Many of you have probably already heard, but one of my all-time pulp heroes author Emerson LaSalle was killed yesterday in the woods near his home in Calamity, Idaho where he was mauled by a large black bear. I was shocked and stunned to hear it and saddened as well since I'd only a few months ago made good friends with the author.
Mr. LaSalle did not care for me at first and that's putting it mildly. I wrote him an e-mail some time ago professing my admiration for him and telling him how much his work had been an influence on my own. Here is part of his reply:
Yes, I am aware of your little novels. It seems you have taken the liberty of stealing my best stuff, watering it down, and passing it off as your own. How clever of you. Did they teach you that in MFA school, you little tit?
As you can imagine I was stunned by this reply. At first I thought it best to slink away and leave this bitter old man to his own devices. Instead, I doggedly continued to e-mail him. I'm glad of my decision, for I eventually won him over, and in his last months he even became something of a mentor.
Anthony Neil Smith and I were lucky enough to get Mr. LaSalle to let us write a screenplay based on his memoir. The screenplay is called Pulp Boy and it's an amalgam of events found in his unpublished memoir set in the present day. Neil and I are very eager to find interested producers. I'd love for the film to be made since a talent like Mr. LaSalle's deserves such a fitting tribute.
LaSalle wrote over 400 pulp novels in his lifetime -- mostly science fiction and horror but a good mix of crime and a few westerns too. Some of his standout titles were Vixen Shamus, Guns of Old Mars, Sheriff Dracula and Whorebots of Planet Vegas.
I was stunned when the executor of LaSalle's estate called me last night to inform me that LaSalle had left me the manuscript of his final novel. It's being sent to me by FedEx along with all the rights and I've been on pins and needles waiting to get it and read it. The final LaSalle novel! What's the title? What's the plot? Who are the characters?
I will miss my new friend. Our aquaintance was far too short. But I salivate at the thought of the new manuscript.
More news later.
It's always sad when one of the curmudgeonly greats leaves us.
Was he really 108 years old?!
Lifting a cup of bitter coffee in his memory...
Yes, he was VERY old, and as you can imagine wasn't able to put up much of a fight against a bear.
Still, it's amazing he lived so long as I understand he lived almost exclusively on cigars and Maker's Mark.
This is a very sad day. I remember once in the early 80s when he was touring colleges and he stopped off at my campus to regale us with stories from his early pulp writing days. Even sadder, the only thing he said that survived through the mescaline and hashish haze from that day was one bit of sage advice, which I remember now as if it were only minutes ago: "Son, it doesn't matter how you live, just make sure that when you die it's not by getting eaten by a bear." How prophetic those words turned out to be, how very sad. I will weep for you, Emerson LaSalle!
Is there any chance this was a robot bear? I had "robot bear" in the "How will Emerson LaSalle die" pool. I think I still collect if it was just a cyborg bear (cy-bear).
But don't think my little wager indicates a lack of respect for the great man. I'll always be grateful to him for getting my sister pregnant when I couldn't.
I recall once years ago I had an extra copy of his classic novel My Twin Brother Ate My Conjoined Cousin and gave it to a homeless man acosting people at the entrance of the subway for loose chains. In an effort to side step him I put the book in his hands and walked away. Two days later the man told me that he appreciated the roll of toilet paper that I had given him and that his ass had never been cleaner. He said something about a floral aroma but I didnt ask.
Was he a bit actor back in the twenties? I seem to remember him in silent films.
I think he was in Edison's first film.
There's actually a funny anecdote about LaSalle in Carlos Baker's Hemingway biography -- LaSalle happened to run into Ernest and Hadley on a trans Atlantic steamer in 1922. Apparently Hemingway proposed an impromptu boxing match to entertain their fellow travelers but the bout ended quickly when Papa ruptured one of LaSalle's testicles with a shrimp fork hidden in his glove.
The way I heard it, the bear was minding his own business when LaSalle attacked him. Poor bear.
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