Friday, July 31, 2009

Paperback 270: Stretch Dawson / W.R. Burnett (Gold Medal 106)

Paperback 270: Gold Medal 106 (PBO, 1950)

Title: Stretch Dawson
Author: W.R. Burnett
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: $16

Best thing about this cover:

  • Every year, Tex made a pilgrimage to worship at the altar of the Sexy Lady of the Gun
  • That neckerchief is tied so tight about his neck that I'm a little scared for him.
  • Silly lady — shotguns are no use against Cowboy Zombies. You gotta burn 'em.
  • I'm not a big fan of her hair, but everything else about her looks fabulous.
  • Like the blurb says, W.R. Burnett wrote the 1929 gangster classic "Little Caesar" (which was turned into the even more classic 1931 gangster movie of the same name, starring Edward G. Robinson)

Best things about this back cover:

  • "Stretch was all man..." We get it, he's hung. I mean, his name is Stretch and you've got a huge phallic gun pointed at his crotch on the front cover. I think you've made your point. Move along.
  • "Squeeze it out of her..." Stretch's preferred method of torture had always been the Bear Hug.
  • In case you're confused about where this text came from ... Stretch has signed it himself. How handy / weird.

Page 123~
Shame stabbed at Stretch. He felt his face getting red and lowered his eyes so he wouldn't have to meet the Old Man's shrewd gaze. "Sure does," he said, in a husky unnatural voice.

When "unnatural" and "shame" appear in such close proximity to someone's "face getting red" in a vintage paperback, you know something very, very gay is going on.


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P.S. blogger Michael5000 will send you this trashy paperback for free if you agree to read it and write an entertaining review. Act fast if you're interested.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Paperback 269: Night Squad / David Goodis (Gold Medal s1083)

Paperback 269: Gold Medal s1083 (PBO, 1961)

Title: Night Squad
Author: David Goodis
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: $30

Best things about this cover:

  • One of the noirest, hardboiliest covers I've got. Iconic. Buncha badass fedora-wearing crime-fighters going to war. Strong light/dark contrast (just like the high contrast B&W of classic film noir). There's architectural detail in the dark parts, but you can barely see it. (actually, you can see it on the scan better than you can see it on the actual book ... weird)
  • Love the up-shot angle. Gives the guy in the doorway and the whole building a looming, larger-than-life feel. Also like how his descent of the staircase reflects the cover copy: "... and sent him down into the brutal throbbing heart of the slums."
  • Love the sickly green pall cast by the lamps. Also love the comically worried face of Fedora #2. Also love the wee policeman poised to billyclub the @#$# out of the next guy who looks at him funny.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Blah.
  • I thought it said "rocket boys" the first time I read it, and I wondered why the cops and NASA would be fighting over the same guy. "The terrifying story of two agencies bidding to give a man gainful employment!"
  • Do you really aim a bullet at someone's head? You aim the gun. Unless your gun is broken and you are reduced to just hurling bullets at some guy's head. I guess that could happen.

Page 123~

"Where you going? McDermott asked.

Corey stopped. He stood with his back to the desk. He waited a few moments, then said, "Second and Addison. I got a date."

"With who?"

"A double gin," Corey said. "Is that all right with you?"

Great dialogue. That last line actually reads "Is that all right you you?" I hope you enjoy my non-silent emendation.


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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Paperback 268: The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything / John D. MacDonald (Gold Medal s1259)

Paperback 268: Gold Medal s1259 (PBO, 1962)

Title: The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything
Author: John D. MacDonald
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: $23

Best things about this cover:

  • "IT'S 9:30, STEVE. TIME TO GIVE BACK THE GIRL!" / "Aw, but we were goin' to a clam bake ... that didn't feel like a three-year harem lease at all!"
  • That analogy makes one wonder: how many times can Bonny Lee fuck in one day? Do the math. Even if you're getting it from your entire harem only once per day, in three years, that's still well over a thousand times. And Bonny can do that in one day? No wonder the cover's on fire. The friction alone...
  • More font awesomeness, though here we're pushing the wackiness factor a little hard.

Best things about this back cover:

  • "If you've ever had a yeasty yearning ... please, see your doctor."
  • YEASTY is, very coincidentally, a word in today's NYT crossword puzzle.
  • Apparently John D. MacDonald books like to get cheeky. First there was the metapaperbackery of "A Key to the Suite," and now there's the cliche-subverting and self-erasure of "The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything."
  • "Sheesh!"
  • If you don't know who Thorne Smith is, see this. More to come in future Pop Sensation installments.

