Bucking Tradition: 10 Interesting Takes on Pulp

Tony O’Neill, Sick City

At the core of Sick City is a crime novel: an unlikely pair of protagonists trying to sell off a classical MacGuffin — in this case, a late-’60s sex tape featuring multiple icons of the silver screen. But O’Neill’s also discovered that the basic genre structure allows him plenty of space to discuss his own preferred topics. Here, those include the horror of reality television, the flaws of the recovery movement, and the general excellence of Dexy’s Midnight Runners — tangents and subplots that add up to something more resonant than expected. And given that each of his protagonists is struggling with a copious drug addiction, the plotting of this novel is similarly impossible to pin down.