Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Paperback 232: The Bitter Passion / John W. Wadleigh (Hillman Books 153)

Paperback 232: Hillman Books 153 (PBO, 1960)

Title: The Bitter Passion
Author: John W. Wadleigh
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: $12

Best things about this cover:

  • "Do you like my left shoulder? Do you? You're not even looking at it? Look at it!"
  • John W. Wadleigh won the award for Most Unintentionally Pornographic-Sounding Author Name of 1960
  • "A native man" - no, don't tell me, "native" is plenty of information ...
  • Did the NY Times really say that a book called "The Bitter Passion" was a "net of passions?" That's just sad.

Best things about this back cover:

  • You too, Los Angeles Mirror-News? We get it. "Passions." What else you got?
  • "There had been several men" - nice euphemism! Way to use the passive voice to skirt the issue of your promiscuity, honey.
  • "A novel of two lonely women" - whoa ... another woman? What happened to the "native man?" And how "lonely" are the women? Your answer will go a long way to determining whether I crack this book or not.

Page 123~

-In time, in time, I said. Be patient or you'll ruin yourself. Later you will remember. My words will come back to you, years from now, and you will understand, so trust me, yes?

-Yes, he said.

Without understanding any of it.

Silly non-English-speaking native. You'll never understand the eloquence and wisdom of ... whoever this chick is.


P.S. Thanks to Brian Cassidy for a very nice write-up of both "Pop Sensation" and "Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword" in his "Fine Books & Collections" blog.


PB said...

If the best quote they can get from the Los Angeles Mirror-News review is a cursory description, I have a sneaking suspicion it wasn't the most favorable of reviews.

Alix said...

"Why couldn't there be something for us?" Slammin' it right down on the table, that hussy. Brazen!

Now THIS is the kind of publication schedule I like to see, Rex!

Dirt Diggler said...

* 'Hard to believe she'd be dressed like that lounging on what looks like a broken down boardwalk off the main thoroughfare. -- She looks ill at ease while rubbing her left foot ... maybe she took a splinter to her heel?

*This book can't decide what it's actually about ....

First, there's a question of character number. The protagonist(s?) and the antagonist(s?) go(es) from singular to plural. It's,

"The taboo affair of AN American girl and A native man", then it's,

"A novel of TWO lonely women -- and the strange MEN who came into THEIR lives."

Secondly, there's a question of identity of race and setting. When I first read, " native man" I assumed: American Indian? Then upon reading, "One evening in the cantina ..." and looking at her bodice, I assumed: Mexican man in the Arizona Territory? ... Then there's the LA Mirror's " ... remote village" blurb and I'm back to: Navajo village?

'Hopefully, the copy editor won't ever be a witness for the defense.

Larry said...


I don't think native would connotate American Indian in 1960. I think native is intended to invoke the more titillating aspects of miscegenation.

pj said...

~ "There had been several men" - nice euphemism! Way to use the passive voice to skirt the issue of your promiscuity, honey.Rex, Rex, Rex... that's not the passive voice. Thought that as a crosswordy person you might be somewhat aware of language an' stuff. 'She had been screwed by every man within a 40-mile radius' uses the passive voice. 'There had been several men' doesn't. It's as much a passive as 'There's a fly in my soup.' Go and read Language Log or something.

Love the blog, however. Keep it up.