short stories

The Last Osama

I’m working on what I hope will be my final Osama story – following My Travels with Al-Qaeda, Wrong Number and, of course, the forthcoming Osama.

It’s a story collaboration with “Mike Longshott”, the pulp paperback writer Joe is hired to find in Osama, as well as featuring him as the hero of a pulp story about a special sort of bounty-hunter. At the same time, like in Osama, it has its metafictional element, a second layer of narrative written by “Lavie Tidhar”. I have no idea yet where it will be published, but here is a short extract from the “me” sections, explaining where “Mike Longshott” originally came from.

I plucked “Mike Longshott” out of the moulding Hebrew pulp novels of the sixties and seventies. He was a composite being, a man who did not really exist. Longshott wrote soft core pornography, tales of Nazi concentration camps where prisoners were abused, physically and sexually, by Aryan goddesses, sadistic nymphomaniacs of the Third Reich.

He was a pen-name broke young writers hid behind for cash. He was a collective, burrowing into the sexual and social taboos of his era. He wrote crap, was paid crap, and his books, sold under the counter, went from hand to hand and bathroom to bathroom, their covers featuring naked flesh and whips, guard posts and POW slaves and a plethora of large improbable breasts. He never lived, he never breathed, his prose was eminently forgettable. He was a hack, a pulpster, a paperback writer. His name was Mike Longshott and he was going to be my hero.

Two Hebrew pulp novels, the one on the left by Mike Longshott (The Murder in the Stalag), the one on the right by “Mike Baden” (the notorious Stalag 13).