Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
|Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.|
Schenectady, New York
|Genres||horror fiction, noir fiction, hardboiled, dark fantasy, poetry|
Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. (born 1955 Schenectady, New York) is an author and poet, much of whose work falls within the horror fiction, noir fiction / hardboiled, and dark fantasy genres. He lives in Germany.
- 1 Work as author
- 2 Critical reception
- 3 Work as editor
- 4 Bibliography
- 5 External links
- 6 Sources
Pulver started his publishing career in the early 1990s with a number of short stories published in various American small press magazines, foremost among them Robert M. Price’s Crypt of Cthulhu. His tales cover subjects ranging from Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos and Robert W. Chambers’ "King in Yellow."
In addition to various American small press magazines, Pulver’s work has been featured in numerous anthologies in the US, UK, France, and Japan. Some of these anthologies include: "Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror", "The Tindalos Mythos", "Spawn of the Green Abyss", "The Book of Eibon", Lin Carter’s "Anton Zarnak: Supernatural Sleuth", and "Rehearsals For Oblivion".
Nearly two dozen short works of his have been translated into French and Japanese.
Of Pulver and his 2009 work ("Blood Will Have its Season"), published by Hippocampus Press, critically acclaimed author, Thomas Ligotti, has said, "Some writers one admirers and others make one want to do as they do, or try. For me, Joe Pulver is of the latter type. His imagination is so vile so much of the time that it makes me giggle with amazement. And the prose so deadly visionary. I'm grateful that the pieces in this collection are those of a fellow horror writer who has raised the ante on what it means to be such a creature."
Lovecraftian biographer and scholar, S. T. Joshi, has said, "The prose of Joe Pulver can take its place with that of the masters of our genre-E.A. Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Ramsey Campbell, Thomas Ligotti-while his imaginative reach is something uniquely his own."
Rick Keffel of Bookotron.com has this to say: "Whatever your expectations may be, check them at the door. Pulver has a truly unique style for the horror genre, and this collection of short stories is a perfect vehicle for this sort of style . . . Pulver is an original."
Noted Lovecraftian editor, scholar, and writer, Robert M. Price has stated: "From the earlier book ("Nightmare's Disciple") I already recognized Pulver's genius in his ability to shape-shift stylistically between Raymond Chandler and Thomas Ligotti--without your even noticing! Like the gospel demon, his name ought to be Legion, since he assumes a new voice and persona as every particular chapter or sequence requires. In the new book, Pulver's polyphonic gifts mutate to a new and even more powerful pitch. The short scope of these many works allows him to write less leisurely, more rapid-fire. The author possesses another unique gift. The only way I know to describe it is to say that he combines the headlong, violent pace and savage sensibilities of Robert E. Howard with the refined and baleful mood of Robert W. Chambers and Thomas Ligotti, and all this in an intricate, almost blank verse poetic diction. There is nothing like it!"
Laird Barron states, that "Joe Pulver is that rare artist who wears his influences on his sleeve yet is wholly original. He infuses his mellifluous prose with a raw, intellectual swagger that is sorely lacking in genre fiction. There are many writers of dark fantasy and horror, but after Joe Pulver the gods broke the mold."
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (June 2013)|
Robert M. Price: "Pulver's genius in his ability to shape-shift stylistically between Raymond Chandler and Thomas Ligotti--without your even noticing! Like the gospel demon, his name ought to be Legion, since he assumes a new voice and persona as every particular chapter or sequence requires. In the new book, Pulver's polyphonic gifts mutate to a new and even more powerful pitch. There is nothing like it! It sounds, indeed reads, like a living contradiction in terms! The result is a deep dark forest of wonders, containing both monsters and molesters, both angels and devils."
Simon Strantzas: "There's a mighty storm coming to rip up the world you know and tear a hole in all you believe. That storm's name is Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., and I pity anyone who dares stands in his way."
Anna Tambour: "In human terms, if I had to compare him to other authors, I would say that he reminds me more of a mug of hot Lear blended with Cummings, served with a squeeze of post-enema'd Shelley." 
W. H. Pugmire: "Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. -- one of today's truly original and effective artists, before whom we bow, hypnotized."
Richard Gavin: "Pulver is a writer who takes risks with each story he fashions, which in turn makes reading them exceptionally rewarding."
Pearce Hansen: "I'm in love with this man's work. This is not for you if you prefer bland, `normal' horror writing - but IMHO he is one of the most important voices in the genre today (if you can even impose the term `genre' on a style so personal and sincere). Read him."
