Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Paperback 600 (!): My Pal, the Killer / Chester Warwick + Scratch a Thief / John Trinian (Ace Double F-107)

Paperback 600: Ace Double F-107 (PBO / PBO, 1961)

Title: My Pal, the Killer / Scratch a Thief
Author: Chester Warwick / John Trinian
Cover artists: Uncredited / Uncredited

Yours for: $11


Best things about this cover:

  • Font!
  • I love that guy. "Dames ... probably expects me to walk over there and see if she's OK. Shows what she knows."
  • She looks like she keeled over mid-mambo.
  • The flowers near her ankles are lovely and delicate. Nice, incongruous touch.


Best things about this other cover:

  • "I" dot = clown nose
  • I love how perspective has been wildly manipulated here. Eyeline = assline. Plus, he's doing that "I can see behind me" thing that only exists in soap operas and book covers.
  • If that title is playing on "To Catch a Thief," that's terrible. Not as terrible as the puke-green background color, but pretty terrible, nonetheless.

Page 123~ (from My Pal, the Killer)

He nodded. Even in the poor light I could see the grimness of his face. He said, "I got the idea, watching you two together, that you were attracted to my daughter. I hope so."

This was the introduction of a new (and sadly short-lived) stock figure in American crime fiction: Inappropriate Dad.


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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Paperback 599: Wild Drums Beat / F. Van Wyck Mason (Pocket Books 977)

Paperback 599: Pocket Books 977 (1st ptg, 1953)

Title: Wild Drums Beat
Author: F. Van Wyck Mason
Cover artist: Richard Cardiff

Yours for: $7


Best things about this cover:
  • "Uh ... he was like this when I found him."
  • "Shhh. Be vewy, vewy quiet. We're hunting wabbits..."
  • Real men make snow angels "Indian-style."
  • Margery made the rather large mistake of trying to ride the Black Horse of Death sidesaddle. 


Best things about this back cover:
  • "Renegade trapper" would look great on a business card.
  • Random trivia: Googling ["scalp-hungry"] returns 4100+ hits. So ... it's an adjective with a life beyond this cover.
  • Remember when men's courage and women's love could solve world problems? And now look at us. Lousy Obama.

Pag 123~

He nodded, mimicked the shadow of his head wrought black and distorted upon the lean-to's roof.

Grammatically, I'm not really sure what to do with this (how do you mimic a shadow that you yourself are creating?), but I do love a good lean-to reference.


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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Paperback 598: Mingo Dabney / James Street (Pocket Books 819)

Paperback 598: Pocket Books 819 (1st ptg, 1951)

Title: Mingo Dabney
Author: James Street
Cover artist: Harvey Kidder

Yours for: $7


Best things about this cover:
  • And Mingo was his name. O.
  • I believe this is the pose for which the expression "Huzzah!" was invented.
  • "Who the hell took my castanets?!? I can't do this dance without my castanets!!!"
  • Who's the cat who makes all the hijab-wearin' ladies freak out and the grizzled Hemingway impersonators nod in silent admiration ...? — hint: it's not Shaft.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Actor Dabney Coleman was famous for getting drunk at wrap parties and insisting that everyone call him "El Dabney."
  • "MINGO DABNEY so fly he turn a saint All Woman."—lost '90s rap lyric
  • I would like to thank Pocket Books for (fairly) consistently crediting cover artists.

Page 123~

"Listen, Mr. Carson." Mingo ran his fingers through his hair and his fingers were sticky with sweat. "I'm damn near crazy."

Furthermore, in case you missed it: fingers.


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P.S. Bonus illustration ... author beefcake!

