Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Paperback 956: The Big Gold Dream / Chester Himes (Avon T-384)

Paperback 956: Avon T-384 (PBO, 1960)

Title: The Big Gold Dream
Author: Chester Himes
Cover artist: Uncredited

Estimated value: $50-60
Condition: (9+/10)

Best things about this cover:
  • She has that face I get when I look at the internet for too long. But she has better lips. And better hair. In that she actually has hair.
  • Love the Big Gold Font
  • I'm not usually a big fan of the multi-scene cover, largely because it makes all the visual elements too small to have the kind of dramatic impact I like, but this particular iteration is nicely handled. Captures the darkness and brightness (and architectural elements) of the city really nicely.
  • This book is in indescribably great condition. Shiny. Square. Unfaded. Tiny bit of wear to spine and very faint warp toward the tippy top of the book are the only things keeping this from 10/10 condition rating.
  • Chester Himes is a really important writer—possibly the most important black crime fiction writer in US history. The fact that I own a first-edition Himes in *this* condition is one of the crowning glories of my 20-year collecting addiction odyssey.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Those numbers slips are Fantastic. The rest, blargh.
  • Does have a compelling opening line, though. I want to dream about pies exploding with 100 dollar bills!
  • "The smell of fresh violence filled the air" is one of the more haunting lines I've read on a back cover.
  • Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones remain the best-named detectives in crime fiction history. Hercule shmercule.

Page 123~

Slick turned his stare back to Susie. "You're not very bright, rockhead," he said. "He wants to cut himself a slice of our pie."
"He's going to get more slices than he's looking for," Susie threatened.

Ooh, double entendre. Good one, Susie.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Monday, June 27, 2016

Paperback 955: The Way It Is / Curt Flood (Pocket Books 78188)

Paperback 955: Pocket Books 78188 (1st ptg, 1972)

Title: The Way It Is
Author: Curt Flood
Cover artist: photo cover

Estimated value: $20-30
Condition: 7/10

Best things about this cover:
  • We now interrupt this cover to bring you the telekinetic powers of Curt Flood!
  • It's like Curt willed the ball to stop with his mind. "If you want the game to start again, I have some ... demands."
  • Curt Flood with the rarely seen Self-Photobomb!
  • This cover seems both ill-conceived (you're blocking the shot!) and genius (Curt Flood will not be denied!)
  • Vida Blue's intro is good. Also, Vida Blue is one of the greatest baseball names of all time.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Man, people are throwing a lot of shade at Jim Bouton.
  • Back when a "sensitive, artistic black man" was apparently some kind of wonder to the NYT...
  • Miguel Cabrera's breakfast costs $100,000. All ballplayers should tithe to the Church of St. Flood.

Page 123~

Having established the plan unilaterally, without bargaining of any kind, they felt free to modify it at will. Above all, they felt free to keep the TV and radio money for themselves. This disturbed the players.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Friday, June 24, 2016

Paperback 954: A Shilling For Candles / Josephine Tey (Great Pan G170)

Paperback 954: Great Pan G170 (1st ptg, 1958)

Title: A Shilling for Candles
Author: Josephine Tey
Cover artist: Peff

Estimated value: $15-20
Condition: 9/10

Best things about this cover:
  • OK, Britain, you wanted to go back in time, you love your precious currency ... here you go.
  • This cover is both very creative and very boring. Hard to get "dymanic" from three candle-heads.
  • Peff! 4 of 5 dentist recommend Peff for their patients who chew Peff. Peff!

Best things about this back cover:
  • Formatting. Come on, Britain. You guys have formattting, right? Spaces? Indentations? That stuff?
  • As if "by Horoscope" wasn't unscary enough—you put in inside marquee stars? Now DEATH just looks silly.
  • I'm sorry, "at the séance"? I feel like we missed a plot detail.

Page 123~

Sanger had made further enquiries from many people about that unsympathetic character, Herbert Gotobed.

I assume this is some kind of dream sequence.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Paperback 953: Spill the Jackpot / A.A. Fair (Dell R117)

Paperback 953: Dell R117 (1st thus, 1962)

Title: Spill the Jackpot
Author: A.A. Fair (Erle Stanley Gardner)
Cover artist: Harry Bennett

Estimated value: $10-15
Condition: 9.5/10

Best things about this cover:
  • So. Great. It's like a rogue's gallery of hot and shady '60s people.
  • Redhead's cigarette is freaking me out. Like some sixth finger that got horribly bent backwards.
  • Just genius to use the margins of the cover this way. The encroachment of text, to the point of total visual dominance, is of course one of the most lamentable trends in paperback history. This cover responds to that trend not by shrinking the art (which often happened) but by incorporating the text into the art, making the margins the place of real action. It's superior cover design.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Man, that "VEGAS" font is god-awful—totally out of sync, period-wise, with the cool-modern front cover.
  • Oh wow, that's a rake. I had to look at that visual element very closely to figure that out. This back cover is the Bizarro version of the front cover, i.e. it's Terribly designed.
  • "Jaded pleasure seekers"! I relate to these people. JPS4LIFE!