Praise for A Season in Carcosa
Walter Hicks (Hellbound Times): "This is a superior collection, with a diverse and outstanding line-up of talent. As with any anthology, some of the stories will work better for individual readers than others, but each one merits inclusion and consideration here. Does it accentuate the reading experience to be familiar with Chambers/The King in Yellow? Probably, and though I would highly recommend reading the source material, it certainly is not a necessity. All readers who enjoy ominous, enigmatic and darkly beautiful literature, highly imaginative journeys into madness, altered realities and the true terror behind the Mask will relish spending A Season in Carcosa." 
Praise for Blood Will Have Its Season
Ellen Datlow: "Blood Will Have Its Season is an ambitious debut [...] obviously influenced by H.P. Lovecradt and Robert W. Chambers, for the most part Pulver uses their influences to create potent tales of his own. A writer to keep an eye on."
Jeffrey Thomas: "In this innovative, hypnotic collection, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. has proven himself to be a perversely masterful sculptor of our dreams."
Robert M. Price: "In an earlier day I feel sure Joe Pulver would have been arrested for writing some of the stuff in this collection. Maybe he will be yet! How can he write, with such intricate delicacy, thunderous prose that fairly rips up the pages it is printed on? I wish I knew!"
Rick Kleffel: "Whatever your expectations may be, check them at the door. Pulver has a truly unique style for the horror genre, and this collection of short stories is a perfect vehicle for this sort of style . . . Pulver is an original."
Praise for Portraits of Ruin
Thomas Ligotti: "Let us posit that Bukowski is the sun. Or Brautigan, Burroughs and the Beats—a solar Coney Island of the Mind where Timothy Leary’s dead and dead Cthulhu waits and sings the live long daydream believer. Then Joe Pulver’s Portraits of Ruin would be the burst of planets, Big Bang-Bang, Marquee Moons hanging on for what they got, scream of consciousness—in Outer Space no one can hear it . . . except Coffin Joe, Monster Mash Potato that big ol’ Portraits of Ruin—Mars needs it, you need it, so just open the lid and shake your fist—then say: “They kill horses, horses, horses, horses.” Thank you. Come again?"
Walt Hicks (Hellbound Times): "All writers are influenced and inspired by other writers, and we all know writers who echo those influences, running the gamut from subtly to obviously, but I don’t think I’ve ever read an author who is capable of blending/bending his influences quite like Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. As impacting as a violent train wreck, the resultant explosion of mellifluous ethereality onto the page is something so totally different that it’s almost a completely new art form. Sure, you’ve got your Lovecraft, Robert W. Chambers, Ramsey Campbell, William Burroughs, Richard Brautigan, Raymond Chandler — even T. S. Eliot — but jam them all together into Pulver’s psychotic centrifuge, and the resulting velvet-swathed, running-the-guts spatter pattern ends up as a collection like Portraits of Ruin."
Simon Strantzas: "Fearless. Daring. Poetic prose for the unhinged. Each tale in "Portraits of Ruin" packs the sort of mental wallop that leaves the reader reeling. From the scorched deserts to the highest foreign towers, across plains of reality and beneath burning suns, this is no volume for the weak, for the conventional. It is a wake-up call from one of the genre's most visionary masters. A book for those who see differently, for those not afraid to know the truth no matter how terrible the cost. I envy anyone about to experience Pulver's horrors for the first time."
Matt Cardin: "Just be prepared for a ride that will upend your sensibilities. [...] Portraits of Ruin truly is a Coney Island of the Mind. But it's one where the rides drip with darkness and tilt at non-Euclidean angles, and whirl you into an abyss of strange entity that grins and chitters and babbles in alien tongues (which eventually come to sound like your own voice)."
Anna Tambour: "In this book the spaces matter. Fonts matter. So does all the punctuation. So does every word, no matter how shed like skin cells from aetheria and swept up it might seem. It's clear that Pulver is not only a perfectionist, but an agonist (isn't it an undramatised tragedy that this word, a noun even, isn't represented in dictionaries by meaning #3: 'one who agonises'— the snobs)." 
Praise for SIN & ashes
Laird Barron: "... I’m gawping in amazement, shaken by Pulver’s eviscerating vision. He wields language as a scalpel, a Thompson submachine gun, an axe... Joe Pulver calls down the fire. Joe Pulver’s the Man. He’s got the Power." (from the introduction to "SIN & ashes")
Ellen Datlow: "SIN & ashes is a deliciously varied and ambitious collection... by writer who is quickly making a name for himself."
Paul Tremblay: "Joe Pulver's SIN AND ASHES is a messed up (and I mean Cronenberg messed up) splicing of William S. Burroughs and Thomas Ligotti. Add a whiskey chaser. After reading these vibrant and weird stories with their assorted devils and down-and-outs, I kinda want to party with Joe. But I think I'm too scared to."
