Sunday, November 30, 2008

Paperback 170: A Korean Tiger / Nick Carter (Award Books A248X)

Paperback 170: Award Books A248X (PBO, 1967)

  • Title: A Korean Tiger
  • Author: Nick Carter (who is also the main character...? and who is also, btw, a Backstreet Boy)
  • Cover artist: Some McGinnis imitator

Yours for: $17

Best things about this cover:

  • Bring me the floating head of Nick Carter! Oh, nevermind. It's right there.
  • The disembodied head of Nick Carter thinks you're a swell-looking doll. {wink!}
  • If the book is trying to suggest to me that that lady is "Korean," I challenge. She looks like Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, only with somewhat smaller boobs and no shirt.
  • I like how she is taking a sidelong glance at the title, as if thinking "WTF?"
  • How is it possible that no rapper has picked up the name "Killmaster?" That would be my handle for sure. That, or "Optimum Slim" (a name I derived from the cereal I eat every morning)
  • Fake Korean Post-op Elvira Impersonator needs a refill, dammit!

Best things about this back cover.

  • Text! Who doesn't like ... that?
  • Oh my god, I am in love with this book - any book that features the word "slatternly" is hottt with three t's.
  • I hope the "dark underbelly of Asia" is just some really hairy Laotian guy.
  • Paragraph indentations are for suckas!

Page 123~

The wide green stare did not waver. Behind those basilisk eyes he thought he could detect a hint of something warmer. Desire? Plain old-fashioned lust? Was this creature really so human?

Oh please dear god don't let him be talking about the "Korean" woman. "Though she was Korean, she seemed oddly human."


P.S. this book is immaculate. As crisp and new and bright as the day it first hit the shelves. Maybe there's a tiny amount of scuffing, but it's quite negligible. Paperbacks rarely hold up this well.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Paperback 169: The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze (Red Seal 17)

Paperback 169: Red Seal 17 (1st ptg, 1937)

Title: The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze
Author: William Saroyan
Cover artist: N/A

Yours for: $22

Best things about this cover:

  • The red seal makes a nice pattern, but ... that's really all there is to say about this cover, aesthetics-wise.
  • Modern Age Books - which includes Red Seal, as well as Blue and Gold Seal books - are remarkable only for their historical importance. This book is from the pre-mass market era (i.e. before Pocket Books started up in 1939). So novel was the idea of issuing books in paper covers (in much bigger printing runs and at much lower prices) that the publisher has printed an entire page at the back of the book explaining the rationale for the whole enterprise. I reprint that page here, in lieu of the back cover, which is just more seals (as always, just click to enlarge):

Page 123~

For there is some grace in dying quietly amid some fragment of a fragment of another's death and there is some grace in standing in the mazdalight our noblest contribution to sleeplessness our offering to children dying standing in the mazdalight awake and awake and dying and alive and the grace is a form of immobility as of quiet death and it is of the dance and the dance is of stone hard rock and never of fluid never of waves in motion and the dance is of smash of mountain graceful sky beloved pointlessness.

And you thought Joyce was inscrutable. "Beloved pointlessness" would be a nice title for something. My life story, perhaps. Saroyan is my homeboy, after all.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Paperback 168: Tales of the Flying Mountains / Poul Anderson (Collier 01626)


Truth be told, this book was not scheduled to be written up today. There was an interesting but visually bland book on tap for today, but I decided I needed something spicy to help me celebrate my birthday, so I skipped forward two books in line and found this. Enjoy!

Paperback 168: Collier 01626 (1st ptg, 1971)

Title: Tales of the Flying Mountains
Author: Poul Anderson
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $8

Best things about this cover:

  • "Tales of the Flying Mountains," Or, "Psychedelic Ape Men Visit the Boob Museum"
  • I've heard them called a lot of things. "Flying Mountains" is not one of those things.
  • More proof that everyone in the early 70s was high. How I survived my infancy is a miracle.

Best things about this back cover:

  • How many papers does Washington have?
  • This book is apparently a collection of short stories, each of which originally appeared in Analog magazine between the years 1963 and 1965. Anderson published them under the pseudonym "Winston P. Sanders." They are all set in a common futuristic universe in which mankind has colonized the solar system. One of the reviews at amazon starts with the phrase, "Taking his cue from Chaucer..." (!?)

Page 123~

... and yet that spark, together with the dwarfed sun, reached across to grip this orb on which she dwelt and lock it fast for eternity.

