June 12, 2018
Picked up another of the Day Keene short story collections recently, this one called The Case of the Bearded Bride
(it’s Volume 4 of the series bringing all his stories from the old detective pulp magazines), and it’s full of the same Day Keene delicious-ness as the earlier volumes. And by that I mean, fast-paced yarns that are sometimes hard-boiled, sometimes mysterious, sometimes noir-ish, and always fun to read. The proofing here as with past volumes leaves a lot to be desired, but hey, it’s just sweet these stories are back in print. There’s a fair amount of bars and booze in them, but I picked a beer quote for this volume’s Cocktail-Talk-ing (check out past Day Keene Cocktail Talks
for more sweetness), because I don’t often beer-it up, and also because I liked this portrayal of a man just out of prison. Oh, the name of this story is a humdinger, too, “It’s Better to Burn.”
Gone were the held-back jewels he had put aside as an umbrella against the day that it might rain. Gone were the luscious blondes and the redheads. Gone was his Cadillac car. All that remained were sixty-six dollars and twenty cents and the belly that even two years in a cell had failed to diminish. He promptly steered it to the nearest bar and spent a dollar and eighty cents of his capital to fill it with beer. It had been two years since he had had a drink. Mellowed by the beer, he considered his prospects. They weren’t bright.
–Day Keene, It’s Better to Burn
June 27, 2017
I earlier had a Day Keene Cocktail Talk (there are many Day Keene’s here on the Spiked Punch, cause he’s grand in the pulp way) from the story collection Death March of the Dancing Dolls (one of a series of collections of his pulp mag stories and yarns and legends and tales). But guess what – one was not enough! I almost forgot about the below beaut, which reminds us how long two of my favorites have been coupling in glasses and people’s minds. Sadly, the gent rolling it out isn’t, oh, the most lovable of narrators, and . . . well, you’ll have to read the story!
The only bright spot in the picture was Connie. She’d been a hasher when I met her, and a good one. She took to the job in the joint across from the City Hall like Benedictine to brandy.
–Day Keene, Mighty Like a Rogue
December 20, 2016
As a longtime reader (you are, right?) of this here weblog, you probably know that I have a fondness for the pulp-y writer Day Keene, who churned out an incredible amount of stories and novels in the classic pulp era. It’s not always easy to track down his books (though some story collections now available help), but there is a reprint from the swell folks at Hard Case Crime of one novel, Home is the Sailor. A typically fast-paced Keene read, it follows the travails of a sailor who wants to do right, but runs into the wrong bar and the wrong lady. It’s well worth tracking down, not only for this quote, which happens south of the border:
The Mexican license bureau was closed. I’d expected that. There was a bar on the main drag with a faded sign that proclaimed it to be the longest bar in the world. I parked Corliss at a table and bought her a rum Collins to work on. Then I brushed off my rusty Spanish and buttonholed the first cop I met on the street.
–Day Keene, Home is the Sailor
February 16, 2016
I’ve had a number of Cocktail Talk posts here from Day Keene, from his novels and short stories. Most of the latter I’ve read in the series from Ramble House, which does a fairly fine job of reprinting all of his stories that appeared in pulp mags in the 40s – and there were a lot of them! He was ridiculously prolific, and kept the quality bar really high while doing it. I just picket up the third volume, called Death March of the Dancing Dolls, which has seven longish stories, including one called A Minor Matter of Murder, which is where this post’s quote comes from. It also contained one of my favorite non-boozy lines in a while: “to hell with that heifer dust!” Drop that in your next meeting.
I guided her on into the bar and one of the wall tables. “There’s been some trouble at the office. But if you faint, I’ll fire you.” I ordered two double ryes and waited until they were served to tell her than young Schermerhorn was dead.
–Day Keene, A Minor Matter of Murder
April 28, 2015
Not too long ago, I posted a few Cocktail Talks from the Day Keene story collection, The League of the Grateful Dead. Cause Day Keene is awesome (go see all the Day Keene Cocktail Talk posts to see what I’m talking about). And now, I’ve got my gin-stained hands on the second Day Keene pulps story collection, We Are the Dead, and it is also the tops (and, between us, also needed a good copy editor. But don’t get stuck on the small stuff). There are many worthy novella-length stories in the collection, but our quote today is from A Slight Mistake in Corpses.
“He’s in the chair,” McNeary said grimly. “We caught him, as the colored maid at his hotel informed me, in ‘fragrent delicto.’ The dead blond was in his bed, the boodle was on his dresser, and Little Boy Blue had a hangover that was a yard wide and all rye.”
–Day Keene, A Slight Mistake in Corpses
February 24, 2015
Okay, after serious consideration (and sitting down with a drink to think about it), I decided that one Day Keene Cocktail Talk from the story collection The League of the Grateful Dead was not enough. Not at all. So, here’s a second, and one of the few quotes I’ve seen about a portable bar. I certainly wouldn’t you to miss that, that’s for sure.
LaFanti told him to shut up. A gun punk whom he called Gordon opened a portable bar and began to slop whiskey into highball glasses. LaFanti asked if I wanted a drink. I admitted that I could use one. There had been plenty of wine where I’d come from, but Old Grandad had been rare.
–Day Keene, Dance with the Death-House Doll
February 17, 2015
I’ve had four different Day Keene Cocktail Talk posts – that’s nowhere near enough! C’mon me. Seriously. My appreciation, no, obsession with Mr. Keene and his pulptasticness is certainly not going down to a simmer any time soon. This is why it’s so swell that Ramble House is putting out all of Mr. Keene’s stories and novellas from the Detective Pulps in the ‘40s in book collections. And there are a lot of stories, so more Day Keene for us! Though I do wish Ramble would hire a decent copyeditor. But hey, at least the stories are becoming available again. Anyway, this particular quote is from the first volume, League of the Grateful Dead and Other Stories (and yeah, that’s where the band got its name), from a story with a memorable name: Crawl Out of that Coffin!
‘The D’Andrea’s don’t live to be twenty-one,’ he told me.
While I was considering that, he motioned our waiter to the table and told him to bring whatever we were drinking and a Rum Collins for himself.
The waiter looked at the passed-out girl.
‘No. Nothing for her,’ Pierce said straight-faced. ‘Miss D’Andrea is driving.’
–Day Keene, Crawl Out of that Coffin!
May 6, 2014
Every time I find a new Day Keene book, I’m a happy man (check out past Day Keene posts). Recently, I found a reprint book that contains not one, but two Day Keene amazements – and instantly became doubly happy. Put out by Stark House, who does a bunch of other classic pulp reprints, it contains Framed in Guilt and My Flesh is Sweet. Both are worthy reads, in the fast-paced, thrilling way Mr. Keene always played out his mysteries, thrillers, and pulpy goodnesses. The quote below is from the latter book.
After the air conditioned bank, the street was like an oven. Elena blew up a lock of hair the heat had plastered to her forehead. ‘How,’ she asked, unsmiling, ‘would you like to buy me something tall and cold and filled with gin?’
–Day Keene, My Flesh is Sweet