“Pulp Fiction” was a name originally given to magazines starting in the beginning of the 20th century that were printed on cheap wood “pulp” paper and featured stories of fantastic and lurid themes — particularly horror and murder mystery. It has since become more widely used to describe literature of this thematic variety regardless of the medium by which it is represented. For example — the “Halloween” movie franchise might be described as “Pulp” even though the medium is film, not paper–so might the “Twilight” series.
Stephen King is being touted for producing a work that is quintessential pulp — Joyland. I haven’t read it. What I have read from descriptions and reviews of the work I believe it is more of a parody than a resurgence of the style. Indeed, the style has never really died to be in need of resurrection. It survives, and quite strongly.
Pulp Fiction lends itself quite nicely to serialization. Once again citing King since he was brought to mind recently, we have the fictional fiction serial of “Misery Chastain” featured in the novel “Misery” by King. He gave a remarkable short subject homage to the pulp genre in his movie “Creep Show.” Of course, true to the style, “Creep Show” was serialized. He has spoken of his writing beginnings in autobiographical form by speaking of the influence of the pulp magazine horror stories and the “Chapter Plays” if his youth in the 50’s. The list goes on.
Of course King is not the first nor will he be the last by far of the users and proponents of this style of fiction. he is just the one that came to mind when I first began to think of this article. He is the most read by me and perhaps by the overall reading public as well.
I have for the most part always enjoyed King. My enthusiasm has lagged somewhat in the past decade or so but he is still good for a quick and thrilling read. I first lost interest in him when he started his “Dark Tower” series which is emblematic of Pulp Fiction especially in the serialization style on which it relies so heavily.
I recently gave an off-the-cuff review of Duma Key by King in a blog that I follow — Blu Chicken Ninja. I intended to write a fuller review here but the topic of Pulp Fiction in general carried me away. You may find remarks both by me and the creator of Blu Chicken Ninja at the link provided above.