Monday, August 22, 2011

Paperback 452: A Man of Parts / Vivian Connell (Gold Medal 130)

Paperback 452: Gold Medal 130 (PBO, 1950)

Title: A Man of Parts
Author: Vivian Connell
Cover artist: Uncredited (though I can see a signature in lower left ... very elongated ... looks like "drip")

Yours for: $11

Sorry for the week-long publication drought. I've been away for a week at the Minnesota State Fair and other Midwestern attractions (friends, mostly). Plus, I prepared a slide show of covers from this blog for Huffington Post Books, so it *felt* like I was writing. Anyway, back on a 3 book/week schedule now, for the most part, I think. So let's get back to it:


Best things about this cover:
  • A Man of Parts ... and the best part, Tracy knew, was the thigh.
  • "Well, your leg sounds just fine, so I have no idea what's ailing you. I'll go get my leeches."
  • I've never actually heard anyone utter the phrase "How gauche!" but pencil-mustache sure has the face for it.
  • "I say, do you know how to work one of these iPod minis...?"


Best things about this back cover:

  • For some reason I'm imagining the first two lines here being spoken in the voice of Darth Vader.
  • "... and all her womanhood pushed out to him in her warm full breasts": so it's a lactation fetish novel. Cool.
  • "... and the women caught in the tempest ... of the tempestuous novel ... that I mentioned at the beginning of this sentence ... what? I like the word 'tempest.' Get off my back."

Page 123~

God, it was good to be alive, in the country, on a night like this. He began to sing gaily. Suddenly he realized what he was singing:

"Then we snuggle in the corner,
An' there's no fire any warmer
Than your mouth all sweet and rosy . . ."

He pulled up with a jerk.

Those are odd lyrics to masturbate to, but ... whatever floats your boat, Man of Parts.


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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Paperback 451: Women Without Men / P.J. Reed-Marr (Gold Medal k1306)

Paperback 451: Gold Medal k1306 (3rd ptg, 1963)

Title: Women Without Men
Author: P.J. Reed-Martin
Cover artist: Uncredited [Barye Phillips]

Yours for: $9


Best things about this cover:
  • Barye Phillips's paintings could be beautiful. Could be. Then again, they could be hot (mustard) messes.
  • That's not a tear. It's a tear tattoo—you get one every time you kill an (inevitably) handsy matron.
  • I love how the defining horror of prison, the impetus for complete social breakdown, is the absence of men. This way, men can thrill to the soft-core lesbian action they will (inevitably) find inside, while reassuring themselves that what women really need is ... them.
  • Honestly, is her head resting on a pillow? A block of cheese? A pile of sand topped with a cat's paw? What the hell, Barye Phillips?


Best things about this back cover:
  • So ... your typical "Chained Heat" stuff, with sadistic inmate instead of sadistic warden. Gotcha.
  • I like "Queen," for its odd gender-confusing quality, but "courtier" is taking the metaphor into stupid and decidedly unsexy territory.
  • "Twisted loves" = lesbian. "A web that would imprison Mary more degradingly than any cell in the world," though much wordier, also lesbian.
  • Between "baggy, gray cotton" and "the gray, gross spider," I'm beginning to think that maybe the absence of men isn't your real problem. Try chartreuse uniforms. Or maybe mauve. I hear those colors are more soothing / less lesbifying.

Page 123~

After lights out, Willie's voice pleaded in the darkness. "How about it, Mary?"

"No," Mary said coldly. "But maybe you can twist my arm and make me, the way you made Annie go to court."

"Aw, baby. I'll come over to you if you want. Forget Annie. It's all over now."

"Oh, no, it's not, Willie," she said. "Go maul somebody else. You've had it. Never again."

Girls named after penises can be so pushy.


