Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Paperback 356: The Cask / Freeman Willis Crofts (Penguin 575)

Paperback 356: Penguin 575 (1st ptg, 1946)

Title: The Cask
Author: Freeman Willis Crofts
Cover artist: Uncredited (jonas?)

Yours for: $7


Best things about this cover:
  • It's a mystery. A mystery about ... a cask, I'm guessing. Hey, they can't all be Strip-Tease Girl.
  • I like how there's a picture of a cask on the cover. In case I'd forgotten the title. I also like the wee mustachioed man.
  • I do like the color scheme. And the soft tones and surreal shapes of the buildings and street.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Freeman Willis [zzzzzzzzzz....]. This is *literally* more than you'd ever want to know about Freeman Willis Crofts.
  • This is from when paperbacks were still trying to be highbrow and were taking themselves way too seriously. In just a few years things would get sexed up and pulped up and generally get interesting.

Page 123~

"It is with the utmost regret I have to tell you, M. Boirac, that your wife was undoubtedly murdered by strangulation. Further, you must know that she had been dead several days when that photograph was taken."

Wow. Blunt.


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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Paperback 355: Strip-Tease Girl / Cal Anton (Beacon B266)

Paperback 355: Beacon B266 (PBO, 1959)

Title: Strip-Tease Girl
Author: Cal Anton
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $40


Best things about this cover:
  • I'm pretty sure this is why God invented paperbacks.
  • The topic, the painting, and the cover copy are all exquisitely sleazypaperbackesque.
  • That is one fantastically ugly table.
  • Pardon my ogling, buy her rack is phenomenal. A hair's breadth away from seeming fake.
  • Love that "—AND DELIVERED" is in red! Hot. Feverish, even.
  • Also love the lack of a possessive pronoun before "JADED SENSES"; are they hers, his, yours? Who can say?


Best things about this back cover:
  • She also couldn't center her words or stick to one font, and was overly enamored of tiny type.
  • "Goggling!" "Queenly hips!?"
  • "Inevitably..." HA ha. "I mean, come on—what else was she gonna do with that body?"
  • "... and even a woman or two" HELLO! Way to bury the lead, guys.

Page 123~

"Well, I know the place like a school teacher knows a book. Shoot the questions. Mike," he ordered, "how about a head on this coffee?"

Conversation continues with equally forced-sounding attempts at colloquial patter. "Like a school teacher knows a book" is about the flat-fallingest simile I've ever heard. "Which book?" "Oh, you know, *a* book."


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Friday, September 24, 2010

Paperback 354: Coming Out Party / Kimberly Kemp (Midwood 32-448)

Paperback 354: Midwood 32-448 (PBO, 1965)

Title: Coming Out Party
Author: Kimberly Kemp
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $25


Best things about this cover:

  • "Don't mind me, I'm just taking a bubble bath in the sink..."
  • Man, Charlotte Rae was *hot* in her youth.
  • Soap bubbles look more like shaving cream.
  • If nothing else, her right nipple will be very clean.
  • Girl in doorway is striking a very unsexy "sexy" pose.
  • Did "coming out" have the same meaning for gay people then as it does now?


Best things about this back cover:

  • Front cover calls her a "houseguest," but this blurb makes her sound more like a sex slave.
  • You can't just go out there and start sinning. You have to train. With a master.
  • Oh, "Greenwich Village!" Well, you know what that means ...
  • "Cute but topless???" I think you mean "and."

Page 123~

"I'm not a good actress, but I'm a real sexpot in front of an audience. Or in front of a camera. I found out that it does something to me. I get all excited. And I'm pretty sure that it registers on film. Isn't that important?"

And of course he then makes her prove it. Cinema!


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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Paperback 353: Blue City / Kenneth Millar (Ross Macdonald) (Dell 363)

Paperback 353: Dell 363 (1st, 1947)

Title: Blue City
Author: Kenneth Millar
Cover artist: Uncredited (a shame)

Yours for: $23


Best things about this cover:
  • I'm not sure there is a cover out there that better expresses the idea of "noir." The grimy fatalism of the urban jungle perfectly expressed by that pollution/hand working all the lowlifes like marionettes. That woman's right boob is freaking me out a little, and the gangster's proportions are all wrong, but all the classic vices are on display, and that hand is going to give me nightmares. The skin on the knuckles, my god ...


Best things about this back cover:
  • Mapback!
  • Whoever designed that city Really liked right angles.
  • Nice detail on the buildings [/sarcasm]
  • This book is in a plastic slipcase. I would have taken it out, but I feared I might harm the book in doing so, so parts of the back remain obscured somewhat by the thick plastic strip down the middle. And the ID tag.

Page 123~

"You won't sing," Kerch said, "if what we do to you shuts you up for good. Come along, Floraine. You'll need a coat."

"You'll need a coat" makes me laugh. Cold-blooded hitman worries you might get chilly.


