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Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980
Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats is the first comprehensive account of how the rise of postwar youth culture was depicted in mass-market pulp fiction. As the young created new styles in music, fashion, and culture, pulp fiction shadowed their every move, hyping and exploiting their behaviour, dress, and language for mass consumption and cheap thrills. From the juvenile delinquent gangs of the early 1950s through the beats and hippies, on to bikers, skinheads, and punks, pulp fiction left no trend untouched. With their lurid covers and wild, action-packed plots, these books reveal as much about society’s deepest desires and fears as they do about the subcultures themselves.
Girl Gangs features approximately 400 full-color covers, many of them never reprinted before. With 70 in-depth author interviews, illustrated biographies, and previously unpublished articles from more than 20 popular culture critics and scholars from the US, UK, and Australia, the book goes behind the scenes to look at the authors and publishers, how they worked, where they drew their inspiration and—often overlooked—the actual words they wrote. Books by well-known authors such as Harlan Ellison and Lawrence Block are discussed alongside neglected obscurities and former bestsellers ripe for rediscovery. It is a must read for anyone interested in pulp fiction, lost literary history, retro and subcultural style, and the history of postwar youth culture.
Contributors include Nicholas Tredell, Alwyn W. Turner, Mike Stax, Clinton Walker, Bill Osgerby, David Rife, J.F. Norris, Stewart Home, James Cockington, Joe Blevins, Brian Coffey, James Doig, David James Foster, Matthew Asprey Gear, Molly Grattan, Brian Greene, John Harrison, David Kiersh, Austin Matthews, and Robert Baker.
“Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats is populated by the bad boys and girls of mid-twentieth-century pulp fiction. Rumblers and rebels, beats and bikers, hepcats and hippies—pretty much everybody your mother used to warn you about. Nette and McIntyre have curated a riotous party that you won’t want to leave, even though you might get your wallet stolen or your teeth kicked in at any given moment.”
—Duane Swierczynski, two-time Edgar nominee, author of Canary and Revolver
“The underbelly of literature has been ignored for too long. This book redresses that imbalance, as over twenty authors explore low-life fiction in Australia, the UK, and the USA. Thoughtfully written and delightfully accessible, this is a book for all seasoned readers.”
—Toni Johnson-Woods, author of Pulp: A Collector’s Book of Australian Pulp Fiction Covers
“The authors of this volume have paid their dues. They’ve haunted the junk shops and flea markets, combed through the ratty cardboard boxes, smelled the mildew, inhaled the dust. They’ve turned a fresh and fearless eye to the unambiguously collectible, blue-ribbon 1950s and ’60s pulps, and then turned that same awareness to later material, from the ’70s—and they’ve identified a surprisingly durable pulp tradition which we can refer to as ‘tribe pulp,' a tradition which to my knowledge hasn’t been really named till now, certainly not as clearly and cogently as here.”
—From the foreword by Peter Doyle, author of City of Shadows and The Big Whatever
About the Contributors:
Iain McIntyre is a Melbourne-based author, musician, and community radio broadcaster who has written a variety of books on activism, history, and music. Recent publications include How to Make Trouble and Influence People: Pranks, Protest, Graffiti and Political Mischief-Making from across Australia (2013), Wild About You: The Sixties Beat Explosion in Australia and New Zealand (2010), and Tomorrow Is Today: Australia in the Psychedelic Era, 1966–1970 (2006). He also helped compile the Down Under Nuggets: Original Australian Artyfacts 1965–1967 CD compilation (2012).
Andrew Nette is a writer and pulp scholar based in Melbourne, Australia. His first novel, Ghost Money, a crime story set in Cambodia in the mid-1990s, was published in 2012 and his second, Gunshine State, was published in 2016. He is one of the founders of Crime Factory Publications, a small press specialising in crime fiction, and coedited Hard Labour (2012), an anthology of Australian short crime fiction, and LEE (2014), an anthology of fiction inspired by American cinema icon Lee Marvin. His short fiction, reviews and nonfiction writing has appeared in numerous print and online publications. He is currently undertaking a PhD on the history of Australian pulp fiction.
Peter Doyle is an Australian author, musician, and visual artist. He lectures in print media production at MacQuarie University and is a part-time curator of the Police and Justice Museum. The first of his four crime novels in the Billy Glasheen series, Get Rich Quick, won the 1996 Ned Kelly Award for Best Crime Novel. He has also had four nonfiction books published, including the acclaimed City of Shadows: Sydney Police Photographs, 1912–1948 (2007).
Editors: Iain McIntyre and Andrew Nette • Foreword by Peter Doyle
Publisher: PM Press
Page count: 328
Subjects: History-Pop Culture / Literature