Gary McMahon: "Joe's SIN & ashes is surely one of the most important fiction collections of the year, and serves to remind us all that greatness is still possible in the field of weird fiction.”
Cody Goodfellow: "While everybody else in horror is still aping the shallow visual palette of cinema, Joe Pulver calls down a storm of psychotronic nightmares charged with the evocative depth and relentless pulse of the Devil's music. This isn't a book that wants to be a movie. This is a drug disguised as a book. SIN & ashes is an iconoclastic revolt, and a devastating reminder of the unique, unmatchable power of well-wielded words."
Praise for The Orphan Palace
Matt Cardin: "Joe Pulver, is like the answer to some arcane riddle: What do you get when you cross one of Plato’s Muse-maddened poets with a Lovecraftian lunatic, and then give their offspring to be raised by Raymond Chandler and a band of Beats? His work caters to a literary hunger you didn’t even know you had, and does it darkly and deliciously."
Jeffrey Thomas: "There are occasional books, movies, cds, etc. that are of such a special quality -- that resonate with people in such a perfect way -- that they seem immune to any strong negative criticism. Movies like FIGHT CLUB, TAXI DRIVER and DRIVE (I'm sure they have the rare haters), books like...oh...THE ORPHAN PALACE..."
Robin Spriggs: "Mad, malevolent, and incantatory, The Orphan Palace reads like the hagridden fever dream of one who has not only stared the Abyss in Its black and fathomless face, but welcomed Its gaze in return . . . and become Its living embodiment. It is a journey to be taken by none but the bravest of readers, and by souls with an ardent desire to savor their own damnation."
Maureen Kincaid Speller for Weird Fiction Review: "Moving to the present day, The Orphan Palace by Joseph S. Pulver (Chômu Press, 2011) certainly cannot be accused of such reticence. Ostensibly, the story of a road trip made by a serial arsonist and killer, from the West Coast to the East, in search of his childhood nemesis is not promising material, and I don’t mind admitting that The Orphan Palace initially seemed to sit far out on the edge of my reading comfort zone. However, it quickly became clear that there is much more to this novel than a trail of dumped cars, torched buildings and broken and bloody bodies."
Work as editor
Pulver has also been the editor of Midnight Shambler and Tales of Lovecraftian Horror. He was also the co-editor for Crypt of Cthulhu, published by Mythos Books LLC working alongside Robert M. Price, Michael Cisco and David Wynn. Crypt of Cthulhu also published several poems and short stories by Joseph S. Pulver.
- "Crypt of Cthulhu" (co-editor)
- "Midnight Shambler" (editor)
- "Tales of Lovecraftian Horror" (editor)
- John B. Ford: Dark Shadows On the Moon
- Ann K. Schwader: The Worms Remember
A Season in Carcosa
"In A Season In Carcosa readers will find the strange and mysterious places of heart and mind that spring from madness, and those minds and the places touched by it are the realms that are mined. Chambers' legacy of the worms and soft decay that spring from reading the King In Yellow play stir both new and established talents in the world of weird fiction and horror to contribute all new tales that pay homage to these eerie nightmares. In Carcosa twilight comes and minds lost in the mirrors of lust and fear, are awash in legacies of shadows, not mercy. . ." 
The Grimscribe's Puppets
"Thomas Ligotti is beyond doubt one of the Grandmasters of Weird Fiction. In The Grimscribe’s Puppets, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., has commissioned both new and established talents in the world of weird fiction and horror to contribute all new tales that pay homage to Ligotti and celebrate his eerie and essential nightmares. Poppy Z. Brite once asked, “Are you out there, Thomas Ligotti?” This anthology proves not only is he alive and well, but his extraordinary illuminations have proven to be a visionary and fertile source of inspiration for some of today’s most accomplished authors." 
- Blood Will Have Its Season, edited by S.T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press 2009
- SIN & ashes, edited by S.T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press 2010
- Portraits of Ruin, Hippocampus Press 2012
- Blog of Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
- Homepage of Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
- "Blood Will Have its Season" at Hippocampus Press
- "SIN & ashes" at Hippocampus Press
- Hippocampus Press
- "Blood Will Have its Season" at Myspace
- Amazon.com Reviews
- "Blood will have its Season", Foreword. pg. 11/12
- Hippocampus Press
- Rick Keffel's The Agony Column
- Medlar Comfits
- Amazon Review by Walter Hicks
- "On learning to read Joe Pulver’s ‘Portraits of Ruin’ by writing the introduction to it"
- Medlar Comfits
- Miskatonic River Press