I’ve known Ed Erdelac from New Pulp circles, but had never read any of his fiction before. Ed is a very talented author who has determined to carve out his own niche in the familiar sub-genre of spaghetti westerns.
If one is to be accurate, spaghetti westerns were westerns of the 1960s and 1970s made by Italian filmmakers in Spain with international casts and international funding. They offered an avant garde spin on westerns which were gritty, realistic, bloody, and notably laconic in contrast to the traditional Hollywood westerns which mythologized America’s past. Since the mid-1960s, Hollywood has occasionally offered up their own imitation spaghetti westerns, right up to Quentin Tarantino’s acclaimed Django Unchained.
Enter: Ed Erdelac. Ed wasn’t the first author to translate spaghetti westerns to the printed page. Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy inspired a Man with No Name literary series in the 1960s. However, he is, to my knowledge, the first author to put a Jewish spin on this very stylish sub-genre. While there was a tongue-in-cheek Jewish spy series in the 1960s, Erdelac isn’t interested in writing a kitsch genre spoof like Sol Weinstein’s Agent Oy-Oy Seven series. The Merkabah Rider series is as deadly serious as it is eccentric and the dramatic tone makes all the difference to the book’s success.