[Street's ahead]

Friday, January 25, 2013

Paperback 597: The Blackbirder / Dorothy B. Hughes (Dell 149)

Paperback 597: Dell 149 (1st ptg, 1947)

Title: The Blackbirder
Author: Dorothy B. Hughes
Cover artist: Uncredited [Gerald Gregg]

Yours for: $10


Best things about this cover:
  • I'm no ornithologist, but ... blackbird? Really? Is there a purple-taloned raptor variety I'm not aware of?
  • Those are the most intestinal-looking talons I've ever seen. 
  • I hope that guy's dead, because otherwise—that crotch-talon, ouch.
  • His feet are so dainty. If I don't look at his weird facial expression, I could almost feel moved by his unfortunate circumstances.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Well clearly the best things is Jacques (not pictured).
  • Ironically, Popin didn't like it when people just popped in. This is why he lives in the middle of fucking nowhere, with only Jacques to ... do whatever Jacques does.
  • I like the geographical / regional touches: snow, mountains, adobe house ...

Page 123~
Her skirt was a thin sheet of ice from below her hips.
Well, that's one way to call a woman 'frigid,' I guess.


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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Paperback 596: A Handy Illustrated Guide to Basketball / ed. Sam Nisenson (Perma Books 47)

Paperback 596: Perma Books P47 (1st ptg, 1949)

Title: A Handy Illustrated Guide to Basketball
Edited by: Sam Nisenson
Cover artist: Uncredited [Really!?!? it's an "illustrated" guide and the illustrator gets no credit? Come on...]

Yours for: $7


Best things about this cover:

  • This is from that weird phase in Perma's history where they were releasing paperbacks in hardback form. Paperback-sized, but with stiff boards.
  • I like how "spectators" and "fans" are different entities. Like there's this class of watcher out there who's like "I'm gonna watch this sport I don't like."
  • Would've been inconvenient to buy paperbacks in Canada. 39 cents!? Just make it 40. Don't make me carry a penny or a loonie or nuknuk or whatever they call their currency around.


Best things about this back cover:

  • Mmmm, scintillating description of the object I'm holding in my hand. Tell me more about the "wear-resistant finish"...
  • This back cover copy has me wondering about the meaning of the word "permanent."
  • "Books to Keep"—because their earlier motto, "Books to Burn," proved disappointing, sales- (and lawsuit-) wise.


[If you want to play basketball, the first thing you should know is: middle-aged men *will* want to rassle you.]

[Pretend the basketball is your penis, stick out your weird man-breasts, and then ... sure, yeah, great, do that]

[Use the basketball as a conduit for your psychic powers]

[This is how you show another player you like him]

Page 123~

The ball becomes alive, or goes into play, when it leaves the hand of an official on a toss for a jump ball, or is placed at the disposal of a free thrower, or when it touches a player in the court after a throw-in from out of bounds. 
The ball becomes alive! Now that would add an interesting twist to the game. "Ouch! It bit me! Hey, ref ..."


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Monday, January 21, 2013

Paperback 595: My Reminiscences as a Cowboy / Frank Harris (Paper Books / Boni nn)

Paperback 595: Paper Books / Boni Books (nn) (1st thus, 1930)

Title: My Reminiscences as a Cowboy
Author: Frank Harris
Cover artist: Rockwell Kent
Interior illustrations: William Gropper

Yours for: $12


Best things about this wrap-around cover:
  • Elegant. I like how the rider seems to be asleep while the horse is mid-violent-leap.
  • Are those wool chaps? They're ... puffy.
  • Charles Boni's Paper Books were an early experiment in softcover books. This book was published nearly a decade before the first mass-market paperbacks (Pocketbooks) began appearing. For more on Paper Books, see this nice blog entry.

Here are a couple of Gropper's interior illustrations:

  • Fantastic woodcut look to these. Loving the bandolier and crooked saloon doors in this one. Oh, and the epic 'stache.


  • That's a hell of a left. I love the victim's agony-hand.

Page 123~
Locker sent him after the younger boy to round up as many Texans as possible but before they could be collected, a bunch of Greasers, twenty or so, in number, rode up and demanded the return of the cattle. 
Well, at least "Greasers" was capitalized. That's *kind* of respectful. P.S. commas in this passage appear exactly as they do in the book, improbable as that may seem.


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Paperback 594: Pal Joey / John O'Hara (Penguin 580)

Paperback 594: Penguin 580 (1st ptg, 1946)

Title: Pal Joey
Author: John O'Hara
Cover artist: Uncredited (jonas???)

