Sunday, October 28, 2012

Paperback 576: The Day the Sea Rolled Back / Mickey Spillane (Bantam 14597-5)

Paperback 576: Bantam 14597-5 (1st ptg, 1981)

Title: The Day the Sea Rolled Back
Author: Mickey Spillane
Cover artist: Maroto (?) — book is illustrated (!?) by "Maroto"

Yours for: $16
Best things about this cover:
  • In honor of Hurricane Sandy (and just because it's next in line), I give you: the opposite of a storm surge!
  • I assume that chest is full of Cheerios 'cause no way that kid lifts it otherwise.
  • I'm weirdly in the middle of the latest Lemony Snicket book (gorgeously illustrated by Seth), which features a strange ex-sea landscape like the one suggested here.
  • Unless Hammer is about to emerge from behind that boat skeleton and put some .45-sized holes in those kids, I don't think I want to read this book.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Mickey Spillane: Stud.
  • If you ever wondered what it would be like if Mickey Spillane wrote a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book ... well, first of all, you are alone, and second of all, here you go!
  • Bar code! Well there's an unwelcome stylistic development ...

Page 23~ (it's only 119 pages long)
They scrabbled for footholds in the irregular crevasses of the ballast rock, then got past them and hauled themselves to the top by grabbing hold of the thumb-thick sea grasses.
Nothing good was ever "thumb-thick." Nothing.


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Friday, October 26, 2012

Paperback 575: Murderers' Row / Donald Hamilton (Gold Medal k1391)

Paperback 575: Gold Medal k1391 (2nd ptg, 1964)

Title: Murderers' Row
Author: Donald Hamilton
Cover artist: McD... (not sure, Emmett McDowell? John McDermott?)

Yours for: $15
Best things about this cover:
  • This is pretty emblematic of what generally happens to paperback covers over the course of the '60s—the truly great cover art cedes ground to branding devices (detective name, detective icon, author's name). Here, the poor lady is literally being squeezed out of frame by the floating orange crate stamp of a title. How is a girl supposed to enjoy her braless marsh-wading under such conditions!?
  • Is she washing the dog poop off her other shoe?
  • I like her purse. It's sparkly.
  • This book is in perfect condition. Totally unread.

Best things about this back cover:
  • I love the idea of U.S. intelligence being stored on 3x5 cards like it's some 5th-grader's book report.
  • Donald Hamilton is ... my 11th-grade chemistry teacher!
  • "Code Name: Eric" = least sexy movie title ever.

Page 123~

"Straight ahead. Not in there, that's the head—bathroom to you."

Business idea—start prefab shipboard bathroom business. Call it "Bathroom 2 U."


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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Paperback 574: The Innocent Mrs. Duff and The Virgin Huntress / Elisabeth Sanxay Holding (Ace Double G-509)

Paperback 574: Ace Double G-509 (1st thus / 1st thus, 1963)

Title: The Innocent Mrs. Duff / The Virgin Huntress
Author: Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
Cover artist: Uncredited / Uncredited

Yours for: $11


Best things about this cover:
  • Singularly ugly. The only thing I can really get behind here is her hair, cutting its epic, destructive path across the lower Great Lakes.
  • Cat: "Meow, why am I in this picture. Meow."
  • Why has the lady incompletely painted her face like the Italian flag?
  • That insane Puritan-looking doll is one of the creepiest things I've ever seen on a cover. At least I  hope that's a doll. . .
  • Somewhere, a magician mourns his exclusion from this painting.


Best things about this other cover:
  • More phenomenal, outsized hair. Also, she appears to be mowing the lawn with her chin.
  • She reminds me of Kim Novak in "Vertigo," only with a disembodied head and scary psychokinetic powers.
  • Seriously, the cover painting C-team must've got this book assignment. Blocky, ugly, head-y. Junk.

Page 123~
He was choking; he could not draw any air into his lungs. His neck swelled; there was a frightful pressure in the back of his head. O God ... This is it ...
Holding bravely tackles the issue of auto-erotic asphyxiation. Way ahead of her time.


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Friday, October 19, 2012

Paperback 573: Net of Cobwebs / Elisabeth Sanxay Holding (Bantam 26) (w / dust jacket)

Paperback 573: Bantam 26 (1st ptg, 1946) (dust jacket, undated)

Title: Net of Cobwebs
Author: Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
Cover artist: Uncredited (original) / [signature appears to read "Gillen" ?!] (dust jacket)

Yours for: $75

Best things about this cover:
  • I vote "Sucker!"
  • This is what happens when you park your car in the living room.
  • Peeping Toms get off on the strangest things...
  • This is the cover of the dust jacket. As I have said before, dust-jacketed paperbacks are quite rare in any condition. This one is remarkably tight. Dust jacket and all its permagloss are completely intact and uncreased.


Best things about this back cover:
  • I do like a "floating lady heads" cover.
  • Wow, that red ink really bleeds. 
  • One of those rare instances where it looks like the cover to the original hardback edition was better.

Here are the front and back covers of the original, un-dustjacketed edition:



Page 123~
He got out of bed, naked as a worm, and went to the window; there was a gray mist outside, but it was day. He could see the garage. And that made him remember all of it. Murder, blackmail, grief. Who wouldn't sell a farm and go to sea?

This was taken from her earlier short story, "The Worm Who Sold His Farm and Went to Sea."


