Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Paperback 688: Never to Belong / James Williams (Fabian Z-135)

Paperback 688: Fabian Z-135 (PBO, 1960)

Title: Never to Belong
Author: James Williams
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $50 (actually, Not for Sale — don't think I'm ready to part with this one)


Best things about this cover:
  • Pristine book from my favorite sleaze paperback publisher—Sanford Aday (publishing out of Fresno CA before eventually being convicted of trafficking in obscenity) was always trying to be sensational with the sexual themes of his books. He published a lot of stuff dealing with homosexuality, cross-dressing, miscegenation, etc., some it written by women authors, black authors, etc. He Was So Unusual. As I've told you before, he used the pages of his books to wage a battle against censorship—not just in the themes of the novels he published, but in the little essays and clippings he'd include in the backs of his books detailing court victories he or others had won against the government. In this book, he has forgone much of that back matter but still has a little note to his readers asking for feedback and proclaiming, "we are going to keep on giving you what you want to read as long as it is within our power to do so." He probably knew his publishing days were numbered. I just love the idea of waging a one-man battle for sexual openness and tolerance using only the medium of ... the sleaze paperback. He's kind of my hero.
  • Not sure I've seen the word "mulatto" on a cover before. Remember when we subcategorized black people based on skin color?! Good times.
  • Love the way the woman's skirt flies up. Fabian cover paintings are not generally known for their, uh, quality, but I like the suggestion of motion here. 
  • Also, bald dude's face is Priceless.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Awkwardest ellipsis ever.
  • This is surely the greatest book ever about mule-skinning, whatever that is. Ooh, turns out a mule-skinner is just someone who drives mules, also called a "muleteer" (hmmm, this puts "Mouseketeer" in a whole new light) or "arriero."
  • Crossword folks will be excited by this new cluing possibility for MAE.
  • "High-towning it" is a great phrase I would like to bring back. I shall use it every time I'm determined to raise me a whole bunch of hell.

Page 123~

Louisiana was a rough place for a colored man to get into trouble with the law.

Hashtag understatement.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]


Graham Powell said...

Just a pedantic note: "mulatto" actually refers to a mixed race individual, not to skin tone. There are various gradations of this - a quadroon was a person who was one fourth black, octaroon was one eigth - but of course if you had any black blood at all then you were treated as black.

Rex Parker said...

To be more pedantic, I understand the pretense to scientific exactitude behind the terms, but they were not always (or often) used with such exactitude. "Mulatto" in particular would be used freely by people who did not do a full genealogical inquiry into the parentage of the person so-described. I.e. whites would call light-skinned blacks "mulatto" w/o blinking. Casual guesstimates as to racial purity. As if there were such a thing as racial purity.

Also, this: "Mulatto is a term used to refer to a person who is born from one white parent and one black parent, or more broadly, a person of any "mixed" ancestry." See the "more broadly" part. That's wikipedia, but it accords w/ other defs of the word.

Graham Powell said...

Great, the one time Wikipedia is accurate, it makes me look like an idiot!

Larry said...

I was born in 1952 in the South so I have experience with a number of racial descriptions no longer used, but mulatto was not something that penetrated my childhood. I suspect though it was a term used to elevate some one above being black or to demote someone from being white.

Larry David did a bit on the term in his HBO show: "Is it still used anymore?"