Friday, August 22, 2014

FFB: THE STORY OF STORY MAGAZINE by Martha Foley (assembled and notes added in part by Jay Neugeboren), W.W. Norton 1980

Jay Neugeboren, in his introduction to the published form of Foley's memoirs in progress at the time of her death, notes the dire state she found herself in, barely getting by on her royalties from editing Best American Short Stories (after four decades at that desk, she had taken over from the founding editor, her friend, after he was killed in England by Nazi bombing from the air), mourning the death of her son (who had been a drug addict, apparently a heroin junkie), isolated and ailing. Which seems very strange indeed, given the breadth of her early career, before and during founding and editing Story (or, as she always refers to it, STORY...all caps and in italics), and leaving Story to take on the BASS position and divorcing Whit Burnett, who kept the magazine they had co-founded (and ran it into the ground, though also saw it revived fleetingly twice before his death and the eventual revival of the title for a decade by the Writer's Digest people).

Incomplete as the account is, Foley had packed a lot of living into her first decades, beginning her memoirs with a reminiscence of lonely and abused childhood after her parents became seriously ill and had to place Foley and siblings with resentful relatives (or other surrogates), but loving the legacy of the library her parents had assembled, which traveled with the younger Foleys. Not long after high school, Alice Paul finds Foley doing some small tasks at the Socialist Party hq in New York, when coming over with other Women's Party activists looking for reinforcements to protest that antifeminist crusader, Woodrow Wilson, returning from Europe (particularly amusing when we consider how famously his wife would be the voice of the, and probably the acting, President in his ill last years (he is easily among our most overrated Presidents); Foley, Paul and the other protestors were jailed but not processed, and Foley's firsthand career investigating the corruption of the larger society had begun. She would be drawn into journalism, working with Cornelius Vanderbilt in Los Angeles (and serving as one of the key editors on CV's paper there), meeting Whit Burnett and moving with him to New York and then onto foreign correspondence for major papers in Paris and Vienna, and beginning to publish Story in the face of the early 1930s narrowing of the short-fiction markets, particularly among the more intellectual and arty generalist magazines (Mencken and Nathan's move from the fiction-heavy The Smart Set to the essay-oriented The American Mercury being a key impetus). Meanwhile, Story would publish the first stories, and later work, of folks ranging from John D. MacDonald to J. D. Salinger, (almost) Ernest Hemingway and his inspiration, Gertrude Stein (neither of whom Foley was ever terribly impressed with as people) to (definitely) Nelson Algren (whom she liked enormously till his public rudeness about his affair with Simone de Beauvoir), Carson McCullers to John Cheever, Kay Boyle to Erskine Caldwell, Peter de Vries to Norman Mailer. While building this legacy, she developed long friendships the likes of fellow reporter and historian William Shirer and a banker turned writer/publisher who was going by Rex Stout (and introduced him to the model
note Foley credits her son with co-editing

for Nero Wolfe...Foley suspects Stout modeled Archie Goodwin on himself). 

And as incomplete as this review is under the current circumstances, most of this book is written in great good humor (with the necessary seriousness brought to many issues of the times, and nostalgia never allowed to go unchecked) and touches on the careers and Foley's interactions with many more folks than I cite here (hell, Neugeboren, in going through the notes and the completed majority of the manuscript, finds himself wondering what happened to such Foley discoveries as A. I. Bezzerides--apparently no film buff, Jay). Eminently rewarding, as well as sobering as one considers how Foley's late life was spent. 

Please see B. V. Lawson's Friday review and the list of other reviews for this week.

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the links on Friday, no less...

Sorry for the delay, has gotten hectic again. But, with any luck at all, this will be the last late assembly (and more have finally been presented here).

