Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Riding the Pulp Trail

By Paul S. Powers
Altus Press, 2011

Paul S. Powers was one of the foundation authors of the famous pulp magazine of the 1930s and 1940s, Wild West Weekly. Now, here for the first time, are twelve Paul Powers stories written in the years after Wild West Weekly stopped publication. Six of these stories were published in magazines such as Exciting Western, The Rio Kid Western and Thrilling Ranch Stories. The other six are brand new stories – never before published – that were discovered in 2009.

Death is Where You Find It
To Steal a Ranch
Hangnoose for the Prodigal
Boothill is My Destination
Guns at Jailbird Ranch
By the Neck Until Dead
A Pard for Navajo Jack
Murder on the Hoof
Buzzards Hate Bullets
Judgement Day on Whisky Trail
Yellow Glass

Whenever I read old pulp stories I’m always a little worried that I’m going to find them hard going due to them being too old fashioned in writing style for my tastes. Let’s face it I wasn’t born when most of the pulp magazines were enjoying their heyday. The stories this collection contains are all from the late 1940s, way before I was born, so I must admit to being very pleasantly surprised to find that Paul Powers’ writing stands up well with books being written today. Yes, there are some terms used that you don’t see anymore, but that all adds to the attraction of these tales from the past.

Each story features either a drifting cowboy or a lawman. All offer fast paced plots; plenty of action, and most include a twist or two of some kind. Twists I mostly never saw coming. Each story is fronted by a double page illustration like those found in those old pulp magazines, a nice touch that adds to the flavour of these stories.

I found the book very easy to read, and as I finished one story I found myself jumping straight into the next. I can honestly say there isn’t one tale in this collection that I didn’t enjoy. Yes I have my favourites as one would expect but not one really stood out as being a lot better than the others, each and every one being of a similar excellent standard.

Praise must also be given to Laurie Powers who put a lot of hard work into putting this collection together and getting it published. Laurie also writes an entertaining introduction to the book that gives the reader a brief and informative background to her grandfather’s experiences writing for the pulps.

Definitely a book all fans of westerns should enjoy reading.

1 comment:

Richard Prosch said...

Powers used pulp western dialect more with the Kid Wolf stories, and I too thought it might be rough. But I got used to it fast enough and, like you, have enjoyed fairly everything Powers has written.