Sunday, July 31, 2011

Paperback 444: Sex Without Guilt / Albert Ellis, Ph.D. (Hillman Books 106)

Paperback 444: Hillman Books 106 (1st ptg (?), 1959)

Title: Sex Without Guilt
Author: Albert Ellis, Ph.D.
Cover artist: photo

Yours for: $9


Best things about this cover:
  • I don't know ... she looks pretty guilty.
  • I'm not sure Kinsey was going for "Daring"—he was a scientist, not a soft-porn novelist
  • So Dr. Ellis is just mining his patients' sexual problems for our titillation? This is a great example of how Kinsey provided publishers with a new avenue into the sale of sex—"don't worry: it's science! The boner you're experiencing in reading about it is totally normal."


Best things about this back cover:
  • "Frankness!"
  • Oooh, she shows a little more back back here.
  • "Case histories" = Penthouse letters
  • Something about the phrase "preparing youngsters for sexual happiness" doesn't quite sound right.
  • "Sex Fascism!" You mean my need to be dominated by a woman dressed as Mussolini is normal!? Freedom!

Page 123~
Two months after she first came for therapy, she was not only having intense climaxes most of the time she had intercourse, but was also having three or four terrific climaxes a night—while her husband, quite amazed, could not keep up with her, and had to resort to extracoital methods of satisfying her on most occasions.

I'm all for "extracoital methods," though I highly suggest you never ever call them that, especially in the heat of the moment. "OK, honey, which extracoital method would you like to use tonight? ... honey? ... honey, where are you going?"


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Paperback 443: The Sixth Man / Jess Stearn (MacFadden Books 60-106)

Paperback 443: MacFadden Books 60-106 (1st ptg, 1962)

Title: The Sixth Man
Author: Jess Stearn
Cover artist: N/A

Yours for: $10


Best things about this cover:
  • I know the cover wants to be ominous, with the suggestion that "you can't tell them apart" and "they're hiding among you," but the image just looks too much like the spinning wheel on a game show for me to be too "frightened": "Congratulations, you landed on Fabulous!" (love that the one-in-six is hot pink)
  • Monotonous corporate drones ... or sophisticated men dancing in a Busby Berkeley / Ethel Merman movie? I can't decide.
  • So *this* is what the NBA's "Sixth Man" award is all about ...


Best things about this back cover:
  • "That's right, we gays have taken over, and we've hung Straighty up by his ankles. Let that be a warning to you. You better queer it up right now, see, or it's curtains for you!"
  • I'm guessing this cover is a lot more scarifying than the actual book.
  • The first two sentences here (particularly the second one) are pointless. "He is a chronicler of events..." Congratulations. I myself am an "eater of Doritos."

Page 123~

George looked like anything but the popular conception of a homosexual. He cut a manly figure, tall, strongly built, and was neatly but plainly dressed. And while he drank and talked fast, gesticulating a lot, so do hundreds of people I know on Madison Avenue who aren't queer.

Interesting, but you might want to rethink your certainty about those Madison Avenue people.


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Monday, July 25, 2011

Paperback 442: Intruder in the Dust / William Faulkner (Signet S1253)

Paperback 442: Signet S1253 (6th ptg, 1956)

Title: Intruder in the Dust
Author: William Faulkner
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $6


Best things about this cover:
  • Unsure of how to deal an effective kidney punch, Ted consulted the mob. "Here? Is this right?"
  • One way to put a black guy on the cover without putting a black guy on the cover: put him way in the distance and make him bend over to pick up his hat. Also, looks quite natural...
  • "Murder and Violence Rip a White Man's Hat-Wearing Convention"


Best things about this back cover:
  • Signet covers are generally sedate, often to the point of being dull as dishwater. Back covers are rarely sensational either. What I like about this one is that someone gave the tagline writer / designer permission to go crazy. "Red letters ... some kind of 'tribal' font ... my lands!"
  • "Mob Fury" would be a good band name.

Page 123~
"What's going on around here, Shurf?"

"I'm going to open this grave, Mr. Gowrie," the sheriff said.

"No, Shurf," the other said, immediate, with no change whatever in the voice: not disputative, nothing: just a statement: "Not that grave."

"Yes, Mr. Gowrie," the sheriff said. "I'm going to open it."

First, "Shurf"! That's good dialogue. Second, you gotta admire the writer so unafraid of colons that he'll put three in one sentence. Just 'cause.


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Friday, July 22, 2011

Paperback 441: Strange Ones / Ben Travis (Beacon B226)

Paperback 441: Beacon B 226 (PBO, 1959)

Title: Strange Ones
Author: Ben Travis
Cover artist: Darcy

Yours for: $25


Best things about this cover:
  • That is indeed the look of a man who "tried to love a woman" ... and then discovered she had a penis. "Why does this keep happening to me!?"
  • "I don't understand why we keep playing hide-and-seek. There's just this one room and there's nowhere to hide." "Shut up, hide your eyes, and start counting!" "[Sigh] 1, 2, 3 ..."
  • "Look at my armpit. She is sexy, no? You like ..."
  • Sideboob! Two books in a row!


