A couple of weeks back, I received what I consider to be noir gold.
Laurie Powers, granddaughter of Paul S. Powers and daughter of John H. Powers, sent along a story called Wine Without Music, a nearly 7,000 word story that simply plays like a great movie in your head.
She worried that something of this length would not be eligible for publication at A Twist Of Noir, due to its length.
As with all writers or contributors to ATON, I assured her that it’s not the length of the story but the content.
The content, let me say again, is noir gold.
I’ve said enough, allow me to turn the stage over to Laurie.
In 1999, my aunt and I were going through my grandfather’s personal papers that had been stored away in an attic for almost 30 years. My grandfather, Paul S. Powers, had been a prolific pulp fiction writer during the 1920s through the 1940s. Most of his work was published in Wild West Weekly, a Street & Smith pulp fiction magazine, but he also wrote for Weird Tales in the 1920s. Later, after Wild West Weekly shut down in 1943, he wrote for several other Western fiction magazines. In the box was an unpublished memoir about my grandfather’s life as a pulp fiction writer. There were also 180 letters from the editors of Wild West Weekly during its production years, letters from relatives, several unfinished stories, and this story: Wine Without Music.
This story was a surprise. For one thing, it wasn’t a western, nor was it a horror story in the Weird Tales tradition. For another, it shows my father, John Powers, as a co-writer, which was a surprise because my father wasn’t a writer – he was a doctor. If the address shown on the manuscript is any indication, this story was written in the early 1950s, when John was in medical school.
Both my grandfather and my father, who were very close, battled alcoholism their entire adult lives, and their personal experiences lend some authenticity to “Wine Without Music.” My father eventually died from cirrhosis of the liver in 1964, and my grandfather died seven years later – not from drinking, but I suspect a broken heart had something to do with it. There were over a dozen letters from John in his papers, most of which were written in the last years of his life as he drifted in and out of society.
The memoir found in 1999, Pulp Writer: Twenty Years in the American Grub Street, was published in 2007. I recently discovered over two dozen unpublished short stories written by my grandfather in the years between 1940 and 1952, and I am now compiling the best of these for publication. One of these stories, “The Killing on Sutter Street,” can be found at Beat to a Pulp here.
If you want to learn more about Paul Powers, go to Paul S. Powers - Pulp Writer, or to my blog: Laurie’s Wild West.
Farewell to the Whistler
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