Page 123~

Somehow, looking at her, you felt she hadn't been to bed and that she wasn't accustomed to going to sleep before daylight.

Coincidentally, Vampire Weekend was playing on the radio when I typed this out.


P.S. I found this immaculate Detective Book Club offer card sleeping safely in the pages of this book.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Paperback 952: The American Gun Mystery / Ellery Queen (Avon 523)

Paperback 952: Avon 523 (1st ptg, 1953)

Title: The American Gun Mystery
Author: Ellery Queen
Cover artist: Uncredited

Estimated value: $10-15
Condition: 8/10

Best things about this cover:
  • So much emotion and drama in this one little tableau. It's really quite beautiful, even though I have no idea why a gorgeous blonde in an evening gown and opera gloves would be at the rodeo.
  • It's lit like a religious painting. Caravaggio or Rubens or someone. She's bathed in light, praying, pleading ... I mean, this is probably some generic shlock, but the cover makes it look complex and compelling.
  • Also ... sweet chaps.

Best things about this back cover:
  • This is far less compelling. What is the shape of those blocks supposed to represent? I see the belt and gun and lock, but the puzzle(ish) pieces ... aren't convincing. As puzzle pieces. I'm no jigsaw aficionado, but that top piece, for instance, seems impossible.
  • I don't like being invited to "solve" the puzzle, and I've never ever read a mystery with the idea that I was supposed to solve it. I realize that makes me slightly weird, as "mystery" fans / collectors go.
  • "Deadly Puzzle" is still bothering me. Who associates rodeo with jigsaw puzzles? What's more, in what universe is a jigsaw puzzle scary? Ooooh, deadly puzzle! I'm shaking.

Page 123~

He gulped down two raw eggs, a steaming pannikin of coffee, an excited regurgitation of the preceding evening's events issuing from Djuna's chattering mouth, and then dashed downtown to Times Square.

PANNIKIN SKYWALKER is my new user name.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Friday, June 17, 2016

Paperback 951: Skin and Bones / Thorne Smith (Pocket Books 490)

Paperback 951: Pocket Books 490 (3rd ptg, 1948)

Title: Skin and Bones
Author: Thorne Smith
Cover artist (and illus.): [Herbert Roese]

Estimated value: $not a lot
Condition: 3/10

Best things about this cover:
  • Dang. I'm sure there's an innocent enough explanation for whatever is happening here, but for a late '40s cover, this is pretty ... saucy. It's like she's looking over her shoulder going, "Well, get on with it, then..." and he's trying to figure out how one removes these bloody stocking contraptions.
  • I love that when I was tagging this post, the category of "all fours" already existed.
  • Thorne Smith was a very big deal in the mid-century "humor" game.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Frankly, this sounds amazing.
  • "Hoarse, gamy laughter" is what I just emitted upon reading that phrase.
  • I never noticed that the kangaroo, in this incarnation of the Pocket Books logo, kinda looks like he (!?) has a giant book erection.

Page 123~

"Sure," said the drunken mortician, growing a little tired of the Rev. Watts.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Paperback 950: The Screaming Cargo / J.M. Flynn // The Bullet-Proof Martyr / James A. Howard (Ace Double F-130)

Paperback 950 (!): Ace Double F-130 (PBO / 1st ptg, 1962)

Title: The Screaming Cargo / The Bullet-Proof Martyr
Author: J.M. Flynn / James A. Howard
Cover artists: Uncredited / Uncredited

Estimated value: $10
Condition: 7/10

Best things about this cover:
  • Screaming babies in the cargo hold? Jeez. Grim.
  • Love the Telly Savalas-esque skyward-looking guy. "Who loves you, screaming babies?"
  • Cool font. Cool tie. Weird lambada-on-the-tarmac.

Best things about this other cover:
  • This looks like someone's intense hate-drawing diary. Ugly, dumb, red.
  • Why is the eye candy so tiny? The visual equivalent of burying the lede.
  • Her left arm is the dumbest thing I've seen in 950 paperbacks worth of posing. "How's that, baby? You like it when mama puts just one arm in her jacket? Yeah, you like it." What the hell?

Page 23~  (there are no p. 123s) (from The Screaming Cargo)

She was more girl than woman. She wore her hair in a pony tail—soft dark hair. She wore a too-tight blouse and short shorts, and she had a face that might've been innocent a few weeks earlier.

A few weeks earlier ... you know, before she took up knitting. Nobody comes back from that, man. Nobody.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]