Best things about this back cover:
  • Arrows say he had "warped desires," but then text says he was poor and hungry and turned tricks so he could eat. That hardly seems fair.
  • "To prove his manhood, Ray raped a girl." Who doesn't love a good old-fashioned "Boy Rapes Girl To Become Ungay" story?
  • For all the stupidity of this back cover, I love the arrows. Nice design element.

Page 123~

"The conclusion seems rather obvious to me. Either I have too vivid an imagination, or you're living with Luther now and he's keeping you for your only talent."

Somewhat anti-climactically, that "talent" turns out to be "making hand shadow puppets."


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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Paperback 440: What a Body! / Alan Green (Dell 483)

Paperback 440: Dell 483 (1st ptg, 1951)

Title: What a Body!
Author: Alan Green
Cover artist: Gil Darling

Yours for: $13


Best things about this cover:
  • "Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy ... oh, it's just a gun."
  • "Hey, easy ... gimme that back. That's my special novelty lighter I got for being second-best regional sales manager in Pensacola."
  • "OK, hon, you hold real still ... I'm gonna practice my ninja moves on you now. First, I crouch in plain sight, in broad daylight, in a sky blue suit. Next ..."


Best things about this back cover:
  • Well, it's legendary, and you can see why.
  • I can't even snark this. It comes pre-snarked.
  • The best part about this chart is the arbitrary numbers. I mean, is there really an 11% chance I'll be able to place my date in my overcoat pocket? One in ten of my dating prospects is roughly the size of a ferret? That number seems awfully high.
  • Was there ever a time where that woman looked appealing? Her boobs are non-existent, which is fine—no reason every woman should be busting out of her clothes—but she also has this odd growth on her head and she appears to have just strangled some poor scraggly bird. She looks like she's on her way to a funeral, or to worship Satan.

Page 123~

Prune-juice fancier that he was, he went on sipping staring into the hypnotic depths of the swimming-pool.
That is surely the only time in the history civilization that that particular opening clause has been used. And for the record, that sentence is punctuated *precisely* as it appears in the book, however unbelievable that may seem.


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Monday, July 18, 2011

Lord, I Have a Question...


Why do my knees smell like ketchup? And how many dirty llama had to die to make these curtains? And why does my mom insist on cutting my hair herself? She's good at making quilts, but I just wanna get my hair done at the mall like the other girls.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Paperback 439: The Dark Tunnel / Kenneth Millar (Lion Books 48)

Paperback 439: Lion Books 48 (1st ptg, 1950)

Title: The Dark Tunnel
Author: Kenneth Millar (Ross Macdonald)
Cover artist: E. Walter

Yours for: $28


Best things about this cover:
  • It's like we've caught her midway through morphing into a snake.
  • Why is she looking at us? Her potential killer is ... there. Over there. To your left, lady. Stop looking at me, Serpentina!
  • Of all the gay taglines I've seen, this one of the weakest. Tells me nothing about what happens. No sense of story. No sense of action. Tagline doesn't clearly go with picture. Yuck.
  • "Dark Tunnel" is a not-very-subtle title for a novel pre-occupied with homosexuality.


Best things about this back cover:
  • The dark tunnel is all of a sudden a bright doorway.
  • Lion deals with male homosexuality on its covers more frequently and earlier than most other publishers. It's truly remarkable how obsessed the cover copy is with the gender/sexuality of this spy—which is not even an important issue in this book until the end, and even then seems more tacked-on than essential (if I'm remembering correctly—I could be conflating it with "I, the Jury").

Page 123~

I went into this inner room to look up 'taillour.' My throat was constricted with excitement. For the first and last time in my life, I knew how philologists must feel when they're on the track of an old word used in a new way.

And this immediately becomes the nerdiest thriller of all time. Sidenote: This scene takes place at the Middle English Dictionary, housed at University of Michigan, where both Kenneth Millar and I earned Ph.D.s in English (50+ years apart). The Dark Tunnel was his first novel (orig. pub'd 1944).


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Friday, July 15, 2011

Paperback 438: The Anatomy of Adultery / Gary Gordon (Monarch 448)

Paperback 438: Monarch 448 (PBO, 1964)

Title: The Anatomy of Adultery
Author: Gary Gordon
Cover artist: photo cover

Yours for: $9


Best things about this cover:
  • Mmm, sexy. Sexy sexy pen set.
  • "Searching probe"
  • Nothing says "illicit sex" like faux-wood veneer.
  • When a dirty ashtray is, by far, the most interesting thing on your cover, then your cover is not good.


