Friday, May 25, 2018

Paperback 1022: Orbit Unlimited / Poul Anderson (Pyramid G615)

Paperback 1022: Pyramid G615 (PBO, 1961)

Title: Orbit Unlimited
Author: Poul Anderson
Cover artist: John Schoenherr (credited)

Condition: 8/10
Estimated value: $8-12

PyrG615
Best things about this cover:

  • Tired of orbit plans that restrict your orbiting times or charge your over-orbiting fees? Then sign up for Sprint's new Orbit Unlimited plan. Orbit any time. Here we see subscribers enjoying the Orbit Unlimited Family plan...
  • This cover is super boring. I'm kind of interested in the space surfboard, and in the rusty nose of whatever that vessel it is the astrofolk are exploring. But honestly the most interesting thing about this cover is the military surplus font and its alternate-letter coloring.
  • I still haven't read a damn thing Poul Anderson has written, despite owning what feels like dozens of his books.
PyrG615bc
Best things about this back cover:

  • Was it a trap? It's a trap! I hear it's a trap.
  • Even this premise sounds boring. They left to avoid oppression. But then they got a message: "Oppression over!" Should they believe the message? Wait, stop, why are you putting the book back on the shelf? OK, no, wait, there's seexxxxxxxx...." Shelf time unlimited.
  • "The Top-Selling American Book In Russia" is one of the weirdest promo claims I've ever seen on a book. I'm not even sure what that's supposed to signify to me.
  • 1961: Everybody's Reading "The Gadfly"! 2018: Nobody Has Heard of "The Gadfly"!


Page 123~
"We'd better plan our next moves in advance. Also, it's time for a rest and a snack."
Finally, scifi I can relate to.

~RP

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Monday, May 21, 2018

Paperback 1021: Horns for the Devil / Louis Malley (Pocket Books 894)

Paperback 1021: Pocket Books 894 (1st ptg, 1952)

Title: Horns for the Devil
Author: Louis Malley
Cover artist: George Erickson

Condition: 7/10
Estimated value: $10-15

PB894
Best things about this cover:
  • "I Want You ... For U.S. Mafia"
  • Not many covers break the fourth wall quite this breakingly. "Who are you? You got my sandwiches?! Well then whaddya want? Shut the fuckin' door! You lookin' at my girl!? Jerry, Lou, show this guy what for!"
  • This is a fantastic cavalcade of mugs. Hall-of-Fame B-movie extras. Just hanging around, waiting for someone to call them up for another stint in Generic Mid-Century American Crime Story. "Our regular Girl At Bar No. 3 turned her ankle. You're in, kid!"
  • It's not exactly like the work of director Louis Malle, but it is ... Malle-y.
PB894bc
Best things about this back cover:
  • "Look here! Now I'm big and two-toned and my background is Rage Red! Where's my *&%^ing coffee?!"
  • Severio Lebbrosa! That means "seriously like a leopard."
  • No, no, no, it's "first you get the money, then you get the power, *THEN* you get the women." Come on, man. Did you not watch "Scarface?"

Page 123~

When they got out of the car Ralph squeezed her hand, but she wanted more than that. It had come so suddenly.
This was the very least boring sentence, which is wedged in between a conversation with an old lady and a scintillating drive to Westchester. I probably shoulda just let you think it was prelude to a steamy sex scene. Sorry.

~RP

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Monday, May 7, 2018

Paperback 1020: The Lineup / Frank Kane (Dell First Edition B125)

Paperback 1020: Dell First Edition B125 (PBO, 1959)

