Saturday, May 31, 2008

Paperback 104: Gun-Law for Lavercombe / Charles Alden Seltzer (Belmont 91-258)

Paperback 104: Belmont 91-258 (1st ptg, 1962)

Title: Gun-Law for Lavercombe
Author: Charles Alden Seltzer
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: $8

Best things about this cover:

Best things about this back cover:

  • Death by bull-whip has got to be a particularly bad way to die
  • I like how "The Judge" is in quotation marks - I guess he got that name 'cause he likes to "destroy men with his bare fists," just like the judges in Biblical times
  • "The Lavercombe Showdown" was an important precursor to "The Lindy Hop" and "The Hustle"

PAGE 123~

She saw Jerry hopping around. Apparently he was searching for something. A rock. Just as her horse reached the level at the bottom of the slope Jerry crouched, the rock in hand.

Then several things seemed to happen at once.


Friday, May 30, 2008

Paperback 103: Jimmy the Kid / Donald E. Westlake (Ballantine 24650)

Paperback 103: Ballantine 24650 (1st ptg, 1976)
Title: Jimmy the Kid
Author: Donald E. Westlake
Cover artist: Robert Grossman (if I'm reading that signature correctly)

Yours for: $17

Best things about this cover:

  • Originality. My collection pretty much stops in the late 60s, but there's another ten years in there where cover art / design still shows some creativity and sparkle. I love this cover, in that I can imagine the characters of all the people just by the way they are drawn. I want to know more about them. I want to know why Mickey lost his eye. I want to know why Ronald Reagan and Shelley Duvall are about to knock over an amusement park concession stand. I want to know what Woody Allen is reading. I want to know.
  • Donald Westlake is a sensational writer with great comic timing, but his books have never been made into good movies, which seems not only a shame, but a surprise. His books are vivid, action-packed, and they read like scripts. The guy wrote the Oscar-nominated script for "The Grifters," so he knows dialogue. I just don't understand why Hollywood has (mostly) either ignored or botched him. Actually, "The Hot Rock" was pretty good, and "Point Blank" was great, but those are both 35+ years ago now.
PAGE 123~
(It was during that statement of the woman's that the head FBI man had extended toward Harrington a slip of paper containing the penciled words, "Tell her to prove it.")
"Um. Prove it."
"I said, prove it."
"Prove what? That I'm gonna call you again?"
(During which, the head FBI man had been with great exaggeration mouthing the sentence, "That they have the kid!")


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Paperback 102: Don't Get In My Way / Frances Clippinger (Popular Library - Eagle Books EB50)

Popular Library - Eagle Books EB50 (1st ptg, 1955)

Title: Don't Get In My Way
Author: Francis Clippinger
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: $11

Best things about this cover:

  • Mixed messages: "Uh, lady, I'd be happy to get out of your way if you'd just let go."
  • Yellow jumpsuit! If this is indeed a "Movie Colony," then she is a stand-in for the lead in "The Ronald McDonald Story"
  • The Sacramento Bee always gives the best blurb: "Love and hate? ... you don't say!"

Best things about this back cover:
  • "A story of people who hate themselves and bore themselves" - hey, it's about grad school!
  • Ah, the Loser Hug (the head-to-breast kneel-hug performed by loser man on girl who is too good / hot for him). Here's another version (same publisher, interestingly)
  • "I can't hear your heart!" / "Uh, that's my spleen."
  • "Aw, gee, why won't the hot naked blond lady look at me? Can't she feel my raw, nervous power?"
Page 123~

She was sitting on the edge of the green garden couch and she looked up at him with a dumb, savage helplessness that excited him brutally.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Paperback 101: The Chic Chick Spy / Bob Tralins (Belmont B50-718)

Paperback 101: Belmont B50-718 (PBO - I think - 1966)

Title: The Chic Chick Spy ("The Miss from S.I.S.")
Author: Bob Tralins
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: SOLD (5/27/08)

Best things about this cover:

