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Within the fantasy-fan and pulp-magazine collecting communities, this group of memoirs by a prolific pulp writer has reached almost legendary stature, although the finished, long-delayed book, proves less impressive than the reputation it rides in on. Price (1898-1988) began writing these memoirs in the 1940s, concentrating on such fellow Weird Tales contributors as H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. An early long-distance motorist, Price met many figures associated with the magazine, and so can describe firsthand editor Farnsworth Wright's love of raunchy humor and a drunken sword fight with Otis Adelbert Kline. About half this book is the finest account of that era ever done. The other half suffers because Price completed the book in the 1970s and fell into repeated polemics, berating fans of that period for adulating Lovecraft and Howard. Arguing that his friend HPL was merely an amateur who couldn't break out of Weird Tales and that Howard wasted his time creating Conan the Barbarian, Price appears obtuse and possibly jealous. (Oddly, Arkham editor Ruber seems to agree with Price, whom he describes as "a prodigious worker, not an idler like Lovecraft, whose narrow focus on weird fiction caused him to burn out after several dozen stories" a statement sure to inflame HPL fans.) In addition, Price, a practicing astrologer, blasts Lovecraft for attacking astrology as nonsense. Questionable judgments aside, Price comes across as a far better writer of nonfiction than of fiction. (Sept.)Forecast: With an introduction by Jack Williamson, a checklist of Price's fiction and a section of photos, these memoirs will sell out fast to the ardent pulp readership that's been eagerly awaiting them.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.