Sunday, May 29, 2011

Paperback 418: Tender Torment / Randy Salem (Midwood F172)

Paperback 418: Midwood F172 (PBO, 1962)

Title: Tender Torment
Author: Randy Salem
Cover artist: Paul Rader

Yours for: $50


Best things about this cover:
  • "Next time on 'The Bachelor': The Most Dramatic Rose Ceremony Ever!"
  • This is a shocking cover—usually with lesbian sex paperbacks the sex angle is played way up, along with the pathology angle. Bodies on display, lust in the air (see here, for instance). But here, aside from a nice wide chunk of ass in the foreground, it's all horror show. Looks like the movie poster for a late-70s slasher flick.
  • That tagline really gets to the point. Succinct. No-frills. You know where you stand with this tagline.
  • You gotta love a sleaze paperback pen name like "Randy Salem." If you anagram his last name, you describe his ideal audience: Randy Males.


Best things about this back cover:
  • "A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR!"—awesome ominous warning. "No one will be seated during the harrowing Rose Scene!" "Bring your own vomit bag!"
  • The best phrase on the whole back cover is "We are proud..."
Page 123~
He looked like any other swish in too tight pants and a checkered shirt open at the throat.
Damn swishes, ruining the checkered shirt for the rest of us regular blokes. I want my checkered shirt back, swishes! And my rainbow flag, too!


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Friday, May 27, 2011

Paperback 417: The Day Khrushchev Panicked / George B. Mair (MacFadden Books 50-183)

Paperback 417: MacFadden Books 50-183 (1st ptg, 1963)

Title: The Day Khrushchev Panicked
Author: George B. Mair
Cover artist: Stan Borack

Yours for: $13


Best things about this cover:
  • Unless she is about to devour his man parts with razor-sharp teeth, this might be the widest gap I've seen between text and picture. Unless half-naked, chair-averse redheads were used for calming agents during the Cold War. "Ah, a cigarette and a subservient redhead ... I feel refreshed and ready to battle Communism once again!"
  • Text says "As Exciting as 'Fail-Safe'," but the downward-facing red arrow subliminally suggests otherwise.
  • Has anyone seen my bejabbers? They were here a minute ago...
  • The U.S. eventually won the Cold War, due in no small part to the fact that they had Jabbers Christ on their side.
  • I insist that everyone reading this post use "bejabbers" at least once today. Let me know how it goes.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Well that's the last time I make my hammer-and-sickle insignia out of pie pastry.
  • It's true, you know: you cannot deny the terrifying *possibility* of its truth. This book essentially anticipates 95% of 21st-century journalism.

Page 123~

"Perhaps after all," said Trudie thoughtfully, "we only feel self-conscious because we are amateurs."


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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Paperback 416: Sex For One / Harvey T. Leathem with Hugh Jones (Century Books 036)

Paperback 416: Century Books 036 (PBO, 1967)

Title: Sex For One
Author: Harvey T. Leathem with Hugh Jones
Cover artist: —

Yours for: $10


Best things about this cover:
  • "Frank"!
  • Yes, if you are going to masturbate, by all means, do it behind a curtain of silence. I'm trying to work over here!
  • Puzzled by the little logo in the "O" (nice!). Is the real title "Sex For One Pouty-Lipped Woman"?


Best things about this back cover:
  • Oh, I'm sorry, *Dr.* Harvey T. Leathem.
  • "... during his years of practice" is the best adverbial phrase ever. "I've been jacking off for years, and let me tell you..."
  • Does he also discuss his hyphen fetish?
  • I'm sorry, what's Hugh Jones's role in all this again?

