Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Paperback 846: Bachelors Get Lonely / Erle Stanley Gardner (Pocket Books 4604)

Paperback 846: Pocket Books 4604 (1st ptg, 1963)

Title: Bachelors Get Lonely
Author: A.A. Fair (Erle Stanley Gardner)
Cover artist: photo cover

Estimated value: $10-15


Best things about this cover:

  • I can confirm the basic premise of this title.
  • I find this cover oddly sexy, if wildly implausible.
  • Pink. I dig it. At least it's different.


Best things about this back cover:

  • You had me at "Stripper Daffidill (sic!?) Lawson"
  • What an odd photo choice. Random stock photo, faded and blued.
  • Lam's pretty light-hearted for someone trying to catch a murderous voyeur.
  • "Swell."

Page 123~

"The walls are terribly thin," she whispered. "People will know that … that I'm having a visitor."


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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Paperback 845: Uncle Good's Week-End Party / John Faulkner (Gold Medal 1031)

Paperback 845: Gold Medal 1031 (PBO, 1960)

Title: Uncle Good's Week-End Party
Author: John Faulkner
Cover artist: Barye Phillips

Estimated value: $20-25


Best things about this cover:

  • Try to find a creepier title/cover art pairing. Go ahead. I'll wait.
  • Uncle Good likes to watch. And smoke. And hunch. And not tuck his shirt in.
  • The funniest thing on this cover is "Faulkner."
  • MTV canceled this after one season.
  • What is "NOOT?"


Best things about this back cover:

  • I like how this cover starts, anyway.
  • Let me get this straight: I'll laugh at the side-splitting antics of an old man who rents out his own daughters? An old man who is his daughters' pimp? Or does he rent them out as clowns for children's birthday parties? Please say "B."
  • ORTA. That is all.

Page 123~

Orta June and Jewel Mae had stood up as the husbands came stumbling and crawling across the porch. Soon the husbands were thick around them.

This is like a zombie movie. But with husbands.


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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Paperback 844: Death Before Bedtime / Edgar Box (Signet 1093)

Paperback 844: Signet 1093 (1st ptg, 1954)

Title: Death Before Bedtime
Author: Edgar Box (Gore Vidal)
Cover artist: [Samuel] Cherry

Estimated value: $15-20


Best things about this cover:

  • "If I can't have this hideous table lamp, no one can!" (I'm currently Ob Sessed with the table lamps of crime fiction / film noir / crime TV)
  • "Stop right there! Now, tell me … do these heels go with this embroidered bathrobe? Answer me, punk!"
  • Nice leg extension. You rarely see such poise in someone scrambling to protect herself from an intruder. Old school.
  • Edgar Box is Gore Vidal. I've been meaning to read Vidal's Box stuff for a while. Maybe this Christmas …


Best things about this back cover:
  • Hey, his secretary can't help her spinal deformity, you assholes.
  • I hope "The woman he kept a secret" is an imaginary friend.
  • "The buddy who hated him" is just a great stand-alone phrase.

Page 123~

She flushed, confused. "I … I was mistaken then. I was under the impression you thought Johnson was in some way involved."

Lydia was always the first to volunteer … if Johnson was involved.


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Monday, December 15, 2014

Paperback 843: The Sketch Book / Washington Irving (English Classic Series 31)

Paperback 843: English Classic Series 31 (1st ptg? , 1889)

Title: The Sketch Book
Author: Washington Irving
Cover artist: N/A

Estimated value: Hard to say? Only listed copy at is $26, but I've labeled it as $6, so … somewhere in there, I guess.


  • I have nothing to say about this cover, or the back cover. There is only one interesting feature of this book—it is the oldest paperback in my collection. By several decades.


Page 23~

From the moment Ichabod laid his eyes upon these regions of delight, the peace of his mind was at an end, and his only study was how to gain the affections of the peerless daughter of Van Tassel.

I assume "regions of delight" was 19th-century-speak for "boobs."