  • Another great cover copy claim - first, promises of vomit; now, declarations of absurdity.
  • Love the ironic, self-referential, falsely modest cover copy ("Absolutely nothing in it is true ... you couldn't spend a better 50 cents")
  • Is this woman a. directing traffic, b. casting spells, or c. fending off a defensive tackle?
  • I love her murderous dance style: "L ... is for the way I Lacerate ... your faaaace..."
  • Either a sniper is preparing to shoot her or she is able to jam enemy sonar with a tiny machine located in the underwire of the bra she isn't wearing.
  • I submit that if this woman let her arms hang at her sides, she would be able to scratch her shins without bending at the waist one bit.

Best things about this back cover:
  • "Booby sexed" - furthermore, "booby sexed." How am I supposed to pay attention to anything else on this cover?
  • "... an organization that was making men feel queer and women feel like men" - OK, I'm going to have to read this if only to figure out how "booby sexed" fits into this whole queer / transgender theme. Do men grow boobies? Do women start ogling boobies? Are we sure that Ed Wood didn't write this?
  • This is perhaps the only back cover in my collection that ends with an honest-to-god orgasm.
  • This book is grimy. Solid, but covered with a thin layer of grime. I can't imagine what could have soiled it in precisely this fashion. It's as if it's been artfully basted with mud.

Page 123~ (this better be good...)

When she mounted the steps, she seemed to be weighed down by an enormous weight.

I'm sorry, I'm sure there are more lurid sentences on this page, but this is the first thing my eyes landed on, and it made me laugh out loud. "Mounted" was funny enough, but then ... well, here's how I imagine the author conceived the sentence:

  • Author: "'When she mounted the steps, she seemed to be weighed down by ... by ...' Hmm, I know she needs to be weighed down by something, but what? ... [phones editor] ... yeah, hi Joe, I just wrote the part where she mounts the steps..."
  • Joe: "Uh huh"
  • Author: "... and I'm trying to describe how she's 'weighed down,' you know? But I can't think of what she could be weighed down by. I know it should be something big ... or giant. Maybe huge."
  • Joe: "How about an enormous weight?"
  • Author: "'... weighed down by an enormous weight.' Hey, that's good. I like how 'weight' sorta conveys the whole idea of being 'weighed down.' Thanks, Joe."


Monday, May 26, 2008

Paperback 100: Hold Your Breath / ed. Alfred Hitchcock (Dell 3658)

Paperback 100: Dell 3658 (1st new ed., 1963)

Title: Hold Your Breath - Alfred Hitchcock's "Stories to Turn in Your Grave By"
Editor: Alfred Hitchcock
Cover artist: photo cover

Yours for: $10

Paperback 100!!! Milestone! [sounds of noisemakers going off and balloons dropping from the ceiling]

Best things about this cover:

  • It was not until just this second that I considered the head in the shovel anything but a reflection. It's such a weird photo-shopping decision, as the result is ridiculous-looking (gravity says that head would fall out of that shovel)
  • If there were no Hitchcock head in the shovel, I would actually like the design of this cover a lot - words in place of head, brilliant yellow font against black background - but you Have to have the Hitchcock head; it's an icon and a selling point, like the golden arches or Mickey Mouse

Best things about this back cover:

  • Yes, that Norman Mailer. Story in this book was first published when he was 18 (1941)! It was his first published story, the winner of Story literary magazine's college contest (weirdly, I knew someone who won that contest in the '90's).

Page 123~

from "Action" by C.E. Montague:

How can you tell by the looks of a man that he would not feel the point of a pin if you ran it into his thigh, or that this exemption from pain is causing any disturbance of his spirits?


