A review of

Danger City and
Danger City Two

by Various Authors

Central question: Can a rowdy bunch of drinking buddies reinvent pulp fiction?
Format: 124 pp., paperback; Size: 8.3" x 5.3"; Price: $11.00; Publisher: Contemporary Press; Editors: Jess Dukes, Mike Segretto, Jeffrey Dinsmore; Print run: 1,500; Cover design: Jenn Lilya and Dennis Hayes; Interior design: Chris Reese; Number of stories from Danger City selected for inclusion in The Best American Mystery Stories 2006: One; Representative sentence: “Now, what Lee Ronnie Lee had failed to tell Darla Bonjour was that he had left the giant kielbasa in question in his mother's freezer overnight, during which time it chilled from a harmless, tasty Polish sausage into a rock-hard, frosty instrument of death.”

A few years back, the story goes, a group of friends were at their Wednesday night drinking club airing their grievances over a couple of beers. “The job market was for shit, and we were all tired of having to smoke corporate cock to make a buck,” they would later write, in the introduction to their first fiction anthology, Danger City. Then, inspiration struck: they would publish their own books—pulpy, soused-up, badass books—and to hell with everyone else. They named their fledgling company Contemporary Press, and made their slogan “Fuck literature.”

Since then, this self-made band of raunchy ironists has written, designed, and published eleven novels, with titles like The Bride of Trash and How to Smash Everyone to Pieces, as well as two story collections, the second of which, Danger City Two, is just out. Their work is not lyrical and it is not about the beauty of everyday life and it is not for kids. Rather, in their pages you’ll find an abundant cast of femmes fatales, goons, detectives with drinking problems, bloodied faces, zombies, sex, and guns—all served up with an acid smirk bordering on a sneer. The project isn’t so much to poke fun at pulp genres, though there’s plenty of that, but to use the outlandishness of pulp to blast away the banalities of hipster life, and to give voice to its frustrations.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

—Michael Schulman

Michael Schulman works at the New Yorker, where he covers theater for Goings on About Town. He recently played August Strindberg’s pet monkey in an adaptation of Hedda Gabler starring robots.

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