(NEW YORK YEARS Cont.)



In addition to the likes of Dent and Burroughs, both Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett wrote for the pulps and much of what marks modern American literature as lean and hard-boiled may be traced to those pulpwood pages.

The stamp L. Ron Hubbard left would finally prove just as enduring. Enlisted by pulp magnate Street & Smith to help boost sagging sales of Astounding Science Fiction, he was soon generating works that would inevitably change the face of all speculative fiction -- humanize it, bring it out of a purely technical mold and so set the parameters for what we know today as SF. Likewise, such L. Ron Hubbard fantasies as Fear and Death’s Deputy would long reverberate with what critics have described as “The Great Pulp Music.”

His verse, albeit a lesser melody, is woven throughout. The earliest samples appear handwritten on sheets of American Fiction Guild stationery; Ron served as president of the Guild’s New York chapter from 1935 to 1936 in which capacity he lobbied tirelessly on behalf of the up-and-coming author. In the main, the imagery is drawn from the world around him. New York City circa 1935, he would remark, had been nothing if not alive: “Hectic and noisy and quarrelsome and confusing, but terrific.” His verse reflects the same with etched images of subways, skyscrapers, sandwich men and garment workers. That much of what he sees is ironic or faintly pitiful is to be expected; after all, this was still a Manhattan in the grip of depression. Hence: “White collars walking for lunch money,” worn shoes hidden beneath a chair, and the gaze that could not be met, “because I had a coat and he had none.”




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