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Paperback 99: The Einstein Intersection / Samuel R. Delany (Ace F-427)

Paperback 99: Ace F-427 (PBO, 1967)

Title: The Einstein Intersection
Author: Samuel R. Delany
Cover artist: Jack Gaughan

Yours for: $10

Best things about this cover:

  • "Red Bull - gives you gorings and talonous scrapings wings!"
  • "Sorry, sir, Hideously Mutated Bovine Night is Thursday. Tonight is Ladies' Night."
  • "I have seen the future ... and it has fancy vending machines."
  • Sadly, that pasty discothèque bouncer / ATM guard looks a lot like me.

Best things about this back cover:

  • "Cordwainer" is possibly the best first name in human history.
  • I can only hope that "Lobey" has Gigantic ears.
  • "They call me 'Kid Death' ... on account 'a I kill people."
  • Editor me says: "'Millennia' has two 'n's"

Page 123!~

Suddenly he tossed the skull gently. It passed me, hovered a moment, then smashed on the stones and Spider laughed. It was a friendly laugh, without the malicious flickering of fish scales and flies' wings that dazzled the laughter of the Kid. But it nearly scared me to death. I ran out the door. For one step bone fragments chewed at my instep. The door slammed behing me. The sun slapped my face.

I must give a ton of credit to the very accomplished Mr. Delany, who made sure that the cover artist got credit on this book by including him in the Dedication! Awesome:

"for Don Wollheim
a responsible man
in all meanings
to and for what is
within and
Jack Gaughan
for what is


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Paperback 98: The Corpse in the Wax Works / John Dickson Carr (Dell 775)

Paperback 98: Dell 775 (1st ptg, 1954)

Title: The Corpse in the Wax Works
Author: John Dickson Carr
Cover artist: Richard Powers

Yours for: $16

Best things about this cover:

  • It's surrealism + gothic - SURROTHIC!
  • Richard Powers is probably the best known scifi cover artist. It's weird - highly unusual - to see one of his paintings on anything but a scifi book. His stuff is always creepy and wacked-out, with arcs and bulbous things of indeterminate status. Clearly influenced by surreal artists, especially Yves Tanguy. In fact, this painting, despite its eerie otherworldiness, is far more representational (i.e. it has identifiable things in it) than most of his stuff.
  • Love the lurking shadow in the middle background. Not as enamored with the horn-hatted Fu Manchu Dracula guy.

Best things about this back cover:

  • This is astonishingly gruesome.
  • Marat!
  • "Sepulchral" is a beautiful word (like "cellar door," which is two words, but still...)

PAGE 123~

"She had no ticket, Jeff!" Bencolin leaned forward and slapped the arm of his chair impatiently. "Surely you know that if only for appearance's sake each member of the club must buy a ticket for the waxworks when entering. Those blue tickets! You must keep them constantly in mind!"


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Paperback 97: L'Étranger / Albert Camus (Livre de Poche 406)

Paperback 97: Livre de Poche 406 (unknown ptg., 1962)

Title: L'Étranger
Author: Albert Camus
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: $17

Another book sale purchase from last year. Despite being somewhat out of character for this blog, this cover is gorgeous. The book is in astonishingly good condition, with all its original perma-gloss still intact. Livres de Poche are impossible to date accurately. Copyright date is 1957, but the end matter advertises books that will be coming out in "the third trimester of 1962." Trimester? Is the entire country of France run on a University model? Anyhoo, it's a very very early Livre de Poche edition, if my online book merchant searches are any indication. Except for very slightly worn edges and normal page yellowing, this book is like new. The cover is brooding, muted, gorgeous, but as far as "hard-boiled" greatness goes, though, the real treat is the back cover:

  • "That's right, I'm smoking a fucking cigarette. I don't care if you are taking a picture for the book jacket. I'm not putting it down. I'm Albert Fucking Camus. I won the Nobel Prize, motherfuckers. I can do whatever the hell I want, and you can kiss my atheistic French ass."
  • I like the way the words float in black rectangles around him. It's very nice, from a design point of view - great contrast with the soft pastels and watercoloriness of the cover painting (which has wrapped around to the back - another nice touch).

Page 123~:

Il ma fallut un effort pour comprendre que j'étais la cause de toute cette agitation.

