RARA-AVIS: Re: Gruber

From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 03 Jun 2002

In a message dated 6/2/2002 8:01:25 PM Eastern Daylight Time, owner-rara-avis@icomm.ca writes:

<< Also, there's been some discussion about Gruber's THE PULP JUNGLE...I've
 been meaning to get this for some time but have yet to do so...to those who
 have read it: worth the time and trouble to track down a copy?
 Ron Clinton >>

Frank Gruber's THE PULP JUNGLE is well worth reading for anyone interested in the pulps and genre fiction publishing in the 1930s-1940s. Gruber also covers his breakthrough into novels and later Hollywood. His stories of Faust (Max Brand) are fascinating. It reads like it was dictated. I say that not as a criticism as the stories roll out in a conversational style. It was written near the end of Gruber's life and if he had tried to write something more elaborate, it likely would not have been finished. I seem to recall he was collecting past issues of Black Mask in his later life and was something of an expert on it, even the issues prior to his appearance in the magazine. He also published BRASS KNUCKLES by the same publisher Sherbourne Press (1966) which is a collection of his Oliver Quade stories from Black Mask. It also features a foreward "The Life and Times of the Pulp Story" which runs about 40 pages. Everything in that forward is in JUNGLE but it is a nice shorter version and I rather like the collection as well.

Gruber had sold some Sunday School stories and a few pulp pieces when he decided to move to New York in 1934. He made the rounds of the editors and describes the scene very well. Lots of color, such as the weekly luncheon where writers flashed checks they had just received and editors were smoozed.
 There are also nice touches like the time he ran into an old, semi-retired H.Bedford Jones in a bookstore. IIRC, it was Gruber and Steve Fisher (I WAKE UP SCREAMING) who kept Woolrich out late one night and got him in trouble with his elderly mother waiting for him back at his hotel.

Most of the other pulp stories I have read originated with the science fiction writers like Asimov. Gruber was prepared to write anything and everything any editor wanted.

I highly recommend THE PULP JUNGLE. For dedicated pulp lovers, there is a nice section on Adventure (perhaps my favorite pulp) in T.S. Stribling's autobiography. Just as the crumbling pages of Startling Stories and other SF pulps contain the ancestors of "Star Wars," Adventure, at one time the most popular pulp, was the ancestor of Indiana Jones.

Richard Moore

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