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Friday, August 19, 2011

Paperback 450: Bride and Groom / F.M. Rossiter, M.D. (Banner Book [unnumbered])

Paperback 450: Banner Book [no #] (1st ptg, 1961)

Title: Bride and Groom
Author: F.M. Rossiter, M.D.
Cover artist: "Lieberman" (?) (see signature, lower right)

Yours for: $20


Best things about this cover:
  • Somebody did not do very well in Life Drawing class.
  • Are they lying on an uncovered mauve mattress, or simply standing in front of their mauve-mattress-colored wall?
  • OK, what was the deal with women's hair in the '60s? I mean, paperback cover after paperback cover, it's (often) a total nightmare of over-exertion and ghastliness. There was some really lovely looking hair in this era, I know it. Why can't it find its way onto more covers? I'm starting to pity these women, as if they were real people. Though with this woman, when I look at her husband, I begin to think her hair is the least of her problems. I think you're supposed to think he's gazing lovingly at her, but all I see is the dead-eyed look of a junkie who sees a plate of fresh-baked cookies across the room.

I don't know how to convey to you the richness, the pure mad density, of this book. I could spend days commenting on this book. Days. The Table of Contents alone (that's right, the Table of &*%^ing Contents) is a treasure trove of hilarity all on its own. I mean, "perfuming the vulva"!? No joke: "perfuming the vulva." I'll take "Rejected Lifetime Movie Titles" for $1000, Alex. The whole book (The Whole Book) is written as dialog between imagined (god I hope they're imagined) "Wife" and "Husband" and their "Doctor." I think it would all make a very excellent 8-hr. stage play.

Did I mention there are illustrations? There are illustrations. They might need their own, separate write-up. But here's a taste (so to speak):


[from the chapter entitled "Making Shadow Puppets With Your Nipples"]


[What your boobs look like to a really drunk guy]

Oh, the back cover. Almost forgot—


Best things about this back cover:

  • "This new edition has been revised and illustrated [...] to further enhance its value as an educational document." I think we can all agree: Mission Accomplished.
  • I really wish this book were advertised as "frank" because, frankly, it's the frankest (albeit insanest and misguidedest) sex information book I own.
I made a video of me reading aloud from the chapter called "Sex Facts for Married Couples," but YouTube only loads gibberish (Facebook has no problem with it), so too bad for you. Instead, rather than p. 123, I'm merely going to quote to you from the Table of Contents—specifically, the subheadings for the chapter entitled "The After-Play":
Need for such after-play; disturbing factors; what the husband should do and what he shouldn't do; little personal tricks; husband must exert himself when wife has to; assisting with douch [sic]; washing each other's organs [1]; good night kiss; a wife's "thank you" [2]; post-coital laughter [3]; indication of complete satisfaction
[1] I really hope he's talking about musical instruments here, because ... no.
[2] I assume it's followed by "sir, may I have another?"
[3] "Ha ha ha ha ha ha .... remember when we washed each other's organs ... oh, good times. Thank you. Good night."


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P.S. I got the video to work. Apologies for vid. quality in first 10 seconds or so ... and for the fact that the whole thing is mirror-imaged ... and for saying (in video) that book is from 1963. It's 1961. OK. Here you go:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Paperback 449: Starlet Sinner / Carl Mando (Pillow Book No. 1102)

Paperback 449: Pillow Book No. 1102 (PBO, 1963)

Title: Starlet Sinner
Author: Carl Mando
Cover artist: Uncredited (I've never been so sad about uncredited artwork ...)

Yours for: a short essay explaining how this young woman came to be in this (exact) position (essay must account for a. the hair; b. the ... coloring?; c. the bangles; and d. the giant slug she appears to have mounted.

[My friend Doug Peterson brings me vintage paperbacks almost every time we see each other (usually at crossword puzzle tournaments), and last weekend in NYC was no exception. His offerings this time were especially juicy, and this book may be the juiciest of the bunch.]