Page 123~
"You see, I had the cycle situated next to an old couch. As soon as the orgasm grabbed me, I'd fall off my bike onto the couch (1). Oh, incidentally—I'd have put a wild record on the phonograph that was kept down there, something with a big rock-'n'-roll beat. This not only further stimulated me, but it drowned out some of the wild laughing (2) that I enjoyed doing, during the moments that the climax had me in its vise" (3).
  1. Oh, that old trick.
  2. "Honey, what's going on in the basement? Is there supposed to be wild laughing in 'Daydream Believer'?"
  3. Wow, her orgasm is a harsh mistress. Grabbing her ... putting her in a vise ... but she's laughing, so I guess it's cool.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Paperback 415: Galaxy (January, 1956)

Paperback 415: Galaxy, January 1956

Authors include: Alan E. Nourse, James E. Gunn, Lester del Rey, Robert Abernathy, Robert Sheckley, and Richard R. Smith

Cover artist: Ed Emshwiller

Yours for: $8


Best things about this cover:
  • A cover painting of astonishing detail, complexity, and charm. Hang out with it for a few minutes—it's really something.
  • The sweat on Santa's brow does not look like sweat. The only comments I have border on the sacrilegious, so I'm gonna move on.
  • Is he doing calculus?
  • LOVE the way "EMSH" embeds his signature in his paintings (today, he's the author of the awesomely titled "How to Manage Reindeer in Space")
  • I want that coffee pot So Bad...
  • I know the dude has four arms, but he'd still never need more than two to hold a coffee cup, ergo that coffee cup is ridiculous.


Best things about this back cover:

  • I just like that the "Science-hyphen-Fiction Book Club" has a "Dept. GX-1" — that's got government front / conspiracy theory written all over it.

Page 123~ (from "The Ties of Earth" by James H. Schmitz)
It sounded like an esoteric classification of varying degrees of human psi potential — an ascendant individual "new mind" threatening the entrenched and experienced but more limited older group, which compensated for its limitation by bringing functioning members of the "new mind" under its control or repressing or diverting their developing abilities.
That's what I like to call "teaching."


[More by EMSH...]


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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Forgotten Bookmarks

Ran across a wonderful site yesterday called "Forgotten Bookmarks," in which the writer catalogs (with text and pictures) all the stuff he's found shoved inside books he's acquired over the years. These unexpected traces of ownership are really pretty charming, even touching. Reminded me that stuff falls out of my own old books from time to time. Here's the latest, a newspaper clipping found inside "In a Dark Garden" (Paperback 410):



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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Paperback 414: The Sex Habits of American Women / Fritz Wittels, M.D. (Eton 102)

Paperback 414: Eton 102 (2nd ptg?, 1951)

Title: The Sex Habits of American Women
Author: Fritz Wittels, M.D.
Cover artist: N.A.

Yours for: $7

[Cloudy parts are just peeling Perma-Gloss...]

Best things about this cover:
  • Ugh. Way to make sex habits look austere, old, and dusty, Eton Books. This looks like the basement office door in some long-forgotten Institute of Bygone Studies.
  • Well, if any name screams "authority on female sexuality," it's Fritz Wittels ("ahem, Dr. Fritz Wittels") (which really should be the name of some anti-hero in an underground sex comic of the early 70s; in fact, I'm pretty sure R. Crumb drew a Fritz Wittels at some point in his career: "Vood yoo like to taste my Vittles?" he'd ask...)
  • I was going to mock like crazy the title given to Albert C. Rosenthal ("Planning Director of Graphics Institute"), especially after opening the book to a random page and finding this less-than-inspiring graphic offering:


Terrible stuff, if only because that graphic is totally racist ... but then, I came across an undeniable graphic gem—the kind that gives you remarkable insight into the human condition with just one glance:


Such realism! I mean, first off, that's the onesie *I* wear to bed. Second, what better way to illustrate the three classic post-coital moods: zonked out, playing air piano with one hand while staring at the ceiling, or curled up like Demi Moore when she freaks out near the end of "St. Elmo's Fire." Dig deeper inside, and you find more graphic classics (or "grassics," as I now like to call them). There's the "happy orgasm slide vs. my fat slob of a boyfriend came and then fell out of bed" graphic:


... as well as the "I learned about sex from an older lesbian" graphic:

[Hell yeah, Chart XXX!]

