Written by Steve Aylett
Reviewed by Carl V.
Pulp fiction, especially pulp science fiction, flourished during the early to mid part of the twentieth century and its influences are still being felt today in the work of authors, scientists, film makers, etc. Many of the very best pulp science fiction writers of their day maintain a great deal of obscurity outside of the insular world of genre fiction fandom. One such author was the unpredictable, cavalier author Jeff Lint. Through painstaking research author Steve Aylett has put together a brief, yet raucously entertaining biography of one of the most bizarre though influential pulp writers of the twentieth century.
In both his fiction and his real life Jeff Lint was a walking enigma. The author of such works as The Man Who Gave Birth to His Arse and The Stupid Conversation had a life-long habit of turning up at the publisher dressed in women's clothing to present completed manuscripts. He frequently upset friends and acquaintances by babbling nonsense, much of which was no different than the kind of language found in his novels, and his feuds with various authors and publishers were legendary. Author Cameo Herzog and publisher Dean Rodence were once rumored to have attempted to kill Lint with a truck. The story goes that they killed a different person by mistake and had to make reparations to the mob. Another story has it that Rodence and Lint once stared at each other quietly for seven hours in a freezing parking lot, each holding a different colored piece of velvet in their hands.
Despite flourishing in the pulp fiction market, Jeff Lint was not an author content to succeed in only one area. Lint branched out working in comics, writing Hollywood screenplays, and is probably best known outside of his short stories, plays and novels for his animated television show Catty and the Major. Originally optioned as a replacement for the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, Catty and the Major was cancelled after just four episodes when its bizarre and brutal content provoked episodes of violence among younger viewers. These four 1965 cartoon episodes have attained a large cult status over the years and have provoked much dissection and discussion over the possible meanings that can be interpreted from each show. Lint was commissioned to write a Star Trek episode that was found to be so strange that Gene Roddenberry exclaimed, "This isn't prose, it's gnats in formation!".
There was absolutely nothing normal about Jeff Lint's life. It was purported that his first wife, Madeleine, was initially attracted to him because of a large knife scar that went from his left eye down to his mouth. Unfortunately for Lint the "scar" was actually a sleep crease. Initially Lint, a frequent napper, had no difficulty maintaining the rouse. After five months an onset of insomnia spelled the marriage's doom. Even death was abnormal in the life of Jeff Lint, as rumors of his death abounded long before the actual date of departure. Jeff Lint, ever the clever wordsmith, is interred under a tombstone bearing the phrase "Don't think of it as a problem, but as a challenge which has defeated you."
Steve Aylett has put together a wild and entertaining biography of Jeff Lint that includes color plate images of the covers of his various books and an appendix containing many of Lint's more well-known quotations. Yes, this little book is a gem. And even if you have never heard of Jeff Lint, this book is highly entertaining. Why? Well quite frankly because Jeff Lint didn't exist. What Steve Aylett has done is put together a very odd, sometimes nonsensical, but often laugh-out-loud funny mock biography of a pulp fiction writer who only exists in the author's imagination. Being a fan of pulp science fiction and yet knowing very little about that actual time period, I suspect that there are thinly veiled references to actual persons and works scattered throughout this book that would reward a bit of research and a second read.
When Andi and Heather offered this book for review I jumped at the chance, and I am so glad that I did. Lint is certainly an experimental work and not one that I can see appealing to a very broad crowd. That being said, there was never a time when I was tempted to put it down as Steve Aylett proves himself a very clever writer in his own right. The section on Lint's failed Star Trek script had me in tears I was laughing so hard. The best and most uproarious sections of the book come in the form of Lint's quotes and philosophy. For example, in a 1970 interview Lint opines, "Every ten seconds somewhere in the world, someone is realizing I am right." Other favorites include "Employment is atrophy speeded up" and "Of course the government wants us to kick heroin. And they're not asking us to do anything they haven't done themselves." In addition to Lint's odd statements, silly phrases like "...he took to review work like a chimp to a centrifuge" abound. Turning the final page I can only say that it is a true shame that Jeff Lint did not actually exist, but despite that fact, this is the next best thing.