This book should be called "Grip This Orb" (see cover painting)


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Paperback 167: The Private Life of Julius Caesar / William Marston (Universal Giant no. 6)

Paperback 167: Universal Giant no. 6 (1st ptg, 1953)

Title: The Private Life of Julius Caesar
Author: William Marston
Cover artist: George Geygan

Yours for: $25

Best things about this cover:

OK, stop. Hammer time. This book was written by the creator of "Wonder Woman." I Am Not Kidding. And yet none of the booksellers at abebooks mention the connection between this book and "Wonder Woman." You'd think that fact would be one of the main selling points. As I looked at the book, I thought "William Marston" sounded familiar, and then I looked inside and saw the author's middle name (Moulton), which rang even more bells. Then I googled. Holy Krap. From Wikipedia:

Dr. William Moulton Marston (May 9, 1893May 2, 1947) was an American psychologist, feminist theorist, inventor, and comic book author who created the character Wonder Woman. Two women, his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston and Olive Byrne, (who lived with the couple in a polyamorous relationship), served as exemplars for the character and greatly influenced her creation.[1][2]

He was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2006.

  • "Polyamorous" pretty much describes this cover - I count five different sexual permutations on the front cover alone - and wait til you see the back cover (and the spine!)
  • I love that a "feminist theorist" inspired this (awesome) cover. I guess she who reclines on the bed with the chalice of viscous mauve goo makes the rules. "OK, you kneel! Now you, you kneel more! Kneel wheel!"
  • I love how the whipping scene is strategically placed for her (our) viewing pleasure.

Best things about this spine!!!!:

  • I love how the kinkiest (albeit minutest) scene in the whole tableau is on the spine - no matter how it's shelved, You Will See Flesh.

Best things about this back cover:

  • I know this is an odd thing to say, given the rampant nudity, but those are some well-drawn horses.
  • "Your calves are so smooth..." "Oh, that's just the satyr urine. It works wonders. Here, let us pour some on your back..."
  • Jeez, a crucifixion, too? It's like the painting's running out of ways to exploit the female form.

Page 123~

from a chapter titled, I swear to god, "Ladies' Night"

The pretty young neophyte walked straight to the golden gate, as she had been told to do, and gave her name and that of her sponsor to the door-slave who stood behind the golden bars.

And thus began the first recorded A.A. meeting.

P.S. "door-slave"?


Friday, November 21, 2008

Paperback 166: Wild Wives / Charles Willeford (RE/Search, unnumbered)

Paperback 166: RE/Search nn (unknown ptg, 1987)

Title: Wild Wives
Author: Charles Willeford
Cover artist: Terri Groat-Ellner

Yours for: $25

Best things about this cover:
  • "Go on, big boy. Do your worst! I ain't ascared of your gun."
  • Something about her pose makes her look not sexy but lopsided. Like her torso is the upper layer of a cake that is shifting.
  • I don't know what you call this style of dress, but it is hot. Hott.
  • I need a word for "gun/crotch" interaction. Wait. I think I just coined it.
  • It's weird / disturbing the lengths to which the gun/phallus connection can be taken in cover art

This is a late 80s reprint of a 1956 paperback ("Wild Wives" was first published as a special bonus story within the covers of another Willeford novel, "High Priest of California").

Charles Willeford is a Noir Fiction god. Coincidentally, I just finished teaching his "Pick-Up" in my crime fiction class (seriously, just finished ... yesterday). Smart, beautifully (clearly) written, often funny, and, in parts, genuinely shocking. I have a strong hankering now to read as much of his stuff as I can.
This reprint is surprisingly rare, hence the price. Willeford is pretty collectible in any form (except, perhaps, the Library of America version I used in my class - that volume ("Noir Fiction of the 1950s") is gold: Highsmith, Thompson, Himes, Goodis, and Willeford. Here's a review by Terry Teachout (another weird coincidence - I just mentioned Teachout, specifically his bio of Mencken, in my last post for this blog)

Best things about this back cover:

  • Blurbs from actual people / media outlets you might have heard of
  • What is with the insane, jagged, fire-licking design?
  • This book is dated 1987 ... and yet we are told that Willeford died in 1988 ... That's foresight.
Page 23~

I gathered the heavy tweed of her skirt in my hands, and lifted. The heat of her body reached out for my hands. The flesh of her was firm and yet oddly relaxed.

