Item description for Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard by Mark Finn...
Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan, King Kull, and others that defined heroic fantasy, lived and died in the small town of Cross Plains, Texas. While his books remain in print, Howard himself has fallen into obscurity, his life mired in speculation and half-truth. This engaging biography traces the roots of his writings, correcting long-standing misconceptions, and offers a tour of Howard's world as he saw it: through his own incomparable imagination.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.8" Width: 5.9" Height: 0.9" Weight: 0.7 lbs.
Release Date Dec 25, 2006
Publisher MonkeyBrain Books
ISBN 193226521X ISBN13 9781932265217
Availability 0 units.
More About Mark Finn
MARK FINN is Associate Director of Training for Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at North Central Bronx Hospital.
Reviews - What do customers think about Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard?
The Story Teller's Story Teller May 25, 2008
Mark Finn's biography of Robert E. Howard is an interesting read & well worth the time for any fan of REH's work. Mr. Finn's examination of Howard by referencing his Texas roots has been mentioned by other reviewers & I'll not echo that here. Let me just say that I believe this treatment allows for a very unique & convincing testament that a writer's environment can & does influence his work. What I enjoyed the most about this book, though, is Mr. Finn's documenting that REH was first & foremost a story teller. I firmly believe that this was the reason the man wrote in so many different genres. He wanted to tell a great story & sought an eager audience for his work. Yes, a great deal of his prose can certainly stand alone on its literary merit. I don't think, however, that this was as important to REH as the tale itself. As far as I'm concerned, on this he had no equal. I challenge anyone seeking a great tale of action/adventure to spend some time with Mr. Howard's work. You'll be glad that you did. The last point I'd like to make concerns Mr. Finn's portrayal of REH as a relatively normal, though somewhat fragile, human being given his circumstances & environment. It's funny to think of such a giant of a physical speciman who enjoyed engaging in fistfights as fragile, but I believe Mr. Finn proves this assertion. Why is it that so many creative geniuses seem to be tormented by demons who eventually consume them? I can quickly name Howard, Van Gough, & Cobain in different disciplines. A lengthy list could easily be compiled in a short time. I appreciate that he doesn't seek to sensationalize REH's story as other's have done. Mr. Finn draws upon all of the material he had presented on his subject to explain the suicide. He doesn't attempt to make an apology or rationalize the act. He makes the case that, to REH, suicide was the final confirmation that he alone held control over his existence. Mr. Finn asserts & I agree that REH saw it as an act of bravery rather than of cowardice. No, this isn't Society's view, but it was Howard's. All of these things & an examination of the Howard mythology makes for a fascinating book. A great & worthy read & congratulations to the author!
A worthy Biography, and innovative in form May 5, 2008
Early into this superb biography on the Late, Great Robert E. Howard, Mark Finn discusses the difficulty of getting to the facts in Mr. Howards' life. Many of his own accounts of himself are exaggerated when told to friends through mail correspondence. His parents were both prone to trumping up their ancestors' feats and accomplishments as well, thus feeding Howards tendency of spinning autobiographical yarns. By extension, it is only natural that such a gifted embellisher would end up with a flair for pulp writing.
Mark Finn has found a way to make this an asset for understanding Howard's life and times, and how his environment shaped his fiction. Picture this: A booming center of humanity. Imperialistic men wanting to consolidate power, with corrupt officials only too eager to help. The rich land attracting all types of freebooters, and all the vice dealers who tail behind them to take their wages. Does this sound like it could be Boomtown Texas? Does it also sound equally like a Stygian outpost of Conan's Hyborian Age? Finn's connections are startling and illuminating.
If you are thinking after I say this that perhaps Finn has failed to capture the facts on Howard's life, rest assured. Finn is well researched, and has an obvious fondness for Howard and desire to see the record set straight about this man's prolific but tragically short life. He also desires, like many readers and authors who come after him, to acknowledge Howard as a gifted and influential writer, not just in pulp, but in popular literature. PERIOD. The real joy, however, is seeing how Finn weaves this all together with gifted storytelling in his own right to make an incredibly entertaining and simultaneously informative page turner. It is seriously one of the most accomplished works of non-fiction I have come across in terms of creativity.
Ultimately, even without the clever and entertaining structure, this would still remain the best Bio on Howard to date. No new info is likely to surface at this point that Finn hasn't covered, and there will not be many people left who remember Robert first-hand much longer, making this the Definitive Biography.
A must for R.E. Howard fans, and a definite reccomendation to anyone who appreciates the art of the Biography.