Best things about this cover:
  • This picture looks like a shape-shifter caught midway between human and sea lion.
  • I know the shading on her body is supposed to represent a tan line, but I swear it looks more like residue from an explosion. Like ... she was in her apartment in just her underwear and a bomb went off and then she thought maybe her underwear was burning her so she tore it off and started to run outside but felt naked ('cause she was) and so threw on an oversize wig and hugged a throw pillow to her chest and ran outside but then she tripped. That's where we came in...
  • Or maybe she has oxidized, somehow. It does say she was "Rusty."
  • The title page of this book claims that this book is "A Pillow Book Limited Edition"; and you can see why. It's not often you get the chance to get your hands on the Worst Girl Art Of All Time.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Wow, she really doesn't get any better up close. And moving those breasts in closer to me is indeed distracting, but not in the way the cover probably intends. The only thing they've aroused is mild revulsion.
  • The typesetter must have had a "Justify—Random" setting.
  • "Reputed" makes me laugh every time I look at it. Kind of a hi-falutin' word for a sleaze paperback. Or ... wait. I think technically, mathematically, that's "negative Reputed"

Page 123~ (please be terrible please be terrible...)
The warmth of the emotion began to work over me to finally erupt into a searing flame that drained me to the depths [1]. Arla was life itself [2], everything that was living centered within her and she lived this moment through to its fulfillment. The film ended and there was a moment of contentment between us before we began to get ourselves back into shape and back into the realm of reality [3].
[1] I don't know how a searing flame drains you, but I do know that the full extent of their touching at this point is hand-holding. I read and re-read the preceding material, and he is either emotionally overwrought or comes really, really easily.

[2] Let us pause to acknowledge the awesomeness that is the name "Arla" ... OK, that's enough.

[3] This reads exactly like every other bad porn passage I've read from 60s sleaze novels (fuzzy on the details, hackneyed in its imagery, written by someone who appears to be being paid by the word, etc.), but again, I'm telling you, I Can't Find Anything Sexual That Happened. To be specific, in the preceding paragraph, he puts his hand on her knee, she puts her hand on his hand, and then, in a gesture that is probably supposed to be erotic but just sounds weird and awkward [a theme of this book, if the cover picture is any indication], "she began to squeeze [his] fingers, each pressure being stronger than the one that preceded the one before" [sic sic sic!]. His fingers. Is that a metaphor? A metonym? Are his fingers his penis? His penises? I think this is probably the most thought that has ever been put into the literary interpretation of "Starlet Sinner."


P.S. a pretty major media outlet wants me to put together a slideshow of 12 of my Pop Sensation paperback covers, to be published on their website. If you have any particular favorites you think deserve wide exposure, let me know (in comments section, or by email). Thanks.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Paperback 448: Takeoff / C.M. Kornbluth (Pennant P15)

Paperback 448: Pennant Books P15 (1st ptg, 1953)

Title: Takeoff
Author: C.M. Kornbluth
Cover artist: Charles Binger

Yours for: Not For Sale — special donation to the collection from Michael and Sue Handley


Best things about this cover:
  • "Bomber jackets half-price at Macy's!? But I paid full price last weekend! Bastards! Vengeance will be mine!"
  • That's quite the phallic object.
  • I just found out that it pays to check my campus mailbox every once in a while—I just found this book waiting for me (it had been waiting for nearly 2 months) with the following note attached:


Supercool notepad.

And now the back cover:


Best things about this back cover:

  • Ugh, just a bunch of blurbs, though now I know where my benefactors got their purple prose from.

Page 123~

Suddenly his voice blazed with passion and the words came like a torrent. "What was I to do? Go ahead and do it the wrong way? [...]"

This selection would be much more evocative and engaging if this were a sex novel.


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Friday, August 12, 2011

Paperback 447: Queer Patterns / Kay Addams (Beacon B259)

Paperback 447: Beacon Books B259 (PBO, 1959)

Title: Queer Patterns
Author: Kay Addams
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $60


Best things about this cover:
  • What's amazing about this cover is how unsleazy it is. The colors and lines are all incredibly soft, and while the picture suggests imminent sex ... I don't know, something about this scene seems sort of sweet (thus at odds with the "Perversity" allegation).
  • "Queer Patterns" is an oddly unhot title. Like it's a novel about avant-garde knitting.
  • This is one of my Desert Island Books ... or maybe Burning House Books, i.e. if I had to save 10 books from certain destruction, this would be one of them. It's from the dead center of my collection, time-wise (1959), it's in fantastic condition, it's a near-perfect specimen of the "lesbian fiction" pulp genre, and, well, those are nice boobs.