Page 123~

He looked at her, sitting erect, six feet away. Her back was arched, her shoulders good, the waist slender, the lime slacks plumped to the pleasant tensions of her ripeness.

I laughed out loud at "her shoulders good." What is he, a caveman? "Ugg want woman. Ugg want that woman. Hair pretty. Shoulders good. Slacks plumped. Ugg want."


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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Paperback 267: The Man Who Said No / Walt Grove (Gold Medal 120)

Paperback 267: Gold Medal 120 (PBO, 1950)

Title: The Man Who Said No
Author: Walt Grove
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: $12

Best things about this cover:
  • Despite the fact that the man appeared to be happily enjoying a cigarette, Rachel could not find a heartbeat, and so pronounced him dead at 7:45 a.m. EDT.
  • "Oh Steve, let's get out of this squalid basement flat and run away together." Steve did not answer "Yes." [actually, he tried to reply "No," but since he was a character in a mystery that was "faster than sound" (!?) the story was over before Rachel ever heard his response]
  • I love that her blouse matches the matchbook. All the detail in the lower left corner of the cover is awesome.

Best things about this back cover:

  • "There was a warm liquid feeling in his legs" — that's one letter away from saying he was drenched in his own urine. Nice.
  • What did he say 'No' to? He clearly never said 'No' to a drink.

Page 123~

"Stand by for the fireworks," McMahan said. "I'm going to go off like a roman candle."

And then there was a warm liquid feeling [o]n her legs...


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Monday, July 27, 2009

Paperback 266: Hill Girl / Charles Williams (Gold Medal 141)

Paperback 266: Gold Medal 141 (PBO, 1951)

Title: Hill Girl
Author: Charles Williams
Cover artist: Barye Phillips

Yours for: $20

Best things about this cover:
  • This is my nominee for "Most Phallic Gun Ever"
  • "Maybe if I just sidle along this wall *very* slowly, that yokel standing four feet in front of me won't see me ..."
  • Tori Spelling is ... Hill Girl!
  • Guy in background: "Excuse me, I was just On The Road and I was wondering if ... oh, I see you're having some kind of altercation or mating ritual ... I'll just move along."
  • This book is credited as "the first original paperback" by Jim Silke (Dames, Dolls & Gun Molls: The Art of Robert A. Maguire). But ... there are 40 Gold Medal pbs published before this one, almost all of them paperback originals (as far as I can tell). So ... I was confused by the claim. Maybe it's the first paperback to say, on the cover, "an original novel — not a reprint"? The wikipedia entry for "Gold Medal" confirms that it was publishing original paperbacks in 1950.
  • Here's a nice write-up of Charles Williams by Bill Crider.

Best things about this back cover:

  • I like back cover copy that gets right to the point.
  • Who is "I" in this scenario?

Page 123~
The flowers were there in the room when we came in. She put her arms around my neck and pulled down hard, with the way she had, like a drowning swimmer, and with her lips against my ear she whispered fiercely, "Hold me tight like this, Bob. Don't ever let me go." [end of chapter]


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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Paperback 265: Look Behind You Lady / A.S. Fleischman (Gold Medal 223)

Paperback 265: Gold Medal 223 (PBO, 1952)

Title: Look Behind You Lady
Author: A.S. Fleischman
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: $14

Best things about this cover:

  • All I can say is: there'd better be a comma underneath her head.
  • "For the last time, fella, I'm not 'lost.' I work in this here Mexican restaurant and I'm just takin' a smoke break. And I already looked behind me, and there was nothin' but a newspaper vending machine. Now beat it!"
  • Strangely the rainy street tableau in the background is far more interesting / beautiful to me than the Lady in the foreground.

Best things about this back cover:

  • Damn, no comma.
  • I am currently waiting for the perfect opportunity to use the line: "I'm probably signing my death warrant, baby, but I'm going to listen to you."
  • Oh, SHANGHAI FLAME, you don't say ... is that ... something?

Page 123~

"I was licked in Macao."

Well, we've all been there.


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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Paperback 264: The Monster From Earth's End / Murray Leinster (Gold Medal s832)

Paperback 264: Gold Medal s832 (PBO, 1959)

Title: The Monster from Earth's End
Author: Murray Leinster
Cover artist: Muni (anyone got a full name? — my kingdom for a paperback cover artist database!)