The rest of the quote you can see in bold on the back cover of the book (!).


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Paperback 165: Omnibook, August 1945 (incl. excerpt of "Black Boy" by Richard Wright)

Paperback 165: Omnibook, August 1945

  • Includes: "Authorized abridgments of four best-selling books," including "Black Boy" by Richard Wright - plus a "Back of the Book" essay by Bennett Cerf
  • Cover artist: Stefan Salter
Yours for: $12

Best things about this cover:

  • He's cyanotic! Clear! Stat! Seven cc's of ... something (my 1990s "e.r." lingo has run out)
  • This painting is eerie and gorgeous. That kid is scaring the hell out of me, though. He does not look happy. He looks like he wants his lunch money back.
  • I don't know if Salter intended for the kid's collar (the open neck part) to sort of kind of look like an outline of Africa, but either way - awesome.
  • I have a student who looks just like this kid. Well, he's just dark black, not blue, but that combination of menace and wonder in the eyes - the likeness is startling. Sadly, said student is currently in maximum security prison.

Best things about this back cover:

  • Hey, Bennett Cerf - I may know him from such game shows as "What's My Line?"
  • This article is actually really engaging - too bad it's "to be continued" inside the magazine (where you can't see it).
  • The cartoons in the corners are fabulous.
  • This article is reminding me that I have Terry Teachout's bio of Mencken still waiting for me, unread, on the bookshelf downstairs. I basically live my life surrounded by books that are staring at me, disgusted at my never having read them.

Page 123~

from "Coming Home," By Lester Cohen:

There was something about Stell, he thought, if she kissed you, if it was the real thing to her, the rest just came with it.

"The rest?" What? Her lungs? Her lunch?


LIFE magazine - searchable photo database

I just discovered (via writer Duane Swierczynski's "Secret Dead Blog") that LIFE magazine has a giant, easily searchable photo database - tons of classic greatness, which I will surely pillage for my blog(s) in the future. Here's a gem: crime fiction legend Mickey Spillane proudly posing with paperback versions of his (exceedingly popular) books:

And this ... this is just one of the greatest photos ever taken:


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Site Design Possibilities #1

Sometimes I take reader requests...

Now he just needs a name. Ideas?


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Paperback 164: The Boomerang Clue / Agatha Christie (Dell D340)

Paperback 164: Dell D340 (1st ptg, 1960)
Title: The Boomerang Clue
Author: Agatha Christie
Cover artist: William Teason

Yours for: $10

Best things about this cover:

  • Well, there's something you don't normally associate with Agatha Christie: BONDAGE.
  • I love love love how her arms coupled with the back of the chair form a (very ironic) valentine! The red background only heightens the effect. Don't even get me started on how she kinda looks like a Catholic school girl who is at least mildly ashamed of the predicament she has gotten herself into... Or is that a look not of shame, or fear, but of coyness? Clearly, I have my own, private version of the story of how she came to be in that chair.
  • Most of my Teason covers (lots of late 50s/60s Dells) don't have people on them. Clearly he should have done more people. The hands alone are gorgeous.

Best things about this cover:

  • More broken windows!
  • Random rope - did she escape!?
  • I love how the copy on the back cover is typeset as if it were a poem

Page 123~

"To begin with," said Bobby, plunging [ed.: !?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!], "I'm not really a chauffeur although I do work in a garage in London. And my name isn't Hawkins - it's Jones - Bobby Jones. I come from Marchbolt in Wales."

The story of a golfing legend gone deep, deep undercover.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Paperback 163: Hungry Dog Murders / Frank Gruber (Avon Murder Mystery Monthly 12)

Paperback 163: Avon Murder Mystery Monthly 12 (1st ptg, 1943)

Title: Hungry Dog Murders
Author: Frank Gruber
Cover artist: [William Forrest]

Yours for: $14

Best things about this cover:

  • Well, I guess they weren't that hungry ... this guy's corpse looks in pretty good shape
  • "If only I had used the leash and collar ... right ... there ... so close!"
  • This guy's face is gruesome.
  • The scariest part of this cover: The risen skeleton of Andy Warhol! Wearing academic regalia?! That is the weirdest logo you are likely to see in the world of paperbacks (or anywhere)
  • This book is really well made - it's beat to hell but still completely solid: no loose pages, very square. It's an early, digest-sized paperback, produced during wartime, in the first five years of the existence of the mass-paperback market. Lots of experimenting still going on in terms of design, packaging, promotion, etc. Check out these features:

On the inside flap, an explanation of how important the activity of READING is during wartime:

Reminds me a little of the recent idea that we could fight terrorism by shopping. Precedent!

