Saturday, January 29, 2011

Paperback 384: The Golden Sorrow / Theodore Pratt (Red Seal 16)

Paperback 384: Red Seal 16 (PBO, 1952)

Title: The Golden Sorrow
Author: Theodore Pratt
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $8


Best things about this cover:
  • After the Golden Shower comes ... The Golden Sorrow—you can really feel her shame
  • His sidelong glance is awesome
  • "Uh, everything's cool, right honey? ... Look, I know you think pinky rings are tacky, but you don't have to be so histrionic about it."
  • Are those cufflinks or rotten Nilla Wafers?


Best things about this back cover:
  • Is this paperback cover copy or a sad tenth-grader's unpublished poetry?
  • "Cocotte?"
  • "Handsome!?!?!"

Page 123~

"You're a heel, Danny, a stinking heel on the make. You're only for Danny Rattigan." Her eyes flashed. "You are not worthy of the theatre. Oh, yes, you'll probably be a big success in Hollywood—if you can stand looking at yourself in the mirror. Now get out of here—get out!" [end of chapter]

If you write a phrase like "stinking heel on the make," I submit that you have overestimated your facility with idiomatic expressions. On the other hand, "You are not worthy of the theatre!" is T-shirt worthy.


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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Interlude—people send me books sometimes

After buying a book from me, reader JamiSings was inspired to send me a bunch of campy old paperbacks: several Agatha Christies, a romance novel, and a couple of sex books ("Sex Games that People Play" —about the unsexiest book I've ever briefly looked at—and "The Sensuous Woman" by J, which I've heard of and which is quite graphic in places). Of these six, I thought two of them deserved special notice.

First, the harrowing tale of Vincent Price's elaborate scheme for revenge against those bastards at Godiva Chocolate:


And second, the touching story of a woman with a secret passion for dry-humping enormous cloves of garlic:



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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Paperback 383: Sartoris / William Faulkner (Signet Giant S 1032)

Paperback 383: Signet Giant S1032 (1st ptg, 1953)

Title: Sartoris
Author: William Faulkner
Cover artist: James Avati

Yours for: $6


Best things about this cover:
  • "God I hate this bomber jacket. Her and her stupid aviator fixation. I keep telling her these went out of style in the late '80s, but ... god if I even look at her I swear I'm going to Snap! And why are those flowers in that stupid round bowl? I distinctly remember putting them in that giant glass pitcher by the bowl of app- ... hey, where are my apples!? My Apples!?"
  • I can't believe it's taken over 380 books for me to hit an Avati cover. He's one of the most prolific cover artists of all time. Seems like for about 7 years in there, every Signet cover was his. They are often beautiful, but very stiff and staid. Not dynamic and trashy the way I generally like 'em.


Best things about this back cover:
  • His mustache — it's actually the subject of his novel "The Unvanquished." Bet you didn't know that.
  • I have read exactly one Faulkner novel in my life: As I Lay Dying. It contained the sentence "My mother is a fish." That is all I remember about that novel. And yet I read every "Simpsons" comic that comes out. Did I mention I have a Ph.D. in literature from a major university?! Erudition!

Page 123~

"Damn ham-handed Hun," he said. "He never could fly anyway. I kept trying to keep him from going up there on that goddam popgun," and he cursed his dead brother savagely. Then he raised his glass again, but halted it halfway to his mouth. "Where in hell did my drink go?"

This actually makes me want to read the book. That so rarely happens with a Page 123.


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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dracutwig — The Review!

I offered to send the impossibly stupid-looking "Dracutwig" to my friend Lisa in Australia, on the condition that she read it. And review it. Somehow, she decided these conditions were reasonable. You can read her review here:

Surviving Oz

Meanwhile, more "Pop Sensation" tomorrow.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Paperback 382: The Conspirators / Frank Kane (Dell First Edition C127)

Paperback 382: Dell First Edition C127 (PBO, 1962)

Title: The Conspirators
Author: Frank Kane
Cover artist: Mort Engle

Yours for: $6


Best things about this cover:
  • "O Steve, you're the captain of my heart! I hope we can stay like this forever and not be killed in some freakish accident like a spontaneous tidal wave..."
  • I kind of love how Engle can evoke an entire yacht from just two panes of glass and one of those phallic knobby things on the steering wheel.


