My video review today is brought to you in glorious black and white as I take a look at the New Pulp short story collection, “The Adventures of Lazarus Gray” by Barry Reese.
The recap, for those of you who don’t watch video: Lazarus Gray is a new pulp novel in the vein of Doc Savage. Like the Savage in the Robeson novels, you’ve got a character in Lazarus who is perfect, fantastic in everything he does, is loved by everyone around (except bad guys, who hate him) and followed unquestioningly by a band of people he’s saved in the past. At any point in the various Lazarus Gray stories you could have swapped out the name “Clark Savage Jr” and I might not have noticed.
That’s not a bad thing, since a lot of the new pulp work is made up of “homages” to classic pulp characters and stories. You’re not really reading these things for originality, you’re reading them for the action, adventure and escape. And “The Adventures of Lazarus Gray” delivers those things in spades.
I had two small issues with the collection. First, the fact that Lazarus Gray is probably the least interesting person in the stories. He’s a bit too perfect and too distant, and isn’t all that likable…and that is one of the same criticisms I’d put on most of the Doc Savage stories. Luckily, the rest of the cast and crew make up for that failing.
The only other real issue with the stories is that I made the mistake of reading them all in one sitting, which turned out to be a bad idea. For some reason, Reese wrote the stories with a lot of repetition of text descriptions – some seemed to be cut and pasted copies from one story to the next. While this sort of thing was fine and acceptable for stories published separately – either in various magazines or as consecutive novels over time – it was a tad painful to see all together. I’m a bit baffled by the reasoning behind that particular choice, but it is a minor quibble.
With this release, Barry Reese continues to show why he’s one of the premiere voices in the new pulp movement. The work is excellent and enjoyable.
UPDATE: Barry Reese and his publisher, Tommy Hancock, let me know that some of the Lazarus Gray stories had appeared first in magazines from Pro Se Press. That definitely explains some of the duplication of text, but it doesn’t help as a reader. My suggestion to read the book in multiple sittings stands – trust me, it’ll help you enjoy the work more fully.
-Mat Nastos, Super Genius