Yours for: $14

Best things about this cover:

  • More unusualness. An abstract painting — Pollack meets psychedelic meets third-grader — with naked upside-down girl thrown in for a representational, realistic touch. Did I just call a naked woman with gravity-defying breasts hanging from cartoonish green snot vines "realistic?" Yes. I believe I did.
  • More hot font action. 1957-62 was like some kind of paperback cover font Golden Age.
  • "There was nothing on the island big enough to kill a man..." Nerd raises hand: "Um, excuse me, am I to believe there is nothing on the island bigger than a small spider, because there are small spiders that can kill a man. To say nothing of microbes. Your assertion is highly dubious. Laughable, even. [Chortle]"

Best things about this back cover:
  • "And the plane crashed straight into the world's largest whale (not pictured). The end."
  • Love how the cover copy is laid out as free verse. "Formatting's for squares, man. You gotta let the words go where they want."

Page 123~

Four Adelie penguins came ashore and washed solemnly up the beach. They'd been feeding on infinitesimal green things in the current that flowed past the island. They regarded the men with zestful interest, their unhappy experience of capture and imprisonment in cages now forgotten. They crowded about the men, uttering the fluting notes of penguin conversation.

Ray, to Joe: "Please tell me you hear them talking too."


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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Paperback 263: A Key to the Suite / John D. MacDonald (Gold Medal s1198)

Paperback 263: Gold Medal s1198 (PBO, 1962)

Title: A Key to the Suite
Author: John D. MacDonald
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: $24

Best things about this cover:

  • File under "novelty cover." One of the most stylistically unusual covers I own.
  • It's a meta-cover. A cover about covers. It's explaining the conventions of paperback covers to you. Instead of author / title / blurb, you get three very polite complete sentences. And a lot of loopy orange carpet. And a single shoe.
  • Love how even the Gold Medal insignia is brought into odd color and design schema. Also, the font on the author and title is awesome-o.

Best things about this back cover:

  • I guess I kind of like the all-caps typewriter font. And the way the back cover mimics an interoffice memo. That first paragraph is pretty gripping, too, as back cover copy goes. Granted, with the back covers we've seen so far, the competition isn't exactly tough.

Page 123~

He knew he was still a little bit drunk, but not very much, because the prolonged strenuous taking of the woman had boiled it out of his blood.

Many people love MacDonald's writing. That leads me to believe that sentences like this one are the exception in his writing, not the rule. "The prolonged strenuous taking of the woman?" Sound like something out of "The 19th-century Gentleman's Guide to Hunting and Calisthenics."


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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Paperback 262: Too Hot to Hold / Day Keene (Gold Medal 931)

Paperback 262: Gold Medal 931 (PBO, 1959)

Title: Too Hot to Hold
Author: Day Keene
Cover artist: uncredited [Robert McGinnis]

Yours for: SOLD (7/23/09)

Best things about this cover:
  • I Love This Cover. It's unusual and enigmatic and just oozes sophistication and coolness and mystery. I *want to know* what she is doing, where she is going, who's in the cab with her, all of it.
  • Great Girl Art that isn't hyper-sexed. Great gams, great gloves, and Great Hair.
  • "Death" is kind of anticlimactic after "torture." Not really shocking. Kind of the next logical step. Now "... leading men to soup ... and death!" That would be shocking.
  • Sadly, this title has put the theme to Ghostbusters II in my head: "Too hot to handle / Too cold to hold / They're called the Ghostbusters and they're in control!" — Oh, Bobby Brown, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.

Best things about this back cover:

  • If you like green/brown, or off-center typography, this is the cover for you.

Page 123~

Linda Lou stopped pretending and ran her hands over her flat body. She could be carrying the first of them now. The thought made her blush. After the way she'd acted, if it was possible for a woman to conceive more than once in a night, she probably had a whole family inside her.

You'll be relieved (maybe) to know that this passage is not directly related to the scene of abuse and torture (possible rape?) on the book's back cover. Still, though ... I'm kind of creeped out. "A whole family?" OB/Gyn: "Hey, there's a mom and dad, three kids and a dog in here. How'd that happen?"


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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Paperback 261: The Couch / Robert Bloch (Gold Medal s1192)

Paperback 261: Gold Medal s1192 (PBO, 1962)

Title: The Couch
Author: Robert Bloch
Cover artist: movie still

Yours for: $18

Best things about this cover:

  • He wanted to confess, but she wouldn't shut up about the mole between his eyebrows, so he opted to kill instead.
  • Agent: "Well, kid, the good news is, you're on the cover of the paperback tie-in. The bad news is, there's a lady's hand where your face should be. But hey, your hair looks terrific."
  • Robert Bloch wrote "Psycho," but by now you know that.

