Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Paperback 84: Nobody Lives Forever / W.R. Burnett (Bantam 888)

Paperback 84: Bantam 888 (1st ptg, 1951)

Title: Nobody Lives Forever
Author: W.R. Burnett
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $12

Best things about this cover:

  • It's simply a retooling of the last cover: smoking man in background leering at paranoid guy in foreground, who is in some kind of odd physical relationship to dame, also in foreground.
  • "Jimmy Cagney ... and Lauren Bacall in ... Nobody Lives Forever!" (actual movie starred John Garfield and Geraldine Fitzgerald)
  • This is one of the most quintessentially noir covers I own: fedoras, dark alleys, shadows, seediness, pretty dames, smoking ... exposed brick! It's all great.
  • W.R. Burnett is probably best known for writing Little Caesar, which was made into a classic movie starring Edward G. Robinson in one of his most famous gangster roles.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Nothing says tough-guy prose quite like: Hyphens!
  1. "hard-bitten"
  2. "smooth-talking"
  3. "good-looking"
  4. "big-time"
  5. "hard-hitting"
  6. "half-world" (a phrase normally reserved for the world of gays and lesbians - although in that context the phrase is more often "shadow world" or "twilight world")

I'm proud to introduce a new feature to the blog: Page 123. It's based on a meme I just learned about at The Rap Sheet (a crime fiction blog that gave this site a very nice write-up yesterday, btw). You're supposed to take the book that's closest to you, open it to page 123, post sentences 6, 7, and 8, and then tag five other bloggers. Well, I didn't get tagged, so it doesn't apply to me. BUT, I figure I can give you at least a taste of what's actually in these books by quoting from them arbitrarily - specifically, from page 123. So I intend to Page 123 (it's a verb now) all subsequent paperbacks. I'm just going to pick my favorite sentence or bit of dialogue from the page.

So I leave you with today's PAGE 123 - from Nobody Lives Forever, by W.R. Burnett:

It seemed strange to him that quiet, retiring Mrs. Halvorsen would suddenly elope to Mexico with a man she hardly knew - like a susceptible and romantic boarding-school girl.

I encourage you to use this and subsequent random quotations to start your own short stories. Or turn them into the subject of art or poetry of any kind.



Michael5000 said...

I'm already loving the Page 123 feature. And specifically, I'm enjoying the idea that those boarding-school (a hyphen!) girls are always up and eloping to Mexico with strange men. They were pretty swinging, those boarding schools of the mid century.

The guy on the cover, with his arm in that strange pose, looks like a dissipated version of the dude on the old Soviet anti-drinking poster: http://www.sovlit.com/pics/no_vodka_54.jpg

Anonymous said...

This may be my single favorite cover so far. Its just so perfectly....everything. Simply great.

I also immediately thought of James Cagney for the guy in the brown suit. The guy in the back kind of looks like Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

The new 123 feature is amazing. I was actually going to leave a comment about wanting to get a taste for the insides of these books, and you seemingly read my mind. Good show, sir, good show.