RARA-AVIS: Hardboiled anthologies

From: Rene Ribic ( rribic@optusnet.com.au)
Date: 15 Jun 2002

Just received copies of 2 recent hb anthologies, courtesy of Amazon, a couple of days ago: THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF PULP ACTION ed. by Maxim Jakubowski & A CENTURY OF NOIR ed. by Max Allan Collins & Mickey Spillane. (I'm becoming a convert to Amazon - I'd ordered MAMMOTH from my main local bookshop when the UK ed. first came out - I heard nothing for months, then was told it had just gone out of print; later I ordered the US ed when it came out - a couple of days later I get a notice saying they couldn't get the US ed. Eventually, I ordered it through Amazon - they had a deal going on this & CENTURY OF NOIR together - 12 days later it arrived at my door. Doing my sums, I found that even with exorbitant postage fees the 2 books probably cost me at most $5-10Aus more (in US money, a little over half that figure)than purchasing them locally, assuming that I could get them locally.Considering the reliability & convenience factors, well worth it). My joy was somewhat mitigated by discovering that the out of 32 stories in the NOIR anthology, I already possessed copies of 16 of them in other anthologies. Particularly annoying is the fact that almost all of these stories have been anthologised at least once in books co-edited by the ubiquitous Martin Greenberg & according to what Collins says in the intro, Greenberg & his staff were vital in selecting stories. (Spillane, who is credited as co-editor here doesn't appear to have done much more than chosen which Collins story was selected). Don't get me wrong, folks, the stories selected are top-flight stuff but for someone like me who buys these anthologies compulsively the amount of redundancy is just ludicrous. A plea to any future anthologists out there: Ross Macdonald's GUILT-EDGED BLONDE doesn't need to be done again. Really. What gets me is knowing that there is so much untouched material out there (how many scores of issues of mags like BLACK MASK, DIME DETECTIVE, MANHUNT & ghod knows how many gems there are scattered in scores of other old mags, etc) & yet an anthology like this comes across as being mostly chosen from other anthologies. I understand that there are exigencies of publishing, etc, that I do not understand but to me this seems to be just sheer laziness at best. I mean, the research didn't have to go much further than:"Hey Marty, how many of these stories you're recommending - or I want to use - have you already used & how many times have you used them?" On the brighter side, Jakubowski looks like he went out of his way to put together a volume of stories that would be new to most people. Out of 23 stories, there are only 3 that overlap with other antho's I own, & 2 of those are hard to get & the third one is the same Fred Brown story featured in NOIR.I should stress here that if you don't own any (or many) other hb anthologies then the Collins book is an excellent buy, as is the Jakubowski (probably - I haven't read most of the stories yet). However, if like me you've grabbed every one of these hb antho's that's come past then you may want to check the contents carefully to decide if it's worth your money. Either way, the Jako book would be a good buy & it's worth checking out the Amazon deal on the 2 books if you find you have to have NOIR as well.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 15 Jun 2002 EDT