[It took some effort to understand that I was the cause of all this agitation]


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Paperback 96: Jeopardy Is My Job / Stephen Marlowe (Gold Medal s1214)

Paperback 96: Gold Medal s1214 (PBO, 1962)
Title: Jeopardy Is My Job
Author: Stephen Marlowe
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: SOLD! (5/19/08)

Best things about this cover:

  • "Jeopardy Is My Job: The Alex Trebek Story" - exciting!
  • If you cover up or otherwise ignore the dot on the "i" in SPAIN, it really really looks like SPAM. I imagine that Chester Drum there is putting on his spam-handling gloves.
  • What is he doing with that glove? Is he about to commit a crime? Or give some kind of probing examination? The whole thing is very O.J.
  • I like how he's balancing Madrid on the very tip of his index finger

Best things about this back cover:

  • Ugh, too much text
  • "Robbie Hartshorn" - Well that's a silly name. I wonder if his heart (or hart) has been shorn, and if so, what that means.
  • "They were paid a monthly stipend to do their drinking on foreign shores" - How do I get that job
  • This whole description sounded boring to me until I got to "... the cave where Ruy lived with a gypsy woman ..." That has narrative possibilities.
PAGE 123~

"You are free to go," one of the Guardia said in English. "The Colonel says to tell you if you do not leave Rondo before dark," he added, the words heavily accented and hard to understand, "you are being in bad trouble."


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Paperback 95: Come Be My O.R.G.Y. / Ted Mark (Berkley S1564)

Paperback 95: Berkley Medallion S1564 (PBO, 1968)

Title: Come Be My O.R.G.Y.
Author: Ted Mark
Cover artist: Sidney Booblover (I mean, "uncredited")

Yours for: $13

Best things about this cover:

  • Possibly the silliest title name in my entire collection.
  • Q: How can a cover featuring so much breast flesh be so ugly? (A: urine-hued aura)
  • I like to imagine that all these people on the cover are actually the same person, and we are seeing all of his/her different incarnations. Together, the four of them could all be each other's O.R.G.Y.
  • If you have not heard of "The Man from O.R.G.Y." before, then I defy you to figure out what it stands for. (I'll reveal the answer in the near future) [A: Organization for the Rational Guidance of Youth]
  • Smirky McDickerson there in the front is inspiring me to create a new Post Label: Douchebag Detectives. I know of at least one other candidate ... with thousands of books awaiting write-ups, I am confident there are more.
  • "Steve Victor! ... anyone? No?"
  • I can only hope that he is putting that shirt on.

Best things about this back cover:

  • "Seriously, come be my O.R.G.Y."
  • This guy clearly smells of gin, cigarettes, and self-loathing.
  • "That delectable Tibetan" - Is her name really some mock-Asian version of "teeny bopper!?!?" Is it wrong that I hope "Steve" dies at the end (or, even better, the beginning) of this book?

PAGE 123 - is not nearly as good as PAGE 81~

She scrambled over my body until we were juxtaposed and her long blonde hair trailed over my thighs. That old Roman dinner gong had rung [ed.: ...?]. The feast of her nether chamber was spread before me and I raised up to sample its feverish honey. She responded by engulfing my edible root and I became dizzy with the delights provided by her womb at the top.

After reading that, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to eat a root again. The jury's still out on honey ...


