It seems like an age ago that I wrote the piece that is included in Girl Gangs, Biker Boys and Real Cool Cats, but perhaps the book’s long gestation is best seen an indication of the sheer determination of its editors Andrew Nette and Iain B. McIntyre to get the thing out – which, I’m delighted to now be able to say, after all sorts of hiccups and travails, it finally is!
Girl Gangs, Biker Boys and Real Cool Cats was launched in Melbourne at the end of November and hopefully may yet enjoy a launch in Sydney too.
And what a fantastic anthology it is! To see a bit of hard data on the book from the publisher, and links on buying, go to PM Press here.
For me, I’m chuffed to be rubbing shoulders with writers like the two editors themselves plus, just to name some of my local confreres, Peter Doyle, James Cockington and Matt Gear. I remain grateful to the editors for the opportunity in the first place and that they never doubted my piece called “The Wild Beat,” about Australian pulps in which music is a major or even minor component.
The whole pulp revival, if I can call it that – which I shouldn’t really, because for me and many others pulps never went away, so it can hardly be called a revival; let’s just call it this on-going half-life – it’s something I think is sometimes just sort of fobbed off a bit, especially by the big-“L’ Literary elite. And that’s why I think this book is so great, because it takes pulp fiction seriously, or at least semi-seriously, which is to say not beyond the point where it gets all po-faced and structuralist and all that, which does nobody any favours. It just tackles the topic head-on. You’ve got to have a sense of humor and a sense of humor courses through this book as does the recognition that true art can come from anywhere and sometimes even accidently, or out of cynicism, and that even accidental art can have a lot to give. The other notable thing I love about this book is that it puts Australian content on a par with the American on a par with the English. So much of my work from the very beginning was done towards achieving this sort of equity (Inner City Sound was about putting Australian punk/new wave next to all the stuff you always heard about from the UK and UK to the exclusion of so much else), and so it’s great to see it finally, naturally happening now.
Naturally the book is full of gorgeous colour reproductions of all the lurid cover art, which as aficionados know is just as legitimately a part of pulps’ pleasures as their texts, and sometimes moreso. And what’s wrong with that? I’ve seen a lot of worse literary books with even worse covers, and what’s right with that?! The pure object itself is a thing of beauty and now a lost relic of a bygone age.
Girl Gangs, Biker Boys and Real Cool Cats is a guide to the pulps of their golden age – the post-war period up to about 1980 – and to my knowledge there is no other volume quite comparable in terms of its big-picture vision and its general suss. If I say so myself.
To see some of the response to the book, go to the Literary Hub here and Hardboiled Wonderland here.
And to see a bit more on the book’s two editors – and you could do a lot worse than digging deeper into Nette and McIntyre because they both have rapsheets as long as your arm, and full of fascinating shit – go to Andrew’s site Pulp Curry here, and Iain’s LedaTape page here.