Wednesday, November 02, 2005

One Ride Too Many -- Frank Bonham

This is a collection of stores (and one essay) by a prolific pulpster. Bonham also wrote for the slicks and later for the paperback market. He wrote mostly westerns, but for Gold Medal he did some crime novels, and in 1965 he had a YA bestseller.

The opening essay, "Tarzana Nights," is worth the price of the book (which you'll probably have to find used). It was originally published in Mystery Scene in 1987, and I can't believe it's been nearly 20 years since I first read it. It's the great story of how Bonham learned to write through his association with the earl of the pulps, a guy he prefers to call "Ed Oliver Ratt." You pulp fans know who he means.

The only story I've read so far is the one that gives the book its title. It happens to be a rodeo story, set most likely around the time it was written (1950) rather than in the Old West. It features an ageing rodeo rider who comes up against the new kid who appears likely to take his place as the champ, but it's a slightly different take on an old story, very well done. I'm looking forward to reading more of these stories, and maybe I'll even have a look at one of Bonham's crime novels.

4 comments:

  1. "Tarzana Nights" is one of the best pulp memoirs ever published, right up there with Frank Gruber's THE PULP JUNGLE (which grew out of his intro to the collection BRASS KNUCKLES, a great book in its own right). But to get back to Bonham, it's a shame that "Ed Oliver Ratt" employed so many ghostwriters. At his best, he was perhaps not a really good writer, but certainly a powerful and vivid one. I've read several of the novels he actually wrote, and despite their flaws, I still remember just about everything in them, something I can't say about many books that I regarded as much better at the time.

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  2. How about revealing who Ed Ratt was to those of us too young to have been pulp buyers? I'm assuming it's ERB. If so, the statement that he used a lot of ghosts is a revelation to me.

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  3. Check out your copy of Sixgun in Cheek (I think) for the chapter on Ed Earl Repp.

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  4. Tarzana Nights is also the biggest hit by Gail Martin, better known as "The Carole King of Rock and Roll".

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