Sunday, April 25, 2010

Paperback 310: Four O'Clock on Friday / Philip Storey (Novel Library U177)

Paperback 310: Novel Library U177 (PBO, 1961)

Title: Four O'Clock on Friday
Author: Philip Storey
Cover artist: Robert Bonfils

Yours for: $22

Best things about this cover:

  • Oddly unmoving for a peek-a-boo nightie cover.
  • "I like to paint with my hands — much more sensual than painting with rollers or brushes. I call this color 'The Blood of My Latest Victim.'"
  • "Pretend you're shopping..." — sorry, but your role-playing skills need some work.

Best things about this back cover:
  • "Tits!" — ha ha. Klassy.
  • I love how the plot description basically alleviates us from the burden of reading for the plot, thus freeing us up to scan quickly for the "part-lesbian" (?!) scenes.
  • I also love how the cover copy seems hell-bent on debasing the word "hero" as much as possible. Starting with "The hero is a personnel manager..."
  • "This, however, is not complicated enough" — I'm gonna disagree with you there, partner — though the "weird brother" plot does have, uh, novelty on its side.
Page 123~

"You could have knocked me over to hear Celia had been married to Fred all along. You knew it? Oh yes, darling, I can see it in your handsome face. Don't be made at me, love, I'll never talk."
It would be hard to express to you how poorly this book is written without also boring you to death. Also, I think "Don't be mad at me, love, I'll never talk" should have been the tagline of this book.


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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Paperback 309: Yesterday's Love / James T. Farrell (Avon 260)

Paperback 309: Avon 260 (2nd ptg / 1st thus, 1950)

Title: Yesterday's Love
Author: James T. Farrell
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $17

Best things about this cover:
  • You know what they say: "Yesterday's Love, Today's Floating Head"
  • Marion celebrates her victory in the "Ornamented Boobs" contest by ordering up a pizza for her and the floating head of her recently deceased boyfriend: "Oh, and get extra anchovies. I can't taste for shit since I became incorporeal."
  • "Yes, hello, Home Depot? My wallpaper seems to have grown a head. Also, it's astonishingly ugly. Can you help?"
  • "Studs Lonigan" always struck me as a great porn name. "Long Studsigan" might be better, though perhaps too spot-on.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Yes, I knew it. "Frankness!" I was just perusing this back cover going "come on, some form of the word 'frank.'" — "These stories will sear you with their frankness!" Then they will put you in the oven of "brutal awareness" and gently roast you until you are cooked through.
  • Is James T. Farrell the reason so many writers and hipster affect a scroungey "I could give a fuck" look. This guy's got it down pat. He's like the original. "Hair-combing's for squares! Fuck ties! Where are my cigarettes?"

Page 123~
She went to Sonny. Harry looked at her with utter contempt. His eyes were full of hatred. He got up and turned on the radio. He could hear the child babbling and gaily talking to its mother as she washed him. He turned off the radio and sat there waiting until they would take their walk. Then they would eat their supper, see another moving picture, and come back to the hotel. [final paragraph of "The Sport of Kings"]


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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Paperback 308: A Room on the Route / Godfrey Blunden (Bantam 947)

Paperback 308: Bantam 947 (1st ptg, 1951)

Title: A Room on the Route
Author: Godfrey Blunden
Cover artist: Uncredited [Schaare???]

Yours for: $17

Best thing about this cover:
  • Soviet singing sensation "Drago" was in constant danger of being mauled by his overzealous, sex-crazed fanbase of lonely Nanas. Here, security moves in quickly to save him.
  • This book was apparently published in that narrow window of time when "Soviet" had not yet found a "Union" to modify.
  • This guy's like a Soviet Jesus. Look at his beatific face, the halo of light around his head, the way he's being mistreated, the way he appears to be looking plaintively at us, admonishing us to give up our sinful ways... you've got Mary there in foreground, Mary Magdalen in background, Roman centurions coming to take him away ...

Best things about this back cover:

  • N.K.V.D. — secret police organization that preceded K.G.B.; not, as I'd originally hoped, the shortened name of 90's boy band New Kids with Venereal Diseases.
  • Every book should come with "mounting action."

Page 123~

The men in the factory felt they had made a victory.

The men in the factory then headed to their ESL class to learn more about how to make a sentence that sounds right in English.


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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Paperback 307: Payment Deferred / C.S. Forester (Bantam 816)

Paperback 307: Bantam 816 (1st ptg, 1951)

Title: Payment Deferred
Author: C.S. Forester
Cover artist: Harry Schaare

Yours for: $6

Best things about this cover:

  • The hot new sequel to "Interest Accrued," from the publishers who brought you "Expenses Deducted"
  • "They're after me, Gladys! I know they are. You defer *one* payment and they sic the dogs on you. That's why I've put my throne by the window, so I can keep my eye ... hey! What's that? Is someone going through our trash? Oh. No, just a raccoon. Here, get me some more Red Bull, would ya? Gotta stay alert ..."
  • I love her face — happy, like she's imagining what she'll do with his money when he's inevitably bumped off.

Best things about this back cover:
  • "... will keep you chained to your chair..." — That's pretty vivid. "This book will perform such degrading acts of bondage upon you that you'll be forced to acknowledge its awesomeness."
  • Hey, looks like the original hardcover features a guy looking out a window, too. I'll take the cover with the sexily murderous strawberry blonde any day of the week.

Page 123~

For once he was neither the hotel prisoner nor yet was he at home with his father. It was the transition stage. He spent his time deliciously, luxuriously.

