Sunday, April 5, 2009

Paperback 215: Company K / William March (Lion Books 111)

Paperback 215: Lion Books 111 (1st ptg, 1952)

Title: Company K
Author: William March
Cover artist: Rafael DeSoto

Yours for: $13

Best things about this cover:

  • DeSoto is one of the great naturalistic cover artists, and this cover is really expertly painted. Beautiful, detailed, evocative of the suffering of war. I'm finding this cover slightly hard to make fun of. Although ... if her stroking and pumping that giant lever isn't innuendo, I don't know what is. That is, if "she" is indeed a woman. The novel is, after all, "flaming."
  • I'm afraid of the guy at the front of that line. He looks like he's lost all hope ... or else he is a golem or a droid or something.
  • "The Flaming Novel of Men and Women at War" - sounds like a book about the battle of the sexes. "Men Are From Mars ... : WWI Edition!"

Best things about this back cover:

  • "Company K is a Knockout"! Letter play not so effective when the "K" is silent. "Company G is a Gnat-infested Gnightmare"
  • This back cover is in Love with alliteration. Courage and cowardice ... lustings (!?) and lies, daring, doom, and death.
  • It's appropriate that this book is somewhat purple, because check out the prose in that second paragraph. March impales angry moments with his bayonet-pen!?
  • I like the little flag, particularly the wacky font of the letters.

This is a pretty famous and well-received novel of W. W. I, organized into micro-chapters about every single man in the company. Blurbs inside from Granville Hicks, Graham Greene, James T. Farrell, and Phyllis Bentley (whoever that is).

Page 123~

On Monday a kid from my company named Ben Hunzinger got fifteen years hard labor for deserting in the face of the enemy, and a long talk from Mr. Fairbrother about justice tempered with mercy.

Whoa, "Mr. Fairbrother?" Is this an allegory?



Sarah said...

"Whoa, "Mr. Fairbrother?" Is this an allegory?"

You know what else? Mr March wrote a book about soldiers. Ouch.

Brian Busby said...

A very fine novel with a decent cover... that is until you realize that the soldiers are from an entirely different war. I'm betting the incongruity everything to do with Lion's marketing department. Not a mention of the First World War.

Alix said...

She had no shoes and was forced to pump water from the village well... but her Cover Girl Flaming Fuchsia lipstick lasted through the war!

Dirt Diggler said...

" 'NOT ONE WORD (K)UT' in K-Kompany K-K-K-Kay!"

Dirt Diggler said...

"K-K-K-Kould you Yanks need your k-k-k-kanteens ssssated ... or your thirsts sssslaked?"

Keri said...

Nothing to make fun of on the front cover? really?

What about the way the middle dude's helmet is apparently being used to keep his brains in since the doctors sent him to war before replacing the skull?

I mean, seriously, that guy's head/forehead is weirding me out.

DemetriosX said...

Yeah, everything about these guys is wrong for WWI: uniform, helmet, dog tags.

As for the flag, what about the slight suggestiveness of the abbreviation? I mean, Co. K. and with the little triangle missing from the flag. Or is that just my dirty mind?

libwitch said...

I was impressed how she managed to coordinate her headband and trim on her skirt so nicely. Its tough to be that fashion-forward in war time.

Rex Parker said...

To be totally pedestrian and boring for a second - the WWII look of the cover and the failure to mention WWI on the cover copy is clearly a conscious advertising decision - some of the biggest consumers of early paperbacks were WWII vets. In fact, massmarket pbs were virtually beta-tested on those guys during the war - supercheap wartime editions provided to the troops for free.


Lyndee said...

I do love this front cover. I love the cliche font. I even like the people, although I'm kind of "meh" about them.

But does anyone else have a crush on the buildings in the background, the water on the ground, and the cloudy, dismal, dreary sky? It's gorgeous. Forget Busty Pumpwater, Gloomy Danglehelmet, Dogtag Deformed-Head, and Shirtless McShorty...the atmosphere around them is the part that I find fantastic.

Rex Parker said...

Tell me how I'm supposed to forget Busty Pumpwater and I'll gladly give it a shot.

The bldgs are indeed amazing.

Alix said...

BUSTY PUMPWATER?! Oh, I love it!!

And hey, since it's raining so hard, couldn't she just set out a bucket and let it fill up by itself?

Alix said...

Actually, that may have to be my new nom de screen...

JRSM said...

Nothing witty to say: just wanted to chime in with another vote about how great this book is.

sexy said...







Michael5000 said...

Eh, Sexy already said everything I was going to say.