From: Robison Michael R CNIN (
Date: 14 Feb 2003

Bill Crider wrote: Glad you liked THE PULP JUNGLE, miker. After reading it again, I picked up a copy of Gruber's BRASS KNUCKLES, a collection of his "Human Encyclopedia" stories. A shorter version of THE PULP JUNGLE forms the introduction to that book.

*********** What do you recommend of his, Bill? Are the BRASS KNUCKLES stories good? THE PULP JUNGLE made FRENCH KEY sound pretty good, although it's kind of hard to tell what is hardboiled and what isn't. I also have my eye on SIMON LASH: PRIVATE DECTECTIVE. There's a series with one title about a goose that the rara-avis archive suggested might be good but not hardboiled. My preference would be for good AND hardboiled.

Somebody in the archive mentioned that the book has a "dic- tated" feel to it which I wouldn't argue with, but I have to say that I found almost every page to be entertaining. I got exposed to a lot of new names. Afterwards I went to a site with pictures of Black Mask covers and I was amazed at all the new names I recognized.

My favorite stories in it? Probably the best was when he threatened to kick Raymond Chandler's ass at a Christmas party because Chandler was whining about Steve Fisher win- ning some screenplay credit over him. Like you, I was astounded at the quantity of his writing, and the speed with which he could knock it out. A 5,000 word story could be done on an overnight request. A book a month request didn't even raise an eyebrow.

Both Max Brand's writing habits, exactly 14 pages a day pro- duced in a 2 hour period, and his drinking habits, were interesting. I smiled at the story of him and Fisher drag- ging the reclusive Woolrich to a Black Mask party, and then telling him outrageous lies about how much they were making per word. And Gruber calling up to apologize and Woolrich's mom wouldn't let him talk to the author.

I think my favorite part was all the first person details about the early years of Black Mask and the authors who wrote for the magazine. I also liked all the cons he used to get editors to read and buy his stories.

Gruber's attitude about his writing was also interesting. He was writing to make money, and he would write anything for anyone, as long as they were paying. He wrote an article about how to deworm chickens and sold it to a farmers' journal, didn't he? Haha.



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