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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Paperback 842: The Captive Women / Walter D. Edmonds (Bantam 708)

Paperback 842: Bantam 708 (3rd ptg, 1950)

Title: The Captive Women
Author: Walter D. Edmonds
Cover artist: Denver Gillen

Estimated Value: $8


Best things about this cover:
  • Something about "Squat-o" there gives the whole cover a wacky feel. Like this is going to be some kind of domestic comedy. I'm pretty sure he's saying "What is it with dames these days, Fred!?"
  • Fred is nodding knowingly. "I know, man. My captive woman keeps maxing out my credit card. I'm like, 'Damn, babe, how many damn pairs of moccasins do you need?'"
  • What is Fred gripping? Is it a gun? If so, follow-up: how long were guns back then?


Best things about this back cover:
  • $8.64 with tax.
  • This is called "The Captive Women" because "Delia's Gone" was taken.
  • Does the relative handsomeness of the "buck" mitigate the slavery somehow? I would've guessed 'no.'

Page 123~

While they slept the woman and the girl went through their packs, exclaiming at the worn out moccasins and the mending to be done and showing each other the best pelts.

Fred was right, man. These broads are crazy for moccasins.


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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Paperback 841: The Bombshell / Carter Brown (Signet 1767)

Paperback 841: Signet 1767 (1st ptg, 1960)

Title: The Bombshell
Author: Carter Brown
Cover artist: Barye Phillips

Estimated value: $8-10


Best things about this cover:

  • One of the few crime novels to take place entirely inside a circus tent.
  • Either that is a letter-perfect come-hither look or the rabid dog on her head has burrowed deep into her skull and now has full mind-control capabilities.
  • That is one hell of a negligee. So … negligible.
  • You can tell police dude is confused. "Shoot the thing on her head … or ask her out? Damn it, this job's hard!"
  • Title font victory! Total A+.


Best things about this back cover:

  • I think I found my new look for 2015. I am only 1/4 kidding. (The 1/4 that contains the cigarette)
  • Anagrams to LIE TALLY, which I'm sure is high, 'cause she's a blonde dame, know what I'm sayin'? Also LIT ALLEY, where she buys all her books, and TILE ALLY, as she's known in the bathroom flooring industry.
  • carter brown sold 25.5 million books without capital letters in his name so he's not about to start now.

Page 123~

 "Al!" She jumped up and down gleefully. "That thing's a microphone, isn't it?"

"It's whatever you want it to be, baby."


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Friday, December 5, 2014

Paperback 840: Not I, Said the Vixen / Bill S. Ballinger (Gold Medal k1529)

Paperback 840: Gold Medal k1529 (PBO, 1965)

Title: Not I, Said the Vixen
Author: Bill S. Ballinger
Cover artist: [Bill Johnson]

Estimated value: $8-12

Donation to the collection from Mr. John Q. Brooklyn (I don't want to use real names w/o permission). Guy asks me "Can I send you a book for your blog?" Twist my arm!


Best things about this cover:

  • "Isn't it true that your favorite letter is "I", Miss Lorents? ANSWER THE QUESTION!"
  • "Do you deny that you are overwhelmingly sensual? DO YOU!?"
  • This is a "vixen"? This looks like someone who showed up to a table reading for her role as "Vixen" in an episode of "Perry Mason." She does have a pretty boss head-tilt, but my prescription for greater vixenitude is less clothes, more gun. And … yeah, sure, go ahead and put on the glasses. OK, now shoot the D.A. and then stand over his body like, "told ya."


Best things about this back cover:

  • Way to bury the lede, Gold Medal. How is PROWLED THE WORLD OF TWILIGHT WOMEN not on the cover!?
  • She "ruined her lovers with the hot breath of scandal" ("scandal" being a last-minute substitute for "chili cheese fries")
  • "Please state your name for the record." "Ivy Lorents." "And how do you spell 'Ivy,' Miss Lorents? I presume it starts 'I', 'V'…" "Not I." "Objection! Permission to treat the vixen as sensual, your honor."

Page 123~

"You had her … falling all over herself," Ivy said, pleased with the memory of Pauline's discomfort.