Best things about this back cover:

  • Mmm, more stiff lying. What's the opposite of "chemistry?"
  • This is the story of a copywriter who hated paragraphs longer than once sentence.
  • Seriously, he hated them.
  • The only name I recognize here (besides Bloch's) is Blake Edwards. He directed the Peter Sellers Pink Panther movies. He is married to Julie Andrews. Also, he was born William Blake Crump! That makes Owen Crump here his ... I'm gonna guess brother ... nope. He's way older than Edwards. Why won't any site tell me how they're related. Not even imdb. Am I really supposed to believe they're not related, with a name like "Crump?" Come on.

Page 123~

"And that's the real reason you wanted to kill me. Because in your mind, I took the place of your father."

Bloch was sure into this "kill your parents" stuff.


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Monday, July 20, 2009

Paperback 260: Stairway to Death / Bruno Fischer (Pyramid 29)

Paperback 260: Pyramid 29 (1st ptg, 1951)

Title: Stairway to Death
Author: Bruno Fischer
Cover artist: I have it labeled "Meyer" but name visible in very lower left corner is "Frederick"...

Yours for: $10

Best things about this cover:

  • Death has some fierce fucking heels. But also some pretty lifeless-looking legs. Coupla upside-down bowling pins with seams drawn on. I've seen sexier gams in the window of Ralphie's house in "A Christmas Story"
  • Well if you build stairs like that, with a vertiginous drop and stairs nowhere close to perpendicular to the wall, then yes, someone's inevitably going to die.

Best things about this back cover:

  • This book is like an ex-fighter who had a long, brutal career, won more than he lost, and somehow managed to survive with this brains intact. It's got a lot of wear — stains and scratches and what not — but it's absolutely tight and solid and readable. More "broken in" than "busted." I would not get into the ring with this book. To say that it has "character" or "personality" is a polite way of saying it could still kick your ass, sonny.
  • It's interesting to me how much Fischer is being pushed here as a recognizable name. I didn't know he ever achieved real name recognition (except among later fans and collectors of hard-boiled lit).
  • Why are the quotes on these books such suckfests most of the time? "Plenty of Mystery"? It's a fucking mystery, NYT? What did you expect, a History of Prussia?

Page 123~
There was a tense silence. Oscar drank down the applejack.


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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Paperback 259: Lincoln's Commando / Ralph J Roske and Charles van Doren (Pyramid G356)

Paperback 259: Pyramid G356 (1st ptg, 1958)

Title: Lincoln's Commando
Author: Ralph J. Roske and Charles Van Doren
Cover artist: Herb Mott

Yours for: SOLD (7/19/09)

Best things about this cover:
  • The title and picture made me laugh out loud the first time I saw it. That is the only reason I own this book. "Arnold Schwarzenegger is ... Lt. William Cushing in ... Lincoln's Commando!"
  • Actually, this guy looks more like ... who's that guy from "Ned and Stacey" and "Sideways?" Thomas Hayden Church?
  • The rebels on the Albemarle appear to be shooting in random directions and possibly at each other.
  • The water under Cushing's boat appears to be breaking on ... more, differently colored water. Weird.
  • Here we see Cushing continuing the time-honored tradition of deck-edge weapon-dancing begun years earlier by the infamous Pirate Wench.

Best things about this back cover:

  • Not much. We do get to see the NYT succumbing to a bout of sensational alliteration. That's slightly interesting.
  • Apparently Cushing was a daring daredevil with a daredevil career of daredeviltry. He was also fearless. And daring.

Page 123~
He was pleased to discover that his adventures were well known in the town, that the paper reported his arrival on its front page, and that all the little boys hung on his every word when they could get him to describe his exploits — and not only the little boys; everyone seemed appreciative.

"[...] and not only the little boys ... I mean, not that he's particularly into little boys or anything. Really, he was popular with everyone. I swear. Forget what I said about the boys."


P.S. Thanks for keeping up with my stepped-up summer publication pace. I'm loving the volume and quality of comments. Happy that the blog has a modest but loyal and reliably smart/funny following. Keep it up.

P.P.S. Thanks for the links, the tweets, and any other form of promotion you've provided for this site. Truly, deeply appreciated.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Friday, July 17, 2009

Paperback 258: Perverted Love Slave / Adam Calin (Royal Line 127)

Paperback 258: Royal Line RL 127 (PBO, 1966)

Title: Perverted Love Slave
Author: Adam Calin
Cover artist: in witness protection

Yours for: Unavailable

Best things about this cover:
  • Worst. Alarm Clock. Ever. "Alright, alright, I'm up ... dang!"
  • "In this house we wear bras and *only* bras! No [crack!] bracelets! [crack!]"
  • The lady in the bed is, uh, hot. The lady with the whip is, uh, not. She's pasty and misshapen and has one of the Fry Guys on her head.
  • Debbie was distracted from her dominatrix duties when she suddenly noticed a mysterious, massive dollop of lemon frosting at the foot of the bed.
  • "She was a lust slave to his every depraved desire" — "his?" Wow, "he" managed to get himself a superior boob job.

