Friday, August 31, 2012

Paperback 555: The Saracen Blade / Frank Yerby (Cardinal C-124)

Paperback 555: Cardinal C-124 (1st ptg, 1953)

Title: The Saracen Blade
Author: Frank Yerby
Cover artist: James Meese

Yours for: $10

Best things about this cover:
  • Steve was quick to anger when people insulted his empty-swimming-pool harem. "It's a spatial commentary on the ways the traffic in women occludes ... oh you did *not* just roll your eyes at me! En garde!" 
  • Steve erupted in anger when the judge of the No T-shirt Contest gave him only a 5.
  • MC Hammer closes in on the man who stole his pants. "Please, Hammer ... don't hurt me."
  • There is a paperback cover phenomenon I call "black hand"—it's a subset of "mystery hand." The mysterious / exotic Other reaches in from the margins ... oh you did *not* just roll your eyes at me!
  • This cover follows the old paperback cover art maxim: bondage must enhance boobage.


Best things about this back cover:
  • It's slightly unusual to have to have the back cover relate the scene depicted on the cover. It's highly unusual to have the back cover *tell* you that's what it's doing (possibly because it seems insultingly redundant)
  • "And even when he did think—which, admittedly, wasn't often—..."
  • Compound adjectives can be things of beauty. Then there's "adventure-crammed."

Page 123~
"You're not a stranger," Gautiette said mildly, "and I shall need your aid. The truth of the matter, good Pietro, is that Toinette has disappeared..."
"It's a hairspray, it's a perfume, it's a home perm, it's ... Toinette!"


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Patrick Murtha said...

Funny thing about that "black hand" - Frank Yerby was an African-American novelist. He made a pot of money writing more than 30 historical romances. He was the first African-American writer to become a millionaire, and the first to sell a novel to Hollywood and have it made into a movie (The Foxes of Harrow). Initially he wrote mainly about white protagonists (probably because it was more lucrative to do so), but he broadened his subject matter in later novels such as The Dahomean. He was a proud man who loathed racial discrimination and left the United States permanently in 1955 because he felt he could find greater tolerance in Europe; he lived the rest of his life in Spain. Yerby was underrated and overlooked for a long time, but thankfully is receiving more attention now. He was a skillful popular novelist and an inspiring pioneer. He simply would not let anyone tell him that he couldn't make a living by his pen.

Rex Parker said...

Thanks, Patrick. His life path sounds a *lot* like Chester Himes's (black ex-Pat who chooses Eur. over US for reasons of tolerance and then lives out his life in Spain).


Random White Guy said...

I just finished reading this book not that long ago. Alas, my copy didn't have half-nekkid tied up women on the cover.

Don't let this cover fool you, though. The story actually spends very little time on the Crusades.

Deb said...

(Possible duplicate post--sorry)

For many years, few people even knew that Yerby was black. His publishers were afraid that it would cause a scandal and decline in sales (particularly in the south) if readers knew the "lusty" and "racy" tales they were reading were written by a black man. Even when his photograph began appearing on dust jackets, he was often lit in a way that de-emphasized his skin color. It seems insane today, but that was how things were in mid-20th century America.

Doug Brunell said...

I love this cover. I would love to have it as a painting.