Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Paperback 879: Number One / John Dos Passos (Lion Library LL1)

Paperback 879: Lion Library LL1 (1st ptg, 1954)

Title: Number One
Author: John Dos Passos
Cover artist: Robert Schulz

Estimated value: $10-15

Best things about this cover:

  • When you start shooting up bourbon, your friends naturally get a bit concerned.
  • He's right to be freaked out. If you look at her left hand too long, you too will begin to get the creeping sense that she's an ALIEN, MAN.
  • Pee. This book is about pee. You don't want to read the sequel.
  • Clever bit of publishing here on Lion Library's part. This is the first (i.e. Number One) book to come out under the Lion Library imprint.

Best things about this back cover:

  • "Why is there a ladybug in here!? Who authorized this?! I'm gonna swat it, so help me …!"
  • "There's no floor here! No floor! It just … stops." "Er, it's a stage, sir, that's what stages do." "I don't care, someone should've told me, Brian! You're fired!"
  • John Dos Passos came to earth to study curious earthling types.

Page 123~

As he looked out through the glass doors of the phone booth at the bustle of dressy people, men in sportsclothes with cigars, frilly stoutish women with skittish hats, pretty girls in long evening dresses, young men out to have themselves a time, he felt an invisible sour smoke swirling between them and him.

I mistyped several words while transcribing this. Every time I looked to see what I'd screwed up, I was like "Yeah, that's better." This passage crystallizes noir—"good times" seen at a sad, knowing, alienated remove. Deromanticized. Surface appearances all revealed as desperate posturing. This is Don Draper just before he goes "fuck it" and just takes off across the country in his Caddy.


PS check out that "SCHULZ" signature, etched right into the side of the damned table. I always did love how he made his signature part of the three-dimensional world of the painting.

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DemetriosX said...

Is that a painted tie? I suppose it's just supposed to be shiny and reflecting the light, but it looks like a hand-painted tie.

Also that is clearly Dean Stockwell lounging against the door.

NomadUK said...

I thought it was a young Jim Rockford. Back then, he was probably only getting $25 a day plus expenses.

Patrick Murtha said...

Because of my predilection for the combination of vintage paperback covers and classic menswear, I am LOVING these illustrations. The cut of the suit on the back cover is superb.