Best things about this back cover:

  • This feels like it was translated from the Bulgarian in some horrible translating forced labor camp.
  • I mean, how am I supposed to do my job? This thing is self-parodic.
  • I like how that first paragraph appears to be someone writing out loud, in real time. Stop transcribing every thought you have!
  • Misspelling "Jekyll" helps them avoid messy fictional defamation lawsuits.
  • "Shame Whims" made me literally LOL.
  • My god, the font size, the spacing ... it's all so off, so wrong, so tawdry — the cover copy equivalent of a snuff film.

Page 123~

"I mentioned you to Mrs. Tomane. She's interested in writing. She would like to meet you, since you're writing a novel that has a chance to be published."

"Who told you that?"


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Paperback 257: Pirate Wench / Frank Shay (Pyramid Giant G75)

Paperback 257: Pyramid Giant G75 (1st ptg, 1953)

Title: Pirate Wench
Author: Frank Shay
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: SOLD (July '09)

Best things about this cover:

  • Catherine Zeta-Jones stars in ... "Braless Zombie II: Zombie's Revenge"
  • As I scanned this image, the Violent Femmes "Prove My Love" was playing on iTunes. It contains the lyric, "... we've all been through some shit." In the case of Pirate Wench, this appears to be literally true. Who draws their braless heroine with brown stink lines emanating from her body?
  • "Outlove?!" "Outfuck" really works better here. It's more alliterative. And, I'm guessing, more accurate.
  • Shirtless man: "I have a gun ... and yet I am powerless to resist her magical pirate dance."
  • Shirtless man: "I wonder where I can get a shirt like that ... I'm tired of the crew teasing me about how manly and ungay I look"

Best things about this back cover:

  • If you like your sex "raw" and "blood-stained," you'll love "Pirate Wench!"
  • " ... a night below deck": That is one, tough, tiring way to "win men's allegiance." How is one woman supposed to put a whole crew together. No wonder this book is "raw" and "blood-stained."
  • She's pro-vocative. Screw you, ablative!

Page 123~

There were nine pirates captured and there were nine gibbets; no one about to go on trial would be found not guilty.

"No one ... would be found not guilty." Is that litotes? (Def: A figure of speech consisting of an understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by negating its opposite, as in This is no small problem.) Pretty fucking uppity for pirate smut.


P.S. A Portuguese reader (yes, I have one) sent me a link to the following book cover: a Portuguese version of Gil Brewer's "Wild to Possess" (you can see part of the American cover in my header, between "Pop" and "Sensation" ... the redhead w/ the gun). Very cool to see pulpy covers redone for foreign markets.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Paperback 256: About the Kinsey Report / eds. Donald Porter Geddes and Enid Curie (Signet 675)

Paperback 256: Signet 675 (1st ptg, 1948)

Title: About the Kinsey Report: Observations by 11 Experts on "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male"
Authors: various
Cover artist: jonas

Yours for: $6

Best things about this cover:

  • "Sexual Behavior in Male Mannequins with Irregular Heartbeats"
  • This is pretty much as dull as these covers get. This book is impt from a historical standpoint, but not from an aesthetic one. "jonas" is a great early cover artist. Lots of great stylized, abstract covers from him on Penguin and Signet books in particular. This cover doesn't do him justice.
  • The Kinsey Report was a boon for sellers of trashy fiction because they could (and did, in spades) use the data about unconventional (e.g. non-heterosexual, non-reproductive) sexuality from Kinsey's studies to justify and hype their books under the guise of the public's right to exercise its scientific curiosity. We'll see hilarious examples of this kind of self-serving cover copy many times in future installments of this blog.

Best things about this back cover:

  • Small text! Who doesn't love that!?
  • Signet is testing the waters here, waiting to see if their readers do indeed have "fair and open minds." Hence the very boring, scientific-looking, toned-down cover (and cover copy — you don't even see the words "masturbation" or "homosexuality," for instance). The U.S. mass-market paperback doesn't take a serious, overtly sexual turn for another few years, but once Gold Medal comes along with its sensational paperback originals and saucy covers, the heat starts to go up, and by 1960, it's a sexual free-for-all (see Paperbacks 252 and 253, among others).

Page 123~

It is not good to find masturbation continuing as a heavy factor in the sex outlet of married men among the better educated group.