And many more! Now the back cover:


Best things about this back cover:

  • I can barely read it through the damned hazy permagloss. *$%& it!

Page 123~

Lesbians are not as obnoxious as a couple of men in love with each other.

In 1951, I believe this attitude was known as "progressive."


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Monday, May 16, 2011

Paperback 413: SF Greats, No. 20 / Various (Winter 1970)

Paperback 413: SF Greats No. 20 (Winter 1970)

Authors: Donald Westlake et al.
Cover artist: Ed Valigursky (titled: "The Space Breed")

Yours for: $5


Best things about this cover:
  • Picked this up at a public library sale for "Only 50 cents!," just like the cover says
  • Apparently on whatever planet this is, kids are allowed to drink and/or do drugs, because *that* kid is wasted, or else hungover—look at those crazy dark eyes. Not right.
  • I love how the dog is like "Fuck off, kid! I'm watching 'Ren & Stimpy.'"
  • I'm a little worried for the dog. The boy's expression says "I love you," but the ominous, pail-holding man approaching from the background says "Dog—it's what's for dinner."

Back cover is just a B&W replica of the front, so ...

Page 123~ (from "Step IV" by Rosel George Brown)

The mother frowned at Juba, a little wearily. "You have decided to forsake the world and become a Watcher of the Holy Flame. Am I not right?"
Here she is watching the Holy Flame (the illustrations throughout this issue are wonderful):



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Friday, May 13, 2011

Paperback 412: The Physiology of Sex / Kenneth Walker (Penguin 507)

Paperback 412: Penguin 507 (3rd ptg, 1943)

Title: The Physiology of Sex
Author: Kenneth Walker
Cover artist: none

Yours for: $8


Best things about this cover:
  • This was printed during that short period when Puritans ran Penguin and demanded that all images besides the logo be expunged from the covers.
  • This gives me sex just the way I like it: sound and unflinching. And with penguins nearby.
  • Pre-Kinsey guide to being normal... oh dear lord, I opened to a random page (106, to be exact) and found this gem: "So far the emphasis has been placed on the man's responsibility in coitus, since it falls to him to waken his wife's latent sexuality." Honestly, how did anyone survive the '40s? (I'm guessing by fucking instead of reading about fucking)


Best things about this back cover:
  • Just Bernard? Not George Bernard? Why not just go all the way and call him "Bernie?"
  • Penguins say num num num to the number "520"

Page 123~

If the stock be good and the family free from all such inheritable troubles as mental defectiveness, predisposition to tuberculosis, and insanity, there is no reason why the children of cousins should not be as healthy as the children of other people.

Well I did not see that coming.


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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Paperback 411: Modesty Blaise / Peter O'Donnell (Fawcett/Crest R899)

Paperback 411: Fawcett/Crest R899 (1st ptg, 1966)

Title: Modesty Blaise
Author: Peter O'Donnell
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $15


Best things about this cover:
  • I challenge the spy-worthiness of those boots. Everything else is sleek and pragmatic (even the pile of hair, which could be hiding, I don't know, throwing stars or a bottle opener or something), but those heels wouldn't last 10 seconds in Abbottabad.
  • She has the look of a McGinnis girl, but there's something ... not quite right. A lifelessness. I mean, I usually think McGinnis girls look a little dead-eyed, but they have a certain something that pops. This woman doesn't have it.
  • This is a movie tie-in paperback. Movie is apparently a kind of spoof of spy movies. The "Modesty Blaise" franchise is weird. Starts in comics (as a female alternative to 007), and blows up from there.
  • As for the background—looks like something borrowed from a kindergarten classroom. What the hell?


Best things about this back cover:
  • Her expression in that second drawing. Is she flipping a man and singing "My Prerogative" at the same time? Impressive.
  • Wow, this cover copy is leaden. Not campy, not funny, not outlandish—just predictable and stupid.
  • "Dirk Bogarde" will now be added to my long list of potential aliases.

