Friday, November 9, 2007

Paperback 41: Penguin-Signet 670

Paperback 41: Penguin-Signet 670 (1st ptg, 1948)

Title: They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
Author: Horace McCoy
Cover artist: T.V.

"Oh Jim, they were so cruel. They made fun of my severe bangs and lime-green sweater. Hold me, Jim!"

"Yes, that's right, rest your head on my shoulder while I use my salt-and-pepper hair to bathe us both in a magical brown penumbra."

Best things about this cover:
  • T.V. is a well-known cover artist. Don't know what the initials stand for. I just like that they are T.V. If only there were an artist with the initials V.C.R. or D.V.D.
  • The man is embracing the woman, but even he can't help looking at her haircut with derision. "What was she thinking!?"
Horace McCoy is a fantastic hard-boiled writer. This novel is better known as a 1970s movie starring Jane Fonda. It's actually not about horses, or bad haircuts, at all. It's about marathon dancing during the Depression. And some dude who gets sentenced to the death penalty. How's that for an eloquent summary?

  • He looks like the B-est of B-Movie actors
  • You should know that his "resumé" here is Very Very typical of paperback writers at the time. I'm not sure we are to take much of it at face value. Seems like every other paperback writer had tough odd-jobs like carny or blackjack dealer or lion tamer or the like.


PS, This book was published during the brief period of time when Penguin was transitioning to Signet / NAL in the U.S. (late 40's) - a handful of books have this hybrid imprint, "Penguin Signet." Shortly after the switch, Signet would make a boatload of money as Mickey Spillane's publisher.

1 comment:

Michael5000 said...

That's a really odd cover. The man appears to be wearing a nun's habit. The yellow and hot-pink color combo hurts my eyes.

Putting the author's complete resume on the back seems like a poor way to drive sales. It seems like it would have been good to get HAILED AS THE PEER OF STEINBECK AND HEMINGWAY out there loud and proud, not buried two paragraphs after the childhood paper route. But maybe that's just me.