Pulp fiction is not for everyone, apparently. The closest I came to it's portrayal in my childhood was the TV show, "Richard Diamond," starring David Janssen. He was a tough private-eye, and my hero. During recess at school, the kids would often take on the roles of their heroes. "I'm Superman!" one would shout. "I'm Robin Hood!" another called out. "I'm Richard Diamond!" I proudly announced; and everyone asked, "Who's that?!"
Around the Great Depression, when few people had the luxury of buying books, you could purchase a cheap publication for a dime at a newsstand, and in it, printed on cheap paper, would be captivating stories of adventure or mystery or crime, etc. They weren't written to explore character development, analyze behavior, fill pages with descriptions, or teach; they were written to entertain. There was action, excitement or intrigue on every page, and people clamored for the latest stories of their heroes. Some of these pulp fiction stories survive to this day, but even if they didn't, we have Stephen Jared.
|Two Talented Actors: Stephen Jared and his wife, Tracy Pfao|
Not only is Jared an expert on early Hollywood and familiar with an actor's life, he's also aware of political corruption and how it works, and this book describes it well. Unfortunately this subversion wasn't confined to the early 20th Century, and we can easily see it happening today.
Jared's protagonist is Walter Steale, a tough man against all odds, who is lied to, framed, and forced to run as a fugitive while trying to learn the truth. The book begins innocently enough, but soon each page draws the reader further in, deeper and deeper involved in what turns out to be a complicated plot filled with interest and action on every page. We wonder what keeps him going when his world continually attacks him, and we feel for him when he suddenly stops and imagines himself in another life: "He saw himself seated on a porch, smoking a cigar, reading an Examiner, a fenced-in yard cluttered with toys, smiling children, and a yapping little dog. Gin blew him a kiss through a window..."
Ten-a-Week Steale (Steale makes $10 a week) is written to entertain, to be a book you'll enjoy reading, and Stephen Jared succeeds and excels at this. He not only writes a book, but a movie--a movie we can see as we read--and I should think a great movie will come of this, as well as from Jared's Action Jack Hunter series, Jack and the Jungle Lion and The Elephants of Shanghai, of which I am a devoted fan. I am now a collector of Stephen Jared's books. After all, we've had to read a lot of things in our lives that we didn't enjoy. It's time we read something we do.
For the complete contents of the Butter Rum Cartoon, click here.