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Customer Review

on 18 November 2009
Walter Gibson, L Ron Hubbard, Lester Dent - the great pulp writers of the American depression, become embroiled in an adventure greater than any of their works - as a mysterious figure from the Orient tries to hold the world to ransom.
This is pulp, pure and simple, but on a grand modern scale. Whilst the plot has a political edge, and the characters an interesting historical basis, this is a book predominantly about writers and writing, and going to the edge to find a great story. This is what sets it above a traditional pulpy thriller, as Dent and Gibson compete and then unite in ever more elaborate ways, creating the plot as they go along trying to form excitement and suspense as they go - all the time followed by their assiduous companion Hubbard. Its pulp creating itself as it goes.
Malmont is reflecting how the great writers of the twenties and thirties worked, in a blur between fictional hyperbole and the reality of the Great Depression, to the point where they became mythological characters themselves.
The question is what is this book for - pulp writing about pulp? I was left wanting a bit less pulp and a bit more thought, but maybe that was what this world was all about. If it wasn't for the pulp, what else was there, just poverty and an uncertain future? This was how the writers lived, as pulpy parodies of themselves, and Hubbard is the natural conclusion of it all - letting it take over his life to become more than just fiction - a religion - the seeds of which are sown in the novel as Gibson is followed around by his own character, the Shadow, to the extent where he feels he may becoming him more than himself.
Perhaps pulp got lost in its own preposterousness, and in stages this book does as well, but then again isn't that the whole point? Either way it was always an entertaining ride on the way.
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2.9 out of 5 stars
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