Yours for: $8


Best things about this cover:
  • I love the early Penguin covers because of their interesting, abstract quality. Even when they're representational (as here) there seems to be this attention primarily to form and shape and color. The gorgeous, stylized (and floating?) ashtray and cigarette, the ovate spotlight, the wackadoodle yellow font, the lopped-off parallelogram of the microphone. It's not as beautiful as this later cover by Barye Phillips (a movie tie-in featuring Sinatra), but it's pretty sweet nonetheless.
  • Even the wee, all lower-case type of the author's name is making me happy. 
  • The one thing that bothers me here is the part of his lapel / sleeve that looks like a cow's udder. Thankfully, that's in the shadows, but still...


Best things about this back cover:
  • Book's got all its original permagloss, but it's a bit dirty. Sorry. 
  • Not much to say about this. O'Hara is a deeply underrated writer. His short stories are particularly captivating. And, of course, Appointment in Samarra rules. Highly recommended.

Page 123~
I give with the vocals and wolf around in a nite club and see the best and it is not good enough if I can call up the highest paid bag in Chi and get it for 1/2. Mostly at that time of the nite I want it for free and with love too at that.

REX-OMMENDATIONS! (things I've read or watched recently that are pulp/noir-related and good): Gun Machine by Warren Ellis (2013); Detour (d. Ulmer, 1945); Tomorrow Is Another Day (d. Feist, 1951) [had a lot of fun spontaneously live-tweeting this last one with a few other noir aficionados when it showed on TCM the other night—thinking about setting up some future TCM/noir live-tweeting event; stay tuned. Email or tweet me if interested...]

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Paperback 593: A Death at Sea and The Time of Terror / Lionel White (Ace Double F-155)

Paperback 593: Ace Double F-155 (1st / 1st, 1961)

Title: A Death at Sea / The Time of Terror
Author: Lionel White
Cover artist: Uncredited / Uncredited (illeg. sig.)

Yours for: $15

Best things about this cover:
  • Elena bitterly regrets her decision to put two slugs in Steve and dump his body off the pier. That, or she has a toothache.
  • Why did all the boyfriends she killed have to return as demonic sea ghosts? It all seemed terribly unfair.
  • Opera gloves! Hot. 
  • If you squint and tilt your head a little, you can sort of see what Steve's head would look like on her body. Also, if you imagine Steve away, you can imagine Elena has one terrific scar just under her left collarbone.

Best things about this other cover:
  • "What the!?!? Oh, it's just a demonic merry-go-round horse. I gotta get my nerves under control."
  • I am distracted and mildly irritated by the definite article in the title.
  • Author's signature visible but not legible, just under demon horse hoof. Always frustrating to have a signature but not a clear attribution.
  • Not a fan of this hat style, whatever you call it. Brim's too small, and it's sitting too high up on his head, esp. in the back. I dig the gloves, though. Very professional.

Page 123~ (of The Time of Terror)
"It begins with Marko," Terry said. "Rudolph Marko—he was the key to the whole thing. I'll start with him. But first I'll have a drink of that rum. I'm forming a taste for it."
Priorities. Nice.


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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Paperback 592: The Obstinate Murderer / Elisabeth Sanxay Holding (Ace Double G-519)

Paperback 592: Ace Double G-519 (1st ptg / 1st ptg, 1965)

Title: The Obstinate Murderer / The Old Battle Axe 
Author: Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
Cover artist: Uncredited / Uncredited

Yours for: $12


Best thing about this cover:
  • "You wanna know how I got to be a murderer? Persistence, that's how. Never say die. Or, you know, say 'DIE' really loud and then, bam, bring down the axe!"
  • The harrowing tale of a generic detective who pursued a generic whey-faced woman through the studio of famed artist Alberto Giacometti for some reason, and ...
  • It's like she's pleading with the reader to help her get out of this painting.
  • Holding gets raves from obscure regional media: The Burlington News says ... Waterbury American raves ... New Bedford Standard-Times opines ... 


