For those of you who don’t already know, the TIP-TOP-TAP is THE FABULOUS CLIPJOINT! The Chicago night club is no longer open, but it is registered as a historic landmark. Me, I think we ought to have the thing bronzed.
THE FABULOUS CLIPJOINT (no, it wasn’t a barber shop) was the first of several Ed and Am mystery classics by the great FREDRIC BROWN. Ed was the kid who’d joined his uncle Ed in the carnival. Ed, an ex-private investigator turned carnival barker, was Ed’s mentor. A movie version of their adventure THE SCREAMING MIMI was made in the sixties, starring Anita Ekberg and Gypsy Rose Lee if you want to check that out—and his short story ARENA has been adapted for more TV series than I could name.
If you like CRIME NOIR, Brown’s THE FAR CRY is one of my all-time favorites. If you like SF, so is MARTIANS GO HOME and WHAT MAD UNIVERSE.
Brown was also a master of the short-short story, and, dare I say, one of the greatest short story writers of the Twentieth Century—right up there with Borges and Harlan Ellison. Seriously, if you never have, check out a collection of his short stories, Crime or Speculative, I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
The Am and Ed mysteries may seem quaint to some by modern standards, but books like the above mentioned and HERE COMES A CANDLE remain vibrant to this day. As a matter of fact the good people over at SEQUENTIAL PULP COMICS are adapting some of his great works even as I type these words. I’ve seen the Martian from their version of MARTIANS GO HOME, and it’s exactly up to Brown’s Specs.
If you’d like to know more about Fredric Brown, or read a couple of his amazing short-short stories, check out PARADOX LOST THE FREDERICK BROWN HOMEPAGE.
And stay out of those clipjoints.