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Wordslingers: An Epitaph for the Western by [Murray, Will]
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Length: 470 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Language: English

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Product description

Product Description

The Writers of the Purple Wage have long since taken the last trail into dusty memory. But, now, they live again--to retell tall tales of those distant days when they helped forge the fabled West of American Imagination.

They’re all here!

* The POPULAR hacks!
* The SPICY bestsellers!
* The THRILLING myths!

Those amazing million-words-a-year men!
True Westerners born on the Range!
Broadway cowboys never West of Hoboken!

Join MAX BRAND, LUKE SHORT, JOHNSTON McCULLEY, ERNEST HAYCOX, WALT COBURN, FRANK GRUBER, RYERSON JOHNSON, & a hard-working, fast-drawing posse of freelance fictioneers!

And those two-fisted foremen of New York’s fiction factories–magazine editors FRANK BLACKWELL, ROGERS TERRILL, LEO MARGULIES, ROBERT LOWNDES & FANNY ELLSWORTH!

Together, IN THEIR OWN WORDS, these veteran pulpsters & others offer startling inside stories of how they created the mythology of the Golden West!

* Blazing action! Savage characterization! Real emotion!

Ride with the Old West’s top gunhands, greatest pulpsmiths & legendary brands.

Armed with forgotten interviews, controversial essays & candid letters first not seen in generations, acclaimed pulp historian Will Murray, author of The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage. reveals the epic life & frequent deaths of the Pulp West!


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 880 KB
  • Print Length: 470 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Altus Press (17 August 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00EN247DM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will Murray, Saddling Up 7 July 2013
By Joseph Wrzos - Published on
Verified Purchase
I've always loved a good Western. Whether in the
now outmoded pulp magazines I read as a kid, or
the Old-Time radio shows (like GUNSMOKE or
THE LONE RANGER) we all listened to so
avidly back then, and, of course, wolfing down
loads of buttery popcorn, while watching Gary
Cooper's HIGH NOON on the silver screen, or
TV repeats of same, along with exciting new
shows like CHEYENNE and RAWHIDE. And
I've always wondered, especially of late, why
and whence this once highly popular genre
(in all the media) somehow quietly managed
to end us this side of Boot Hill.

Now, thanks to Will Murray's ambitious
and deftly documented WORDSLINGERS (what
a terrific title that is!), subtitled "An Epitaph
for the Western," at last we have some answers!
Thanks to lots of extensive reading, diligent
research, and canny culling of first sources -- not
only in the pulp Western magazines themselves,
but in collateral memoirs, letters, and articles
written by the original pulpsters, their editors
and agents themselves -- we have pertinent
and reliable data to work with.

Murray shows how, after the emergence of the
Western story in early novels like James Fenimore
Cooper's THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS (featuring
Natty Bumppo) and in more literary treatments
by luminaries like Bret Harte, Mark Twain, and
Stephen Crane, genre quality dipped noticeably
with the wildly popular, but meretricious, cheaply
printed Dime Novels (such as BUFFALO BILL,
which proliferated at the turn of the century.
Followed, in the early 20th century, by the
emergence of better written, though often
formulaic yarns in all-Western pulps like
which became so popular that for a time it was
published weekly!

In quite illuminating and entertaining fashion,
Murray goes on (abetted by aptly chosen
quotes from major and minor practitioners
in the pulp Western and tangential fields),
to clarify at least my own concerns about the
demise of the genre. (Why? How? What really
happened?) And he does so most satisfyingly.
Which makes me pretty sure that even for
those with only a lapsed or passing interest
in the Western story, whether in pulp or
paperback form, on TV, or as an occasional
Hollywood big budget summer blockbuster -
like the latest remake of THE LONE RANGER,
in which a culturally updated Tonto gets the
best lines! - Will Murray's WORDSLINGERS,
for so many reasons besides genre interest,
would prove to be a most enjoyable and
highly informative read.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than a great read - an EXPERIENCE 15 August 2013
By Evan Lewis - Published on
Will Murray's new book from Altus Press is not technically a history of the Western pulp magazine. Though WORDSLINGERS contains enough info for someone to assemble a traditional history, it's much more than that. Actually, it might be a whole new breed of book. I'm not sure there's ever been anything like it before.

Mr. Murray spent years searching the pages of WRITERS DIGEST and similar magazines for letters and articles that tell the story--as it was happening--in the words of the writers and editors who made the pulp westerns happen, then put it all into historical context.

The result is a narrative taking us from the birth of the Western pulp in 1906 to the field's last gasp in 1960. In between are snippets from hundreds of articles, chronicling the growth and development of the genre and the numerous rises and falls of the market.

In his Introduction, the author describes it thusly: "What follows is a species of oral history, employing found quotes, developed so that the author recedes into the role of omniscient organizer, sometimes disappearing altogether, in order to allow the participants of the past to spin the sage of their literary labors."

That sounds a bit too modest to me. Mr. Murray has obviously devoted an incredible amount of time and effort to this book, and much of his own personality is evident on its pages.