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Paperback 94: The Man from Scotland Yard / David Frome (Pocket Books 153)

Paperback 94: Pocket Books 153 (1st ptg, 1942)

Title: The Man from Scotland Yard
Author: David Frome
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: $7

Best things about this cover:

  • You can tell this cover was produced before sensationalism (sex and violence) became unstoppable forces of commodification in the paperback industry. This corpse is practically polite. In fact, I think he might just be sleeping after a tough day of pawn-brokering.
  • Trench-coated woman! You don't see many of those. I love how incognito she is with her strategically placed umbrella. Is she going to pawn something, or just passing by?
  • This book is from 1942, just three years after Pocket Books began. That is, the mass market paperback was exactly three years old when this book came out.
  • The painting is subtle, smooth, understated, moody, detailed, elegant. Fantastic and respectable. Makes me sick - where's the action? the blood? the gratuitous partial nudity!?
  • Books just held up better in the olden days. This book has been heavily read, but it is square, tight, solid. You could read it a million more times and it wouldn't change its appearance much. Eventually Pocket Books and all paperback producers lowered their quality standards, and books became much more susceptible to decay, fall-apart, and other cheapness-related injuries. I'm telling you, the interior pages on this thing are still Astonishingly white. Red color of the page edges has barely faded. This book may be quaint-looking, but it's tough.
  • I love how the author's name is incorporated into the painting itself, made to look like the name of the dead/sleeping guy's pawn shop. That's just beautiful. Too bad that light fixture kind of ruins everything with its potent combination of insectiness and testicularity.

~PAGE 123

Leighton pressed the bell on his desk. A callow young man came in and took the paper. The firm had dispensed with the services of women in their offices since an attractive young lady typist had become the senior Mrs. Doubs, stepmother of the two younger Messrs. Doubs, each some ten years her senior.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Paperback 93: Darker Than Amber / John D. MacDonald (Gold Medal R1957)

Paperback 93: Gold Medal R1957 ([3rd ptg], [1968])
Title: Darker Than Amber
Author: John D. MacDonald
Cover artist: Ron Lesser

Yours for: $5

Best things about this cover:

  • "He'd seen a lot of girls, but nobody ... DARKER THAN AMBER"
  • Not surprisingly, this book has some racial issues (see back cover)
  • OK, is her name Amber, or is she just "amber-eyed?" And I thought you said "Darker than Amber." What gives?
  • I'm pretty sure it's an impossibility, or at least a paradox, if your "lily-white maiden" has "round heels."
  • This girl is deep in the middle of a boob-pointing contest - the object: stand on your tiptoes, and then point your boobs toward the sky without falling over. Closest to straight heavenward wins. She's working on a 45 degree angle here (not bad).

Best things about this back cover:

  • His pictures says: "What do you goons want?" or "Yes, I'm Professor McGrady. Can I help you?" Or "That damned roof is leaking again" or "How about now? Do I look like Popeye now?"
  • A "Wounded Spook" is not (thank god) what it sounds like.
  • "She chunked into the water..." That's more detail than I need.
  • Technically, at the end of that second paragraph, "cop" should have quotation marks around it. I'm just sayin'.
  • "Eurasian beauty" - awesome. We just don't have this rich, insane racial vocabulary anymore. Now ... we have three possibilities for the meaning of "Amber" - her eyes, her name, and her skin.
  • "... a heart like an ancient gutter"??! Full of ... relics? Vomit from the many vomitoria? Maybe if she gave up chunking into the water ...

~PAGE 123

"She was about twenty-five?"
"What did she do?"
"She'd been a prostitute for twelve years."
Merrimay's brown eyes widened. "My word, that's quite an early start, isn't it?"


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Paperback 92: The Bowstring Murders / Carter Dickson (Berkley G-214)

Paperback 92: Berkley G-214 (1st ptg, 1959)

Title: The Bowstring Murders
Author: Carter Dickson
Cover artist: Robert Maguire

Yours for: $7

"Oh, crossbow, I'm sorry. I love you but ... it can never work out between us..."

Best things about this cover:

  • Man is it red.
  • Her hair is the color of pink lemonade.
  • "Do you like my outfit? I call it 'The Reverse Bumblebee!'" (My other bumblebee joke involved her being a referee at a bumblebee football game)
  • Her left ankle is absurdly, grotesquely thick.
  • Are those ... pants? Tights? Jodhpurs?
  • As with all Robert Maguire women, this one has exquisite, detailed, realistic, emotionally evocative facial features. Why she's writhing around in Mao's basement dressed like a bee, I'll never know.
  • Carter Dickson is a terrible name, in that Dickson Carter really makes far more sense. Much more believable as a name, I think.

