Thursday, May 31, 2012

Paperback 533: End Zone / Don DeLillo (Pocket Books 78282)

Paperback 533: Pocket Books 78282 (1st ptg, 1973)

Title: End Zone
Author: Don DeLillo
Cover artist: photo

Yours for: $8

Best things about this cover:
  • Way outside my normal collection timeframe, but the cover (and author) caught my eye—seemed memorable / remarkable—like the last thing you see before you get strangled (to death, presumably).
  • I like that it's a novel about football, but the cover only barely suggests this (title, font, "New Gladiators").
  • That's the opposite of "Fear Hand"—most mid-century covers have a victim POV, with woman reacting to some kind of impending attack. Here, the attacker (in a context that can be only dimly imagined).


Best things about this back cover:
  • Dang, high praise for a novel I've never heard of.
  • "Is God a Football Fan?" is a pretty good tagline.
  • So much for your Nostradamian powers, Cincinnati Enquirer.

Page 123~
"Gary Harkness. Good name. Promotable. I like it. I even love it."
"Relax and call me Wally."
"Right," I said.
If anyone ever says "Relax and call me Wally," you're gonna want to end the conversation quickly and get out of there.


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Friday, May 25, 2012

Paperback 532: Venus Examined / Robert Kyle (Fawcett Crest M1228)

Paperback 532: Fawcett Crest M1228 (1st ptg, 1969)

Title: Venus Examined
Author: Robert Kyle
Cover artist: photo

Yours for: $5

Best things about this cover:
  • I think she's consoling him, or apologizing for having gotten him involved in this demeaning research. "I'm sorry, honey. They didn't say anything about probes or electrodes on the fliers. Just breathe."
  • "first-rate story telling" looks lifted from a longer, not-so-complimentary sentence. Shouldn't "F" be capitalized? And shouldn't storytelling be one word? And isn't it remarkable that I'm fixated on matters of punctuation and spelling when there are naked people on my paperback cover. As a general rule, if your naked people fail to hold my fixed, rapt attention, then your cover is a Fail.
  • Robert Kyle was the (pen) name of the author of this awesome-looking book. Wonder if it's the same guy. What a shame to go from having your books look so completely awesome to having them look like this. "Sex made Tom and Linda sad..."

Best things about this back cover:
  • Oooh, *color* film! You don't say! Lah-di-dah...
  • I sure hope the answers to these questions are yes, yes, and yes, or I'm going to be as sad as those people on the cover.
  • "College students and prostitutes" made me laugh—Copywriting room conversation: "Hey, Dan, what's the opposite of 'college students?'" "I dunno ... whores?" "Perfect."

Page 123~

His name was Woods McChesney, and unlike his furniture he himself was in pretty good shape, a neat little suit, neat tie, neat mustache.

I now want to name *everything* 'Woods McChesney.'


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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Paperback 531: The Better To Eat You and Mischief / Charlotte Armstrong (Ace Double D-521)

Paperback 531: Ace Double D-521 (1st ptg, 1963)

Title: The Better To Eat You / Mischief
Author: Charlotte Armstrong
Cover artist: Uncredited / Uncredited

Yours for: $7

Best things about this cover:
  • Allow me to pre-apologize for the nightmares you'll be having later.
  • Don't look at me, lady, because I have *no* fucking idea either.
  • This is the painting of a man about to take his own life. Or a man who is trying to get fired.
  • You know what? I don't think she's scared. I think she's kind of turned on. This painting has layers. Many creepy layers.
  • "Despair" (1963) — Oil and blood and scabs and tears on canvas

Best things about this cover:
  • This woman is *really* enjoying her bondage fantasy.
  • "807"is the pictorial equivalent of clownface, i.e. What The Hell?
  • Look out, Grace Kelly! Raymond Burr can see you!

Page 123~ (of The Better To Eat You)

"You didn't try to make him listen when I wanted you to go to the Village . . ." Malvina smouldered.

"Malvina smouldered" is the new "Jesus wept."


