Saturday, July 3, 2010

Paperback 331: 5:45 to Suburbia / Vin Packer (Gold Medal s731)

Paperback 331: Gold Medal s731 (PBO, 1958)

Title: 5:45 to Suburbia
Author: Vin Packer (pseud. of Marijane Meaker)
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $50

This copy is SIGNED

Best things about this cover:
  • Douchey salesman by day ... vampire by night.
  • That is the color red seen only on 1950s/60s paperbacks. Looks like the work of Barye Phillips, but the book gives no credit.
  • Love stories of tawdry goings-on in the suburbs. Post-war pop fiction kind of obsessed with the suburbs, as they were relatively new and probably put on a sanitized, happy air that made writers sick—i.e. easy pickins.

Best things about this back cover:
  • One of the few back covers that makes me genuinely want to read the book. The language isn't just descriptive—it bounces: his wife's impeccable tweeds, her wicked martini, their daughter's (!) long legs, the phrase "hatchet man," all great. Even the language of addiction in the second paragraph is compelling, and timely—makes Charlie Gibson sound like a different species of Burroughs' "Junky." Mmm, '50s underbelly. Delicious.
  • Despite the obvious opening, I'm finding it hard to make any good jokes about the name "Charlie Gibson" (a onetime prominent morning TV host, in case you didn't know).

Vin Packer is Marijane Meaker (also Ann Aldrich, for her explicitly lesbian writing; M.E. Kerr, for her young adult fiction). She is a really compelling literary figure and a very good writer. I recommend her memoir about her relationship with Patricia Highsmith. In doing some research on the Mattachine Society (for a future writing project on a different pulpy literary figure), I came across a bunch of stuff by and about Meaker—a controversial figure among some gay people. Apparently, not all of Meaker's gay characters (and the lesbians she chronicles in her non-fiction books) were "sympathetic" enough for some. Hurray for someone's caring more about giving a realistic and complex picture of humanity rather than sanitizing and enhaloing her characters in order to push a political agenda. I really want to meet this woman, who (last I checked) is still alive. I own close to a dozen of her books, many of them signed (I can only hope the sigs are authentic, as I didn't get them myself).

Page 123~
"Very simple, boss—the child's in love with you."
"Hogwash!" Bruce Cadence snorted. "I'm old enough to be her father."
"That's the point." Keene laughed.
He waved and went out.


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Cover To Cover Booksellers said...

I believe that it was the wife who wore the impeccable tweed and knew her way around a martini. Just saying.

Love your blog and the covers you pick.

Tulse said...

That back cover blurb sounds like the first season of Mad Men.

Rex Parker said...