What emerges in the course of the book's 453 pages is the rarely-mentioned truth that the Western pulps were largely responsible for creating the mythic West we still hold dear. The early Western pulps, taking a cue from the dime novels, focused almost exclusively on gunfighters, sheriffs, outlaws and shootouts. While those were all genuine elements of the Old West, they were, in the great scheme of things, of miniscule importance. But those were the characters and events that captured the public's imagination and sold magazines. Hollywood jumped on the same bandwagon, and side-by-side the pulps and the movies fed the American appetite for The West That Never Was.

The letters and articles are fascinating, providing insight into the minds of many well-known writers, some of whom survived the fall of the field to find success in paperback and hardcover, and some who flared briefly and were never heard from again.

The Western pulps, like other magazines, were hit hard by circumstances beyond their control--particularly wartime paper shortages and the Depression--but the insiders seemed oblivious to such forces. At every decline in sales, they were quick to blame the quality of the stories, and fought wars of words over whether the editors or the writers were most to blame.

Much of the blame was heaped upon the head of the one-dimensional "gun dummy" who ruled the roost during the first big boom of the Western pulp market. No one (except apparently the readers) liked the gun dummy and all agreed his time had passed. But no matter what new twists the writers and editors came up with, the gun dummy had been ingrained in the American psyche and he never stopped selling magazines.

Another argument that raged for years involved editors' constant pleas for "something different." All editors wanted it, but none knew quite what it was. Writers who took them seriously and submitted something truly different were rewarded with rejection slips, so the smart ones found ways to make only surface changes, like putting different clothes on the same old characters, or adding new angles to the same old plots.

WORDSLINGERS has it all: The economic factors. The impact of world events. The changing face (and mind) of the reading public. The editors who helped widen the field, and those who strove to keep it narrow. The never-ending rivalry between writers who walked the real West versus those who'd never been west of New York.

The death of the Western pulps was foretold many times, but it always bounced back--always, that is, until paperbacks and television cornered the Western market in the 1950s. Though the magazines are gone, their legacy lives on in the American consciousness, and will never be fully separated from our less prosaic history.

WORDSLINGERS captures the joy and the sadness of the 50-year saga of these history making (and history REmaking) magazines. It's much more than a good read--it's an experience. Experience it yourself!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "WRITE" 'EM COWBOY BEHIND-THE-SCENES MASTERPIECE 18 October 2013
By Patti Boeckman - Published on
I totally agree with all the reviews above and want to add a personal insight.

As the wife of a western and suspense pulp writer, I can attest that Will Murray has captured the authentic heart of the western pulps, their ups and downs, the viewpoints of their writers and editors, the scramble and failure to keep the genre alive after the advent of TV, the failure of some writers to adapt their writing to other markets, such as books, the success of other writers whose flexibility took their career into other genres, etc. However, even my husband knew nothing of the detailed, inside accounts in this book about the editorial headaches that the publications faced over the course of their existence.

My husband is the only western pulpster from those days who is still writing (maybe the last one still living) and has told me so many stories about those days, starting in 1945 when he sold his first story.

Those stories he has told me match perfectly with the last section of the book, which covers the time frame when my husband made his living from writing pulps.

This is a fascinating, impeccably- researched book. Will Murray's narrative technique is extremely engaging, and his attention to detail is amazing. I've never read a book like this one. It's in a class all by itself.

Whether you've ever or never read a pulp story, you will find this a fascinating read. It should be in every public and school library in the country. It gives you an insider's look at a part of Americana as lived by those who wrote about the old west and about the audience who devoured western pulp stories. The historical and literary importance of this book cannot be stressed enough.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Will Murray for undertaking such a laborious project in order to provide us with this enlightening masterpiece.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of our great American wordsmiths and pop-culture historians 22 August 2015
By John Wooley - Published on
As advertised, WORDSLINGERS is a first-rate, highly readable history of western-themed fiction from the age of the pulp magazines -- roughly, the first half of the last century. It's also quite a bit more. First off, Will Murray, one of our great American wordsmiths and pop-culture historians, gives the work a fresh and maybe unprecedented spin by weaving together dozens of first-person articles and other contemporary accounts into a narrative that deals with what it meant to be creating popular fiction in that golden era, and how writers and editors had to continually scramble to keep up with the fickle nature of their readers. You don't, however, have to be a western fan to enjoy WORDSLINGERS. In fact, Murray's canvas is so broad and wide and colorful that it ends up being a panorama of the whole pulp culture. It's a beautiful peek into a bygone era, and, for writers and historians, a primer on how to take the narrow path between academic and fan writing and end up combining the best of both.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Instant Classic 7 July 2013
By James Reasoner - Published on
Will Murray's WORDSLINGERS is not only the first in-depth history of the Western pulps, it's one of the best and most important books on the pulps ever written, perfectly capturing the era, the magazines, and the writers, editors, and agents who helped fill their pages. Pulp fans will be fascinated by the rich background provided by hundreds of quotes from the people involved in producing the Western pulps, while writers will benefit from the discussions of characterization and storytelling that prove to be both universal and timeless. WORDSLINGERS is a must-read for anyone interested in the pulps or in Western fiction, and it's one of the best books I've read in a long, long time.