In 1896, an enterprising man named Frank Munsey published the first copy of Argosy, a magazine that combined cheap printing, cheap paper, and cheap authors to bring affordable, high-entertainment fiction to working-class folks. Within six years, Argosy was selling a half a million copies a month, and the American fiction market would never be the same. In this special episode of The History of Literature, we’re joined by Charles Ardai, a man who helped to resurrect one of twentieth-century pulp fiction’s brightest stars: the hardboiled crime novel, with its brooding heroes, high-energy prose, fast-paced plots, and seductive painted covers. His publishing line, Hard Case Crime, brings back forgotten and never-published manuscripts of old masters as well as new novels by contemporary authors like Stephen King and Christa Faust– and returns readers to the days when a dangling cigarette and a tumbler of whiskey was almost enough to make you forget the dame who nearly got you killed. Almost.
Authors discussed include Stephen King, Paul Auster, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, E. Howard Hunt, Charles Ardai, Christa Faust, Arthur Conan Doyle, William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Robert Browning, Mickey Spillane, Robert Bloch, Donald Westlake/Richard Stark, Michael Crichton/John Lange, J.K. Rowling, Lawrence Block, Erle Stanley Gardner, Madison Smartt Bell, Robert Parker, Ed McBain, David Dodge, Edgar Rice Burroughs, James Joyce, and Charles Dickens.
For more on writing contemporary thrillers, try Episode 109 – Women of Mystery (with Christina Kovac)
For historical mysteries, try Episode 40 – “A Front-Page Affair” (with Radha Vatsal) or her encore appearance in Episode 99 – History and Mystery (with Radha Vatsal)
For more on the connection between the Romantics and modern-day crime fiction, try Episode 65 – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (with Professor James Chandler)
For another dose of Humphrey Bogart, try Episode 135 – Aristotle Goes to the Movies (with Brian Price)
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