The first page actually looks remarkably similar to that of many modern, hardbacked, "literary" books of today - tons of blurbs:

A War Bonds ad at the end - "Yeah, we're talkin' to you too, Canada!":

A miniature drawing at the beginning of each chapter!

And then there's the back cover:

Best things about this back cover:

  • "Thrillers" used interchangeably with "Mysteries" - interesting in the history of genre nomenclature. Slippage! Conflation!
  • A. Merritt was a big deal scifi writer, and "Creep Shadow Creep" is one of the greater titles I've ever seen
  • Avon was clearly really, really big on getting you to get on board - "Order! Ask your Newsdealer! Do it! Creep Shadow Creep!"

Page 123~
"Ha-ha," Johnny laughed mirthlessly.
"It just struck me as funny, Johnny. That fat slob, Maggie. I never had a fight with a woman before. But you - you treated her just as if she'd been a man."

Ah, the '40s. Following a precedent (precedent!) set by Dick Tracy (it's true), Johnny Fletcher liked to smack broads around and then laugh about it afterward. "Women these days ... sometimes you just gotta hit 'em!"


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Paperback 162: The Black Curtain / Cornell Woolrich (Mercury Mystery 64)

Paperback 162: Mercury Mystery 64 (1st ptg, n.d.)

Title: The Black Curtain
Author: Cornell Woolrich
Cover artist: [Stefan] Salter (I think that's his first name...)

Yours for: $40

Best things about this cover:

  • The entire book is in pristine condition. OK, maybe "pristine" is pushing it, but for a digest-sized paperback (notoriously flimsy and easy to destroy through negligence) this book is in superhot condition.
  • Cornell Woolrich is the father of modern noir. He is an amazing writer (most of the time). His authorship, the elegant if understated Salter cover, and the overall condition of the book are what's driving the price here. If only it weren't for that damned penciled-in "W" (after "Curtain" in the title). What, did some alphabetically challenged librarian need a cue on where to file it? Yeesh.
  • Look, a blurb from a real media entity! Most of the books I collect seem to have escaped the NYT's notice (not shocking).

Best things about this back cover:

  • This isn't the whole cover, just a close-up of the Mercury Mystery logo (the only thing on the cover - one logo and a whole lot of Brown). The design is superb - love how the flourish on the end of the first "M" spirals into a little dagger handle. Sweet.

Page 123~

A querulous thread of black unraveled from the open magazine; then freed itself, broke off short, went up into nothingness. No more followed.

You gotta love an author who will throw down "querulous."


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Paperback 161: Amazing Stories (December, 1956)

Paperback 161: Amazing Stories (December, 1956)

  • Contains: "A World of His Own" by Robert Silverberg and "Tracking Level" by Harlan Ellison
  • Cover artist: Ed Valigursky
Yours for: $10

Best things about this cover:

  • In the future, "Deal or No Deal" is a lot more interesting.
  • I'm pretty sure those ladies were not born ladies - it's nice to see that, in the future, transsexual and transgendered people will have steady work as game show hostesses
  • Man, that guy really wants to kill Howie Mandel. But then who doesn't?
  • This picture does not make it appear as if "Women Were His Pawns." Unless he's forcing them to act out some adolescent fantasy of his - I guess that's possible

Best things about this back cover:

  • I own one of these books!
  • Never before has the word "ANY" looked so exciting
  • If you don't look closely, you can almost miss the flying saucer mountain scape in the background
  • Love the unnecessary quotation marks around "top drawer" - do not love the quotation marks that open with "Handsome ... and then never close. Spine-tingling!
  • Ad copy always hyphenates "science-fiction," while the book covers themselves Never do. Eeeeerie.
  • I love how specific they are about the amount I would normally be paying ... "$8.65, you say ... oh my."