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Monday, October 15, 2012

Paperback 572: The Innocent Mrs. Duff / Elisabeth Sanxay Holding (Dell 194)

Paperback 572: Dell 194 (1st ptg, 1947)

Title: The Innocent Mrs. Duff
Author: Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
Cover artist: Gerald Gregg

Yours for: $20
Best things about this cover:
  • Love this cover, mainly because I had No idea what I was looking at at first (and still get vaguely confused every time I look at it now). At first I thought the shape inside the bottle was some kind of high-heeled shoe. Then I thought the shot glass was the barrel of some gun that the man had laid on the table. Now I understand that it's really just a depressed drunk guy slouching forward on some kid of bar, but the strange arrangements of shapes is still really intriguing. The twinkle of light on the rim of the glass is my favorite part..
  • Also love the extended flourish on the capital "T" in "The"—makes the word seem as if it has emanated from the bottle.
  • Ooh, "crime map on the back cover"—let's check it out.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Love the excessively detailed Floor Plan. No toilet in the place, but ... minor detail.
  • That is a very, very odd place for a carousel. 
  • The text boxes marking locations are comically unnecessary. Surprised there aren't "Tree" and "Grass" boxes. Of *all* the things in this painting, the *one* thing I'd expect to get a text box explanation (the carousel) is the one that doesn't have one.

Page 123~

Locked in his room, he lay down on the bed and fell asleep at once. He waked with a start, in a flame of anger against Reggie. She wants to leave me here, does she? All right. Let her go. Let her go to hell.

When I read this, all I hear is the voice of Charlton Heston in "Planet of the Apes."


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Friday, October 12, 2012

Paperback 571: Speak of the Devil and Kill Joy / Elisabeth Sanxay Holding (Ace Double G-534)

Paperback 571: Ace Double G-534 (1st ptg / 1st ptg, 1963ish)

Title: Speak of the Devil / Kill Joy
Author: Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
Cover artist: Rudolph Nappi / Uncredited

Yours for: $11

Best things about this cover:
  • The Devil Wore Burberry!
  • You'd look that way too if you'd just watched Fozzie Bear explode.
  • Woodsfolk have the strangest mating rituals. Here we see the stiff-legged mirroring dance...
  • Fear-hands aplenty!
  • That pitchforky, two-pronged "I" is fantastic.

Best things about this other cover:
  • Sure, Joy's a total bitch, but there's no need to get violent.
  • This highly fragmented cover is indeed killing my joy.
  • This cover tells me nothing about the book and there's no boobs so fail.

Page 123~
"For the love of God—" Miss Peterson began in Swedish.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Paperback 570: The Big Bite / Charles Williams (Dell First Edition A114)

Paperback 570: Dell First Edition A114 (PBO, 1956)

Title: The Big Bite
Author: Charles Williams
Cover artist: Arthur Sussman

Yours for: $30


Best things about this cover:
  • If, god forbid, I ever get taken hostage, please let it look like this.
  • I love this so much. Sexy, menacing, and depraved. Manages to combine realism, abstraction, and surrealism into one hot, delicious tableau. The orange background is inspired. That bed frame is like something out of a Tim Burton film.
  • The small details make this painting exquisite—her: the haughty eyebrows, the cocky hand-on-hip, the neglected negligee strap, the ambiguously hovering cigarette hand (Will she offer him a drag? Burn his thigh? Who knows!?). Him: the resigned backward tilt of his head, the perfectly framed limp hand, the perfect-electric-white shirt. This is hall-of-fame cover art, for sure. 


Best things about this back cover:
  • MWAH!
  • That "life's a jungle" paragraph is about as good an expression of noir philosophy as I've read since the Flitcraft story in "The Maltese Falcon."
  • Charles Williams was a paperback hero. Well admired by crime fiction aficionados, long forgotten by most others.

Page 123~
She said nothing. I went on out and got in the car. On the way out of town I stopped at a small grocery and bought a dozen cans of beer and some more supplies for the kitchen. I picked up a roll of the plastic film they use to wrap things in a refrigerator with, and two rolls of scotch tape. I bought fifty pounds of ice, wrapped it in an old blanket, and shoved off for the lake. 
I love the "How-the-fuck-am I-supposed-to-know-what-Saran-wrap-is-called!?" attitude of this paragraph.


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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Paperback 569: The Blank Wall / Elisabeth Sanxay Holding (Pocket Books 662)

Paperback 569: Pocket Books 662 (1st ptg, 1950)

Title: The Blank Wall
Author: Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
Cover artist: Harvey Kidder

Yours for: $12


Best things about this cover:
  • Lucia was horrified to find her husband was cheating on her with ... a boat.
  • "Hey, Lucia, this glass-bottomed boat is awesome. I can see, like, fishes and stuff." "Screw the fishes, Harold! My necklace! Do you see my necklace!?"
  • The "jail bait" is off-screen. This here is the MILFy heroine, Lucia. I love this book. You can probably tell by now that I went through a bit of a Holding phase at one point. She's deeply underrated, and this book in particular is a fascinating, domestic twist on the hard-boiled novel. One of my ten favorite crime novels, easy.


Best things about this back cover:

Page 123~
She stood silent, her lashes lowered. She knew that he was looking at her; she knew that she was dark, slender and lovely; she knew that he was waiting for her to look up, and presently she raised her eyes.
Seriously, this is one of the hottest scenes in the book, when you can see (though the novel never has anyone say it outright) that she (respectable wartime housewife) and this hoodlum-turned-savior are kind of in love, in this super-romantic and criminal and impossible way. Things can't, and don't, end well, but their relationship is amazing—unique, compelling, believable. Also, this is a great WWII-era book. Lots of details about ordinary, domestic life during war. Oh, and it deals with race in ways that most crime novels of the period totally avoid. The black housekeeper, Sibyl, is a crucial, well-developed character. Did I mention I love this book? I wish Holding's stuff were more widely available.


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