Best things about this back cover:

  • Gauntlets cannot be efficient handwear for strangling.
  • "... the great criminologist John Gaunt" - laziest naming ever. John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, was a prominent nobleman in 14th-century England - the uncle of Richard II.
  • This book description reeks of Englishness. It's clear that the Maguire cover is a total fake-out; I'm quite sure this book contains no mod, crossbow-loving bumble-ladies. Quite sure.

PAGE 123~

"Lady Rayle has been murdered," said John Gaunt, rising from the breakfast table.


Monday, May 5, 2008

Paperback 91: The High Window / Raymond Chandler (Pocket Books 50118)

Paperback 91: Pocket Books 50118 (5th ptg, 1965)

Title: The High Window
Author: Raymond Chandler
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: SOLD (sometime in early May 2008)

Best things about this cover:

  • That dude's face - absolute comedy gold
  • That dude's shadow
  • The fact that that dude is upside-down (rarely seen position for anyone to be in on a paperback cover). If you turn the book upside-down, that guy looks like your dad pretending to be a monster after he's had a hard day at work / a little too much to drink.
  • The prissy font of the title - contrasts nicely with the imminent death of the screaming man in the grey flannel suit

This book is not officially in my collection (it sits on my ordinary bookshelf with my meant-to-be-read books), but this cover is just screaming to be in the collection. So here it is.

PAGE 123~

The room had that remote, heartless, not quite dirty, not quite clean, not quite human smell that such rooms always have. Give a police department a brand new building and in three months all its rooms will smell like that. There must be something symbolic in it. A New York police reporter wrote once that when you pass in beyond the green lights of a precinct station you pass clear out of this world, into a place beyond the law.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Paperback 90: The Hot Diary (Howard J. Olmsted) / Ring Around a Rogue (J. M. Flynn) (Ace Double D-459)

Paperback 90: Ace Double D-459 (PBO 1960 / PBO 1960)

Title: The Hot Diary / Ring Around a Rogue
Author: Howard J. Olmsted / J.M. Flynn
Cover artist: uncredited / uncredited

Yours for: SOLD (early May 2008)

Best things about this cover:

  • Don't make Robert Stack angry. You wouldn't like Robert Stack when he's angry
  • This cover is great - quintessential hard-boiled with a mod style (again, love pink in my hard-boiled covers). They are both dressed impeccably. Her dress is fierce (love the black accents, especially the band and bow toward the hemline), and he carries off a trench-coat way better than most dopey goons.
  • Does this count as "bondage?" I'm counting it. I imagine that her hands are tied. That, or she lost her right arm in the war or a freak fishing accident.
  • "Never Write About Murder" - uh ... you just did.

PAGE 23~

I wouldn't have minded if she'd slapped me or swore at me. But her calm, unmoved acceptance of the kiss frosted me. It hit me where I lived, in my pride.

Best things about this cover:

  • These two covers make a nice pair: "Things To Do With a Girl When You're Armed": "You can grab her like this ... or kiss her like this ... it's up to you."
  • Here's a sexless sex scene if I've ever seen one. He looks ... wooden. "Let's see, I put my gun ... here, and my left hand reaches around like ... so. OK. What do I do with my lips again?" Etc.
  • The painting here does nothing to up the eros. The paint looks hastily daubed on. She has that horrid bottle-blond rubbery head look (see the "Finger Man" cover), and rarely have I been so unmoved by so much female skin.
  • "A Car, A Girl and A Gun" - or "Copywriter Gives Up, Decides Life's Meaningless" - that's him there, plummeting over that cliff in the car.

PAGE 123~

Deal grabbed him by the shirt front, yanked him from the sofa, and backhanded the expressionless face. Blood trickled from the corner of the flat lips but Chiong did not cry out.