New on our bookshelf today:
From the dime novels of the Civil War era to the pulp magazines of the early 20th century to modern paperbacks, lurid fiction has provided thrilling escapism for the masses. Cranking out formulaic stories of melodrama, crime and mild erotica—often by uncredited authors focused more on volume than quality—publishers realized high profits playing to low tastes. Estimates put pulp magazine circulation in the 1930s at 30 million monthly.
This vast body of “disposable literature” has received little critical attention, in large part because much of it has been lost—the cheaply made books were either discarded after reading or soon disintegrated. Covering the history of pulp literature from 1850 through 1960, the author describes how sensational tales filled a public need and flowered during the evolving social conditions of the Industrial Revolution.