Ah, the transition stage from hotel prisoner to home with father. Such a heady time in a young man's life.


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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Paperback 306: High Sierra / W.R. Burnett (Bantam 826)

Paperback 306: Bantam 826 (1st ptg, 1950) (ex-lib)

Title: High Sierra
Author: W.R. Burnett
Cover artist: Harry Schaare

Yours for: $15

Best things about this cover
  • "Yeah, so, I like to grab the shaft real tight with one hand, like so, and then rub the tip back and forth with the other hand, real slow, like so, you see? And then ... what? What're you mugs starin' at? Ain't you never seen a guy polish his gun before?"
  • I *love* the expression on her face. It's like she's saying, quietly, out of the side of her mouth: "Uh ... are you seeing what I'm seeing?" Clearly the dude with the cards is as stunned as she is ... staring intently ... clawing the chair arm ...
  • In other news about the guy stroking his rod: those are some high pants. Tie-swallowing pants. And the girliest suspenders imaginable.

Best thing about this back cover:

  • Only the Cincinnati Times Star really appears to be tapping into what I'm seeing on the cover.

Page 123~

Roy was appalled at the change in Big Mac's appearance and sat studying him covertly. Mac had lost a lot of weight and the skin under his chin hung in pale folds. His hands shook and he kept drinking glass after glass of straight whisky.

I can't help but picture a haggard, embittered, world-weary, alcoholic Mayor McCheese.


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Monday, April 5, 2010

Paperback 305: Air Bridge / Hammond Innes (Bantam 1125)

Paperback 305: Bantam 1125 (1st ptg, 1953)

Title: Air Bridge
Author: Hammond Innes
Cover artist: Al Rossi

Yours for: $17

Best things about this cover:
  • Looks like the final frame in a Douglas Sirk melodrama. "We'll follow that Air Bridge, darling ... follow it ... to Freedom!" [cue music ... and cue credits]
  • That is a *lot* of coat he's wearing. Note that it's enveloping not just him, but the adoring, beret-wearing lady he's got his arm around as well — the one who looks like she's thinking: "Forget the airplanes for one second and kiss me, you gorgeous slab of a man!"
  • Check out Heckle and Jeckle conspiring in the shadowy background. "To be continued ... ?"

Best things about this back cover:
  • Why does all the danger in paperback cover copy descriptions come in "web" form?
  • SAETON? ELSE!?!? What, are you using a Ouija Board to name your characters?
  • "DIANA, who wanted Saeton with the hard passion of a man..." Hot girl-on- ... whatever SAETON is ... action!

Page 123~

His voice had risen and there was a wild look in his eyes. "Forget about yourself. Forget about me. Won't you do this for your country?"
"No," I said.


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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Paperback 304: Seven / Carson McCullers (Bantam Giant A1235)

Paperback 304: Bantam Giant A1235 (1st ptg — unusually, labeled "First Edition" — 1954)

Title: Seven
Author: Carson McCullers
Cover artist: Mitchell Hooks

Yours for: $9

  • ... in which an Amazon thrashes a little hunchback with a whip, a young Army private steals a heap of seatbelts from Abe Lincoln and Harry Truman, and Old Joe McGuffin asks Joey if he's ever been in a Turkish prison.
  • Never was a big fan of the multi-scene cover — too much going on, all the art gets short shrift.

  • "A fourth-dimensional quality" — so ... it's a book about time travel, then? Awesome.
  • "... the tempestuous seas of human living" — yeesh, dial it back, Cap'n Foley.
  • "Troubling of a Star" is a terrrrrrible title. Why not just call it "The Troubling Star" or "Star Trouble" or "Raiders of the Lost Ark" or something?
  • New York TIMES (!) gives us perhaps the best one-word review of a book so far: "... ABLE"; that's not a review, that's a suffix.

Page 123~

The child repeated the words, and she repeated them with unbelieving terror. "The tooth tree!"


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Thursday, April 1, 2010

57 Books from the University Book Sale: Book 57

Title: Fightin' Fool (Pocket 2316, 5th ptg, 1956)
Author: Max Brand
Cover artist: Tom Ryan

Yours for: $7

  • "Fightin' Fool!" — well, title, you're at least half right.
  • Before the Tiger Woods fist pump, there was this.
  • You gotta love this guy's enthusiasm. He hasn't even managed to get out of the manacles, and yet he's still super-psyched: "That's right, I got guns ... plural!"

  • Best tag line in a long, long time. Jingo! It's like Jenga and Yahtzee rolled into one, and yet dangerous close to a racial slur at the same time. Edgy! I only wish it read, "Nobody plays Jingo, sucker!"
  • This back cover copy is a random excerpt and tell us nothing about the story. Except that Jingo is kind of shooty.
  • The last simile doesn't really work, in that getting your fingers into a glove can be awkward and would likely involve way more time than your enemy would need to drop you. You also need two hands to do it (unlike drawing and firing a sidearm ... assuming westerns haven't been lying to me all these years). I think the writer was thinking of the idiom of something's "fitting like a glove," and then just ... went off track.

Page 123~

Wheeler Bent was silent. He stared at the girl with half-closed eyes, for suddenly it came over him that Jingo was as like this girl as though he had been born her twin.

First, why are the girl's eyes half-closed? Second, "Wheeler Bent" indicates that Max Brand was awesome with names, and that Jingo was no fluke. Third, everything after "Jingo" in that second sentence is a stylistic disaster. We could start with the redundancy of "born" (how else can you be somebody's twin?) but by the time the sentence gets there, it's already an ungainly mess.


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