Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tiger 200, Humans 0

I've wrote just a couple of weeks ago about one of the many extraordinarily entertaining pulp era stories reprinted in the ebook anthology The Adventure Megapack. A while back, I did a video for my YouTube channel on another story included in the Megapack..

Well, I'm still reading through it (I'm rationing it out to one or two stories between full-length books I've read) and, by golly, I want to talk about another one.

"The Mindoon Maneater," by C.M. Cross, was published in All-Story Weekly's March 10, 1917 issue. In it,  we learn of a killer tiger that's been terrorizing the Burmese jungle for years. It avoids traps, dodges hunters, sneaks into villages and camps unhindered and is credited with killing many people. Particularly horrifying is its tendency to carry away small children. He's called the Mindoon maneater because he forced the entire population of the village of Mindoon to abandon their homes.

What makes the story so engrossing is the author's matter-of-fact prose. There's no overly dramatic description of the situation nor an over-use of purple prose. C.M. Cross tells the story with simple but intelligent economy. This works very well, allowing the suspense to build up naturally before reaching the violent climax.

His POV character is Moung Nay, a young member of the Karen people group who has built himself a reputation as a tiger hunter
even though he's only 18 years old. Moung Nay is summoned by the local British authority figure to join the hunt for Mindoon. Moung Nay thinks this is unwise--the rainy season is about to commence and trailing the tiger through the rains would be "like trying to chase an eel in the Papoon swamp."

But orders are orders and Moung Nay hopes to earn permission to own a rifle if he's successful. So he and his young nephew Sharoo set out from their remote home to the town of Donebu. Sharoo comes along because he'll be attending school there.

But Moung Nay, experienced and skilled as he is, doesn't count on running into the Mindoon maneater on the journey to Donebu. Armed only with his dah (his knife), Moung Nay finds himself battling desperately for the life of his nephew.

It's a great story--simple without being simplistic, while effectively setting up the story and giving us a sense of the main characters in just a few words. I keep raving about how the best fiction of the Golden Age of the Pulps represents some of the finest storytelling ever. I would cite "The Mindoon Maneater" as yet another reason to back up this claim.

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