Pulp Fiction: Destry and Dr. Kildare


 Frederick Faust (Max Brand)


His uncle was Thomas Downey, the first principal of Modesto High School. When he was a teenager, Frederick Faust's mother wanted him to be raised with disicipline, so when Faust was orphaned, he went to live with his uncle. This excerpt from Jon Tuska's biography on MaxBrandOnline, gives a summation of Faust:


"Frederick Schiller Faust was born in Seattle, Washington, on May 29, 1892. An author of poetry, romances, fairy tales, legends, parables, allegories, fantasies, dreams, and psycho-dramas, Faust was one of the world’s greatest storytellers who by a fortuitous accident for his legions of devoted readers happened to write, in addition to many other kinds of fiction, over 300 Western novels and stories. Of Faust’s many pseudonyms, George Owen Baxter, David Manning, Evan Evans, and above all Max Brand are the bylines most common in his Western story appearances.


At a very early age Faust moved with his parents to the San Joaquin Valley in California. His parents were poor and, apparently to compensate for a life in which there was sometimes not enough to eat, Faust turned to medieval romantic literature and his own vivid imagination for solace. It was the extraordinary amount of physical labor Faust did as a youth that strained and enlarged his heart. Many of his protagonists would be confronted early on in his narratives with similarly brutal manual labor. When orphaned, he went to live with a distant relative, Thomas Downey, a high school principal. Faust was sixteen when Downey introduced him to a Classical education. Greek and Latin literature and mythology fired Faust’s mind and remained a lifelong frame of reference."


As he grew older, he would point to his years in Modesto as the time of his life where he learned how to write and had experiences that he would later use in his books. During his tenure at Modesto High School, Faust memorized the entire works of Shakespeare, which allowed him to pull out quotes for his works as necessary. As Max Brand he wrote "Destry" and created the Dr. Kildare series, among many other Western novels. He may have been a pulp fiction writer, but his books are still in publication today.


He went off to war in the 1940s as a reporter, when he was in his fifties. He joined the soldiers in the mud and rain of the Italian front, and, hit by shrapnel during a battle, died of his wounds on May 12, 1944. Modesto can not only claim him as an "almost-native" son, but can also take pride in how his education at the hands of Thomas Downey imbued in him a desire to write his 30 million published words.


Link: MaxBrand Online (a full biography and bibliography of his works are available)

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