Stark House, one of my favorite Small Presses, has been reprinting some of Barry N. Malzberg’s huge output. Malzberg is probably best known for his quirky Science Fiction, but he wrote fiction in several genres.

Screen was published in 1968 by Olympia Press. Malzberg’s afterward essay, “The Jewel and the Madonnas,” tells how he sold Screen to publisher Maurice Girodias who considered it a masterpiece. Malzberg’s troubled protagonist, Martin Miller, works for the Welfare Department, but is threatened with firing. Miller is not concerned because his passion is watching movies. He goes to theaters and while the movie is playing, fantasizes about the actresses on the screen: Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot, and Elizabeth Taylor.

Cinema (aka, The Masochist and Everything Happened to Susan) features a young woman with Candy characteristics who attempts to become an actress by working in porno films. Malzberg skewers the film making industry with savage portraits of an “artistic” director and a controlling agent for the film’s producers. In the afterward essay, “The Commercial Culture,” Malzberg writes about the absurdity of the film industry then and now.

Both Screen and Cinema have been out-of-print for many years. Stark House restores them and Barry N. Malzberg provides the context and the history behind these novels. If you’re a Barry N. Malzberg fan, this is a must-buy! GRADE: B+ (for both)

11 thoughts on “FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #598: SCREEN and CINEMA By Barry N. Malzberg

  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    Not familiar with these. I read a lot of his SF in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I enjoyed most of it. His books tended to be very dark which has always appealed to me. He was very productive back then. For the last 40 years his output seems to be mostly intros and afterwards or very short stories, usually with another writer.

    1. george Post author

      Steve, you’re right about the darkness in Malzberg’s work. SCREEN/CINEMA includes a Bibliography of Malzberg’s books that goes on for pages.

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    Malzberg also wrote mysteries in collaboration with Bill Pronzini, which I enjoyed. I haven’t read any of his SF but I have read some of his non fiction.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, Malzberg criticized the publishing industry in some of those non-fiction essays. Malzberg says the most money he ever made on a book was the one he wrote with Bill Bronzini: THE RUNNING OF BEASTS.

      1. Todd Mason

        More, George. Kathe Koja one of his more frequent collaborators for a while, though Bill Pronzini and he have done so over decades.

        Was graduated in the same class from Syracuse U’s English/writing program as Joyce Carol Oates. I’ve chosen to make a joke about the SU libraries bookcase for that class (’60?) being approximately half Oates, half Malzberg and perhap a few other volumes squeezed in.

      2. george Post author

        Todd, Joyce Carol Oates’ new book–Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars–just received a rave review in the NEW YORK TIME BOOK REVIEW. I have read about a dozen Malzberg books and have at least a dozen waiting to be read on my shelves.

  3. Michael Padgett

    Malzberg was someone whose name I encountered frequently in the 70s and I think I might have read a few stories but no novels. Those who liked him seemed to be very enthusiastic but I never read enough of his stuff to take a position.


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