Brown Wrapper Stories

6 Jul

Pulling A Train by Harlan Ellison


Kicks Books /Norton Records grabbed my attention publishing
the inimitable Nick Tosches‘s Save the Last Dance for Satan. In case you are wondering what Tosches is up to— expect a new novel Me and the Devil from Little Brown in December. And reportedly Julian Schnabel is set to film Tosches’s novel In the Hand of Dante with Johnny Depp. Which based on the fine films (Basquet, Before NighT Falls) Schnabel has made, is something to look forward to.

Anyway, Kicks has published Pulling a Train; Violent Stories of Naked Passions by the singular writer Harlan Ellison. A quick perusal of the cover ought to tell you what this tome is about — a republication of eleven stories originally credited to “Paul Merchant” under the title Sex Gang. Here’s what Ellison has to say:

No point in apologizing for these original 11 stories. I did ’em for the buck. I was married at the time and needed the money and did what everybody does. I pulled the plow.

The stories are simplistic not the greatest literature ever proffered but I got a thousand dollars for the tome. That was big money in the Fifties. It was my third book published, in a lifetime of more than a hundred such. But the only one not under my name

…I am past the point whereI need to hide my head for anything…I think the more you reveal, the less blackmail able you are. It ain’t never the crime, its always the coverup that brings you down.

…It is my hope that you won’t think too badly of me ,and might be entertained enough to try one of the other hundred or so books and movies with my name on them.

Miriam Linna ,publisher and everything else for Kicks Books waxes effusive:

For the uninitiated, we recommend consumption in very small doses. A damp towel and bed rest may be necessary.

For the lively set, prepare to blast into orbit with blade-wielding ferocity as Ellison takes you into a cobblestone wilderness fraught with hate and violence, a street level cosmos where shadowy creatures are hard, and blunt, and malicious, and where hope hangs a shingle that reads, “GET LOST”.

In the realm of 1950’s juvenile delinquent fiction, it was Ellison who dragged the unnamed genre from the gentle hands of the social workers into a filthy basement, where he worked it over, with great satisfaction, into an alternate universe of hate and pain. Ellison is the king of JD fiction. Of this, there can be no debate.

Currently reading The World Without You by Joshua Henkin (Pantheon)

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