Friday, May 14, 2010

Beggars of Life returns to print

Speaking of Beggars of Life . . . the 1924 bestselling book by Jim Tully which served as the basis for the 1928 William Wellman film of the same name starring Louise Brooks, is due to be republished. The book will be republished in June by Kent State University Press, with a new cover and new introductions by Tully scholars Paul J. Bauer and Mark Dawidziak.

This from the publisher: "Jim Tully takes us across the seamy underbelly of pre-WWI America on freight trains, and inside hobo jungles and brothels while narrowly averting railroad bulls (cops) and wardens of order. 

Written with unflinching honesty and insight, Beggars of Life follows Tully from his first ride at age thirteen, choosing life on the road over a deadening job, through his teenage years of learning the ropes of the rails and living one meal to the next. 

Tully’s direct, confrontational approach helped shape the hard-boiled school of writing, and later immeasurably influenced the noir genre. Beggars of Life was the first in Tully’s five-volume memoir, dubbed the "Underworld Edition," recalling his transformation from road-kid to novelist, journalist, Hollywood columnist, chain maker, boxer, circus handyman, and tree surgeon.

Jim Tully (1891–1947) was a best-selling novelist and popular Hollywood journalist in the 1920s and ’30s. Known as "Cincinnati Red" during his years as a road-kid, he counted prizefighter and publicist of Charlie Chaplin among his many jobs. He is considered (with Dashiel Hammett) one of the inventors of the hard-boiled style of American writing."

The reprint of Beggars of Life is part of larger effort by Kent State University press to bring other Tully books back into print. So far, two other Tully novels have been reissued. They are Circus Parade, with a foreword by Harvey Pekar, and Shanty Irish, with a foreword by John Sayles. No word yet on who might be writing the foreword to Beggars of Life.

I do plan on getting a copy of this new edition, though I already own two other copies of the book! One of them is an old photoplay edition which once belonged, reportedly, to the son or grandson of Ambrose Bierce. The other is a first edition copy which once belonged to Colleen Moore. It has her decorative bookplate inside, and the book is inscribed by Tully to the actress with an appropriate Irish sentiment. It is one of my treasures.

Once it is released, the book should be available for purchase online and at better independent bookstores.

1 comment:

  1. This is wonderful news! I just watched American Splendor for the 2nd time--interesting that Pekar is familiar with Tully. Thomas, I'm wondering if you would send me an image of the Colleen Moore bookplate?

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