Please invest that sentence with all the Sapphic innuendo you can muster.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Paperback 839: Man from Tomorrow / Wilson Tucker (Bantam 1343)

Paperback 839: Bantam 1343 (1st ptg, 1955)

Title: Man From Tomorrow
Author: Wilson Tucker
Cover artist: Uncredited

Approximate value: $6-10


Best things about this cover:

  • "OK, so main guy shoots beams out of his eyes, and then the lady in his head shoots beams out of her face and … I don't know … let's say, whirlpool aliens wicker man done. Got it?"
  • This floating head has his own internal floating head. That's pretty high-end.
  • Font colors are wicked stupid.
  • Ooh, this novel "tells of something which may be happening now." Ooh, is it Armageddon? Winter? The Greater Rochester Arts & Crafts Festival!? I'm gonna have to read this.


Best things about this back cover:
  • And the razor frisbee takes out another alien.
  • "Perhaps" … way to sell it!
  • The Paul Breens = your next band name.

Page 123~

Paul wondered if this new woman in the adjoining apartment would be a plant.

"A ficus, maybe," he fantasized.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Paperback 838: Hell-Town in Texas / Leslie Ernenwein (Avon 873)

Paperback 838: Avon 873 (2nd ptg?, 1960)

Title: Hell-Town in Texas
Author: Leslie Ernenwein
Cover artist: Uncredited

Estimated value: $15-20


Best things about this cover:

  • Are there other kinds of towns in Texas?
  • Despite appearing relatively generic, there's actually something spare, pared-down, and gorgeous about this cover. The pure blue background gives a sense of delicacy to the men and horses, and that dust is some kind of abstract magic. Just great.
  • Books don't come in better condition than this. Off-the-shelf new. Sparkly, even.


Best things about this back cover:

  • But what's his name!?
  • Clyde Lambert grabbed a fish, but Marshal Terhune stopped him: "No, Clyde. Not Missouri Style. *Texas* Style." So they dueled with grapefruits.
  • That's a pretty nice marshal sketch, truth be told. Only marshals and stone-cold fops can get away with an ascot like that.

Page 123~

Contacting the same friends who'd turned down the Oro Kid scheme, he found them eager to invest their savings in his sawmill proposition.

There's two great crime novel titles right there: "The Oro Kid Scheme" and "The Sawmill Proposition."  You're welcome, writers.

Happy Thanksgiving,


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Paperback 837: The Dream Master / Roger Zelazny (Ace 16701)

Paperback 837: Ace Books 16701 (PBO, 1966)

Title: The Dream Master
Author: Roger Zelazny
Cover artist: Kelly Freas

Estimated value: $5-10


Best things about this cover:

  • Would make a good cover for "Gawain and the Green Knight," or "Gawain and the Floating Head with Three Eyes."
  • I really should read Zelazny. My scifi knowledge is actually pretty poor. My new obsession with Leigh Brackett may change that, though.
  • I like the play of light on the armor and plume. And the bold white line following "THE"—all nice design details.


Best things about this back cover:

  • Uh … yellow?
  • "to redirect and control"—that's a bold use of bold.

Page 123~

The enormous salad waited on the floor.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Paperback 836: The Jungle Seas / Arthur A. Ageton (Signet S1200)

Paperback 836: Signet Giant S1200 (1st ptg, 1955)

Title: The Jungle Seas
Author: Arthur A. Ageton
Cover artist: James Meese

Estimated value: $5-10


Best things about this cover:

  • "I think that's … yeah, that's just a freckle, Kathy. You're gonna be fine."
  • Navy Vampires of Tonga!
  • He likes it when you scratch him here. *Really* likes it.
  • James Meese wants you to know that he can sure as hell paint hands. All hands, all day, mother*ckers!


Best things about this back cover:

  • Dude's like, "Squirrel!?"
  • "… a book to join THE CAINE MUTINY … on that shelf of books I haven't read."
  • "full-bodied" [wink!]

Page 123~

"Yes, sir. Was I groaning?"
"Were you groaning? Boy, you let out a scream that scared me right out of a sound sleep. Who's Rogers?"

"Uh … Rogers? … uh … he's this guy … you know … definitely not a former lover, if that's what you're thinking … oh, no wait. I mean 'Ginger'! 'Ginger Rogers!' Forget that other stuff I said. Ginger Rogers. Guys scream for her, right? Right. Ginger."


