Created by Nick Feldman
"It's a shame that dumb bitch is me."
The original pulp writers wrote to put food on the table, pounding out purplish prose like their very lives depended on it. And very often it did. Sure, some of the very best, your Hammetts and Chandlers, may have dreamed a little higher, eyeballing some off-in-the-future literary posterity, but most of them knew that literary aspirations wouldn't put food on the table.
But meeting a deadline almost certainly would, providing the story wasn't total crap. They were professionals, doing the best they could.
So they wrote as well as they had time for. And if the writing wasn't stellar, well, hell, it moved fast enough and had enough action and romance and thrills going for it to get the suckers to part with their nickels and dimes on a regular basis. And the kids got fed.
Today's neo-pulpsters are another breed entirely, though. They're not writing for the pulps -- the pulps vanished years before most of them were even born. So they're writing for themselves. And mostly getting their target audience.
So most of them aren't writing like their lives depend on it -- and it shows. They've got day jobs or maybe even still live at home. They're sure not going to make enough from sales of self-published short stories and dodgy POD paperbacks to feed any kind of family. Certainly when they're practically giving away the stories, desperate for some kind of external validation. Ninety-nine cents for a short story? Or even a whole collection?
Most of them aren't professionals -- they're amateurs and hobbyists. They may be dreaming of Hammett and Chandler (whom they -- and their obligatory but possibly imaginary five-star rewviewers -- love to mention) but save for a few truly gifted ones, their work falls so far from the mark that it's almost embarrassing. Forget Black Mask or Dime Detective. Most of their stories wouldn't even make Acme Detective.
Oh, the spirit is willing. Many of them write with great enthusiasm and passion, and they're not shy about tossing out copious amounts of blood and profanity and sex and F-bombs and imagined tough guy talk and macho posturing and all sorts of violence, loud and proud writers who believe that with every beheading or dead junkie or rotting corpse or assorted rape scenarios, that they're carrying on some proud tradition.
Unfortunately, the flesh is weak. They can drop the names of their betters all night long, but there's little that's subtle or illuminating in most of their work; a lot of sizzle but damn little real meat, and certainly nothing approaching poetry or wisdom or insight.
So are they really any worse than the old pulps? Certainly the new wave hasn't given us any Hammetts or Chandlers, but neither has it given us any new Gardners or Whitfields or Paul Cains or Frederick Nebels. Or even John Carroll Dalys or Robert Leslie Bellems.
And without real publishers or editors or anything but the most negligible of fanbases making any kinds of demands, these neo-pulpsers are free to aim as high or low as they wish.
And they do.
But I digress...
* * * * *
MINA DAVIS is a "skinny half-Asian broad" private eye from Seattle, the creation of neo-pulpster Nick Feldman. Which might even be his real name.
Mina wears a trenchcoat (of course), smokes (of course) and drinks whiskey (of course). And she used to be a dancer, but I guess Mina's no bimbo -- she recently switched her major from English and Dance to Crime and Psychology, after all.
In fact, education plays a large part in these stories. Everyone speaks like they're anxious to show their diplomas: there's a lot of slightly pompous over-explaining and oblique references tossed into the mix like they're trying to pad out a term paper, and there are plenty of shout-outs to literature, film and pop culture touchstones at surprising moments. The blurbs frequently mention that "one of his books... was taught at Cornell last year."
I wonder if it's the one that starts with the weird striptease/torture scene featuring Mina "hungover and handcuffed"?
Further investigation is pending...
Mina's appeared in in a collection of short stories and a novel, and more stories are promised.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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