Sunday, November 6, 2011

Paperback 474: The Third Bedroom / Brenda Baker (Fabian Z-136)

Paperback 474: Fabian Z-136 (PBO, 1960)

Title: The Third Bedroom
Author: Brenda Baker
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $19


Best things about this cover:
  • There were three things Brad loved more than anything else: bright yellow dress shirts, mirrored walls, and women covered in fondant.
  • These curtains make me laugh every time I look at this book. It's like the artist just pawned off the design concept on Mrs. Jenkins' 1st grade art class.
  • That woman is either a yoga master or has dislocated her shoulder. You try putting your elbow behind your head. Go ahead, I'll wait.
  • The mirror symbolizes Brad's dual identity: the gentleman, and the slightly more boring gentleman.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Feel the sadness.
  • Fabian (and Saber and Vega) had lots of legal troubles due to the highly sexual and controversial content of many of their books. Publisher Sanford Aday and partner Wallace de Ortega-Maxey would eventually be convicted in U.S. District Court (in Western Michigan) of trafficking in obscenity. Almost all Fabian, Saber, and Vega books in the late 50s / early 60s have legal news as part of their end material. For instance, this book contains a report on the publisher's own recent court victories, and a long discussion of recent legal victories for booksellers all over the country. This is yet another reason I love the Aday paperbacks, cheesy and low-rent as they are: they defied the moral hypocrisy of their day and challenged the legal system in ways that (ultimately) mattered. You're not going to have much problem getting some high-minded literary professional into court to defend "Ulysses." Good luck getting the same guy to defend "Sex Life of a Cop."

Page 123~

I fully believed then that God spoke to me, but it was like when your conscience tells you something, you're not too sure of what it means. But I calmed down rather quickly, and after I had taken my seat upon the divan I took a cigarette and lit it.

And ye, verily, God said unto her, "Betty ... you must go to Flavor Country."


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Doug Brunell said...

Those curtains are horrible! Where do you keep digging these books up?

Rick said...

So....did he light the divan or his seat (ouch!) with his cigarette?
A bit nitpicky of me, perhaps. But I think that could have been phrased a little less comically...

John Flanagan said...

"Wrapped in plaaastic."

Unknown said...

Visiting this blog is always time well spent. I think you deserve an award for the fine work you're doing here. The covers and your comments never fail to make me chuckle.

Anonymous said...

Usually when my conscious tells me something I know what it means. My conscious is pretty literal, quite unlike my subconscious.

Is that a magic mirror? Because he's looking straight ahead in the reflection while he's looking down at the girl in real life. Oh, I get it, mirror Brad is the gentleman, real Brad is the hound.

Alessandra Kelley said...

When all you've got is a tube of cadmium yellow ...

This is just speculation, mind you, but it looks like the scribbles on the curtain were added after the art was finished.

Try to imagine the artwork without them -- everything is pretty monochromatic yellow (his suit, his hair, his reflection, the curtains, the couch, the rug) and all has the same rather viscous texture (it's not just the woman who looks covered in fondant -- his suit and the curtains also look like they're rolled out of it).

So imagine someone, the art director, say, kicks up a fuss, asks for something a little more textured on that big swathe of yellow behind the girl.

Can't you just see an exasperated someone grabbing a red editing pencil and scribbling those awful roses on the curtain at the last minute?

I love the abstract art on the back cover, by the way.