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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Paperback 835: Butcher's Dozen / John Bartlow Martin (Signet 909)

Paperback 835: Signet 909 (1st ptg, 1952)

Title: Butcher's Dozen
Author: John Bartlow Martin
Cover artist: Harry Schaare

Estimated value: $12-$18


Best things about this cover:

  • "Larry, are you… are you even trying? I feel like I'm doing all the work here. Would you lift for real, please? My calves are freezing."
  • Larry's a sucker for a left boob. "She's dead, Larry. Give it a rest."
  • Oooh, the *authorized* abridgment! I've been looking everywhere for this. Said no one.
  • "Torso Murders!" It's about a guy who really hates Greek statuary.


Best things about this back cover:

  • Never The Completely Sane Butcher. Not once. Unfair to butchers!
  • Whoa, "dismembered his victims in a sadistic, sex-crazed frenzy" is pretty gruesome stuff. Lady on cover appears to have all her limbs, so maybe she's not dead after all. You're off the hook, Larry. Sort of.
  • Dude looks like a lecherous psychologist.

Page 123~

On February 8 Klansmen and bootleggers clashed in the center of Herrin, and Caesar Cagle was killed. (Art Newman later claimed that one of the Shelton boys had put a pistol to Cagle's ear and, when he started to turn, said "Oops, too late," and shot him; this cannot have been quite true, since Cagle was shot in the chest.)

If by "cannot have been quite true" you mean "cannot have been true," then yes.


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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Paperback 834: The Lying Days / Nadine Gordimer (Signet D1237)

Paperback 834: Signet D1237 (1st ptg, 1955)

Title: The Lying Days
Author: Nadine Gordimer
Cover artist: James Avati

Estimated value: No idea (only one copy listed at abebooks, and it's a laughable $276.58) (Real value probably closer to $20)


Best things about this cover:

  • Everything I don't like about Avati rolled into a neat, boring ball. Still. Inert. Dull.
  • This one is so inert that you are encouraged to see it as a photo, and not a real woman. The flowers laid over the top are a nice touch, but the overall effect of this cover is still snoresville.
  • "More Exciting" is not a convincing direct quote.
  • OK, her shoulder's kind of hot. And that is generally the best thing I can ever say about an Avati cover: "Kinda hot." He's an artist that likes to paint vaguely sexy situations, but emphasis on "vaguely."


Best things about this back cover:

  • Nadine Gordimer would go on to win the Nobel Prize. I believe this is her first novel.
  • Her author photo is fantastic.
  • I read the first few pages of this just now. Deeply concerned about race, as you might expect from someone writing from deep inside Apartheid-riven South Africa.

Page 123~

Joel, from whose book and whose talk I was even beginning to see that the houses we lived in in Atherton and on the Mine did not make use of space and brightness and air, but, like a woman with bad features and a poor complexion who seeks to distract with curls and paint, had their defects smothered in lace curtains and their dark corners filled with strands of straggling plants which existed for these awkward angles between wall and wall, as one evil exists simply for another.


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Friday, November 21, 2014

Paperback 833: The Door Through Space / Marion Zimmer Bradley // Rendezvous on a Lost World / A. Bertram Chandler (Ace F-117)

Paperback 833: Ace Double F-117 (PBO / PBO 1961)

Titles: The Door Through Space / Rendezvous on a Lost World
Authors: Marion Zimmer Bradley / A. Bertram Chandler
Cover artist: Ed Emshwiller / Ed Emshwiller

Estimated value: $10-15


Best things about this cover:

  • "40 Demons!?" "No, 4-D Demons!" "…?"
  • Even the giantest Fear Hand could not protect the galaxy's skinniest spaceship from the flamboyant-yet-savage robot birds!
  • *That's* your "Door Through Space"? Looks more like "Archway To Pool Party."
  • Emshwiller's covers are awesome to look at. He likes to include all this random ornate decoration and machinery. Here, I particularly admire the oil rig/water slide/clock tower gizmo in the lower right. The people in the party seem to dig it, too. Maybe it is their god.


Best things about this other cover:
  • Damn Ikea ceiling fans! Come on!
  • #LostWorldProblems
  • Imaginary space suits are So Much Cooler than real ones. I think I found my next Halloween costume.
  • I did not know the word "cybernetic" (or "cyber-" anything) went this far back.

