Friday, November 21, 2008

Paperback 166: Wild Wives / Charles Willeford (RE/Search, unnumbered)

Paperback 166: RE/Search nn (unknown ptg, 1987)

Title: Wild Wives
Author: Charles Willeford
Cover artist: Terri Groat-Ellner

Yours for: $25

Best things about this cover:
  • "Go on, big boy. Do your worst! I ain't ascared of your gun."
  • Something about her pose makes her look not sexy but lopsided. Like her torso is the upper layer of a cake that is shifting.
  • I don't know what you call this style of dress, but it is hot. Hott.
  • I need a word for "gun/crotch" interaction. Wait. I think I just coined it.
  • It's weird / disturbing the lengths to which the gun/phallus connection can be taken in cover art

This is a late 80s reprint of a 1956 paperback ("Wild Wives" was first published as a special bonus story within the covers of another Willeford novel, "High Priest of California").

Charles Willeford is a Noir Fiction god. Coincidentally, I just finished teaching his "Pick-Up" in my crime fiction class (seriously, just finished ... yesterday). Smart, beautifully (clearly) written, often funny, and, in parts, genuinely shocking. I have a strong hankering now to read as much of his stuff as I can.
This reprint is surprisingly rare, hence the price. Willeford is pretty collectible in any form (except, perhaps, the Library of America version I used in my class - that volume ("Noir Fiction of the 1950s") is gold: Highsmith, Thompson, Himes, Goodis, and Willeford. Here's a review by Terry Teachout (another weird coincidence - I just mentioned Teachout, specifically his bio of Mencken, in my last post for this blog)

Best things about this back cover:

  • Blurbs from actual people / media outlets you might have heard of
  • What is with the insane, jagged, fire-licking design?
  • This book is dated 1987 ... and yet we are told that Willeford died in 1988 ... That's foresight.
Page 23~

I gathered the heavy tweed of her skirt in my hands, and lifted. The heat of her body reached out for my hands. The flesh of her was firm and yet oddly relaxed.

The rest of the quote you can see in bold on the back cover of the book (!).



Corey Wilde said...

I read 'Pick-Up' about a year or so back. Wish I could have been in your class on that book.

Anonymous said...

That type of dress would probably be known as a "wiggle dress." It was most popular about 1947-1954.

Eunice said...

I'm fairly sure you have to be broke in at least two place to stand/lean like the lady in the first cover.

In an instant it was all over. Fiercely and abruptly.
I sat wit my head in my hands. "I swear, this has never happened before!"
"It's okay, sugar," she drawled, not bothering to remove the cigarette in her mouth making it bob. "Happens to fellas all the time."
Yeah. Sure it did.

laura linger said...

This is quickly becoming my favorite blog, along with dougsploitation. It's terrifying that there are people on the Internet who share my scary fascination with stuff like this.

sexy said...