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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Paperback 530: The Gay World / Martin Hoffman (Bantam Q4492)

Paperback 530: Bantam Q4492 (1st ptg, 1969)

Title: The Gay World
Author: Martin Hoffman
Cover artist: photo

Yours for: $7

Best things about this cover:
  • Look! Tiny, tiny gays! So cute.
  • That's how you contain the dangerous lure of the handsome gays—keep their pics thumbnail size.
  • Also, this is how the "homosexual scene" stays so well hidden from the mainstream—strategic miniaturization!
  • That looks like the wedding photograph from the first gay wedding, circa 1884. "Leopold and Jasper went on to run the most successful dry goods business in the greater Lansing area."


Best things about this back cover:
  • "Occult!" That's a new one.
  • I read "closest" as "closet."
  • "Why do men become homosexual? Well, if you could actually *see* Leopold and Jasper there, you would *totally* understand. Trust me."

Page 123~

Since we know that as we ascend the mammalian scale, learning factors become more important the higher we go, we can postulate that if these factors are true for monkeys, it would seem they are true for humans.

Scienceish! I give this assertion a 7 out of 10 on the mammalian scale.


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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Paperback 529: After Sex With the Single Girl / Richard Bernstein and William Storm Hale (APS 9505))

Paperback 529: APS Books 9505 (PBO, 1965)

Title: After Sex With the Single Girl
Authors: Richard Bernstein & William Storm Hale
Cover artist: N/A

Yours for: $6

Best things about this cover:

  • A short-lived experiment in quilting the book title
  • Originally called "Cigarette With the Single Girl," but that title was deemed to have totally missed the authors' (alarmist) point.
  • I like how William "Storm!" Hale kept his pro wrestling name for this gig.

Best things about this back cover:

  • "Honey, I have something to tell your nose..."
  • "Sex-prone teens!" So sex is like allergies or acne. Good to know.
  • There's nothing dynamite likes less than having light shed on it.

Page 123~ (actually 122—close enough)
John Doe would like to commit adultery, but who wants him? One fat, balding man put it candidly: "What chick would want to go to bed with me unless I paid her?" Such honesty is rare, but he was right; from a self-assured young man, he had been transformed into a jelly-fish slob.
"Such honesty is rare ... but I'm going to pile on his fat ass anyway."

This book is *heavily* underlined and occasionally annotated. My favorite annotation is at the beginning. It's just a list:

page 75—Racial marriages
         77—Gang bang

It's like some kind of (horrible) poem


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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Paperback 528: Palm Beach Apartment / Gail Jordan (Pyramid 15)

Paperback 528: Pyramid 15 (1st ptg, 1949)

Title: Palm Beach Apartment
Author: Gail Jordan
Cover artist: George Geygan

Yours for: $14

Best things about this cover:
  • "Let's see ... I just need to get a closer look, and ... yep, that's an Adam's apple. Dang."
  • Larry's bra-removing technique was so awkward and laborious and Gayle fell asleep before he was done.
  • I honestly can't conceive of the context that would justify this particular arrangement of bodies. He's not dipping her, or lifting her, and yet she appears somewhat suspended. It's *possible* he's laying her down on the ... ground? Beach? Maybe their "love nest" is an actual nest. "They lived and loved like plovers!" That would "set the whole town talking," I imagine.

Best things about this back cover:

  • "His ward," ha ha. She's Robin to his Batman.
  • "'Hands off' Hester" is kind of a great nickname.
  • I love the way the quotation marks alert us to these new-fangled expressions like "hands off" and "nice people."
  • OK, now I understand the front cover. That's just Sam awakening to Hester's ripe womanhood. He's sniffing her to confirm that she's ripe.

Page 123~
    Hendy said sharply, "You told him?"
    Hester's eyes were wide. "Of course" she answered as though she thought the question too silly to merit a response.

Hendy & Hester! Coming this fall to NBC ("We've got a few holes to fill in our lineup").