Title: The Lineup
Author: Frank Kane
Cover artist: Victor Kalin

Condition: 6.5/10
Estimated value: $10-12

DellB125
Best things about this cover:
  • So gorgeous. Victor Kalin with that insane take on the police interrogation lamp, but instead of the perp being all sweaty and nervous, this lady's like "What the fuck do you bozos want?" It's not a harsh light of intimidation, but a warm, caramel light revealing the real power in the room. "Keys? ... What keys?"
  • That dress! That posture! Sorry, bullet point 2 is just gonna be an extension of bullet point 1. She is all style and attitude. Those dough-faced dudes are inconsequential and marginal and now they know it. I love her.
  • Whenever anyone tells you that smoking can be sexy, this is what they're talking about. It allows people to reveal themselves gesturally. Her hands are mesmerizing. Also: lips, nails, dress—all on point. The Drab Twins don't know what to do.
DellB125bc
Best things about this back cover:
  • Mid-century S.F. = So Hot. This is the S.F. of "Vertigo." Do the cable cars still run? They were iconic in my youth (I was born in S.F.).
  • Wait, what? MY name is Ben Guthrie!!!!? Second person!? Hoo, boy, sign me up. And thanks for not making me "Matt Greb," as Greb is a name you'd make up in a panicked haste if you were really bad at making up names
  • Today, November 5th, Guy Fawkes Day...
  • "... you put your cop phone to your cop ear, sit on your cop ass, and say with your cop mouth, 'What?'"
  • What, a novelization of a TV show!? O please O please (checks youtube...) Oh, cool. Looks like its name got changed to "San Francisco Beat," but here ya go!!!

Page 123~
"I"d say you were all trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey, Doc," Greb added. "Must feel a little foolish taking the fall alone."
"Metaphor? check! Cop patter? check! Man, I am killing it at my job today!"—Greb, in his head, probably.

~RP

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Friday, May 4, 2018

Paperback 1019: The Primitive / Chester Himes (Signet 1264)

Paperback 1019: Signet 1264 (PBO, 1956)

Title: The Primitive
Author: Chester Himes
Cover artist: [Tony Kokinos] (signature top left)

Condition: 6.5/10
Estimated value: $30

Sig1264
Best things about this cover:
  • White lady trying hard not to think about centuries of brutal racism and her own complicity therein ... I assume.
  • There's drunk, there's very drunk, and then there's "I only made it half way through taking my shoes off" drunk
  • The red of the red shoes is very red against the non-color of everything else. Echoes the title font color. I like.
  • This novel was heavily cut for the US audience, which, like, couldn't deal, I guess. It was published right before Himes made the turn into hardboiled crime fiction with his Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones series (so great)
Sig1264bc
Best things about this back cover:
  • The End of a Primitive was the original title of the book (the title used when the book was finally published in unexpurgated versions, 40+ years later)
  • So the white woman is just white but the "Negro man" is "embittered"? Normally I don't beg for more adjectives, but come on.
  • Van Vechten tryna get cute with that "white heat" shit, I bet. He's a white dude who wrote a book called Ni**er Heaven. A key figure in white people's "discovering" Harlem. I highly recommend Mat Johnson's current comic, Incognegro: Renaissance, which is set in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance and features a Van Vechten-like figure in the first issue. Good stuff.
Page 123~
"Oh, sure," he said, thinking, "I like de big gut, do you like de big gut?"
~RP

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Monday, April 30, 2018

Paperback 1018: Top Hand / Dwight Bennett (Perma Books M-3023)

Paperback 1018: Perma Books M-3023 (1st ptg, 1955)

Title: Top Hand
Author: Dwight Bennett
Cover artist: Robert Schulz

Condition: 7.5/10
Estimated value: $20-25

PermaM3023
Best things about this cover:
  • I love this cover. It's one of my favorite covers, and definitely one of the best western covers I own. The genre tends to be pretty, let's say, predictable in its images, and not exactly daring or unusual in its cover iconography or style. But here, the frame within the frame, the way the room simultaneously brightens to shocking orange and fades into sketchy monochrome, the non-triumphant, weary, wounded cowboy posture—it's all simple, elegant, gorgeous. Even the way his hand in the door jamb (i.e. his TOP HAND, GET IT!?) echoes the fallen hat in the opposite corner feels deliberate and precisely composed.
  • OMG is this going to be some finely observed epic Joycean tale told covering every detail of a single day in this cowpoke's life, told entirely from the perspective of his left hand, because I hope so.
  • OK, now I want the left hand to be an actual character, one with whom the cowboy regularly talks to and from whom he seeks advice. Señor Wences-like.
PermaM3023bc
Best things about this back cover:
  • Oh, cool, the Inter-Saloon Mud Wrestling and Pig Wrangling Championships, I've heard of this
  • "What do you mean quits?" "Well, I didn't actually say 'quits,' so ..." 
  • I feel like this back cover has taken all the wonderful mystery out of the front cover.
Page 123~
Joe pulled himself loose from his dark reflections.
This is frontier-speak for "logged off of twitter."