Page 123~

It cannot possibly have produced the illusion of two figures, Captain and Captain's lady—and which Veronica was it?—walking, arm in arm, up the ramp to the yelllow-lit circle of the airlock. And the most impossible illusion of all, perhaps, was that of the man who stood there to greet them. I saw his face plainly as I approached, just before the odd scene winked out into nothingness.

It was my own.

End of story! Whoa, did not see that coming. P.S. spoiler alert. P.P.S. "Which Veronica Was It?" is a scifi Archie story waiting to happen.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Paperback 832: The Unknown / ed. D. R. Bensen (Pyramid T2326)

Paperback 832: Pyramid T2326 (2nd ptg, 1970) (reprints Pyramid R-851)

Title: The Unknown
Editor: D. R. Bensen
Cover artist: Brad Johannsen
Illustrator: Edd Cartier
Introduction: Isaac Asmiov

Estimated value: $7-8


Best things about this cover:

  • Seriously, *everyone* in 1970 was high on LSD 24/7. It was the law.
  • Self-help + horror = this.
  • "Hey, doc, I dreamt my mother got jaundice and then she smiled and started bleeding tiddlywinks out her eyeballs … whaddya think it means?"
  • Those milk bottle-sized hypos are terrifying. Before I saw the little hash marks on the ones in the foreground, I just thought they were the topless towers of her (her?) imaginary dreamscape, man.


Best things about this back cover:

  • Ugh. Text.
  • All wonderful authors. This collection is probably worth reading.
  • Second Coming of Satan, eh? OK, I'm in.
  • I like the "****" bit toward the end because I can imagine it means "[expletive deleted]."

Page 123~ (from "Doubled and Redoubled" by Malcolm Jameson)

Jimmy Childers went with alacrity.

Keep your bathroom habits to yourself, Jimmy.


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Friday, November 14, 2014

Paperback 831: April Evil / John D. MacDonald (Gold Medal d1579)

Paperback 831: Gold Medal d1579 (1st thus, 1965)

Title: April Evil
Author: John D. MacDonald
Cover artist: Bill Johnson

Estimated value: $10-$15


Best things about this cover:

  • The hot new book that finally answers the question: How many trenchcoated, fedoraed detectives does it take to find a lost contact lens?
  • You know what they say: April Evil brings May Bondage.
  • After looking at this picture, I wonder if it's not the "hold-up gang" that's "sleepy."
  • This is a fine, if weird, painting. Good use of small canvas. Her simple white top and blue skirt, surrounded by the lurking, drab frames of generic menace, make her really pop off the page.


Best things about this back cover:

  • Ugh.
  • Don't you hate it when women choose the easy sluttish rut? Challenge yourselves, ladies!
  • How can you be "going to flab" while "losing something in the guts department"? Writing 101: don't let your stupid metaphors cancel each other out.

Page 123~

She smiled, and she felt cat-agile, rabbit-soft, mare-ready.

This was a vast improvement from a half hour earlier, when she had felt dog-tired, armadillo-hard, and lemur-unprepared.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Paperback 830: Trinity in Violence / Henry Kane (Avon 618)

Paperback 830: Avon 618 (PBO, 1955)

Title: Trinity in Violence
Author: Henry Kane
Cover artist: Uncredited

Estimated value: $10-$15


Best things about this cover:

  • A great cover mucked up by someone's bright idea of a teaser. "Let's put the first words of the book on the cover! It'll be revolutionary!" "Where are we gonna put them?" "Why … here, right across the bottom half of the dame. Nobody likes dames on covers anyway. It's words, Words they cry for!"
  • I feel like she's so pinned in by darkness that we really Need the color from the bottom half of her dress. It honestly takes me several takes, every time I look at this thing, to realize it's a fur over her right shoulder and not some weird dark thing in the foreground blocking my view.
  • Also, is the apartment building on fire? If not, why is there thick black smoke around the title?
  • She looks an awful lot like my second college girlfriend. My girlfriend tended to wear more clothes and carry fewer guns than this lady, but still … if this lady we're looking at is named "Rosie" (as that damned block of text suggests), then that's another weird connection, as "Rose" was an element of my girlfriend's name.
  • There's something quintessential about this cover. Not great on its own, but great at capturing a certain cover type: generic, be-hatted, trenchcoated sap stands in as proxy for reader/viewer. Doesn't matter what he looks like. It matters what She looks like. And it matters that she's trouble.