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

PS CBS did a piece on me last weekend (about my crossword blog)—there's lots of shots of my home office, where The Paperbacks live ... see the piece here.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Paperback 527: Arch of Triumph / Erich Maria Remarque (Signet S796)

Paperback 527: Signet S796 (1st ptg, 1950)

Title: Arch of Triumph
Author: Erich Maria Remarque
Cover artist: James Avati

Yours for: $6

Best things about this cover:
  • Now *this* is what an Avati cover typically looks like. A set piece. Still life with moody people. There's something almost religious about the tone of the paintings. This one is a very miniature Last Supper, if the Last Supper had consisted of wine, coffee, cigarettes, moody introspection, and distant staring.
  • Figures even have very faint haloes of light—grime-colored haloes.
  • What's happening beneath the table? Is he on pillows? Sitting crosslegged? Perspective seems slightly off to me.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Seriously, that is one freaky author photo.

Page 123~

He got up and began to dress. One must remain independent. Everything began with small dependencies. One did not notice them much. And suddenly one was entangled in the net of habit. Habit for which many names existed—love was one of them. One should not grow accustomed to anything. Not even to a body.

Not a fan of the long sentences. I like. I'm mentally underlining "entangled in the net of habit," which is a useful and elegant metaphor.


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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Paperback 526: The Courting of Susie Brown / Erskine Caldwell (Signet S1621)

Paperback 526: Signet S1621(5th ptg, 1960)

Title: The Courting of Susie Brown
Author: Erskine Caldwell
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $5

Best things about this cover:
  • The Delousing of Susie Brown.
  • Is this it? I have to believe that something far more salacious than this was painted over in thick purple. That would explain how Wrong her elbow looks. 
  • Also, how big is that chair seat? I see the chair, and it appears she is sitting on it, and yet those ... gowns? rags? ... she's sitting on don't appear to have anything to do with the chair. They're just ... hovering. 
  • Maybe the comb in a girl's lap is some kind of sexy visual shorthand I just don't get.

Best things about this back cover:
  • The Human Comedy ... is a novel by William Saroyan. And a series of novels by Honoré de Balzac. Like those classics, this book ... is also fiction.
  • Here is mirth and disaster. There be dragons.

Page 123~
   Dessie gripped the phone.
   "Did you say Waldo has a big roll of money?" she shouted. "Greenbacks tied with a string around the middle?"
   "He surely has, Mrs. Murdock. It's the biggest roll of money I've seen on a man since the Democrats took over."
   Dessie, who had risen from the chair until she was almost erect, sat down, hard.
Dessie and Mrs. Murdock found that by substituting "roll of money" for "penis," they drew far fewer outraged stares.


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Monday, May 7, 2012

Paperback 525: Sex Games That People Play / Daniel Gordon (ed.) (Ace 75963)

Paperback 525: Ace 75963 (2nd ptg, 1973)

Title: Sex Games That People Play
Editor: Daniel Gordon
Cover artist: photo

Yours for: $7

Best things about this cover:

  • So ... what game is this? Naked Opiate Tag? Pretend Overdose?
  • The font alone is skeezing me out. I think this font is called "Unclean Hot Tub."
  • "Edited by..." makes no sense. There are no author credits inside. Maybe he edited ... himself? Is that one of his "games?"

Best things about this back cover:
  • There once was a publication called "Sex Guide Magazine" ... seriously, that's the whole story.
  • I love how the book decides, rather late in the game, to go all scare-quotey with "games." "Wait, you mean all this time I thought we were having sex we were really having 'sex'? What kind of 'game' are you playing!?"

Page 123~

Sexually, he was not as passionate, but she did not mind because he always satisfied her. She told a friend, "he always manages to come through with a good one when I need him. Can I ask for any more?"