Excellent Jan 27, 2008
This book explores the life and times of one of the most famous writers ever to come out of the state of Texas. During his brief writing career in the 1920s and 1930s, Robert E. Howard did a lot more for imaginative literature than simply create the character of Conan the Cimmerian.
In the early 1900s, Texas was experiencing an oil boom. Practically overnight, a town would spring up around oil wells, bringing all sorts of people, from roughnecks to work the wells, to barkeepers to prostitutes. They would stay until the oil ran out, then move on to the next boom town. Howard grew up in one boom town after another; Isaac, his father, was a frontier doctor, so they also followed the oil. Howard got to see, up close and personal, the dark underside of civilization, and it disgusted him. Finally settling in Cross Plains, he was a voracious reader who hated the regimentation of school. He lived on pulp magazines, like Weird Tales, available at the local general store. Howard was the shy, quiet kid in town with no interest in joining the oil boom.
A major influence on Howard's development as a writer was the Texas tradition of telling tall tales. Isaac was an expert spinner of tales, and in her own way, Hester, his mother and an Irish immigrant, was pretty good at it, too. Hester had tuberculosis for most of Robert's life, which forced him to stay home and help take care of her, because Isaac was frequently gone for days on his "rounds." After he became a published author, Howard was one of the mainstays at Weird Tales. He sent them all sorts of stories, usually set in the distant past, showing civilizations that had already degraded into barbarism (like Texas of the early 20th Century). In those days, pulp magazines usually paid half a cent to one cent per word, payment was usually on publication, which could be several months after acceptance, and even then, payment was sporadic. Howard spent hours a day at his typewriter, writing boxing stories (a huge interest of his), poetry and westerns, along with tales of Conan, his most famous creation.
Anyone who has ever picked up a pulp magazine, or who knows REH as more than just the creator of Conan, will love this book, as I did. While Howard's books are still in print, Howard's life has fallen into obscurity. This book does a really good job of remedying that situation.
Robert E. Howard - Biography and More Jan 26, 2008
This is an excellent book and Mark Finn did a good job! Rather than go into detail about this wonderful must have book which the previous reviewers did, I'd like to share with you another terrific book that enlightens and opens up REH's world from a perspective of his girlfriend Novalyne Price. The book Novalyne wrote is entitled One Who Walked Alone and made into a movie The Whole Wide World on DVD starring Renee Zellweger and Vincent D'Onofrio as REH. I got this book on this site.com in about three days and read it in a few hours. The third book to have is The Last of the Trunk by Paul Herman which are what literally was left in REH's trunk of unfinished scripts, notes, etc. that Glenn Lord had and let REH Foundation publish and I'm so glad they did. In this book REH describes what it's going to be like in 1997 and he was so accurate! It's like he had a crystal ball. He did believe in reincarnation as Novalyne stated in WWW. The other book that is my favorite is The Black Stranger and other American Tales which has the scariest story entitled Pigeons From Hell that is scarier than Poe or Hitchcock; Read it at night with all the lights on and the next time you hear a whistle it will make the hairs on your skin stand on edge! The recent Best of REH volumes I & II are must haves, too! Some of my favorites are Red Nails, Beyond the Black River, and Rogues in the House. Most current book I've read is TWO GUN BOB which has Superb insight into REH's mind and stories. Neat factoid, REH had only visited the sea shore once in his life! Get Two Gun Bob before it's gone! If you've never read REH before you're in for a real treat - Enjoy and tell others about him.
Interesting and useful Aug 11, 2007
It's always surprising to me how little reliable biographical information is avaiable about REH, and how difficult it is to find editions of his works that are as he wrote them, rather than prissily "edited". Here's a biography whose author has gone to some trouble to place REH into his environment, the fringes of the oil fields of rural Texas in the first three decades of the 20th Century. In those days before radio, with movies a rare treat, when people got together they often entertained one another by telling stories, and one can easily picture the young REH lapping it all up, and when he came of story-telling age, eagerly joining in.
Finn does a pretty good job with some tickish topics, such as Howard's near-obsession with suicide, the very complex relationship he had with his mother and father, and the almost altogether sinister role played by washed-up sci-fi author L. Sprague de Camp in co-opting and copyrighting Howard's work for his own exclusive financial benefit.
This small-press book is relatively free of misprints. However, the text could also have used a sympathetic editor to iron the kinks out of some of Finn's stranger sentences.
As other reviewers have noted, the chapter about Conan seems a bit short, but the coverage of Conan's more interesting forerunner Kull is even shorter. Brevity is no sin with Howard's impressive pulp output to be surveyed and commented upon.