Best things about this back cover:
  • "FRANK!"
  • "NETHER!"
  • That is one of my favorite opening lines of cover copy ever.
  • "Reckless paroxysms of desire" — why couldn't this copywriter do *every* back cover?
  • "Consoling cozenings"! Wow, that should win some kind of Ambitious Alliteration award.

Page 123~

"This is insanity," I said one night.

"Love is insanity." She lifted her head from where it had been. "Let me show you just how insane."

[standing ovation]


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Monday, August 8, 2011

Paperback 446: Take a Lesbian to Lunch / Ann Aldrich (McFadden Books 125-118)

Paperback 446: McFadden Books 125-118 (PBO, 1972)

Title: Take a Lesbian to Lunch
Author: Ann Aldrich
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: $300


Best things about this cover:
  • I've written briefly about this book before. Searching for that post led me to this thread, which quotes my original discussion of the book, and features a reply from The Author Herself. I learned about this just this second. I Heart The Internets. Discussion was about the term "lipstick lesbian," which suggested might have been "coined" by this book; that's probably not true, but the author suggests she might have been the first to use the phrase in print.
  • It's not a very vivid cover, sadly, but I love the weird title and the Lipstick on the (Lesbians'?) cigarettes.
  • Oh, this book is super-rare, in case the suggested dollar value didn't tip you off. There's one on amazon for $200 something. I priced mine off the ABE Books listings. The book is no longer available from ABE Books. Insider's look at gay New York in the aftermath of Stonewall by an excellent writer = cultural gold.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Did people used to think lesbians were mythical? Like sylphs or unicorns or yeti?

Page 123~

"Surely it is the nature and quality of a relationship that matters; one must not judge it by its outward appearance, but by its inner worth. Homosexual affection can be as selfless as heterosexual affection, and therefore we cannot see that it is some way morally worse..." [—from "Toward a Quaker View of Sex," an essay signed by 11 British Quakers, first published in London in 1963]

Not all of this book is so earnest, I assure you. The more anecdotal parts of the book are often entertaining, touching, vivid, and sometimes very funny.


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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Paperback 445: The Dispossessed / Geoffrey Wagner (Beacon B210)

Paperback 445: Beacon B 210 (PBO, 1959)

Title: The Dispossessed
Author: Geoffrey Wagner
Cover artist: Uncredited [Walter Popp]

Yours for: $17


Best things about this cover:
  • Nice variation on the tormented gay man pose. Love his expression: "Uh ... Christ, what am I supposed to do with this?"
  • Actually, I think he's just applying product to his hair, using a mirror we can't see, just off-screen.
  • She's in one of those impossible poses where she appears to be looking at something/someone (namely, Confused Neanderthal there) she could not possibly see, given his position / the laws of physics. Maybe the dude is a ghost and she's really eying some hunky guy who just walked into her hotel room.
  • Two continents!? TWO!? No way ...


Best things about this back cover:
  • I see that it's unblushingly told, but is it frank? That's really all I want to know.
  • Love how the blurbs are a. miniscule, b. in not-terribly-contrastive font color, and c. insanely brief—I imagine they were culled from terrible reviews, i.e. "This novel gave me a POWERFUL headache" or "the author shows a REMARKABLE TALENT for shallow characterization and hackneyed turns of phrase."

Page 123~

"How was Klee?" she asked.

"Okay. The opposing bloke turned out to be my old school fag."

Wow, your school gave you your very own fag? Lucky...

Seriously, does "fag" mean "chum?" I've never seen that usage before ... well, what d'ya know? There's my answer:
1. A student at a British public school who is required to perform menial tasks for a student in a higher class.
2. A drudge.

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