Saturday, December 25, 2010

Pulp Fictions: Cheap thrills

I am not so much into pulp fiction, I mean the novels, not the Tarantino movie, which is my favorite thing that hit celluloid. Not that I hate them, or never reads one, but it leaves a void when finished. You think of lot of other stuff that you could have read at that time which would have been more fulfilling. I feel surprised sometimes because, I can sit through hours of mindless movies that are more damaging to psyche, and come unscathed and even liking them, like the recent Machete or Dabanng

May be I have some respect to written word than visuals and sounds. One more curious thing is that, once I have had a bad experiance from some writer, I have a serious aversion to reading them again, how much ever people recommend them. Tom Clancy, Chetan Bhagat, Taslima Nasreen, Dan Brown, Robert Ludlum.. the list is long. The only exception is Joseph Heller. Heard a lot about his Catch 22 and tried hard to get it without success, but got hands on Something Happened, his second novel. I felt wasted, what started as a witty ride through the psyche of a family guy of a dysfunctional family man turned out to be a repetitive, boring read of 500 pages. I even thought of abandoning the search for Catch 22 then. But when got a chance, read it and loved it. Otherwise I never repeated a failed experiment with books. 

Coming back, Pulp fictions are generally catogorised as novels written with only earning dough as the outcome in mind, which puts most of the crime, suspence, mistory, chick, horror, Indian English stuff in the category. Creativity will not be given much of a chance. The writer will not be sincere to the subject. They are never totally bad, but as I mentioned earlier, leaves you a bit void. The first novel that I read in this category is Mario Puzzo's Fools Die. It was a long read when I started as a tenth standard student. I was quite shocked by the different world that emerged out of it. Cussing, sex, immorality, graphic violence and a kind of raw detailing was much different from all Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie stuff I read till then. Though I have watched more violent movies like Rambo, True lies or Commando before, movies never made an impact in mind as this novel did. Now if I get it I will toss it another cheap stuff. But then it was a whole new world. 

From then I have helped myself to servings of different pulp writers with varying results. The most satisfying experiance was from Jeffrey Archer, he is a genius, a genuine story teller. Best Among Equals, my favourite, qualifies as better as any page turners written in history. Think of a novel about the life of four politicians entering the race to the top, up and downs they face and who will emerge the winner. The suspence is built up page by page, line by line, word by word and culminates in the last sentence, last word of the novel. Masterpiece!

Another of my favourite is John Grisham. From Runaway Jury, the first that I read, to The Confession, that I am reading now, I am yet to find a missed target from him. He is as good in alien territories like Bleachers and A painted house as he is with his hooking legal thrillers. Scott Turrow is also very good writer, his Presumed Innocent is just great. 

On the flip side there is Robert Ludlum (I am yet to read a good one from him), Tom Clancy (the novels start good and slowly descend to mayhem), Stephen King (though I like the movie adaptations like Shawshank Redemption, I am scared to read his novels after the boring Insomnia), Danielle Steele, (half baked stories with predictable and one dimensional characters. I really feel dizzy when I see her books occupying two or three bookshelves in libraries), Frederick Forsythe (just average and too gimmicky), Ian Fleming (I read the first Bond novel, Casino Royale and was like, is this the one that generated a multi million dollar franchise)... and many others. I think I will stick to the former list and save myself from dissappointment.          


  1. Jeffery Archer And Grisham are my favs too. The appeal transcends beyond age and gender.

  2. John Grisham disappointed me when I read 'The Summons' and 'Ford County Stories', but I think I have enjoyed quite a lot of his legal thrillers :)

    I think I share the same opinion in the matter of experimenting. If I don't like one book by an author, I am skeptical about reading another.

    But it is also true that people like Ken Follet has written good books like 'Eye of the Needle' and then went and wrote other boring books.