Best things about this back cover:

  • I love the primitive video game-like swarm of armed "A" logos. I just need a Peter Chambers icon and a joystick.
  • Henry Kane looks like he wants desperately to escape the photo shoot.
  • "The Scandinavian?"

Page 123~
He nudged a pinky-point at his thin mustache.
From his picture, it looks like Henry Kane knows from thin mustaches. Authenticity, thy name is Kane.


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Friday, November 7, 2014

Paperback 829: Up Above the World / Paul Bowles (Pocket Books 75222)

Paperback 829: Pocket Books 75222 (1st ptg, 1968)

Title: Up Above the World
Author: Paul Bowles
Cover artist: Harry Bennett

Estimated Value: $9


Best things about this cover:
  • Ooh, I love legitimate fiction. So classy.
  • Swamp glove monkey scarf something something.
  • Attempt to break most obscure Guinness World Record goes horribly, unspeakably wrong.
  • There was a brief, terrible period in the '60s where cover artist just mashed all pictorial elements together into ugly globs.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Paul Bowles! That name again … Paul Bowles! Thanks, boring cover.
  • "… with mere strokes of words" (so *that's* how writing works)
  • I want to change "gifts" to "cocks" in that last blurb. Just 'cause.

Page 123~

She hesitated and took a sip of coffee. "But what have we got in common?"


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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Other Books, Other Covers: Grendel / John Gardner (Ballanatine 28865)

Title: Grendel
Author: John Gardner
Cover artist: Michael Leonard
Illustrated by: Emil Antonucci

Estimated value: a few bucks

[Happy belated Halloween!]

[Wraparound! Medieval King Kong's got some flexible toes.]

Page 123~
I snatch up a stone and hurl it. It smashes his mouth, spraying out teeth, and penetrates to the jugular. He drops to his knees, gets up again. The air is sweet with the scent of his blood. Death shakes his body the way high wind shakes trees. He climbs toward me. I snatch up a stone.

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Paperback 828: Dead in Bed / Day Keene (Pyramid G448)

Paperback 828: Pyramid G448 (PBO, 1959)

Title: Dead in Bed
Author: Day Keene
Cover artist: Harry Schaare

Estimated value: $55


Best things about this cover:

  • Said it before, I'll say it again: "women spilling backwards off of furniture" is an oddly common paperback cover trope. Really should've created that tag a long time ago (WSBOF).
  • That left hand, like many things about her body, is physically preposterous. My understanding is that dead people are much more prone to gravity than this painting would suggest. Seriously, what is her right shin doing? It's managed to get air, somehow.
  • Dude's left hand is Super suggestively placed. He also appears to be floating down from outer space, or at least the ceiling.
  • Also, dude is Hawaiian. You can tell by … I don't know what.


Best things about this back cover:

  • Possibly the worst tag line in the history of tag lines. Belongs in some kind of noir feminine hygiene ad.
  • Yes, when you rearrange her body thusly, the picture *does* make a lot more sense.
  • It's a story of more things that start with "b" than ever happened to any braindead bozo, Bolivian or otherwise.
  • That last paragraph needs both a lexicographer and an em-dash remover, stat.

Page 123~
She exhaled sharply as she knew what it was like to be a woman for the first time. At least, that's what she said.
Before Johnny put his cock in her, she had imagined herself a grapefruit. Thank you, Johnny.

[Full disclosure, that bit's actually from p. 122, but there was no way I was not choosing it. No way.]