~RP

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Friday, April 27, 2018

Paperback 1017: The Best Go First / Frank O'Malley (Bantam 959)

Paperback 1017: Bantam 959 (1st, 1952)

Title: The Best Go First
Author: Frank O'Malley
Cover artist: "Phillips" (signed, but no idea who this "Phillips" is)

Condition: 7/10
Estimated value: $10-15

Bant959
Best things about this cover:

  • She's really taking the gun to that "O" like "hint, hint! I am on the Make," but ... he seems preoccupied with driving other rods into other chambers.
  • "Look, I see your little innuendo there, Martha, but this Extortion-Murder is not gonna Extortion-Murder itself, so settle down!"
  • The best go first. Steve, with his dirty gun and lack of torso covering, went third, most days, at best.

Bant959bc
Best things about this back cover:

  • It's like they meant to send in the final tagline but accidentally just sent in their brainstorming notes and the printer didn't understand and just went with All Of The Descriptive Words
  • Crisp! Realistic! Sounds .... Frank! (the author's name is Frank; this is an author's name joke; please clap)
  • Man, the adjectives are really running amok. I like how they added "hammering" after "driving" in case maybe we thought it was a novel about cars. Or maybe it is about driving ... to the hardware store!
  • How many times do I have to meet this m***erf***er?

Page 123~
She was a woman who talked when you wanted coversation and sat quietly when you wanted to think. That kind is rare.
No, that kind is inflatable.

~RP

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Friday, April 20, 2018

Paperback 1016: Sex Diary / Nat Brand (Hi-Hat 103)

Paperback 1016: Hi-Hat HH 103 (PBO, 1963)

Title: Sex Diary
Author: Nat Brand
Cover artist: [Uncredited]

Condition: 9/10 (tiny notch up top, else Perfect)
Estimated value: $20-25

[Newest addition to the Doug Peterson Collection]

HH103
Best things about this cover:

  • Oh, sorry, I see you're studying. I'll come back later.
  • "Knock knock" "Who's there?" "ORAL" "ORAL who?" "ORAL the salacious sight gags used up or do you have one more you'd like to try out?"
  • Of all the disturbing things here, the most disturbing is that either that dude wants to put beer in a martini glass or else that gin needs a bottle opener (?!). Or else that's champagne, in which case everything is wrong, burn it all down...
  • Oh, and her mouth. That is also disturbing. The mouth-to-Everything-Else ratio is way, way off.

HH103bc
Best things about this back cover:

  • As if this back cover type were not hilarious enough, this one omits the closing phrase! It's supposed to go "RIDICULOUS OPENING PHRASE... / Cover copy that sounds like it was written by a prurient 11-yr-old then translated into Ukrainian then Portuguese then Urdu then back to English again... / RIDICULOUS CLOSING PHRASE." I have countless examples of this very type of back cover. And yet, here, I am forced to use my imagination to finish off the final sentence. The depraved inkstains of her WHAT!?!?! LUST PEN? SIN QUILL? I'm gonna lose sleep over this.
  • "The entries of the facts of her lust sessions" ... [steps back, admires wordsmithery, kisses fingertips] ... MWAH!
  • "Penetrating pen" ... "every shocking inch" ... The subtlety! It's maddening!

Page 123~

His hands slid haltingly on her belly.

I think we're done here.

~RP

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]