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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Paperback 352: Me An' You / Jay Thomas Caldwell (Lion 220)

Paperback 352: Lion 220 (PBO, 1954)

Title: Me An' You
Author: Jay Thomas Caldwell
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $30


Best things about this front cover:

  • "Grrr, Hulk hate ordinary kitchen chair. Prefer mid-century modern aesthetic. Grrrrrr... Hulk crush chair!"
  • They promise a "two-fisted Negro," but I can see just the one fist. Rip-off.
  • I think the white t-shirt was a late decision. Pretty sure he was originally depicted shirtless, but then censors were like "Dude, we're already pushing the interracial envelope on this one—put some clothes on the guy." Anyway, late-add would explain somewhat the remarkable definition visible even through the shirt.
  • I love her bored expression: "What's shaking my chair? Oh, it's you ... I don't suppose you're a big shot yet?"
  • Lots of telling details in this one—the liquor, the news headline, the pile of dirty dishes, and of course, the pervading aura of grime.
  • I think I remember Robert Polito saying (in his Thompson bio) that Jay Thomas Caldwell was a black writer who died young, possibly in a bank hold-up. But I could be misremembering my details.


Best things about this back cover:

  • Why in the world would you even get *on* "the long ladder of bitterness and bleak despair?" I imagine any direction on that thing is a bad one.
  • I am a little worried about Irma.

Page 123~ (four pages from end of book)

"People I used to know in the fight game stop me on the street an' say, 'Tommy, I hear you're a preacher now.' Yes, I tell them. I'm workin' for the Lord now."


"Praise the LOOOrd!"

Well, I did not see that coming.


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Friday, September 17, 2010

Paperback 351: Solar Lottery / Philip K. Dick & The Big Jump / Leigh Brackett (Ace Double D-103)

Paperback 351: Ace Double D-103 (PBO / 1st ptg, 1955)

Title: Solar Lottery / The Big Jump
Authors: Philip K. Dick / Leigh Brackett
Cover artist: Ed Valigursky / Robert Schulz

Yours for: $80

Best things about "Solar Lottery" cover:
  • In space, dodgeball Really sucks
  • In space, they like to get high on nitrous and throw shit at stray Star Trek characters.
  • First prize was the Earth itself! Second prize: a set of steak knives. Third prize: you're fired.
  • Philip K. Dick. Paperback original. Word.

Best things about "The Big Jump" cover:
  • God likes to apply his eyeliner with rocket ships.
  • Hate this cover, but Leigh Brackett is one of the greatest pulp/scifi authors that time forgot.

Page 123 of "Solar Lottery"~
"I'll stop him," Wakeman repeated. "Some way, somehow."

"Between drinks, maybe." Rita halted for a moment to tie the laces on her boots, and then she disappeared down a descent ramp toward Cartwright's private quarters. She didn't look back.

Whoa, Rita. Nice burn.


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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Paperback 350: Strumpets' Jungle / Sloane Britain & Any Man's Plaything / Rubel (Dollar Double 951)

Paperback 350: Dollar Double 951 (1st ptg / 1st ptg, 1962)

Title: Strumpets' Jungle // Any Man's Plaything
Authors: Sloane Britain // Rubel (HA ha, one name, like Collette, or Ludacris)
Cover artists: Robert Bonfils // Robert Bonfils

Yours for: $40


Best things about the "Strumpets' Jungle" cover:
  • One of the craziest covers I own. First of all, full frontal female nudity? They cover the nipples with a narrow tree branch, but leave the crotch wide open!? Is the dark patch hair? Or does she shave and that's just a shadow? These tree lesbians are wild!
  • Second, tree lesbians?
  • I find this cover incredibly creepy, as it reminds me of nothing so much as the crucifixion. There's Jesus lesbian, and then Thief #1 lesbian over there, and then ... I guess the Thief #2 lesbian is off-screen. Really horrifying. Or else they are being eaten by tree creatures (Ents?) who really love voluptuous lesbians. Or else this is some sylvan lesbian sex rite that my lesbian friends have somehow never told me about.
  • I'm no ecosystem expert, but that doesn't look like a "jungle."
  • And in case you didn't know, "3rd Sex" = homosex...ual


Best things about the "Any Man's Plaything" cover:
  • She is antithesis of women on the other cover, as she is wearing panties *and* concealing her pubic region with her hands.
  • There's nothing very "shocking" looking about this cover. Pretty girl in her underwear, not letting you peek at her crotch. Only the shoes suggest she has anything on her mind besides shutting the door on you and getting some rest. All I know about her is that she has very good balance.

Page 123 of "Strumpets' Jungle"~

"Paula, I don't understand. What were they ...?"
"Never mind that for now," I said. "We've got to get to our classrooms."


