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Harlan Ellison has been described (and he's personally agreed with the assessment that came from a dust jacket on one of his books) that he's possibly the most contentious person on Earth. But, wow! Can that boy write? Ellison is now only one candle shy of 80 and this book was first published in the early 1950's when he was dipping his toe into the street gang scene in NYC.
Web of The City is the real West Side Story without the singing and the dancing. Puerto Rican Rusty Santoro tries to leave his gang, the Cougars, and finds it's harder than getting off the AARP mailing list.
Fans of Ellison know that he can write with one hand tied behind his back but in this book it becomes apparent that the man had no learning curve. Back in the early `50s with this, his first published book, he hit the ground running with his bad-boy, hard hitting, in-your-face style of lit.
The realism he's crafted in Web of The City makes it a difficult read; the world of gangs is ugly and brutal. It' difficult to comprehend that this setting and chronology where Ellison has placed Rusty Santoro is in the hidden underbelly of America's Golden Age of Ozzie and Harriet. Read it and weep readers: I did.
I have been a big fan of Harlan Ellison and the Hard Case Crime books but never expected to find the two together. But it fits and it is a revelation because we see the roots of Ellison's style. Included in this collection is Harlan's very first novel written in 1957 and three early pulp stories with very similar themes.
When I first started reading the images from West Side Story kept playing through my head. But soon we come to a scene of a gang fight in which a shard of glass is strapped to a pole and launched through someones eyeball. Nope, this is not West Side Story. This is the real thing. A world of Drugs and Sex and Violence. Harlan lived in this world to research this book.
The first short story is the most interesting it features some of the same characters in a alternate version in which things happen differently.
This over-sized trade paperback features a great painting by Glen Orbik.
Harlan Ellison is one of America's greatest living writers and you will thoroughly enjoy this timeless tale which showcases some very early Ellison. The Man could always write.
As an avid reader/collector of all things Ellison, This was an easy sell! Nice to have a Trade sized Hard Case too. As speculative fiction goes I've pretty much run the gamut, but the earlier '50s-era stories are still to be discovered. "Can't have it all?" Suuuure you can!