Re: RARA-AVIS: A Few GM Books

From: Rene Ribic (
Date: 02 Aug 2002

Bill wrote:

> Then there's Ride the Gold Mare (1957) by Ovid Demaris.
> Didn't someone say that life in the early Middle Ages was
> "nasty, brutish, and short"? That's a pretty good
> description of this book. Too much jive talking, maybe.
> Some brutal drug scenes. A great scene where a crooked cop
> puts a gun in a guy's mouth and pulls the trigger: "For an
> instant the gun lighted up Lopez's face like a pumpkin,
> making a muffled, swishing sound. Then the slug was
> ricocheting with a ping, ping off the brick wall." It's not
> as tough as Demaris wanted it to be because he (or the
> editor) is forced to have characters say, "Don't crap me"
> and "Love your mother!" Demaris was good.

I'm loving all this GM stuff you're coming up with, Bill. Demaris is an author I've been curious about because I own several of his novels
(mostly GM's) but I haven't read him & I've never read anything about him either. Have you read any others of his? All the ones I have seem to be about Mafiosa or other mobster types & I think one or two have been made into movies.

> It's probably hard for anybody these days to see the appeal
> of a title like Richard Wormser's Drive East on 66 (1961),
> but I'm old enough to remember the romance of that road and
> of highways that went right through the small towns instead
> of by-passing them. This one's about a cop hired to take a
> big-shot's kid to a place where he can get treatment.
> Things happen along the way. Wormser was medium tough, and
> he knew plenty about telling a good story.

This is one of the first GM's (in the UK Frederick Mueller ed's) I ever picked up though I haven't read this one yet. The original owners, a married couple (presumably) had signed their names inside. Would you believe that I looked up (& found) them in the phone book. I very nearly wrote to them to ask if they had any more "trashy" old pb's like this cluttering up their home but then I decided it would be too creepy. A few months ago I related this anecdote to an old school chum who is now getting into hb fiction in a big way (& who as a long term record collector could sympathise with the collector mania) & he agreed it was too creepy. Luckily, with the internet & choices available to us this sort of behaviour is completely unneccessary to locate these old books. Anyhow, Bill, please feel free to post this info on GM books until you just cant stand it no mo. Despite a handful of obvious oversights - the more extreme visions of authors such as Willeford & Jim Thompson seemed a little strong for their metaphorical stomach & they somehow passed on Richard Stark's Parker when it was first offerred to them, they published an astonishing array of excellent hardboiled/noir & other fiction. There's a real GM feel I think & it runs not just through those books that we nominate as noir, books in other genres such as SF, horror, more "mainstream" popular fiction. The number of classic books of popular fiction they published in the 50's & 60's is astonishing. Just some from memory: POP 1280 by Jim Thompson; MOTHER NIGHT by Kurt Vonnegut; I AM LEGEND by Richard Matheson; THE BOX by Peter Rabe; STREET OF THE LOST by David Goodis; DEAD LOW TIDE by J D MacDonald; FOR LOVE OF IMABELLE (aka A RAGE IN HARLEM) by Chester Himes; THE NAME OF THE GAME IS DEATH by Dan J Marlowe. Of course this is a subjective listing - I've no doubt many rare birds would substitute different MacDonald or Goodis titles & I've surely left out some books but I think most people here would agree that most of these books are classics in popular fiction. We may not think of them all as hb or noir but there's no doubt, especially when placed in context, that they are all GM novels, there is a certain dark feel that permeates them all, to different degrees. I wonder if we'll ever have such a commercially successful body of literature as dark as this again? Perhaps we need another world war before that'll happen.

Rene, who's hoping he won't be accused of endorsing world wars.

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