You may be wondering about the title.
It starts with the pulp fiction genre, one that arguably goes as far back as Mark Twain, but is most often recognized for the works produced in the 1940s and ’50s by writers such as John D. MacDonald, James Cain, Ray Bradbury, Mickey Spillane, et al. And many of today’s writers trace their passion for the craft and their influences back to these writers of an era, the pulp fiction or “noir” era.Why was it called “pulp fiction?” Because most of these novels and magazines were printed on cheap, wood pulp paper rather than the slick, glossy paper of more high-end magazines and books. The cheap price (and feel) of the books and mags seemed to fit the sometimes-sordid tales of private eyes and their propensity for .45s and rye whiskey and gangsters and their molls.
But as significant as the influence of the writers above, and the genre itself, is the influence of Southern writers — Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor and Tennessee Williams to be sure, but also “newer” writers like Larry Brown, Tom Franklin, Steve Yarbrough, Cormac McCarthy and Anthony Neil Smith. These writers write about “rural” folks — working class, poor, socially disadvantaged — with authenticity, wisdom, even a little compassion and a sharp sense of humor. Some have called this kind of writing “Southern noir,” “redneck noir” or “grit lit.”
So what does that all that have to do with pulpwood — or “pupwood,” as it is called in the local vernacular? The pulpwood industry is still big in the Deep South, where there are still plenty of trees and plenty of room to grow them. And cut them down and sell them to paper mills scattered across the South. Of course, these trees are eventually turned into to pulp for the manufacture of paper (on which to print cheap novels, thus completing this circle).
It’s not an easy or glamorous job, cutting and clearing forests, loading the logs onto beat-up trucks and hauling the load off to the mill. It’s blue-collar, rough-hands work, done by blue-collar, rough-hands folk — you might call some of them rednecks.
And if you take pulp fiction and redneck noir and put them together, you get pulpwood fiction — good old-fashioned noirish pulp fiction with a Southern twist. That’s what we’re all about. Our South isn’t mint juleps, hoop skirts and “y’all come back now, ya hear?” Our South is more moonshine and handguns, trucks and jobs and just getting by. It’s hard folks living hard lives and making hard decisions. Real people in real situations.