Best things about this other cover:
  • "Oh, newel post. I guess it's just you and me now, old friend."
  • Her dust inspections were nothing if not thorough.
  • The full title is "The Old Battle Axe Is Wedged In My Forehead Help Me Get It Out"

Page 123~ (from The Old Battle Axe)

"The wooden railing's been broken up there at the head of those steps. It's a good sixty-foot drop, and he landed on the rocks. Death must have been almost instantaneous."
"I'm glad of that," she said, sipping the whisky. It did not burn her now; she did not bother with the water. 

"I'm glad of that," HA ha. The old battle axe likes her double-entendre neat!


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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Paperback 591: Cropper's Cabin / Jim Thompson (Black Lizard nn)

Paperback 591: Black Lizard nn (1st ptg, 1987)

Title: Cropper's Cabin
Author: Jim Thompson
Cover artist: Kirwan

Yours for: $12


Best things about this cover:
  • "Look ma, Sissy done given birth to a gun!"
  • I love these '80s Black Lizards. They have their own unique look, a kind of '80s/'50s hybrid, rather than just looking like imitations / parodies of the vintage style. Lurid, but stylized.
  • Wow, someone's been practicing his action-hand drawing.
  • That lady's hair and dress are both aptly nightmarish.
  • I like when artists signatures are visible, and especially when they are worked into the art itself (Robert Schulz did this quite a bit)


Best things about this back cover:

  • Sadism, incest, and castration are (for better or worse) three of the most common themes in Thompson's writing.
  • Don't like the design here so much: too texty, and it's all a little too left-justified.
  • Black Lizard (post-Vintage buyout) was my entree into the world of hardboiled crime fiction. Someday I'll tell you the story of the bookstore point-of-purchase display that changed my life (or maybe I've already told that story—blog long enough, and you forget what you have and haven't told...)

Page 123~

I stopped and whuffed my nose out good and dug out my eyes, and it helped a lot. And my hands didn't slip any more. Because ...

Now, this is more like it, I thought. Why didn't I think of this ...

Because I wasn't holding on to anything.

Despite what it apparently means, 'whuffed' is my new favorite word.


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Friday, January 11, 2013

Paperback 590: Morning, Winter, and Night / John Nairne Michaelson (Berkley Books G-166)

Paperback 590: Berkley Books G-166 (1st ptg, 1958)

Title: Morning, Winter, and Night
Author: John Nairne Michaelson
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $15


Best things about this cover:
  • Peter was never that good at vampiring. "Less sniffing, more biting," his mother always said. But Peter was different.
  • It's the story of two young lovers, trapped in a magical aging rain that grays your hair but good.
  • It's not just frank. It's absolutely frank. 24-karat frank. 99 44/00% pure frank. The frank standard.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Correction: *utterly* frank. We apologize for any confusion our front cover copy may have caused.
  • Just to be clear: great frankness. OK? OK.
  • This sounds like one long story of fumbling with straps and premature ejaculation.

Page 123~

"She'll get well now, I think. It's been a near thing."
"I'll get the milk pails."

I'm just gonna leave that there.


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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Paperback 589: Summer Widow / Florence Stonebraker (Beacon B394)

Paperback 589: Beacon B394 (PBO, 1961)

Title: Summer Widow
Author: Florence Stonebraker
Cover artist: Al Rossi

Yours for: $10


Best things about this cover: 
  • "First the pelicans, now this!? Damn you, oil spill!!!," raged Steve.
  • "Your abdomen, it's so hot ... like ... like warm asphalt ... seriously, what the f*&^ is this?"
  • The black Sharpie assault on this woman's torso may be the single lamest act of censorship on record.
  • Florence Stonebraker ... she sounds like a real ... stonebreaker.
  • Every girl's gotta have a pair of beach heels. Or just one beach heel, I guess.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Time On Her Hands / Men On Her Mind / Sand On Her Butt
  • Oh, "tucked." That says "*tucked* away at a summer resort ..." How disappointing.
  • "What followed was ironical and bitter" is a sentence you should work into every story you tell for the rest of your life. It's a lapel-grabber.

Page 123~
She tried to fight. But what was the use in trying to fight an avalanche of insensate lust?
The guitar moaned. 
She screamed ...
Never mind the seeming impossibility of "insensate lust," I can't help thinking about what this monstrous woman is doing to that poor, poor guitar.


