Jeff Lint: The Burst Sofa of Pulp
by Steve Aylett
Originally published in Arthur No. 2 (December, 2002)
Pulp sci-fi author Jeff Lint has loomed large as an influence on my own work since I found a scarred copy of I Blame Ferns in a Charing Cross basement, an apparently baffled chef staring from the cover. After that I hunted down all the Lint stuff I could find and became a connoisseur of the subtly varying blank stares of booksellers throughout the world.
Born in Chicago in 1929, Jeff (or Jack) Lint submitted his first story to the pulps during a childhood spent in Santa Fe. His first published effort appeared in a wartime edition of Amazing Stories because Lint submitted it under the name “Isaac Asimov.” “And Your Point Is?” tells the story of an unpopularly calm tramp who is pelted every day with rocks, from which he slowly builds a fine house. The story already reflected the notion of ‘effortless incitement’ which Lint would practice as an adult. “Jack was fantastic,” says friend Tony Fleece. “Went around blessing people – knew it was the most annoying thing he could do. A dozen times, strangers just beat the hell out of him.” Lint perfected the technique when he stumbled upon the notion of praying for people.
Lint’s first novel was published by Dean Rodence’s Never company in New York. The relationship between Rodence and Lint was one of complete mistrust, rage and bloody violence. When submitting work in person, Lint insisted on appearing dressed as some kind of majorette. “He was a large man and clearly wasn’t happy at having to do this,” explains Fleece. “He blamed Rodence, was resentful. I still don’t know where he got the idea he had to dress that way when handing his stuff in.”
The first novel with Never was One Less Person Lying, in which Billy Stem must tell the truth or be transformed into the average man. Rodence persuaded Lint to change the title word ‘Person’ to ‘Bastard.’ On a night of pre-press jitters, Rodence then partially re-wrote the final sections of the book so that Stem puts on a spacesuit and goes berserk, killing an innocent stranger with a large rock. The book was published as simply One Less Bastard. In the 25 years of their association Lint never forgave Rodence for the incident, and often alluded to it by repeated use of the word “bastard” when speaking to him.
Around the time of his second published novel Cheerful When Blamed, Lint met his first wife Madeline, who was attracted to him by a knife scar which led from below his left eye to his mouth. This was in fact a sleep crease and Lint managed to maintain the mistake by napping through most of the marriage. But after five months a bout of insomnia put paid to the relationship and left Lint with nothing to occupy his time but his writing–luckily for the world of literature, as he produced some of his best work at this time, including Jelly Result, Nose Furnace, Slogan Love and I Eat Fog, all of which appeared on Rodence’s new Furtive Labors imprint. Turn Me Into a Parrot took issue with the fundamentalist notion that the world was only a few thousand years old and that dinosaur bones had been planted by god to test man¹s faith. Lint asserted that the world was only sixty years old and that the mischievous god had buried sewers, unexploded bombs and billions of people. In my own book Shamanspace I make it clear that humanity arrived eons ago but, like a man standing in front of an open fridge, has forgotten why.Continue reading