Best things about this back cover:
  • The title is "Anatomy of Adultery," and yet the covers feature neither anatomy nor adultery. Rip-off!
  • First paragraph is confusing. Why are people committing adultery with vagrants?
  • "Up to and including murder" = "including murder"; what's this "up to" stuff? Was copywriter on a strict word count?
Page 123~

[Britain's] history, from murderous Queen Elfreda of the Saxons, through Henry VIII, Pepys, Frank Harris, and W.T. Stead's sensational Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon, gives solid evidence that this supposedly reserved nation better deserves the title "world's sexiest race" than do the French.
I'm not sure this is convincing, though, to be fair, murderousness and beheadings *are* pretty sexy ...


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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Paperback 437: Substitute Sinners / John Dexter (Sundown Reader 614)

Paperback 437: Sundown Reader SR614 (PBO, 1966)

Title: Substitute Sinners
Author: John Dexter
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $20


Best things about this cover:
  • From the author who brought you the klassic "A Thousand Beds" (1967) comes ... this!
  • "Your regular sinner is out today. I'm your substitute sinner: Charlene."
  • Her hair = mastodon tusks
  • Love the admiring grin on Joe Handsome Pool.
  • So you just walk around holding that towel in place all day?
  • Joe emerges from his private pool forest while Angela executes a perfect head-first slide into third base and Charlene holds a tutorial in obi-tying. This is an eclectic and talented bunch. Who knew Esalen could be such fun?


Best things about this back cover:
  • I really want to know whose job it was to tourettically shout out pseudo-sexual nonsense phrases for these BOLD! ital. BOLD! back covers. I should have a special tag just for this type of cover. Too bad there's not a Nobel Prize for Unintentionally Goofy Sex Poetry.
  • "No one can outfox me from my sex ambush," bragged Chick, nonsensically.

Page 123~

"Suppose I had you hypnotized, gave you a gun, and told you to shoot George. Ninety-nine times out of one hundred, you would refuse the command and either wake up or remain asleep without any action. But if I told you George was a ravenous grizzly bear about to attack you and you family, you would shoot the hell out of him."

At this point, George, who had come to this retreat solely for the promise of outdoor naked hot-tubbing, became understandably worried.


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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Paperback 436: Midsummer Passion / Erskine Caldwell (Avon 177)

Paperback 436: Avon 177 (1st ptg, 1948)

Title: Midsummer Passion
Author: Erskine Caldwell
Cover artist: Ann Cantor

Yours for: $19


Best things about this cover:
  • "With your permission, my lady ... May I sniff these?"
  • He is appropriately grubby. She is impossibly clean.
  • All I can think is "Really? Right on a bed of lettuce? Isn't there a nice flat patch of lawn nearby where you can have your furtive rustic tumble?"


Best things about this back cover:
  • Once again, Shakespeare approves!

Page 123~

"I ain't going to let that good-for-nothing Canuck get his hands on the best farm in the whole gol-darned country. Come on to the village and get it settled right away."

For some Boston Bruins fans, winning the Stanley Cup was not enough. Canucks must be made to suffer year-round!


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Friday, July 8, 2011

Paperback 435: Pushover / Orrie Hitt (Beacon Books 139)

Paperback 435: Beacon Books 139 (PBO, 1957)

Title: Pushover
Author: Orrie Hitt
Cover artist: George Geygan

Yours for: $20


Best things about this cover:
  • So is Easy Pickin the name of the guy mashing the blow-up doll with his face? Because that apostrophe-S is confusing me.
  • Giant Keyhole!
  • Can you really call her a "pushover" if tied her hands behind her back to force compliance?
  • I'm guessing the tops of heads are really hard to draw because that guy's ... let's call it "hair" ... is a mess.
  • I would call this "Great Girl Art" if she didn't look like a corpse from the neck up.


Best things about this back cover:
  • I honest-to-god laughed when I first looked at this. "FELL, I say! FELLLLLLLLL!"
  • Love how the final word stands out so strongly because a. it's in all-caps b. it's the only word set completely against a white background, and c. it's right on her tits—the tits of the girl who has apparently (happily) been Pushed Over. They even used three long dashes to make sure it showed up on her torso! Design work: A+.
  • "Sweet Sucker Game" = a long-forgotten blaxploitation film.

Page 123~

"Peoples," he greeted us, waving at nobody in particular. He got out of his chair, stumbled over a rug and almost fell down. "Have a drink! Have a damn drink, why doncha?"

I'm considering making "Have a drink! Have a damn drink, why doncha?" the next tagline for the header of this blog. That's good dialogue! Damn good!