Page 123~

[click image to enlarge]
  • "Would you ... become a peeping tom?" - they really know their audience, I think
  • The "Space Club" appears to be a kind of asexual personals section for the Nerdiest People On Earth.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Paperback 160: Galaxy Science Fiction (December 1959)

Paperback 160: Galaxy Science Fiction (December 1959)
  • Includes work by: Robert Bloch ("Sabbatical"), Philip K. Dick ("War Game"), Frederick Pohl ("The Snowmen"), Robert Sheckley, Willy Ley, George O. Smith, A.J. Offutt, and others
  • Cover artist: EMSH (best cover artist name ever) - real name = Ed Emshwiller

Yours for: $14

Best things about this cover:

  • It is aDORable. I want to make Christmas cards out of this cover.
  • Martian pyjamas
  • Santa has four arms
  • I want that rocket that Santa is holding
  • Really, the design on this cover is astonishingly beautiful. It's like Norman Rockwell meets mid-century modern meets The Future. The little silver snowflake-stars around the date / price just seal the deal
  • How did Robert Bloch and Philip K. Dick get driven off the front cover by ... these guys. A.J. Offutt? He should be banished for name ugliness alone.

Best things about this back cover

  • Seriously, one of the Worst ads I've ever seen. Shouldn't the NAME OF YOUR PRODUCT be featured ... somewhere? Prominently? I mean, if the title had been "What's In IF For You?" I might have been impressed. Maybe that was the idea and the typesetter just effed up.
  • "We often wonder why all our readers aren't subscribers" = "We often wonder why we can't pay our bills each month"
  • I imagine the most boring, droning, Hugh Beaumont-esque guy making this would-be sales pitch. "When you subscribe to our magazine, it comes straight to your house via a little bit of magic we like to call: The Mail"
  • Who designed this, Luddites!? It's like the anti-ad!

Page 123~

"People are always watching me, Brother," I said. "So now they do it even when they aren't around. I should have known it would come to that."
-from "Charity Case" by Jim Harmon

This is far too prescient for me to snark on.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Paperback 159: Room for the Rolling M / Bertrand Sinclair (Western Novel Classic 112)

Paperback 159: Western Novel Classic 112 (PBO, 1951)
Title: Room for the Rolling M
Author: Bertrand W. Sinclair
Cover artist: Uncredited [A. Leslie Ross? Norman Saunders?]

Yours for: $15

Best things about this cover:

  • "M" is about the last letter I would expect to "roll" anywhere. Too angular.
  • That window is some kind of brittle scrim - made out of confectionery, perhaps. Glass does not break like that or look like that.
  • His neckerchief is fetching. I also like the shirt. I think this guy has a really bad sunburn or is a rodeo clown. Otherwise, what's up with the aggressively red cheeks?
  • His left hand looks contorted / evil.
  • What is that "HP" in the corner of the window?
  • I love that I can read "Warrant for Arrest" on the document that he has handily tucked inside his gun belt.
  • At least this guy can hold a gun, unlike some recent Western cover guys I've featured.

I would show you a back cover, but it's just the same as the last Western Novel Classic back cover. Ho + Hum.

Page 123~
As Mike passed out a rotund Chinaman came bearing a tray.

Poor Mike. I guess it's like they always say: Beware rotund Chinamen bearing trays.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Paperback 158: Dionysus: The Ultimate Experiment / William S. Ruben (Manor Books 15232)

Paperback 158: Manor Books 15232 (PBO, 1977)

Title: Dionysus: The Ultimate Experiment
Author: William S. Ruben
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $6

Best things about this cover:

  • This is possibly the most boob-oriented cover I own.
"Do you like them, Steve? I electroded them especially for you?"
"Well ... oh my ... I say ... they're quite ... I'll just ... how does one ... is this ... do I ... like so? ... or ..."
  • She is so arched and ecstatic and ready to go, and he is Totally killing the vibe.
  • He seems to have made eye contact with the boobs, but his hand!? WTF!? Hey, buddy, you're not supposed to wave at them!
  • His junk, while barely visible, is not invisible enough for my, uh, taste.
  • Whatever "human emotion" this is, I don't think I care to "experience" it, thanks.

Best things about this back cover:

All this rigmarole about weightless sex is just a front. The REAL "unreportable project" is embedded in the title itself:

Ronnie James DIO will play the New York State (NYS) Fair causing a mass conflagration of rocking out that will engulf the US in madness, allowing a Black Sabbath reunion ... at the highest levels of government! No one can resist the heavy metal keyboard strains of "Rainbow in the Dark!"

Page 123~

This was the time of Eldridge and Grainly, born into a world which accepted without conscience an acknowledgment of the underground. They simply did not think of this sustained nether world.

Funny, I'd rather not think of it either.

"This was the time of Eldridge and Grainly ... Attorneys at Law!"