"Manages to come through with a good one" is about as unerotic as sex talk can get. Anyone who talks about her husband's sexual performance the way she'd talk about her son's little league performance deserves no love, or sex, or human companionship whatsoever.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

PS I think reader JamiSings sent me this a long time ago ... so thanks to her.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Paperback 524: The Farmers Hotel / John O'Hara (Bantam A2203)

Paperback 524: Bantam A2203 (4th ptg [1st thus], 1960)

Title: The Farmers Hotel
Author: John O'Hara
Cover artist: [James Avati]

Yours for: $10

Best things about this cover:
  • I love this cover. Specifically, I love the use of text—generously sized and spaced, in gorgeous contrasting white (like the snow it's describing), in a 1/2-cover sized block that abruptly Stops and leaves the lower half quiet as 3am. 
  • James Avati is best known for doing Every Damn Cover for Signet for several years, but this is up there with my favorite work of his. I clearly need a "Sexy Staircase" or "Woman Ascending a Staircase" or "Staircase Puts Woman's Ass at Man's Eye-Level" tag. This is not the first
  • I love how the painting is so still (very Avati), and yet there is subtle motion in both him (rounding the corner) and her (slowly ascending, with a slight but meaningful over-the-shoulder glance).
  • The dress is the thing. Magenta pops against the monochromatic brown background, as well as against the creamy V of her upper back. So, to sum up, Love.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Less love, though this does make me want to read the book.
  • This is the second version of this book that I've featured on this blog.
  • "Jerry Mayo and the Pickwick Sisters" would be a Great band name.

Page 23~ (book is only 119pp. long)

The quiet of the room was almost total, but not peaceful.


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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Paperback 523: Baldy of Nome / Esther Birdsall Darling (TAB T71)

Paperback 523: TAB T71 (ptg unstated, 1958)

Title: Baldy of Nome
Author: Esther Birdsall Darling
Cover artist: A. DiSonetis (sp?) / Illus. by George Meyerreicks

Yours for: $5

Best things about this cover:
  • It appears that "Baldy" is one of them there "comical misnomers."
  • Looks like a Saint Bernard killed, skinned, devoured, and crawled inside of a wolf. Or like a werewolf eskimo.
  • "Weakling puppy" Anthropomorphize much?


Best things about this back cover:
  • At first Baldy and Ben merely exchanged meaningful glances, too scared to declare their love openly.
  • Spoiler alert! I feel like I just read the whole book, in very primitive comic book form.
  • Next in the series: "Baldy of Rome." Wherein our hero becomes a Cardinal.

Page 123~

Time now meant nothing. It was the Land of Day After To-morrow, where the obligation of definite hours for definite duties did not exist.

And so, calmly, Baldy put the rifle in his mouth and ...


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Friday, May 4, 2012

Paperback 522: Hope of Heaven / John O'Hara (Avon 258)

Paperback 522: Avon 258 (1st thus, 1950)

Title: Hope of Heaven
Author: John O'Hara
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $10

Best things about this cover:
  • She's stuck somewhere between sexy strip-tease and "I need help with my coat jackass why are you just standing there staring?"
  • It's a shame she's caught in this awkward in-between state, because if she'd just put the jacket back on and turn around, I bet she'd look stunning. Also, if she just took it off, probably same.
  • She is lit *beautifully*; gives her a fantastic angelic/demonic quality (the deep red backdrop helps with the "demonic" part). 
  • Dude's hair is shiny.

Best things about this back cover:
  • I love DON MILLER so much right now. I want to see him in a film noir right now.
  • I kind of want someone to tell naive me what it means that James Malloy "still wondered whether Karen had dimples on her knees," and then again I kind of like just using my imagination.
  • "Frankness!" O man, I've missed "frank"—feels like it's been a while.

Page 123~
   "I'll give you the address of my agent. If you get in a bad jam, I mean you're badly on the nut or something like that, you write me care of this guy, and I'll let you have some more. On one condition."
   "That I never bother Peggy. I know. And thanks for the offer, but I'll never bother you, either. I don't think I will. If I do, don't send me any money. It'll only go for booze. That's what this is going for."
   He had half a load on now, but was carrying it well.
Is this DON MILLER? God I love this guy. "It'll only go for booze." Nosce te ipsum, Don Miller!


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P.S. Page 120 has this gem, of special relevance to me and my geographical situationality:
"But by that time I didn't give a God damn. I was one of those fellows, give a dog a bad name, and by that time I was living off a whore in Binghamton, New York." [this last phrase is underlined in pen–the only such phrase in the whole book]