Pulp Masters, Cultural Amnesia, Bob Dylan

It must be from all those old film noirs I’m obsessed with–Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Out of the Past, and the like. Or maybe it stems from my love of Faulkner’s Sanctuary, which I read as an undergrad and never let go of. Hence, now I’m in the middle of Pulp Masters, a collection of hard-boiled crime novellas edited by genre writer Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg. First in the set is The Embezzler by James M. Cain (author of the novels Double Indemnity and Mildred Pierce), and now I’m in Donald Westlake’s Ordo, about a navy chap who learns from a magazine article that his ex-wife is the newest sex goddess of the big screen. Naturally, the guy has to go looking for her. Good stuff, and I feel that the novellas get better as I go through the collection.

I’m also reading around in Clive James’ Cultural Amnesia, a collection of biographical essays on 20th-century cultural and political figures–some of them important but lesser known. Inside we get essays on everyone from Hegel, Borges, and Charles de Gaulle, to Louis Armstrong, Terry Gilliam, and Dick Cavett.

I’m also finally getting to Bob Dylan’s Chronicles, Vol. 1, which has some fine spirit behind it. With that I’ve taken up The Complete Bob Dylan Songbook for an artistic point-of-view behind Zimmy’s personal history, and to improve my guitar chops by learning personal favs “Jokerman,” “Not Dark Yet,” and others (as best as my talents will allow).

Matt Sorrento

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