Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Paperback 744: Wild Town / Jim Thompson (Signet 1461)

Paperback 744: Signet 1461 (PBO, 1957)

Title: Wild Town
Author: Jim Thompson
Cover artist: Robert ***ing Maguire!

Yours for: $65


Best things about this cover:
  • It's pretty much the quintessential cover. It's the first book I brought home (almost 20 years ago now) that made me feel like I had committed; I was really doing this; I was a collector. I got into paperback collecting because of Polito's Thompson biography, with its B&W repros of all Thompson's Lion paperback originals from the '50s. The idea that I actually owned a first edition J.T.—however mauled (and it is mauled)—was mind-blowing to me. I spent more than I should have, as I often did when buying books from my earliest dealer (what's up, Kaleidoscope?), but I Did Not (and Do Not) Care. 
  • Robert Maguire is the greatest paperback cover artist of all time and I will fight anyone who says otherwise, despite my being highly averse to violence of all kinds. That is how much I care about this subject.
  • I'm not even sure how you *get* a book to tear like that. It's like some drunk person decided to see if he could tear it in half, after failing to get anywhere with the phone book, and then got distracted immediately after starting. Gash runs from spine to dead center of the cover and appears to affect many of the first pages. The effect on readability, however, as well as overall book tightness, is nil.
  • "Are you suffering from migraines brought on by stress, hormones, or the occasional dead guy in your oil field?! We've all been there, right ladies?"


Best things about this back cover:
  • Put up or shut up, Job!
  • Hey look—competent, genuinely engaging cover copy! Huzzah.
  • It's your classic sheriff-meets-beautiful-tramp-of-a-wife story. I'm sure it all ends well.

Page 123~

Her head moved irritably against the pillows. She took a deep breath and held it; then, slowly let it out again in a quiet sigh of surrender.
"All right, Bugs," she said. "All right, darling. You don't trust me, but I'll still—"
"Out with it!"
"I want you to kill him. I want you to kill my husband!"

So, spoiler alert, I guess.


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Ray Garraty said...

I feel you about paperback collecting.

Anonymous said...

I picked up a copy of this in a filthy Salvation Army thrift store for 21 cents back in the 90s. Like you, I never understood how paperbacks got those spine crosscracks either.

Karl said...

I believe that's classic "back pocket" damage to the book. Put a paperback in the back pocket of some sufficiently tight pants, bend over and sit down enough, and whichever cover is facing out will split, along with some of the pages. The book's binding prevents the pages from sliding over each other as the book is bent, so the tear will start at the spine.

Beautiful cover! You gotta love where the dead guy's head *just happens* to end up.

Rex Parker said...


I was trying to come up with a word for that phenomenon that sounded somewhat more scholarly than "vagina-head." Clearly I failed.


Anonymous said...

Pussy puss.

Anonymous said...

She's gorgeous!