For some reason which I still don’t quite understand, several weeks ago I started to get very interested in pulp fiction.  I’ve developed a keen interest in hard-boiled crime thrillers and swashbuckling sci-fi/fantasy/adventure yarns (a la Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, etc.) .  Now when I go to a used-book store or used-book sale these are the first books I look for!  It’s many years now since the golden age of pulps came to a close, and yet in recent years pulp fiction has made a big comeback and is now far more popular than ever.  It’s an interesting cultural phenomenon.   In addition to providing a lot of much needed escapist entertainment (as John Ashbery said, “We’re going to need all the escapism we can get, and even that won’t be enough.”) I think these books are exploring and mapping out our modern mythologies.  There seems to be a perennial human need for mythologies.  Part of the essential human need to find meaning in struggle.  It helps that these stories are rendered in bold, broad strokes.  Perhaps we would like to be able to extract clear meanings from our own lives with such boldness and such aplomb.  Mythology is not dead.  It lives on and is constantly evolving, spreading out into new and more various forms….