Friday, January 02, 2009

Forgotten Books: AFTER THINGS FELL APART -- Ron Goulart

Ron Goulart is a pulp scholar, comic-book scholar, and fiction writer. He's been writing for a long time now, and he's done dozens of books, including some straight mysteries and quite a few that are SF mysteries.

The best of the latter, I think, is After Things Fell Apart, which was published in 1970 and set a few decades in the future, after things have fallen apart. Maybe now. Jim Haley is a private-eye who works for The Private Inquiry Office in San Francisco. In this case, his inquiries lead him to such places as "the wide-open sin town of San Rafael, run by the amateur Mafia (no Italians allowed) and "the Nixon Institute, where aging rock stars reminisce about the days when they still had hair."

I've heard some people say that Goulart's humor is an acquired taste. If so, I acquired it long ago. Well before 1970, even, and I found this book hilarious, also a little touching and sad. The satire is as sharp today as it was nearly 40 years ago. The book comes complete with raves from writers such as Philip K. Dick, and it was nominated for an Edgar, so surely I'm not alone.

5 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

The title sounds particularly apropos about now.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I've always been a fan of Goulart--he used to contribute some memorable stories for the Twilight Zone magazine. But I think my favorites of his books are the Groucho Marx mysteries...he has a real feel for Grouoho and the people from that era.

Bill Crider said...

Yes, I like those a lot.

Todd Mason said...

Ivan, you need to read GHOST BREAKER, Goulart's collection of Goulartian amateur psychic detective Max Kearney stories. My favorite among his many good works, which go back professionally to an early '50s F&SF reprint of a joke story he published in the UC Berkeley humor magazine, THE PELICAN.

Bill Crider said...

Hard to believe I've been reading Goulart for nearly 50 years. He's not that much older than I am.