Jon Zech and I sat in his family room, our bones settling into the cushion, our minds into mush.
"I'm trying to work on something. I want to try writing pulp."
Jon, who loves all things Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, half-turned toward me. "Yeah?"
"How would you define it? Pulp, I mean. What are the primary characteristics of it?"
He reached out and fingered a copy of a Mickey Spillane novel on the tv tray in front of him. "Well," he said, "I suppose it's mostly action oriented."
"And the character's are archtypes. I mean, the authors don't do a lot of character development. It's pretty much plot driven, wouldn't you say?"
Jon nodded and we started naming off authors who we thought would be good examples. "Mickey Spillane," I offered. He nodded.
"Robert Howard, the author of Conan. What about Lovecraft?"
I shook my head. "I don't consider him pulp. He's written some stories that fall into that vein, but I wouldn't call him pulp."
"What about the Doc Savage stuff? The Shadow?"
"Would you consider pulp as stuff written for children?" I asked.
"No. I mean, not today. Not all of it. Maybe some."
"Some romance literature is pulp. Especially the harlequin romance sort. We think of pulp as the province of manly men but women read a tremendous amount of it."
Hunger, real or imagined, drives away most intellectual dialogues. We went out to dinner and left the discussion in the family room. Still...the nature of pulp in literature brings me in and I find myself returning to a lantern jawed character in a leather jacket, sitting in front of a fire in a Hooversville, looking up as the government agents approach him to once again play the role of the reluctant hero.