Best things about this back cover:

  • Ugh.
  • Is the text supposed to mirror the tidal wave on the cover? Because if so, fail.
  • Gray-on-blue = not advised as a cover copy option unless you hate your readers, good taste, and common decency.

Page 123~
Carter kept his eye on the blade, started circling crab-fashion.

Fully half the sentences on this page are written in this conjunction- and pronoun-hating fashion. "He glared at Carter, pulled a long-bladed fishing knife from the scabbard at his belt." "Joe started to protest, subsided at a snarled order from Carter." Etc. Maybe Kane thinks it creates momentum. I think it creates annoyance. In me. Being a hard-boiled writer means not just paring down your prose, but knowing where the paring is supposed to happen.


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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Paperback 381: Lord Johnnie / Leslie Turner White (Pocket Books 7010)

Paperback 381: Pocket Books 7010 (7th ptg, 1961)

Title: Lord Johnnie
Author: Leslie Turner White
Cover artist: Barye Phillips

Yours for: SOLD!! (1-11-11)


Best things about this cover:
  • This is a book about a middle-aged woman fed up with her adult son who won't move out of the house and get a job already: "Lord, Johnnie, I am sick and tired finding your hoop earrings all over my damn house."
  • Did I say "adult son?" I meant "flamboyantly gay adult son ... who is really into community theater."
  • "Live pink or die, bitches!"


Best things about this back cover:

  • Look, all the sword-into-noose imagery in the world is not going to make me believe that guy on the front cover likes to fuck women.

Page 123~

Not over fourteen, he had the look of a crazed ewe, and every sound in the prison set his thin body to quaking.

Every once in a while, Page 123 pays off very, very big. Is he quaking in fear or sexual excitement. I guess I just have to imagine how a crazed ewe would react if she were in prison ... yes, that works.


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Monday, January 10, 2011

Paperback 380: I Kid You Not / Jack Paar (Giant Cardinal 103)

Paperback 380: Giant Cardinal GC-103 (1st ptg, 1961)

Title: I Kid You Not
Author: Jack Paar
Cover artist: photo

Yours for: $6


Best things about this cover:
  • It is the all-important time of 5:03. No, wait, that must be 12:24 (a.m.). That is the longest hour hand I've ever seen.
  • There are few things about this picture that do *not* say serial killer. I think he got that pinky ring off his last victim.
  • I know Jack Paar from such places as crossword puzzles. That is the only way that I know Jack Paar. I kid you not.


Best things about this back cover:
  • A guy this wacky surely deserves a more colorful back cover layout—more colors, a wobbly font, something...
  • Are the U-turns in the first paragraph literal or metaphorical?
  • I can't wait to read about his feud with Mickey Rooney.
  • Why would someone put a filter-tip on a firecracker? "Paradox put to paper"? Some young copywriter was bucking for a promotion. I pray he (or she) did not receive it.

Page 123~

The two young giraffes, which stood about ten feet high, had scarcely teetered down the gangplank on their spindly legs when government inspectors pounced on them.

Well this book has taken an odd turn.


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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Charles Binger Cover Art Exhibit

If you live in the L.A. area you must go see this exhibit. And if you are feeling generous, please pick up "Cover to Joy Street," "Cover to Southwest," or "Yul Brenner" for me. Thanks.

