The Mucker (Hardcover)
|Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs|
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|Billy Byrne was a product of the streets and alleys of Chicago's great West Side. From Halsted to Robey, and from Grand Avenue to Lake Street there was scarce a bartender whom Billy knew not by his first name. And, in proportion to their number which was considerably less, he knew the patrolmen and plain clothes men equally as well, but not so pleasantly.His kindergarten education had commenced in an alley back of a feed-store. Here a gang of older boys and men were wont to congregate at such times as they had naught else to occupy their time, and as the bridewell was the only place in which they ever held a job for more than a day or two, they had considerable time to devote to congregating.They were pickpockets and second-story men, made and in the making, and all were muckers, ready to insult the first woman who passed, or pick a quarrel with any stranger who did not appear too burly. By night they plied their real vocations. By day they sat in the alley behind the feedstore and drank beer from a battered tin pail.The question of labor involved in transporting the pail, empty, to the saloon across the street, and returning it, full, to the alley back of the feed-store was solved by the presence of admiring and envious little boys of the neighborhood who hung, wide-eyed and thrilled, about these heroes of their childish lives.Billy Byrne, at six, was rushing the can for this noble band, and incidentally picking up his knowledge of life and the rudiments of his education. By the time he became an adult, he was another thing entirely. . . .|
Born to wealthy parents in 1875, Edgar Rice Burroughs attended private schools in the Chicago area, before going to Andover, Massachusetts for further education. Unfortunately, he was expelled and, after a brief stint at military school in Michigan, he joined the U.S. Cavalry, stationed in Arizona. He began writing when he was 35, with his first story, "Under the Moons of Mars", appearing in 1911 under the pseudonym Norman Bean. This story, which became the basis for his novel A PRINCESS OF MARS, introduced the character of John Carter, a man who, while in an Arizona cave, discovers a gateway to the planet Mars. This character went on to appear in a series of books, and became one of the most well-known figures in science fiction. But it was Burroughs's next creation that would truly change his life. In 1912 he wrote TARZAN OF THE APES, the first in what would eventually stretch to a series of 24 books (not counting those written by other authors). In 1912, Burroughs moved to Los Angeles to oversee the production of the first film version of TARZAN and he remained there for most of the rest of his life. During World War II, the 66-year-old Burroughs worked for the Los Angles Times, becoming the oldest reporter in the Pacific Theater. Tarzan had made him rich, and he was able to buy a large amount of property in Los Angeles County, which is still called Tarzana. Critical opinion of his writing is generally negative; it is often considered excessively crude and it suffers greatly from then-current opinions about native peoples. Nevertheless, Burroughs's books have been enormously influential in science fantasy circles--especially in regard to their notions of the Hero--and have always been popular, with nearly all of them remaining in print in some form or another. And with over 70 films based on Tarzan, and more being made all the time, it seems likely that the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs will continue to be popular well into the future.