I ... uh ... what?


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Paperback 255: Casualty / Robert Lowry (Popular Library 387)

Paperback 255: Popular Library 387 (1st ptg, 1951)

Title: Casualty
Author: Robert Lowry
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: $12

Best things about this cover:

  • "... Women Without Morals"? More like "Women Without Vaginas." I'm just sayin', the tramp in the doorway with the beatific glow was definitely born a man.
  • Joe got so distracted trying to hide his erection that he forgot he was holding a lit cigarette. This picture was taken about one second before Joe exclaimed "Fuck!" and threw the cigarette to the ground.
  • Joe liked to tease the ladies by striking manly poses, and then, when women would show an interest, smiling and pointing to the sign by his head. A succession of knees to the groin taught him to stand like that.
  • If anyone has an explanation for Frenchy McNewsieCap there in the background, I'd love to hear it.

Best things about this back cover:

  • Not even WOMEN? Wow. That's bad. Whatever "that" is.
  • "Even lush Maria ... didn't help much." Not having a vagina was probably a big part of the problem.
  • "... and Colonel Polaski was waiting." Waiting for what!? If WOMEN didn't help, what did? All I can say is that if this book *doesn't* involve lots of rough gay sex, I'm going to be very disappointed.

Page 123~

"Let's get out of here, chum, I know a really nice place up the street where you can find something more than a bloody drink," the big Limey said.

OK, that has promise.


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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Paperback 254: Cradle of the Sun / John Clagett (Popular Library 566)

Paperback 254: Popular Library 566 (1st ptg, 1954)

Title: Cradle of the Sun
Author: John Clagett
Cover artist: Robert Stanley

Yours for: $13

Best things about this cover:

  • "Sorry, ladies! Filene's Attic is closed!"
  • "I just flew in from Cleveland and boy are my arms tired ... get it? ... airplane [mimes airplane] ... yeesh, tough room."
  • Rick Astley protects his Mayan mistress from the Spaniards: "Never gonna give her up ..."
  • "Excuse me, sir, we mean no offense. It's just ... you have a bit of mole sauce under your right nipple ... just ... here. Might I suggest you try donning a shirt next time you partake of a meal?"

Best things about this back cover:

  • No offense, ma'am, but: Worst Hat Ever. I wanna club her head with a stick and see if candy comes out.
  • "Taut tale" — aw yeah, tell me more.
  • She does not seem impressed with the size of their knives. In fact, I'm not convinced she's really looking at them. "Excuse me guys, I think I see Enrique over there. Oh Enrique!"

Page 123~

"By God, Suarez, rejoice! Your wit has at last produced an idea!"


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Friday, July 10, 2009

Paperback 253: Each Won Two / Marsha Bates (Fabian Z-101)

Paperback 253: Fabian Z-101 (PBO? 1959?)

Title: Each Won Two
Author: Marsha Bates
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: $14

Best things about this cover:

  • "Each Lost Dignity"
  • That Cathy, always egging on the drinks. "Go drinks! You can do it! Be cold and tasty!"
  • I'm pretty sure that "veteran impersonators" do not get drunk, wrap themselves in bed sheets, and do impressions of gay lobsters.
  • The dude in the middle with the blush and the ear injury appears to be wearing a burlap sack. He also appears to be floating.
  • Florine prepares to do what any sensible person would do in her position: drink herself into a stupor.
  • Don't look for that wall paint color at your local hardware store. It's available only in hell.

Best things about this back cover:

  • Kandinsky strikes again!
  • "Florine, Cathy, and Jim — names?" Uh, yes. "Not when you mix them up." Hmm, let's see ... nope, still names.
  • I love how there is no way in hell you could possibly have any idea what this book is about despite the fact that the description is lengthy — 3 paragraphs! And no there there at all. "Things ... it ..." Dear god, just tell me what they're doing!

Page 123~
The minute I'd finished, her eyes told me that she knew I had asked a question for which I already had an answer. But I had to know, hear it from her mouth, hear her admit something I'd for some time suspected.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Paperback 252: Decisive Years / Marsha Bates (Fabian Z-100)

Paperback 252: Fabian Z-100 (PBO?, 1959?)

