Friday, May 30, 2014

Theodore Tinsley's multivalent pulp patter

I was ready to prepare a post on Mike Nicol's tight-as-a-drumhead South African thriller Black Heart when I came upon this bit of patter, action, and narration from "Park Avenue Item" (1932) by Theodore A. Tinsley, a Black Mask writer whom I did not know about until this week, but am glad I know now:
"`If you wanta slip me the dough—I'm his babe.'"

"She was his babe—and he left two days ago—he must have come back and left all over again according to the Swede in the cellar. What the hell were they all lying about?

"Tracy looked keenly at her eyes, the nervous hands, the pale lips with the sagging flesh-lines at their corners.

"He said, coolly: `Nix. This is Johnny's dough. I'll hold it for him. I'm not staking his babe to a trip through Switzerland.'"

"She grinned at that. Her right fingertips jerked suddenly to her left forearm with a slow rotary movement of which she was entirely unconscious."

"She said, sneeringly: `You're a pretty wise jasper, at that. Only I don't sleigh-ride. Morph's my dish, dearie.'"
First I was dizzy with the heady fizz of the slang. Then the pathos hit me, and the harshness, before a return to the hard glitter of the slang, with the final line. I'd call that a nice summation of the pleasures to be derived from pulp writing. Good job, Ted Tinsley.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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4 Comments:

Blogger Kelly Robinson said...

I got an e-book copy of this, and though I thought it was fun, my copy was a mess. There were sentences that began one way and then seemed to be spliced with action that happened later. The first time, I thought I was just not following the action well, but it became clear that something was up with the printing. There was a line similar to "She ran the hot water in the bath and slipped in to have a soak, then turned left on Main Street to avoid the traffic." I wish it hadn't been such a mish-mash.

May 31, 2014  
Blogger RT said...

"First I was dizzy with the heady fizz of the slang." Great sentence! It is almost as if you were writing for Black Mask.

May 31, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"She ran the hot water in the bath and slipped in to have a soak, then turned left on Main Street to avoid the traffic."

Kelly: I can well believe she'd have to dip, turn, and swerve in all directions to avoid distracted drivers if she went out in traffic straight from the tub. (I assume, of course, from the source that she's a honey or, at worst, a babe.) I have noticed a small glitch or two in either the Tinsley book or the Paul Cain volume, from the same publisher, but nothing on the order of what you found. You ought to drop a line to Otto Penzler or someone at one of the various enterprises that seem to be involved in the imprint.

May 31, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

RT, when I read the sentence, I thought of inventing a character named Hedy Phizz, a honey or, at worst, a babe.

May 31, 2014  

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