Anne Billson: Proof

Bill Crider: Smile (1975 film) [trailer]

Brian Arnold: Soldier in the Rain

BV Lawson: Media Murder

David Vineyard: True Confessions; The Fugitive (1947 film)

Ed Lynskey: Violent Saturday

Elizabeth Foxwell: Lights Out: "The Pattern" (1951 tv); BFI in search of "A Study in Scarlet"

Evan Lewis: The Fat Man (film)

George Kelley: Legends (tv series) 

Iba Dawson: Frank; Lauren Bacall 
When Strangers Marry

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: You'll Never Get Rich 

Jackie Kashian: Peter Adkison and Jake Theis of GenCon 

Jacqueline Lynch: All the Brothers were Valiant

Jake Hinkson: When Strangers Marry

 James Reasoner: Kondike (tv series)

Jerry House: Nightfall (CBC Radio 1980 pilot): "Love and the Lonely One"; Enoch Arden (1915 film)

John Grant: Game; The Floating Dutchman; Das Geheimnis der Schwarzen Witwe (aka The Secret of the Black Widow); Hell's House; Something to Live For

Horror Express
Jonathan Lewis: The Big Steal; The Texas Rangers (film); The Giant Claw

Kelly Robinson: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1908 film); Absinthe

Kliph Nesteroff: Frankie Ray

Laura: Hell's Crossroads; Belles on Their Toes

Lucy Brown: The Informer (1935 film)

The Sheriff of Stone Gulch
Marty McKee: Horror Express

Mystery Dave: Jumanji

Patti Abbott: Summertime (1955 film)

Randy Johnson: An Adventure in Space and Time; Django sfida Sartana (aka Django Defies Sartana)

Rick: The Mating Season

Ron Scheer: The Sheriff of Stone Gulch

The Spiral Staircase
Sergio Angelini: The Outfit

Stacia Jones: Are You Here?

Stephen Bowie: Dennis the Menace

Stephen Gallagher: Jimmy Edwards and John Franklyn-Robbins

Yvette Banek: The Spiral Staircase

The Outfit

Friday, August 15, 2014

FFB: NOT AT NIGHT! edited by Herbert Asbury (Macy-Masius/The Vanguard Press 1928)

Despite featuring two stories by Laurie Powers's favorite pulp writer, this anthology from Weird Tales magazine's early years is almost exclusively of historical interest (even given the paperback reprint of half a decade ago by Wildside Press)...and not inconsiderable historical interest, as the first compilation of stories from the magazine to be published in the US (and so clunkily sourced, apparently pirated, that it attributes its contents on the acknowledgements page to the Christine Campbell Thomson's British Not at Night anthologies, mischaracterized as Weird Tales as if that was the title of her books rather than of the US magazine that all these anthologies draw from). However, these should be added to the quick and dirty survey of Weird Tales anthologies that has been a running feature of this blog. The first two editors of WT, founder Edwin Baird and the first of the two legendary editors of the first inpulpation of the magazine, the eccentric Farnsworth Wright, are given a reasonable representation of their efforts in the first four years of the run, albeit with many of the best and best-known writers of Wright's era not represented (and some of them not yet contributing much, despite the presence of work from Seabury Quinn, Lovecraft, and Lovecraft buddies August Derleth and F.B. Long). I've just picked up a slightly battered copy of Not at Night US, for a rather inflation-ravaged $2 that it might've cost new (back when $2 felt more like $30 might today) (along with copies of issues 23 and 24 of the JDM Bibliophile, the venerable John D. MacDonald fanzine also at $2 each). I'm still reading Martha Foley's memoir, which becomes tangentially relevant in that Foley would read Weird Tales for stories for her volumes of Best American Short Stories, and that MacDonald's first short story was in Foley's magazine Story in 1946...but I'm glad to make mention of this one in this context.

For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thursday Music Question: is there an album or recording that simply doesn't hold up for you?

Who Charted? the podcast asked their guest this week that question, in choosing the question among those submitted from their listeners.

