Pulp Modern: Issue Six - Alec Cizak

A collection of short stories by a bunch of crime writers and the single event that ties everything together is the assassination of JFK in Dallas 11/22/63. While conspiracy theories are high and mighty one doesn´t need to wear a tinfoil hat exactly to enjoy the stories, as every single one takes the basics and pushes them into different directions. It sure helps to acknowledge alternative versions of the established historical events, but the real fun is what each writer makes of it. From character driven social commentary to whacko to pure fun while the conspiracy nut drowns a shot (pun intended) and enjoys the popcorn.

The Role of a Lifetime by Joe Clifford

Clifford kills them all, not literally (at least I hope he does not) but with his Truman Show-esque take on the assassination of JFK he sure brings home the paranoia while being self-conscious and commenting on the paranoia that surrounds the paranoia. Method acting inclusive. The strongest hit piece of all, storytelling wise, and as a starter it sets the mood as what to expect.

The Retirement of Leon Monroe by Ross Peterson

A retired member of the bureau with psych abilities gets in the know what is about to happen, and in the crossfire in the true and honest wild west. A unique mix of the slight paranormal, mixed with hillbilly style and off you go. Straight forward until the last final bullet hits all the way home.

The Kill Shot by Terry Alexander

It was the Russians! Plays heavily with the Soviet angle disguised as American citizens story. A fascinating take what a lie lived for years or even decades can do to one´s psyche when reality and duty clashes. In this case a Soviet officier "being" your average everyday joe just waiting for the dreaded call to play his hands while having built a complete different life for himself.

Thanksgiving, 1963 by Rob Pierce

Wham! A slightly unusual take as the story itself centers around a Thanksgiving dinner, plenty of whiskey, arguements and how gun sales correlate to the assassination of JFK. A character study most of all and superior in its commentary of how people react in different ways when emotions are running high. You need to have the people scared, is all. A real downer actually, but this guy can write, no argueing about it.

November by Eryk Pruitt

Maybe my fave story, but even not only for the story alone but for the language used. Pruitt has just the knack for getting the feels. A small town in uproar after the assassination looking for easy targets to get off steam, and finding them in a group of hobos. A mysterious woman plays a central role in this tale of yet another alternative conspiracy.

Dallas Through the Looking Glass by Ken Goldman

Lee Harvey Oswald still alive and the main character who´s telling - and re-living - his alternate version of events with a heavy dose of paranoia, but subtly integrated and intervowen. Strong and creepy.

JFK is a Soviet Cyborg Back from the Dead by Chris Rhatigan

The title already says it all and yes, it is really that bizarre. JFK is a Soviet cyborg, rebooted by the KGB 50 years after getting out of order, to help Putin make the USSR the one big global player, communism and all. With cameos by Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin (as drooling zombies) and the likes of George Clooney or Barack Obama as themselves. Funny and absurd as hell as it mocks the politics of today with not giving a single fuck whom it pisses off.

Zero to Midnight by Mav Skye

Now that´s the one story I couldn´t get into. Just not my thing. Skye´s biography mentions "resisting reality at all costs" and this is true. Cleopatra being a sort of alien goddess, I think?, and JFK making one hell of a non-ambassador in a mess of an interstellar war approaching. Or something like this, no idea, really. The story doesnt go anywhere, and it is, not very surprising, extremely unfunny, but at least Elvis is still king.

Kingslayer by Frank Sonderborg

The most emotional story of an trained marine caught up in a conspiracy against the current president of the US of A. As all stories it has its stronghold on JFK of course, but that is only one part of it, once the lone should-be kingslayer choses another option to get out of the mess he is involved in. Beautiful language and a powerful character makes "Kingslayer" more than only an appropriate final story.