Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Paperback 202: Cotton Comes to Harlem / Chester Himes (Dell 1513)

Back from Brooklyn and ready to drop some righteous cover art. Moving right along...

Paperback 202: Dell 1513 (1st ptg, 1966)

Title: Cotton Comes to Harlem
Author: Chester Himes
Cover artist: Harry Bennett

Yours for: $12

Best things about this cover:

  • Lovely, delicate, enigmatic. I don't recall anyone having sex in a police station in this book, though police and sex were certainly involved, generally.
  • Not a fan of the trend (over the course of the 60s) toward smaller art and bigger words.
  • Harry Bennett is a prolific artist whom I most associate with PermaBooks from the late 50s through the mid-60s. His stuff is often more jagged and angular and rougher looking than this little painting would suggest.
  • "Pinktoes" is (like a lot of Himes's work, in one way or another) pretty bawdy, and concerned specifically with the intersection of sex and race in American society. My copy of "Pinktoes" is in fact pink. You'll see.
  • I just got some promotional postcards for the "Paperback Collectors Show & Sale" (Sunday, Mar. 29, 2009) in the mail last week, and the picture on them has eerie similarities to this Himes cover:

And now the back of "Cotton..."

Best things about this back cover:

  • Ugh, words
  • "The wildest of camps" - "Camps?" Plural? I'm familiar with this definition...
  1. An affectation or appreciation of manners and tastes commonly thought to be artificial, vulgar, or banal.
  2. Banality, vulgarity, or artificiality when deliberately affected or when appreciated for its humor: “Camp is popularity plus vulgarity plus innocence” (Indra Jahalani).
But I've never seen the word used that way in the plural. Interesting (to me alone, perhaps)

Page 23 (for Page 123, see Paperback 201):

He was a nondescript-looking man with black and white striped suspenders draped over a blue sport shirt and buttoned to old-fashioned, wide-legged dark brown pants. He looked like the born victim of a cheating wife.


P.S. One of the biggest thrills of the Crossword Puzzle Tournament this past weekend was having multiple people come up to me and tell me how much they loved this website. I get so happy when my poor, neglected baby blog gets some much-deserved attention. Hard for "Pop Sensation" to feel adequate when her big brother gets literally 50x the traffic she does. If this site were anywhere near as popular as my crossword site, I'd pass out from excitement. Crossword constructor Doug Peterson was kind and thoughtful enough to bring a gift for me to the tournament: a lurid paperback with a crosswordy cover. So look for a special write-up of that in the next week or so.


Anonymous said...

I noticed that you'd moved up in the ranks -- congrats!

Re: the postcard -- think the leopard is pissed that the woman is wearing a bikini made out of one of his relatives?? Kinda thoughtless on her part...

Maybe you could drum up traffic for this blog by posting more often -- say, twice a day? That schedule would suit me okay.

pious agnostic said...

Not interested in crosswords, but paperback covers fascinate me. No accounting for taste, I guess, even mine.

JRSM said...

Or if you want to go, say, four posts a day, I'll be happy!

Nicole "Gidget" Kalstein said...

I haven't looked at your crossword blog much (although I will now, since I myself love crosswords), but I LOVE this blog. :D It's my favorite thing to look at when I'm bored.

JamiSings said...

You know, I like the other cover better. It looks like something I'd hang on my wall. This one is kind of boring in comparison.

I didn't even know you had a crossword blog. Course I stink at crosswords so I probably never would've looked for one. Me, I prefer word search. *ducks and hides before the Crossword King hurts her*