Pulp Fiction owner tells us how he got his books and what they represent

How did he get all those books?

Scantily clad woman and bulky shirtless men in tight leather pants line wooden shelves that enclose a bright red, retro Coca-Cola refrigerator, black cushioned seats with metal backings and a fluffy, eloquently trimmed poodle draw customers in, rather than just the smell of coffee that permeates the Lawrence Avenue and Pandosy Street junction.

Max Sloan, 76, owner of Pulp Fiction Coffee House in downtown Kelowna, spent almost 60 years of his life collecting these books.

The shop is named after the term coined in the 1920s describing the type of cheaply produced 10-by-7-inch paper manufactured by wood pulp, in which risky literature was printed on, according to R.D. Mullen, back in 1995.

“Of course, I’m old as dirt now,” Sloan said with a grin. “I’ve been doing this for a lot of years.”

When Sloan, originally from southern Alberta, retired from the oil industry as a consultant 10 years ago, he knew this was his chance to follow a lifelong dream.

“Someday I knew I was going to open a book shop,” he said.

And that’s what Pulp Fiction was meant to be when it opened in 2012: a book shop. But the demographics didn’t suit the business and Sloan married the idea of a coffee shop, with a book shop to sustain his business.

READ MORE: Separating fact from (pulp) fiction in Kelowna

“I have the best baristas and the best coffee,” he said. “I realized that combining the two was the only way that this book shop could exist.”

Sloan proclaimed he has one of the largest antique bookend collections in all of North America. When he travelled for work, he would journey through the United States’ southern and mid-western states to pad his collection of antique literature. One by one, he slowly gathered the collection you see today in Pulp Fiction and the overflow that he has tucked away in a warehouse.

“I’m an image guy—I love to read—but I’m an image guy, too,” he said, referencing the provocative artwork on the front of the his books. “That was really the hook for me.”

READ MORE: Iconic rock photographer Bob Gruen talks life, photography, rock ‘n’ roll

Back when the infamous string of cheap literature, known as pulp fiction, was published in the late 1800s and early 1900s, some of the artwork was quite suggestive, creating a counterculture against the more reserved 20th-century norms.

Some say this genre of literature influenced the following century; a century that featured the 1950s beatnik generation, lead by Jack Kerouac, Joanne Kyger, Allen Ginsberg, Diane Di Prima and the wily Neal Cassaday. Following the footsteps slowly after was Ken Kesey and Hunter S. Thompson.

Covers on books such as the Nympho Librarian and Sin on Wheels featured sleek, beautiful women essentially selling literary sex. It’s a relic that lives on, almost in secrecy, due to the popularity of the cult-classic film, Pulp Fiction.

READ MORE: Shop owner says City of Kelowna hurting small business

Sloan’s wife, Gloria, was a realtor before retiring around the same time her husband did. She is normally around the shop between 10 and 3 p.m.—not as much as her self-proclaimed “workaholic” husband, who puts in seven days a week at about 10-hour shifts.

They have two children; one who lives in South Korea, teaching English and another who started his own business. But do they share their father’s passion for 1900s literature?

“No, probably not,” Sloan said, smiling at his attempts to draw his kids into the art form. “He’s a little older now and he started to come around and say that’s pretty nice. So they’ve had a change of heart a little bit.”

READ MORE: New joint opens its doors in Kelowna

David Venn
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
Email me at david.venn@kelownacapnews.com
Follow us on Facebook | Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: More infected passengers on planes flying to and from Okanagan and Kamloops airports

The BC Centre of Disease Control has identified numerous flights with COVID-19 cases

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

Lake Country Food Bank welcomes wheelbarrow load of donations

Rotary Club presents symbolic cheque for the $24,600 raised since August 2018

Vernon family shares story of son’s cancer recovery to encourage blood donation

Finlay Ritson’s parents can’t donate blood, but hope his story will encourage others to do so

‘Better days will return’: Queen Elizabeth delivers message amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Queen said crisis reminds her of her first address during World War II in 1940

UPDATE: Coronavirus concerns prompt event cancellations across the Okanagan

This is a running list of events cancelled across the Okanagan

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

Canadian cadets to mark 103rd anniversary of Vimy Ridge April 9 virtually

Idea of Captain Billie Sheridan in Williams Lake, B.C. who wondered what to do in times of COVID-19

Okanagan nordic centre loses out on 2021 nationals

Sovereign Lake near Vernon was to host 2020 Canadian championships, canceled due to COVID-19

COVID-19: North Okanagan spring leagues wiped out

Ladies softball, indoor and beach volleyball leagues shut down over pandemic

COVID-19: Interior Crisis Line calls increase

Calls directly related to pandemic up 25 per cent over final two weeks of March

Most Read