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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Paperback 349: Oh, You Tex! / William MacLeod Raine (Pocket Books 78)

Paperback 349: Pocket Books 78 (7th ptg, 1948)

Title: Oh, You Tex!
Author: William MacLeod Raine
Cover artist: Roswell Keller

Yours for: $8


Best things about this cover:
  • What the Hell is Happening!?!?! The perspective ... it's hurting ...
  • "Chief Green Jeans was sunning himself on a rock, when all of a sudden ...!"
  • I want to say that that woman was *clearly* photo-shopped into this picture, but ...
  • This is like an abstract expressionist painting, with occasional humanesque figures.
  • Fear hand!
  • I do not quite get the punctuation of the title. "Oh, You Tex!" Is she ungrammatically affirming that that is his name? Is she calling him a "Tex" the way you might call some a "Brute" or "Bastard?" Is she excited to learn that he texts, but, like your mom, doesn't quite know the right word for it?
  • William MacLeod Raine wrote the hell out of some westerns. His books are Everywhere in used pb shops.


Best things about this back cover:
  • There are sexier names for a dame than "Wadley."
  • Apparently there is no good synonym for "gun-play," so they just went ahead and used it twice. Sorry, just looked at the front cover—make that three times. Oh wait, I see, the front blurb is just a barely changed version of the last line on the back cover. Don't break your backs trying to be original, guys.

Page 123~

Cowboys left their partners standing in the middle of the floor. The musicians dropped their bows and fiddles. Bartenders left unfilled the orders they had just taken.
The cause? The Rapture! Just kidding. It's injuns.


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Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day Interlude — When I Was a Teen...

You will never find a more '80s picture than this:


Unless it is this:


P.S. I somehow own both of these. Can you tell I'm spending Labor Day cleaning?


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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Paperback 348: River Queen / Charles N. Heckelmann (Graphic Giant G-221)

Paperback 348: Graphic Giant G-221 (2nd ptg, 1957)

Title: River Queen
Author: Charles N. Heckelmann
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $6


Best things about this cover:

  • That's up there with the most maniacal expressions I've ever seen on these covers
  • Either his upper body is way out of proportion to his lower body, or that is one blousey top
  • Look at his right pinky—it's like he's holding a cup of tea
  • Her boobs are going to come out of that dress in 5, 4, 3 ...
  • Fear hand!
  • "Rawhide II: Rawhider!"
  • "War and Love on the Mighty ... Missouri?" Really? I'm sure it's a fine river, but it feels like carob to the Mississippi's chocolate, i.e. a poor substitute
  • "Heckelmann?" Really?


Best things about this back cover:

  • That boat explosion looks like it was drawn by a child—a child who has no concept of how things explode. I mean, the boat appears to be utterly intact. The explosion lines are comically straight and debris-free. The explosion *does* appear to have catapulted those two fighting guys high into the air—that's *pretty* realistic.
  • "Indian-proof," HA ha. Wonder what SPF that is.
  • "Hey, baby, mind if I battle my way up your flaming shores...?"
Here's the title page illustration:


Page 123~

The flag whipped jauntily in the stiff, morning breeze.

That comma is super ridiculous.


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Friday, September 3, 2010

Paperback 347: The Race of Giants / Matt Kinkaid (Dell First Ed. A118)

Paperback 347: Dell First Edition A118 (PBO, 1956)

Title: The Race of Giants
Author: Matt Kinkaid
Cover artist: Sam Bates

Yours for: $10


Best things about this cover:

  • "... do you smell something funny? Hmm ... probably just my mustache. No, wait, my ass is on fire."
  • Wow, he is a giant—keeps a herd of cattle in his back pocket.
  • Love how he Fills the frame; also love the partial view of the horse. Not so keen on being able to see his long johns, but whatever.


Best things about this back cover:

  • "Blood on his hands ... money on his mind!"
  • Not the most realistic flames, but they are pretty.

Page 123~

Julius made a small sound of grim satisfaction. "Here comes the wagon."


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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Paperback 346: Death Takes an Option / Neil MacNeil (pseud. of W.T. Ballard) (Gold Medal 807)

Paperback 346: Gold Medal 807 (PBO, 1958)

Title: Death Takes An Option
Author: Neil MacNeil (W.T. Ballard)
Cover artist: Uncredited (can't read that signature) [probably Gerry Powell]

Yours for: $10


Best things about this cover:

  • Ugh—somewhere in the 800s, perhaps a bit earlier, GM covers tend to get ugly as hell. There's this aesthetic that is all about sloppy. Everything looks sketched and half-finished and generally terrible. Also, the books seem flimsier overall, but that may be an unfounded impression. All I know is that lady's right thigh is a cartoonish "flesh" tone, esp. compared with the flesh on the rest of her body.
  • What the hell is up with that guy? Is he a. rapping b. playing a zombie c. walking on a very narrow beam or d. about to put a quick end to a pig-catching contest?
  • Title appears to be an allusion to 1934 Fredric March movie "Death Takes a Holiday."


Best things about this back cover:

  • Only one thing: "Their descriptions."

Page 123~

She had red hair and good eyes and a beautiful figure. He wondered if the stories were true that some of these girls were dancers who, coming to Vegas with a company, found out that they could make three times as much juggling a tray as they could kicking their legs in one of the floor shows.

"What's your name, honey?"


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