Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Mucker by Edgar Rice Burroughs

The Mucker by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
ACE Edition 1974 Copyright 1914

To many ERB aficionados, "The Mucker" is regarded to be Burroughs' best work. So, when I saw it in the used book store discount bin for a dime, I grabbed it. Could of been the best dime I spent.

Eighteen chapters of high adventure, which was originally published serially in 1914 by All-Story Cavalier Weekly. Each chapter a story in itself. Billy Byrne is a tough, slum-punk, hoodlum from Chicago. Far from the ERB hero type, he ends up kidnapped aboard a ship and fighting everything from pirates, samurai, headhunters, thugs, etc... As Byrne goes on his violent adventure, the good that is in him slowly evolves. He realizes the needs of others and uses his brawn to help them. We see Byrne's development through the girl (Barbara Harding) in the story, who first sees Byrne as vulgar and vile, and at the end- loyal, brave and honorable.

To me it wasn't the best ERB novel, my personal favorite is "Tarzan and the Leopard Men," but it is definitely up there. A fun read, that is packed with action and adventure as these serialized stories were intended to be. After almost 100 years, Edgar Rice Burroughs and "The Mucker" can still entertain readers today.

Note: Besides the fine story, the dime was worth it for the Frank Frazetta cover. There is a second book, "The Return of The Mucker" with another Frazetta cover. I'll keep a dime in my pocket for that one.

1 comment:

Sachem81 said...

ERB's "The Mucker" just cries out for sociocultural analysis! It is a rollicking adventure story, but it is also overflows with opportunities to analyze early twentieth century ideas about race, class, culture, ethnicity, and "civilization." Billy Byrne, who is of Irish heritage and raised by the savage detritus of Chicago's West Side, begs for comparison to Tarzan the English nobleman raised by apes in the wilds of Africa. Because of his noble blood Lord Greystoke is able to overcome the deprivations of his upbringing. Poor Billy realizes that he will never fit into to genteel society and must prove that he has learned chivalry by sacrificing his love for Barbara Harding, the cream of American womanhood whose feminine virtues inspired our hero to aspire to improve himself.