Page 123~

"Yet she's all woman," Hagan said, and felt his loins throb with sudden memory of her.

I don't think that's quite how loins work. Even a 16-yr-old isn't going to go from zero to "throb" at the speed of thought.


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Friday, May 6, 2011

Paperback 410: In a Dark Garden / Frank G. Slaughter (Perma Books P107)

Paperback 410: Perma Books P107 (1st ptg, 1951)

Title: In a Dark Garden
Author: Frank G. Slaughter
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $5


Best things about this cover:
  • The problem with doing this blog regularly over a period of many years is that it's gotten to the point where every title looks like a porn title. My first thought on this one: "So... he's about to discover that she's not a real blonde."
  • Is that his "trying to sell myself" pose? "Hey, lady, you like this? You like what you see? How about ... this pose? Huh? Nice, right? Thirty bucks."
  • Somehow the burnt-out hellscape in the background doesn't quite mesh with the dopey Easter-time flirtery of the foreground. "I got your painted eggs right here, sweetie . . . twenty-five bucks."
  • She is comically over-dressed. How many ways do you need to block out the sun, Vampirella?


Best things about this back cover:
  • This book should've been titled "This Jane Anderson"
  • "Wanton" = "Civil-War Slutty"
  • So ... it's a romcom about people in a fake marriage. I'm assuming wackiness ensues. I think this is essentially the plot of at least one Adam Sandler movie and at least one Sandra Bullock movie and probably thousands more filmic atrocities. And now I know whom to blame for this tired conceit: Frank G. Slaughter.
Page 123~

The runner had stayed snug in this anchorage since yesterday's dawn, while the crew had swarmed along the water line to make doubly sure that their long job of caulking had left the hull bone-dry.

OK, if that's not porn, I don't know what is. Come on!


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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Paperback 409: The Party Was the Pay-Off / Elisabeth Sanxay Holding (Mercury Mystery 175)

Paperback 409: Mercury Mystery 175 (n.d. — early '50s, 1st ptg)

Title: The Party Was the Pay-Off
Author: Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
Cover artist: Stefan Salter

Yours for: $30


Best things about this cover:
  • Aside from the fact that someone once used this book as a coaster (ugh), the book is lovely, square, bright. I think of Salter as more of a high-end illustrator than a dynamic cover artist, but I like his work nonetheless. Subtle, graceful, impressive.
  • Can't decide if I like "Too Many Bottles" or "The Party Was the Pay-Off" better as a title. Thankfully, I own both versions, so I'm good. Not sure why they changed the title to get away from bottles and then made the cover concept all about bottles ... but they did, so there.
  • Holding does suspenseful domestic drama better than anyone I know.

Best things about this back cover:

  • This book is interesting if only for the fact that the protagonist, James Brophy, is a writer, and Holding has unique insight on the profession, as someone who had to deal with the implications of the pulps (working-class, male-oriented, low-paying) /slicks (middle-class, female-oriented, much better-paying) divide:
"But I'm no celebrity," he had explained. "So far , I've worked mostly for the pulps. I'm just beginning to break into the slicks."

She had wanted to know what the pulps were, and what the slicks; she had wanted to know what he was working on then; she had listened with an interest he had never before encountered.

"I think artists ought to be taken care of," she had said.

Brophy believed that he was a pretty good writer, and that someday he would be a very much better one, but he was not inclined to think of himself as an artist.
  • Lulu's very name tells you everything you need to know about her. Pretty, bouncy, status-conscious, not the brightest — all in all, a poor match for Brophy. And quickly dead.
Page 123~
She spoke in a tone that was almost preposterously lofty. But that's the way she feels, poor devil, thought Brophy. Anything she does is right. Has to be, because she can always bring out such a noble motive.

"So don't worry, Jimmy," she said, with a pleasant social smile, and turned away to mount the stairs, followed by the matron.


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