Robert E. Howard Readers discussion

Fists of Iron: Round 2 (The Collected Boxing Fiction of Robert E. Howard, #2)
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Boxing Stories > Sailor Steve Costigan

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Vincent Darlage | 633 comments Having just received Fists of Iron: Round 2, I'm going to start reading (and in most cases, re-reading) the Steve Costigan stories. I love those stories. Anyway, the cover to this book is brilliant - I think it completely captures the feel of the character and the stories. I couldn't have asked for a better cover.

I finished reading the introductory essay by Mark Finn, "Tall Lying in the Far East: Robert E. Howard, Sailor Steve Costigan, and the Narrative Idyll." I have a lot of respect for Mark Finn. His REH biography, Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard, gave me an appreciation for Sailor Steve and Breckinridge Elkins. I really didn't understand the tall tale aspect of the stories before, but after I read Mark Finn's explanation, I immediately re-read those stories and had a blast of a good time. Anyway, Mark Finn's essay in this volume was top notch, with insightful analysis of the stories and a revisit of his explanation of REH's tall telling method.

In general, the essays in all of the REH Foundation books are exceptionally good, and this one was no exception. It was a gripping read, and a great start to the volume.

message 2: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) | 257 comments I had the pleasure of reading my first Steve Costigan story in Pit of Serpents and it was so hilarious, his inner monologues cracked me up good. Bloody fights and bawdy, real funny. Its a nice surprise.

I dont know how many Costigan stories there is in Waterfront collection but the next story is also Steve Costigan story. I dig him as much i liked Elkins first time i read him.

REH's talent for humorous stories never seize to surprise me.

Vincent Darlage | 633 comments Are you reading Waterfront Fists And Others: The Collected Fight Stories Of Robert E. Howard? If so, I think there are 15 Costigan stories in it.

Pit of Serpents is classic fun. I discovered Sailor Steve not that long ago for the first time, and that was also the first Sailor Steve story I read. I was hooked after that. I'm also surprised at REH's talent for humorous stories.

message 4: by Mohammed (last edited Apr 10, 2014 01:59PM) (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) | 257 comments Yeah im reading Waterfront Fist and Others, i got it long before there was the complete boxing collections by REHF.

15 Costigan stories in it ? That is the best news i have heard this week, thats like 10 more stories than i expected with Steve Costigan.

I was wondering which REH collection to get from REHFoundation publishing, Juvie El Borak? Science Fantasy collection? or the boxing volumes. Waterfront the fun Costigan stories and the leve of the other stories in it i have read made my decision much easier ;)

message 5: by Michael (last edited Apr 10, 2014 02:25PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Michael (dolphy76) | 440 comments Mohammed as far as more books from REH Foundation: I would suggest the following...Either Tales of Weird Menace, The Steve Harrison Casebook, Western Tales. I think these have most of your best written works. The Juvie El Borak is okay as I know you are an El Borak fan but the tales are not very well written compared to three above and the boxing stories IMO.
There is also another 10 boxing stories with Dennis Dorgan. They are basically the same but REH changed the character's name so he could get the stories published in another magazine under a different pen name. Unfortunately it didn't work out financially for him but it gives us an additional 10 stories!
The Adventures of Dennis Dorgan was published in paperback in 1974 and there is also a hardcover collector's edition published by FAX. I have two copies of it! I assume that they will be included in a future edition of "Fists of Iron".

message 6: by Vincent (last edited Apr 10, 2014 04:45PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Vincent Darlage | 633 comments Yes, but I understand the Dennis Dorgan's will be turned back into Steve Costigan's (except maybe the one DD that was published in REH's lifetime).

I agree with Michael - Tales of Weird Menace, The Steve Harrison Casebook, Western Tales are the best ones to get, unless you are really in love with the boxing stories - then get those! Volumes 2 and 3 are all Steve Costigan stories.

Warning: REH Foundation books are addictive... get one and soon you'll be saving to get them all...

Michael (dolphy76) | 440 comments So right! The REH Foundation books are addictive!
And that makes perfect sense to change the DD stories back to Steve Costigan. The only DD story published in his lifetime was "Alleys of Singapore" which was published as "Alleys of Darkness" if I'm not mistaken!

message 8: by Mohammed (last edited Apr 10, 2014 10:17PM) (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) | 257 comments Michael wrote: "Mohammed as far as more books from REH Foundation: I would suggest the following...Either Tales of Weird Menace, The Steve Harrison Casebook, Western Tales. I think these have most of your best wri..."

El Borak is my fav Howard hero and his adult adventure is the best action adventure i have read. So im very biased about my affection for El Borak even when i know the stories are young Howard and not well written compared to his best. I have Steve Harrison Casebook already. Western, Boxing is my next buys one of them along with El Borak.

I have not read many boxing stories while i have read almost all published western stories. Weird Menace is not so important right now since i have read many of his weird stories while i want to explore less known areas to me like boxing, western, Steve Harrison etc

I will get everything REHFoundation publishes. Its just a matter of which order to get the many books. They are a blessing so me since Howard is one of few writers i want a complete collection of his works that i can get my hand of.