Title: Decisive Years
Author: Marsha Bates
Cover artist: uncredited (same guy did a LOT of the Fabian stuff — don't know his name)

Yours for: unavailable (property of "Paperback 250" Contest winner)

Best things about this cover:
  • Check out their matching cigarette-holding stances, wrist baubles, and broken left ankles! Double your pleasure!
  • "Just don't tell our dad, OK? The runny eggs have caused him disappointment enough for one morning. I mean ... well, just look at him."
  • This title is Terrible — like a bad coming-of-age dramedy. "M*A*S*H" : "AfterM*A*S*H" :: "Wonder Years" : "Decisive Years"

Best things about this back cover:

  • "Stop! Depression Time!"
  • Those girls on the cover are 12 and 13 on what planet?
  • AUDYNE = newest entry into "Laughable Names" Hall of Fame
  • Oh, man, I can't wait to show you "EACH WON TWO": if you love clownish tales of drunk men dancing in drag at their wives' behest, then yes, "EACH WON TWO" "promises to be a story you'll want to read."
  • I've just decided to move "EACH WON TWO" to the top of the list. Look for it as Paperback 253.

Page 123~
"Fine!" Charley said, angering me more. "Now, there's one other little item to take up here. It's about the relationship between Audyne and me. I'm only a foster uncle to her, and my responsibility's been only verbal and charitable."

Yuck. This book is starting to make "Lolita" look family-friendly.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Paperback 251: Episode / Peter W. Denzer (Popular Library 621)

Paperback 251: Popular Library 621 (1st ptg, 1954)

Title: Episode
Author: Peter W. Denzer
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: not available (property of "Paperback 250" contest winner!)

Best things about this cover:

  • "Why won't the braless zombie look at me directly!? O, the melancholy. Where's my diary...?"
  • "Vanity, thy name is braless zombie."
  • "I brought you that braless zombie milk you asked for, honey. You'll have to come over here and get it, as I can't take my eyes off this hideous portrait of myself."
  • "Hard-hitting" = "It hurts!"

Best things about this back cover:

  • "Shh! Did you hear that? Sounds like braless zombies!"
  • "Oh god, please don't let her take my salmon throw pillow away!"
  • "Many will flip straight to not like the brutal scenes of callous indifference; of patients in orgies for the amusement of attendants..."

Page 123~

He was free, but his freedom produced for the moment no more emotion than any short walk might have. His motive now in being free was not the motive which had produced his first plans. He was not sure what his motive was. He did not know where he was going.

Riveting! If only that paragraph had the word "motive" in it at least four more times.


Friday, July 3, 2009

And the winner is...

Thanks to the scores of you who actually entered this thing. Other judges and I had a ton of fun sifting through the entries, making individual top ten lists, seeing where we had overlap, and then finally ranking the entries that appeared on more than one list. In the end, the winner was very clear, with two judges ranking it #1 and the other judge ranking it #3 overall. Runners-up were also crystal clear, though the gap between them was razor thin. At any rate, here once again is your cover, followed by the winning captions.

Second runner-up:

She was a debutante with a hand made of yarn. He was a one-armed janitor with nothing to lose. Theirs was a world not ready for their love! (Paul S.)

First runner-up:

Mary stared, horrified, at the mess of yarn. It could mean only one thing - John's inner kitten was back. And this time he meant business... (Catherine M.)

Grand Prize Winner:

Yeah, I probably should have mentioned that I have absolutely no idea how to take care of a sea anemone BEFORE you left. Sorry. (Josh F.)

Prizes will be shipped out early next week. Gotta blog Paperbacks 251 and 252 before I hand them over to the winner.

Congrats to the winners, and thanks to all for making the judging so fun.

Just for kicks, here are all the rest of the entries (unattributed). Asterisks (*) indicate entries that were on at least two of the judges' Top Ten lists :