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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Paperback 434: Doctor Prescott's Secret / Peggy Gaddis (Beacon B302)

Paperback 434: Beacon Books B302 (1st ptg, 1960)

Title: Dr. Prescott's Secret
Author: Peggy Gaddis
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $11


Best things about this cover:
  • "A Novel That Had To Be Written ... seriously, Ms. Gaddis was contractually obligated to produce a third novel for us, and this is it."
  • "Doctor Prescott's Secret" sounds like some kind of olde-timey elixir, or some product used in baking. A leavening agent, maybe. "Doctor Prescott's Secret: For All Your Vegan Baking Needs!
  • One thing you need to know about the 50s and 60s is that keyholes were gigantic and ladies were often naked.


Best things about this back cover:
  • "This isn't hard enough to read yet. Let's make the font tiny, faint, and ... ooh, I know, italicized. That'll be effective!"
  • By "a racket which had become one of the most obnoxious social evils of our times," I assume they mean "Girl Scouts" (kidding!)
  • Cancers grow. I don't think they "grow up." If your cancer gets surly, gets a drivers license, and eventually moves out of the house, consider yourself lucky.

Page 123~

But just the same, it had steel claws that tore at her until she was weak with the need for Nick's body possessing her own.

You'll be happy to know that "it" is lust — "sheer animal lust," to be exact — and not some sadistic robot.


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Monday, July 4, 2011

Paperback 433: Sintown, U.S.A. / ed. Noah Sarlat (Lion Books 106)

Paperback 433: Lion Books 106 (PBO, 1952)

Title: Sintown, U.S.A.
Editor: Noah Sarlat
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $18


Best things about this cover:
  • Fresno! (my hometown—I bought this book for that reason alone)
  • I still don't know where "Bergen" is. Sweden?
  • She's a tough, sexy dame ... from the neck down. From the neck up, she is a wasted, miscoiffed mess.
  • I'm guessing what we're seeing here is one of them there "Sucker Traps..."


Best things about this back cover:
  • "You will not see wealthy dowagers with lorgnettes sipping wine and nibbling on cheese in their opera boxes"
  • My guess is that if the reader has bothered to flip the book over to read the back cover, he already suspects that it's not about the genteel habits of the urban elite. The book is called "Sintown, U.S.A." for god's sake.
  • I like how this book goes beyond the mere assertion of the existence of a thriving underground vice economy to the more provocative claim that said "muck and misery and seaminess" are the "bedrock" of Anytown, U.S.A. "Can't have museums without hookers aplenty. That's nature's law."
  • 20,000 seems an awfully arbitrary number.
  • I've never been to Yourtown. Mytown, sure. But not Yourtown.

Page 123~

Many a respected Bergen citizen with a kingsize "monkey riding on his back" is in hock up to his ears.

As any Swede can tell you, it costs a lot of money to care for back-riding monkeys, especially the big ones.


P.S. Bergen, it turns out, is in Norway. Also, New Jersey.

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Paperback 432: World Without Women / Day Keene and Leonard Pruyn (Gold Medal s975)

Paperback 432: Gold Medal s975 (PBO, 1960)

Title: World Without Women
Author: Day Keene and Leonard Pruyn
Cover artist: Robert McGinnis

Yours for: $21


Best things about this cover:
  • You do *not* want to fuck with the Council of Floating Lady Heads!
  • Staring at your own crotch while the Council ogles / passes judgment is really the most humiliating part of the punishment.
  • "I'm sorry, ma'ams. I really am. Can I get off the hot coals now?"
  • The old lady up top does not approve of our reading trashy fiction like this! Look at her judging eyes! Shut up, old lady! I'll read what I want!
  • Leonard Pruyn? This makes me think that (the prolific) Day Keene started this one and half-way through was like "This kinda sucks. Hey kid, what's your name? ... Leonard? OK, Leonard, you wanna finish this book up for me? I'll give ya ten bucks."


Best things about this back cover:
  • France's law is perhaps the most idiotic. If there are really so few women left, then the streets must be a massive sausagefest, with the women presumably somewhere secure. Who cares if a dude wants to go out for groceries at 7?
  • I'm sure all this future-shock is supposed to be, uh, shocking, but actually this back cover is phenomenally dull and does Nothing to make me want to read the book (unlike the front cover, which manages to make even a putrid miasmic future hellscape look kinda sexy).

Page 123~
"All right, you male bastards," she said quietly. "You want a woman. Here's one."

The Marine lieutenant snatched up one of the phones on the desk and tried to get through to the guard tower. "Shoot, you dumb gyrenes, shoot! Aim at the crowd! Fire over her head!" he pleaded, then realized he was shouting into a dead phone.
In all sincerity, this is good. *This* makes me want to read. "Leonard Pruyn, For The Win!" (it rhymes ... I think).

P.S. "gyrenes"


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