Cover to "The Day of the Locust"
by Nathaniel West (1953)
Oil on board - 26" x 24" (plus frame)

Charles Binger "A Pulp Life"

January 7 - 30
Opening Reception: Friday, January 7th, 8-11 pm
La Luz de Jesus Gallery
4633 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90027

Charles Binger "A Pulp Life"
Charles Ashford Binger was a British-born painter who found great success in Hollywood and on Madison Avenue. His commercial art included film posters, pulp novels and celebrity portraiture in a career that spanned the 1920s -1970's. Binger's hallmark style utilized impeccable composition, rendered in a painterly style over roughened textures. His science-fiction paperback covers include masterpieces “The Illustrated Man” by Ray Bradbury & “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. As Marilyn Monroe’s favorite illustrator, he created three of her most memorable film posters, including “Niagara” and “River of No Return.” His gift at capturing beautiful and vulnerable women in oils made him a highly sought portraitist among the crowned heads of Europe, and a valuable commodity in the emerging post-war pulp market.

This is the first exhibition of his work in 45 years, and the very first time that these works have been offered for sale. Condition is consistent with commercial work of this era

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Paperback 379: How To Win Friends and Influence People / Dale Carnegie (PB 68)

Paperback 378: Pocket Books 68 (26th ptg, 1944)

Title: How to Win Friends and Influence People
Author: Dale Carnegie
Cover artist: photo

Yours for: $6


Best things about this cover:
  • LOVE the individualized book count number up top (in red). You can see that my copy (beat to hell) is the 26th printing–first printing was just three years earlier.
  • This guy looks like a tool. A smug tool. Also, how are his glasses staying on his face?


Best things about this back cover:
  • Sorry about the (considerable) soilage.
  • This book apparently succeeded by preying on people's (massive) insecurities. There should be some caveat somewhere indicating exceptions for people who are just plain assholes. No amount of book is gonna get that out.
  • I love how unrepentantly practical this book is—as if success were simply a recipe.
Also, time, or perhaps a small rodent, has eaten away the corners of the book, giving them a jagged yet neatly rounded appearance.

Page 123~

While we have been waiting for you, Mr. Eastman, I have been admiring your office. I wouldn't mind working myself if I had a room like this to work in. You know I am in the interior-woodworking business myself, and I never saw a more beautiful office in all my life.

This is evidently from the section on Advanced Ass-Kissing.


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Friday, January 7, 2011

Paperback 378: Murder Is Served / Frances and Richard Lockridge (Avon 363)

Paperback 378: Avon 363 (1st ptg, 1951)

Title: Murder Is Served
Author: Frances & Richard Lockridge
Cover artist: Eddie Chan

Yours for: $7 (cover is gorgeous, but separated from book, which is complete, but all kinds of falling apart)


Best things about this cover:

  • OK, remember that's "thirty million dollars" in late '40s dollars, so I believe the answer to the question is "hell yes."
  • Love his expression—I believe he is telling that lady, "You got served!"
  • In turn, I believe the lady is either mimicking masturbation or trying (unsuccessfully, by the look of it) to make cutlery disappear.
  • "You call those boobs!?"—sorry, just thinking of more things that guy might be saying.
  • Her: "I made you a canoe out of a napkin and this is how you thank me!?" I could go on all day. This one painting is like an endless one-act play.


Best things about this back cover:

  • I don't think "People say" that. I've never heard that. I will say that this is a very accurate opening of a student paper.
  • There must be a tale of gender or sexual confusion in here somewhere, which I deduced by noting that the stabbed man-body is pink, while the stabbed woman-body is blue.

Inside cover claims the cover artist, Eddie Chan, is a "well known Avon artist," but I've never seen his name. I think it's the only Asian surname I've ever seen on a vintage paperback cover artist. Cool.

Page 123~

"Well," Carey repeated, but less truculently. With a cat on his shoulders, he seemed to have lost the conviction that events would be clarified by the direct approach. Martini, turning to investigate the source of this new sound, breathed into Carey's left ear.
"Are you coming on to me?" asked Carey vituperatively.

Since it's 2011, I resolve (again) not to fall off the paperback wagon anymore. 3 write-ups a week, coming your way. Tell a friend (seriously). Now if you'll excuse me, this book has created a strong urge to walk around with a cat on my shoulders, so I'm off to practice.



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