Slime, The Mime, Toy Cemetery...
Released in September of this year, Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ‘70s and ‘80s Horror Fiction (with Will Errikson) not only brought back a lot of memories and introduced me to some new (old) must-reads, but it also sheds a light on an essential chapter of modern horror history. Working from the premise that a trilogy of horror novels – Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin, The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, and The Other by Thomas Tryon – kicked started a run on pulp horror fiction, this book is probably the last word on the topic.
Paperbacks, wisely, leaves the reader to engage with his or her own predilections when it comes to the titles under discussion, not necessarily delving into what could be called mainstream ideals of quality. There's a certain understanding that the books included here operate on their own plain when it comes to such things. Paperbacks also does an outstanding job of juggling information about the writers, the trends, and the artists behind these works, while at the same time providing plot descriptions (which amounts to giving recommendations – if you like the description, why not try the novel?) and a wealth of images that nudges this book into art book territory.
The author ofHorrorstör and My Best Friend's Exorcism, Hendrix's enthusiasm for the subject is catching. Since reading this book, I’ve read five of the novels found within its pages, with a pile more accumulating on my nightstand. Whether you pick up this book for nostalgia, information, or out of blind curiosity, it’s a sure bet to become a mainstay of the horror library canon.