I'm not sure that there's a record I genuinely loved that I don't much care for any more, at least anything I've discovered for myself since about age ten. Even the likes of "Smokin' in the Boys' Room" by the Brownsville Station, the first 45 rpm single I bought for myself, while it strikes me as energetic and sophomoric (by every intent) now, struck me as energetic and goofy then (hey, I was as ready for punk rock as anyone, I guess--I certainly never could take KISS nor Sweet seriously, nor Led Zep nor Queen, which last at least didn't take themselves Too seriously...which didn't make them, nor, say, Meat Loaf, any more exciting).

Perhaps as close as I get would be my somewhat lesser affection for the Tijuana Brass and such imitators as The Brass Hat compared to how I felt in 1974, but I don't actually dislike their cheerful kitsch even now (I might even find the more adventurous records by the likes of Enoch Light--particularly with percussionist Terry Snyder--slightly better now).

Anything you've found you've utterly or at least somewhat outgrown?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: new links

This Property is Condemned
Below, the links to this week's reviews and citations As always, please let me know in comments when I've missed yours or someone else's...and, as always, thanks to all our contributors and to you readers...unsurprisingly, some thoughts about Robin Williams this week, and (more surprisingly) the second week running with an Another Dawn review.

And we'll also dedicate this week to the memory of Lauren Bacall.

Anne Billson: How to Spot a Goth Girl Heroine

I Married a Monster from Outer Space
Bill Crider: I Married a Monster from Outer Space  [trailer]

Brian Arnold: Robin Williams

BV Lawson: Media Murder

Comedy Film Nerds: I Am Road Comic, et al.
Phantom Lady

Curt Evans: Without Honor; Blackout

Doug Loves Movies: Kulap Vilaysack, Howard Kremer, Marc Maron and Kumail Nanjani with Doug Benson on Robin Williams (and not playing the Leonard Maltin Game, etc.)

Ed Lynskey: Farewell, My Lovely

Elizabeth Foxwell: Suspense (tv): "The Mallet"; Spycast

Evan Lewis: Philip Marlowe, Private Eye: "The King in Yellow"
Steve Allen's steady (and jealous) date

George Kelley: The Last Days on Mars; A Most Wanted Man

Iba Dawson: best current television

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Between the Lines (1977 film)

Jackie Kashian: Andy Ashcraft and Ed Baraf on game creation

Jacqueline T. Lynch: I'll Never Forget You

Jake Hinkson: Phantom Lady

James Reasoner: This Property is Condemned

Jerry House: Robin Williams: Live on Broadway

John Grant: Emil und die Detektive (aka Emil and the Detectives) (1931); The Bushwhackers; romantic countdown

Jonathan Lewis: The Law and Jake Wade; Fog Over Frisco; Wichita; The Spoilers

Kate Laity: LonCon and ShamroKon

Kelly Robinson: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court; The Monkey's Paw; The Great Gatsby (silent)

Kliph Nesteroff: Don Adams, Joey Bishop and the Steve Allen Scandal: Television Comedy in the Mid '60s

Laura: Torpedo Run; The Sniper; Robin Williams

Lucy Brown: The Stars Look Down

The Sniper
Marty McKee: Striking Distance

Michael Shonk: Columbo: "Undercover"
Don't Bother to Knock

Mystery Dave: Lizzie Borden Took an Ax

Patti Abbott: The Dark at the Top of the Stairs

Randy Johnson: The Immortal;  Little Rita of the West

Rick: The Hallmark Hall of Fame; The Pleasure of His Company

Wagon Tracks
Ron Scheer: Wagon Tracks

Sergio Angelini: Don't Bother to Knock; My Friend Maigret (on French television)

Stacia Jones: The Girl and Death; Another Dawn

Stephen Bowie: Jim Aubrey, the Smiling Cobra

Steve Lewis: Bad for Each Other

Walker Martin: Pulpfest 2014  
(Pulpfest proceedings recorded)

...And, from a 1986 American Playhouse (PBS)-sponsored adaptation of the Saul Bellow novella:
Seize the Day