Pulp, low-brow and other guilty pleasures
This forum has made a great beginning. It's good to see so many people with impeccable taste in literature. Steinbeck, Hemmingway, Bradbury, Orwell, Bronte, Murakami...
Great writers. Important literature. Art.
But where's the fun? Where are the secret hayshed-tumbles with trashy pieces of pulp? The naughty bits? The books we love but wouldn't think of taking home to meet the parents?
My dirty secret is Joe R. Lansdale. I've spent much of the last 18 months buried in his extensive back catalogue, and managed to work my way through around three quarters of everything he's published. I began with the misadventures of Hap and Leonard...
But before I go there, I need to clarify why I'm putting Lansdale in a thread about pulp and low-brow books, and why I called him my 'dirty secret'. He has written some really great novels. Mucho Mojo and The Bottoms scored New York Times Notable Books of The Year. The Bottoms also got an Edgar Award. I think A Fine Dark Line scored some YA award or other too. At the other end of the scale he's written Bubba Ho-Tep (Elvis and JFK vs an ancient mummy in a nursing home), Dead in the West (depraved preacher vs zombies in the wild west), a lot of short to medium lenght horror and plenty of fun but mediocre thrillers. He's a champion story-teller with a penchant for pulp.
The Hap and Leonard books fall somewhere in the middle. They're violent and dark, sometimes gruesome, often confronting and packed with sexist, racist and homophobic dialogue. But they're also humorous buddy adventures, with characters I can't help but love despite them being such total fuck-ups. And they're told in a way and with a voice that sweeps me along (I can almost hear Lansdale reading it) and sees me holding my breath and clenching my teeth during the tense bits. Heck, I even caught myself peeking at the page from behind my hands once, a technique that works for movies, but not so well with books.
So that's my secret. My go-to author when I want a guaranteed entertaining read (after all, isn't pleasure the primary reason for reading). The books I love but don't recommend to my work colleagues for fear of offending them.
What are your guilty pleasures?