Less Than Pulp, Issue 11
“We drove out to the dead mall on Route 7, the one haunted by ghosts of girls in black I always wanted to date but could never bring myself to approach.”
That’s from a work in progress. One of them.
I’ve got a few things I’m playing with. Thinking of doing a novel in stories, thematically connected tales with a framing narrative, a la PULP FICTION or TRICK ‘R TREAT but a book. It’s a great way to serve both my attention span and readers who prefer longer works. Insert sexual metaphor about getting others off while still getting yourself off here.
Hi. I’m Lucas Mangum, and this is the eleventh issue of Less Than Pulp, a newsletter for fans of my work. You can check out previous issues here.
On Tuesday, we got back to Austin, Texas. Our lawn was dead and half the water in our aquarium had evaporated. It’s … really hot, even for summer, even for Texas. Thankfully, the fish survived, but we also had a breeding explosion of aquatic snails. There’s a few hundred in the tank now, and I have NO idea what to do about it. At least they’ll keep it clean in there.
I finished listening to THE BLACK TAPES PODCAST. It’s a syncretic super-myth incorporating a wide variety of demonic and ghostly theories and lore. I loved it, and I’m sad it’s over. That said, the open nature of its ending pleased me. There’s also an unspoken romantic connection between the two leads that is never explicitly addressed. It reminded me of the Mulder and Scully dynamic from the heyday of THE X-FILES. When Mulder and Scully finally did kiss, my first thought was, “Hm, wasn’t sure I wanted to see that.” Alex and Richard from THE BLACK TAPES never kiss. You sometimes wish they would, but the fact that they don’t adds to the magic.
Perhaps that’s a weird observation to make about a horror podcast, but hey, I contain multitudes.
I came home to this box of DIGITAL DARKNESS paperbacks. Though I got them for Killer Con (less than two weeks away!), you can obtain a signed copy yourself if you’d like. Just PayPal $17 to L.Mangum.Fiction@gmail.com and put your shipping details in the note. I’ll ship it this week.
My daughter’s daycare provider is still closed for summer vacation, so I’m spending my days with her. It’s really nice. I take her to the park before it gets too hot, watch her play, keep her fed, and put her down when she’s tired. Routines are good for me. I cannot stress enough how good it is to be home. That’s not to say our time Pennsylvania wasn’t a nice visit.
On Thursday, author Autumn Christian came over while my daughter was napping. She’s expecting her first child in October. It was nice to catch up and talk about how our career trajectories have morphed over the years. We talked about colleagues we like and trust, as well as ones we know to keep at arm’s length. She’s one of my oldest friends in this business, and one of the most consistently reliable. I’ll never forget reading WE ARE WORMWOOD for the first time, completely blown away by how unlike everything else it was. If her parenting is as good as her writing, she’ll be a splendid mother.
That night, I got a call from another old friend. I’ve known him since high school, but we hadn’t spoken since before the pandemic. No particular reason other than life getting in the way. He’s doing well. Two kids a little older than mine. Does creative work for a gaming company. Sounds like the dream if you ask me, but of course, there are frustrations, which we also discussed.
Friendship has been on my mind a lot lately. What it is. What it isn’t. Are friends people you see regularly? Or are they people you see once in a while but can pick up as if no time has passed at all? Do you tell your friends you love them or is this something unspoken but understood? How do your friends make you feel? Is it how you want friendships to make you feel? How do you separate friends from acquaintances?
All good questions. None of them answerable.
Anyway, here are nine books that influenced DIGITAL DARKNESS and how.
1. TASTES LIKE CANDY by Ivy Tholen for how beautifully it captures memory in motion.
2. BELOW DECK by Matt Shaw for how it utilizes multiple perspectives and POVs while keeping the book short.*
3. YOU PRAY FOR DRY WEATHER AT THE SIGHT OF THE SUN by J. David Osborne for its focus on gaming and how it incorporates autobiographical bits.
4. HURRICANE SEASON by Kelby Losack for presenting diversity without cringey box-checking.
5. THE SLAUGHTER BOX by Carver Pike for expertly crafting a story where bad gets worse.
6. 2666 by Roberto Bolano for containing seemingly unconnected narratives that feel right together.
7. THE UNSEEN by Bryan Smith for the masterful way it marries pulp and personal interests.
8. ALICE KNOTT by Blake Butler for how it uses skimmable passages to enrich the reading experience.
9. DEMON CITY SHINJUKU by Hideyuki Kikuchi for its infidelity to a single genre.
* Yes, I know DIGITAL DARKNESS is over 600 pages, but remember, it was previously published as three separate novellas.
This week’s episode of MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN PODCAST is from the archives of the now-defunct MANGUM SHOW. Because of travel we weren’t able to record something new, but we’re back on schedule now. Brand new episode drops next week. Until then, enjoy Jeff and I discussing the strange “slasher” TRIANGLE.
That’s it for now. Until next time…