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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Paperback 588: The Sin Shouter of Cabin Road / John Faulkner (Gold Medal s1070)

Paperback 588: Gold Medal s1070 (3rd ptg, 1960)

Title: The Sin Shouter of Cabin Road
Author: John Faulkner
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $13


Best things about this cover:
  • Josiah never went out a-preachin' without his trusty pet slattern.
  • Behold what the mind-blowing success of Erskine Caldwell hath wrought. 
  • With "ribald," "earthy," "uninhibited" and (on back) "bawdy" all featuring prominently on this cover, I canNot believe there's not a "frank" in sight. I guess "frank" is what you get when you drain the corny humor away.
  • I dig the guy's pocket square but what the hell is up with his shoes? Those are some amazing technicolor dream shoes right there. 
  • She is supposed to be sexy but she has dumb, lop-sided eyes and looks more seal than human.


Best things about this back cover:
  • If you liked "Uncle Good's Girls," you'll "Uncle Good's Girls II: Gooder Than Ever."
  • I believe in the reality of a person named "Harry Serwer" about as much as I believe in a "star of Beelzebub."
  • Please please please let "the glory trail" be some porn term I'm as-yet unaware of.

Page 123~

"They ain't much difference in them politicians oncet they gits to Washington nohow," Uncle Good said. "They are all jest about furriners. I wouldn't trust nair one in Washington after they let the W P and A fall through."

Uncle Good—poet, prophet, statesman, regional caricature


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Friday, January 4, 2013

Paperback 587: The Nothing Man / Jim Thompson (Dell First Edition 22)

Paperback 587: Dell First Edition 22 (PBO, 1954)

Title: The Nothing Man
Author: Jim Thompson
Cover artist: Stanley Borack

Yours for: nuh uh


Best things about this cover:
  • I wish I had a foreground me and background me.
  • It's like a PSA against alcohol-induced psychosis: "Hi folks. You ever wake up with that 'not-so-fresh' feeling?"
  • By "lost the power to love" they mean he has no penis (if I'm remembering this one right, which I think I am, but I could be confusing it with another Thompson title, as castration / genital mutilation is kind of a recurring theme)
  • That guy looks like an actor, but I can't place him. Robert Stack?


Best things about this back cover:
  • Yep, this is definitely the (or a) penis-loss story.
  • Drink is a poor substitute for a penis, I find.
  • Awesome psycho-face.

Page 123~

"That's awfully pretty, Brownie. Did you write that?"
"Yes," I said. "I did it under my pen name, Elizabeth Khayyam. I wrote it one eventide on a wind-swept hill while watching a father bird wing home to his wee ones. There was a long caterpillar in his beak and he had it swung over his shoulders, muffler fashion, as a shield against the wintery cold. I ... listen to me, Deborah! For God's sake, listen!"

"Heckuva job, Brownie," she sneered, right before he bludgeoned her to death with whatever blunt object was handy.


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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Paperback 586: The Girl with a Secret / Charlotte Armstrong (Crest 382)

Paperback 586: Crest 382 (1st ptg, 1960)

Title: The Girl with a Secret
Author: Charlotte Armstrong
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $15

Best things about this cover:
  • the girl who refused to use the 'shift' key.
  • She'd be a lot hotter if they'd let her come out of the wall.
  • Who knew Georgia O'Keeffe went through a femme fatale phase?
  • Back-to-back "Dram" covers. Who says this blog isn't exciting!?


Best things about this back cover:
  • Oakland Tribune makes Armstrong sound like a master thief or brilliant serial killer.
  • "Very much a bride." What .. what? Is that part supposed to come with a [wink!]? "You know how brides are ..."
  • Needless to say, the design of this back cover is unimaginative and joyless, down to the hackneyed, irrelevant tagline.

Page 123~

Ellen opened the door. "Oh, Mr. Tony! Oh ... Mrs. Paige!"

Nicely encapsulates the horror of accidentally walking in on your algebra teacher nailing your best friend's mom. I assume the next line is something like, "My eyes! My eyes!!!!"


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