  • While a valiant effort, "The Maltese Crochet" did not receive the fame or praise of its avian counterpart.
  • The Blob!! The Blob has come to get us all!
  • Aka “Maytag Repairman Stalks Mannequin.” Given their caption, though, it’s kinda sad that the sexiest character on the cover is the Bantam.
  • “I’m sorry that you’re unhappy with your new hair color my darling, but be a dear and hand me that delicious monkey brain”.
  • Her: "I can't believe I had this much yarn stuck in my hair." Him: (Thinking to himself) "She missed some in the back."
  • *Murder shadows a beautiful blonde - Tom Murder, that is. Yet her yarn fetish was enough to shock him into closing his robe and backing away.
  • Unaware that her house guest, Armando, was really a shapeshifter who nightly turns into an orange cat, Phylis is wondering what has happened to the crocheted afghan that she has been working on for the past few months. [DISQUALIFIED - too many characters]
  • “Why do these boys always want to touch my Chernobyl Gold hair and not me? This time, no lending the dye unless he manhandles me first.”
  • "Jane had made a real mess of the world record beating cat's cradle that Paul had allowed to hold for a moment. Paul saw red."
  • "If only my Jude Law hair and her lemon custard hair could mate." "No, I'd lose my brain if it wasn't wrapped in this doily."
  • Caption: "Damn! I was probing for ear wax, but I've pulled my brain out of my ear!"
  • Wendy thought, "Sam just needs another ear to save his music career. Giving him mine will win his heart." But he had darker plans.
  • "Oh my God Jim! What did you do? This is all that's left of his brain."
  • "Oh, no! I left him in the trunk too long."
  • We've replaced her ear with a tangle of purple yarn; let's see if she notices...
  • Don't move a muscle. There's a spider on your collar!
  • Him: "Don't move, there's something in your hair!" Her: "Oh dear... part of my brain slug has come off in my hand again."
  • "Revenge" is the only dish best served cold.
  • "No!, I said I have a headache".
  • "For God's sake, get that yarn off your hand before it kills you."
  • Apparently Murder looks like a blond Eminem
  • 'Steve knew that another slap would shake the other lobe of her brain free, and he wanted to be there to catch it.'
  • "But dear, purple spaghetti used to be our favorite!"
  • The insistence on constant shadow, the blue-robe-blue-couch ensemble, and now a rooster in our tiny window—what next, Douglas? What next?!
  • "Death Warmed Over: The Marylin Monroe Saga."
  • Not tonight dear, I have a headache.
  • "Thank goodness I subdued my evil strangling hand with this purple yarn. I do hope no one else has an evil strangling hand on the loose!"
  • "Ooooh! I didn't need that brain anyway."
  • Must... get... teacosy... Cannot serve the Duchess tepid Earl Grey.
  • (man speaking) "Honey, have you seen my Bluetooth headset?"
  • *“What fiend would put Cheez Whiz on all my nylons?”
  • *I’m … getting a transmission… It’s … “Put down the knitting and get Death off the stove!”
  • Oh Dear! I left the ham in the oven.
  • She took advantage of him, but after three ambien, he would never remember what he was about to do…AGAIN!
  • The ample charms of Mitzi invariably proved fatal, her lovers never suspecting the nubile nymph in yellow of packin’ a piece, out for blood.
  • Zombie Leslie Howard hoped Gloria Grahame's brain hadn't all fallen out her ear..."Mmmm purple medulla oblongata....better still warm"
  • "Lance’s wig fetish was undimmed by the hideous hat in which Veronica had shrouded her faux mane. For that fashion felony she must die!"
  • "Maybe that fourth martini wasn't such a good idea."
  • "Does she or doesn't she? It wasn't a good day to dye!"
  • *Surely the best defense against murder is a rock covered with Silly String.
  • In the zombie-ridden 1960s, Zombie Hef's tryouts for Zombie Playboy Bunnies were about more than just taking off your clothes.
  • *“Oh no, not my snood”
  • *"My knitted boxing glove seems no use against Captain Bathrobe"

Deliberating ...

Judges are currently poring over "Paperback 250" Contest entries. We'll have your winner and runners-up shortly. Thanks for your patience.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

PAPERBACK 250!!!!: Death Warmed Over / Mary Collins (Bantam 718)

Welcome to "Pop Sensation"'s "PAPERBACK 250 CONTEST"
[see Contest Rules, below]

Paperback 250: Bantam 718 (1st ptg, 1949)

Title: Death Warmed Over
Author: Mary Collins
Cover artist: Gilbert Fullington

Contest Rules:

  • Best comment or caption in 140 characters (or fewer) wins not only this book, but Paperbacks 251 and 252 as well.
  • Contest will run from now until 8 a.m. EDT, Friday, July 3, 2009.
  • One entry per contestant, please.
  • Contestants are encouraged to submit entries as Tweets on Twitter (@rexparker), but emails to rexparker [at] mac [dot] com will also be accepted (please send any questions about contest to that email address as well).
  • Keep in mind that a "character" is any single letter, punctuation mark, or blank space. Concision is your friend. But feel free to get creative with the abbreviations.
  • Comments will be disabled for the duration of the contest.
  • Winner and first and second runners-up will be announced by noon Friday, at which time the best entries (and possibly all entries, depending on how many there are) will be posted for all to see.

Your Panel of Judges:


  • Grand Prize: Paperbacks 250, 251, and 252
  • 1st Runner-up: two cool but very beat-up paperbacks from outside my official collection + 1 copy of the recent comic "Barack the Barbarian"
  • 2nd Runner-up: one cool but very beat-up paperback from outside my official collection + 1 copy of the recent comic "Barack the Barbarian"

Best of luck, and tell a friend...


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