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Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Roadside Men's Adventure Smorgasbord

Recently, work-related travel has not brought me near any public libraries for which I have a card. However, for a few days I passed a roadside used bookstore in a rural area. On my very last trip that took me past it, as it turns out, I stopped by to see if they had a copy of The Sergeant #3: Bloody Bush so I could be the first one on my block to own the whole collection. It's almost impossible to find men's fiction in the chain stores (because so little of it is still being traditionally published), but I thought maybe I'd have at least a chance at a place like this with a painted plywood sign.

I walked inside, steered past the obligatory romance section (from which such places probably get 75% of their business), found sci-fi, bounced over to westerns, then, about 2/3rds back on the right I found the men's fiction section.

And what a section it was! A shelf-and-a-half stocked with testosterone-tainted treasure. I didn't find Bloody Bush or any other Gordon Davis (AKA Len Levinson) titles. Nor were there any Mac Wingate installments, though there were a couple of John Mackie's (AKA Len Levinson) Ratbastards. But they had some series that were only a few books away from being complete collections. Having heard about Ahern's Survivalist series but never having read it, I grabbed 2 samples of it. The shelves were sagging under the weight of the Executioners, Bolans, Stony Mans, Able Teams and Phoenix Forces! I picked up an early Executioner, wanting to read one of his Mafia Wars titles.

There were some series and stand-alone titles I own, but a lot more I've never been exposed to. If I was still single, I'd have gone crazy. Relatively speaking, maybe I did go crazy.

Every now and then I get a hankering for some '80s-style paramilitary pulp. So I picked a few of those off the testosterone tree.

I wish I'd had time and an internet connection so I could consult and Jack Badelaire's Post Modern Pulp forum to inform my buying decisions a bit. I feel confident about the Pendelton and Ahern titles, but I have no clue what quality the other stuff is. I also don't know when I'll get a chance to read these. But when I do, 2-fisted blogees, you can bet I will spout off my opinions about them.

This place was a literate caveman's Nirvahna.


  1. Sweet! I wish I was there so we could have arm wrestled over who would have gotten some of the early Executioners! You can't go wrong with Don Pendleton, he's my hero next to Robert E. Howard as far as writing goes. I've also read the first in The Survivalist series which was better than expected. Its mostly set up for the rest of the series so be prepared for that. As I remember the first scene has him dual wielding a couple .357 magnums during an ambush in Pakistan!

    Be sure to let us know about the other merc themed books. I'm especially interested since that is the genre I'm writing as well.

  2. I'm telling you, the place was almost paradise! ;-) A platoon of us could have gone in there, and each of us come out with a handfull of potentially pleasing pulp.

    I'll definitely give a heads-up on the merc books. If I really like them, I'll probably drive back there when I get a chance and go crazy again.

    Oh yeah, I used the link Mr. Badelaire provided at PMP to order Bloody Bush, which will complete that collection for me.

  3. I love the cover of The Hard Corps, and yes, I'm talking about the bare chested dude with the beret, aviator sunglasses, and M16.

  4. Pure awesome. A couple of used bookstores went out of business a few years ago in Boston, and it was like being at a fire sale of men's adventure pulps. I nabbed several dozen books, many of which I still haven't gotten around to reading. SOBs, Black Berets, and yes, Hard Corps. That stuff is so ridiculous, it makes me weep tears of joy.

    Kudos for such a treasure trove find. Whenever that happens, it's like Christmas came early times a thousand.

  5. It was my dream for years to own/operate a place like this. At this point in history, though, that's about as viable as opening a video rental store. Still, I asked the owner how business surprise: it's slow. Don't know if it's so bad he'll have to shut down, though.

    All that cover is missing is a native buxom bimbo about to be tortured by a prison camp warden!

  6. I'd love to open a niche book store as well, but like you said, its kind of silly in this day and age. JB's e-magazine might be the next best thing though!

  7. Got to share this review of Tier Zero from Nate Granzow (The Scorpion's Nest):

    Tier Zero—Only true if tiers are like golf, where the lowest score wins.

    I don’t get jealous easily. I’m a confident writer, proud of my accomplishments in the field, and while I respect other authors, I seldom get envious when reading their work. In fact, I oftentimes nitpick their word choices, plotlines, and copyedit their work even when reading for pleasure.

    With that in mind, consider the following statement: I wish I’d written this book.

    That’s right, I’m downright jealous about it. Brown takes everything great about the adventure genre and packs it tightly between (the awesomely illustrated) covers on this one.

    Tier Zero comes loaded with a kickass protagonist—unique, flawed, thoughtful, and capable of extreme violence—hitting southeast Asia in a rescue mission alongside a team of mercenary ex-soldiers (all equally unique and memorable) that bring so much ass-kick to the game it makes me want to write every action-film director and tell them to stay home—their work bores me.

    Now, I know Brown likes to call his work an homage to the bygone mens’ pulp-fiction genre, but it surpasses that. Sure, he hits on the essentials—the attractive women, the brave, rugged fighting men, and the unmistakably evil bad guys—but he’s a master storyteller, too. The plotline isn’t so intricate you need to take notes, but it’s engaging. The dialogue feels authentic, not stilted like that of so many others in the genre. The characters are developed and rich—bad dudes included—but without falling into that nasty trap of unnecessary and distracting detail.

    Brown is well researched, but exercises restraint when presenting information he clearly knows a great deal about, giving clear explanations of acronyms, weapons, or procedures that would otherwise be lost on a civilian like myself.

    The only thing that I feel could have been improved with this novel is the same thing I see in every book I’ve ever opened (traditionally published not exempted): the occasional grammatical slip up. Read my books sometime and you’ll find them there, too. Those damn doubled-up words, misspellings, or usage errors sneak in and out of even the most warily guarded manuscripts like some kind of infectious disease. This shouldn’t deter your from picking up this book; I want to resoundingly emphasize that.

    Though I’ll never be able to point to this book and proudly say, “I wrote that,” that won’t keep me from putting it on my shelf and reminding myself what to strive for as an author, and what quality writing looks like as a reader.


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