiddy Malone. They had fitted together like a screw and a bolt, they had complemented one another: they were a rousing success in the nefarious traffic which was their milieu. They were front men, advance men, salesmen. Operating out of Mexico City, with enormous funds at ther [sic] disposal, they descended upon various points in the United States where they set up depots, organized intricate personnel, managed and stayed with an operation until it was meshed, geared, flawless, and self-performing. Then they retreated to home base, where minds concentrated on the next site of burgeoning business for this enterprising duo. Mousie was a sour little man, dry and humorless, and a teetotaler both of alcohol and drugs. Kiddy Malone was an addict, a small man like Mousie, but outgoing, robust, twinkling-eyed and happy-natured when he was on the stuff - and since he was in the business, he was always on the stuff. Kiddy's Christian name was Kenneth and I was much more intimately acquainted with Kiddy than I was with Mousie Lawrence. Kiddy was an Irishman out of Dublin. Sixteen years ago, he had been a seaman who had jumped ship and had remained, without benefit of quota or citizenship, in the United States. Kiddy was a woman's man, and I had first met him when he had got into trouble with his first woman in this country (or second or third or thereabouts). He had been effusively appreciative of my efforts in his behalf - which was no more than fair since he could not afford to pay for such efforts at that time in his career - and a casual acquaintanceship had ripened into a rather ribald and entertaining friendship, until Kiddy had commenced to sin with the syndicate, and I had commenced to disapprove of the new ways and habits of one Kiddy Malone. Before long, Kiddy's papers were straightened out, a forged citizenship was forged for him, and he began to patronize the correct tailors, the correct haberdashers, the correct barbers, the correct booters, and he began to flash bankrolls as thick as salami sandwiches.


That's just a taste (see what I did there!?!?). I'm sure there'll be more entries to come (just as their will be more sandwiches to come)...

UPDATE: Thanks to commenter Duffless for pointing me to the winners of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest and to commenter Sandy for tipping me to the trashy fiction review blog, Pop Sensation, written by 2008 M5K Dorkfest winner, Rex Parker (that's more prestigious than you think - I was extremely remiss in not getting my credentials in on time (can one be extremely remiss?)). Nice work, Rex.

12 comments:

Duffless said...

You would definitely appreciate the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest that happens every year. It's hilarious. This blog has some of my favorite winners: http://thewriteco.wordpress.com/2008/06/18/bulwer-lytton-fiction-contest-winners/

Dan said...

ah, the whimsy. This was my favorite:

10) “As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he were ever to break wind in the echo chamber, he would never hear the end of it.”

and, of course, the appended Groucho Marx comment:

“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.”

Duffless said...

The Groucho comment makes me think of Norm on Cheers when he said: "There is nothing like a good cigar..................................and this is nothing like a good cigar."

Dan said...

hmm. I wonder if there was any consciousness on the writers' parts of making Norm's one-liners Grouchesque. There's no question about his influence on the progression of comedy, but I wonder if they were going for that comparison.

"Outside of a dog, a bike is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's much too dark to ride a bike." - Groucho

Duffless said...

Good call, I could see that as an influence.
In the spirit of stream of consciousness I must tell you that the dog quote reminds me of a T Shirt I had of a local band called Those Melvins, it said :
"A dog is just a dog until he is facing you, then he is Mr. Dog."

Dan said...

Those Melvins, as opposed to The Melvins?

Duffless said...

Correct.

Sandy said...

Have you seen Pop Sensation? It's all about trashy paperbacks.
http://salmongutter.blogspot.com/

Dan said...

Excellent tip. Thanks Sandy.

Rex Parker said...

Thanks for the plug, and thanks for not entering Dorkfest this year. Next year, it's all yours.

Oh, and thanks to "Sandy" (my PR person / wife).

rp

Rex Parker said...

PS I also own "Death is the last Lover" (why is that first "L" lowercase? And why is "Call Girl" in quotation marks - is she only hooking ironically?). If I can find it (among the thousands of books shelved three-deep in my office), I may have to fast-track it for my blog. Thanks for doing preliminary legwork for me.

rp

Dan said...

You're welcome. Interesting point about the "l" in "last". Maybe it was crafted so as to add extra emphasis to the capitalized "Lover". More likely, it was a typo.