Vincent Darlage | 633 comments The Early Adventures of El Borak is the first book I ever bought from the REH Foundation for the same reasons you mentioned, Mohammed.

message 10: by Mohammed (last edited Apr 11, 2014 05:42PM) (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) | 257 comments Plus its good to see teenage Howard wasnt the adult writer that is a master of many genres.

By the way since Steve Costigan is similar to Elkins, his stories when it comes to character, the humour i wonder do you think it becomes as much fun as Elkins stories?

I have read only two Costigan stories so far but what do you think in comparison between the two characters, their series stories? Are you not a fan of Elkins?

Michael (dolphy76) | 440 comments Yes some of the stories are very funny. I think Elkins is a bit more slapstick if that's possible but Costigan is just as clueless and only knows about boxing, the comraderie on his ship (for the most part) and of course his bulldog Mike. My favorites are Alleys of Peril, Pit of the Serpent, and Breed of Battle (the part where a crowd of people bring him dogs to answer his ad looking for the missing Mike cracked me up. All this while he was in the ring.
Overall I think Elkins is funnier though. Costigan is humorous. The Elkins stories make me laugh out loud though. I can never forget the part in "The Riot at Cougar Paw" when after a hair-raising hilarious ride in a buckboard with his cousin Bearfield Buckner that bounced Cousin Bearfield around banging his head and other parts of his anatomy and finally ending up hitting a tree and then running into thicket where a hornets' nest resided.
To quote-
"Cousin Bearfield vowed and swore, when he got back home, that I picked this thicket special on account I knew the hornets' nest was there, and drove into it plumb deliberate. Which same is a lie I'll stuff down his gizzard next time I cut his sign. He claimed they was trained hornets which I educated not to sting me, but the fact was I had sense enough to lay there plumb quiet. Cousin Bearfield was fool enough to run."
The first time I read this story I couldn't stop laughing!

message 12: by Mohammed (last edited Apr 12, 2014 01:45AM) (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) | 257 comments Yeah i see the difference in that Elkins is more slapstick while Costigan is mixing traditional boxing story with humorous tone. I think most the way their inner thoughts is written is somewhat similar. The tone of their clueless of inner thoughts, the way they say weird things with straight face is really funny in similar way.

I can see though that REH was a better writer of humour, character, better with imagary in Elkins stories than he was in circa 1929 when he wrote some of the humorous Costigan stories that i have read.

message 13: by Michael (last edited Apr 12, 2014 06:38AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Michael (dolphy76) | 440 comments The Elkins' tales have been compared to "tall tales" as in the stories of Pecos Bill although Breckinridge is an unreliable narrator as well.
The Boxing stories to me are not tall tales but just humorous stories as you say mixed in a more traditional sports story. Steve Costigan even mentions in one story that his dog Mike is named after his brother "Iron Mike Costigan" who was a professional boxer and Howard used him in other more serious boxing stories (at least one that I know of).
I enjoy them all but Elkins is more hysterical.

message 14: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) | 257 comments I didnt know who, what Pecos Bill was before i read Elkins and fellow REH fans in REHforum in told me.

I had vague idea of what tall tales was until i read Elkins stories and he is the picture of tall tales in my mind now. I have read more british take on Tall tales before Elkins only.

I enjoy Costigan more for the passion, interest, knowledge REH had about boxers of his time and before his time. Its a nice combo on Waterfront collection going from serious boxing stories like The Spirit of Tom Molyneuax to more humorous Costigan stories.

message 15: by Michael (last edited Apr 13, 2014 05:50AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Michael (dolphy76) | 440 comments Yup. Tall Tales is synonymous in my mind with American Folklore although many countries like Canada, UK, and Australia have their share of these tales as well. The Baron Munchausen stories would qualify as tall tales. A tall tale is a story with unbelievable elements but is based on fact. Like Pecos Bill riding a tornado, Davey Crockett killing the bear with a knife, Paul Bunyan, Big Foot Wallace (who was most definitely a real Texas Ranger), John Henry, Casey Jones. REH grew up in Texas which is ripe with "tall tales". It was a natural voice for him.

message 16: by Ó Ruairc (new)

Ó Ruairc | 169 comments Michael wrote: "Yup. Tall Tales is synonymous in my mind with American Folklore although many countries like Canada, UK, and Australia have their share of these tales as well. The Baron Munchausen stories would qu..."

William "Bigfoot" Wallace... now, that's a colorful character from the pages of Texas history!

Vincent Darlage | 633 comments I started reading the final volume of the complete Steve Costigan stories, Fists of Iron: Round 3. Again, the cover art is brilliant, and, IMHO, definitive.

I knew Action Stories had changed a couple of REH's boxing stories and the essays in these past two volumes (or rounds) have shows that "Blow the Chinks Down!" was originally "House of Peril" starring Mike Dorgan and "The Sign of the Snake" originally starred someone named McClarney. However, the story known as "Dark Shanghai" still remains a mystery to me. Action Stories has it as a Steve Costigan story, but no mention is made in the essays (that I recall) about its original character. I presume, since it is absent from these two volumes, that it originally starred someone else. Hopefully Round 4 will clear that up.

I am still loving the Steve Costigan stories. There are some differences between these tale and the ones in Fists of Iron: Round 2, but these differences just keep them from being variations on the same basic stories.

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