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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Paperback 827: It Ain't Hay / David Dodge (Dell 380)

Paperback 827: Dell 380 (2nd ptg, 1949) (reprints Dell 270)

Title: It Ain't Hay
Author: David Dodge
Cover artist: [Gerald Gregg]

Estimated value: $30


Best things about this cover:
  • Kind of a big deal.
  • Not just the best Gerald Gregg cover, but one of the best covers of all time.
  • The book that answers the question: why was Dartmouth always coming in last in crew?
  • Also the book that answers the question: is it hay?
  • It's hard out there for a ferryman. So Charon devised himself a backrest.
  • The ferry is also a coffin that is at least partially powered by weed that creates smoke art of hot naked ladies. I dare you to find a weak link in this cover.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Of course it's San Francisco. Would've been a real surprise to turn this book over and find a map of downtown Orem.
  • "Mexican Waters" … which are somehow on land.
  • This map is super awkward. Why is the "California Coastline" part even here? Do we really need all that coastline just to have a tiny number pointing to mysterious "Mexican Waters?" It's like the map designer was, I don't know, high or something.

Page 123~
The main building, perched at the tip of the spit, was surmounted by a huge painted sign: THE BREAKERS—Coca Cola, Beer, Mixed Drinks, Sandwiches, Chili Beans, Sea Food Dinners—DANCING—Cottages For RentSouvenirsFishing Tackle—SWIMMING.

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Other Books, Other Covers: The Pulp Jungle / Frank Gruber (Sherbourne Press, 1967)

Title: The Pulp Jungle
Author: Frank Gruber
Cover artist: ["Jacket Design by Czeslaw Z. Banasiewicz"]

Estimated value: $40



Anecdotes from the pulp trenches. Invaluable. Dude knew everyone and wrote for everyone and comes across as a sane, no-nonsense, hard-working guy. Great portrait of a man trying to make it as a professional writer (mysteries and westerns) through the Depression and beyond. Main lesson: work harder. Write more. Write now. Write everything. Oh, and be honest. He's big on decency and honesty, even when the world around you is full of liars and chiselers. He's Marlowe-esque, that way.

Page 123~
We were just making talk. I was forty years old in 1944, not likely to be drafted, and Steve had varicose veins. So we encouraged Heinie and he talked about his novel. The next morning, cold sober, he would come in and shudder.

"What the hell was that nonsense we were talking about yesterday? Me go over to Italy? I'm fifty-two years old, I've got no business in a shooting war."
I don't know who Heinie Faust is, but several pages earlier, Gruber says of him: "Heinie was the most prolific writer of all time. He was also the biggest boozer I have ever known."


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Friday, October 24, 2014

Paperback 826: Haunted Lady / Mary Roberts Rinehart (Dell 361)

Paperback 826: Dell 361 (1st ptg, 1949)

Title: Haunted Lady
Author: Mary Roberts Rinehart
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for : $11


Best things about this cover:

  • Drunk bat photobomb!
  • Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself. Seriously, stop. It's weird.
  • This is what happens when you keep bats as pets, lady. WTF?
  • Seriously, Drunk Bat's like "What up, bitches! I'm all up in your fotoz!"


Best things about this back cover:
  • Mmmmm …. mmmmapback!
  • "Porte-cochere" is a hilarious word to me. You find them mainly on rich people's houses in mid-century crime novels (see esp. Chandler). Still, sounds like an hors d'oeuvre to me.
  • This novel must be heavy on interior detail and in-house action, because that is one superabundantly labeled map.

Page 123~
It took her by surprise. She stared at him. Then a look of horror spread over her face. She looked wildly about the room, at Hilda, at the door. She even half rose from her chair. "I don't know what you mean," she managed to gasp.
What's the opposite of "poker face"?


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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Other Books, Other Covers: The Antigua Stamp / Robert Graves (Random House, 1937)

Hello. Your regularly scheduled program of vintage paperback covers + commentary will resume shortly, but I wanted to take a little time to showcase some covers of other books I have lying around my house—hardbound books (w/ and w/o dust jackets) and paperbacks that fall outside the purview of my main collection. My cover-love knows no (or few) bounds. So let's get ready for random!

Title: The Antigua Stamp
Author: Robert Graves
Cover artist: Saul Steinberg

Estimated value: $100-$125

"Robert Graves' First Modern Novel"

I own this 1st U.S. edition of The Antigua Stamp, in very nice condition. I don't know why. This was probably a book sale purchase from some years back. I was probably thinking, "First edition by a famous author with the dust jacket still in fantastic shape? And it's how much? 50 cents? Uh … oh why not?!"

Back cover features notices for other RH books, including James Joyce's Ulysses. "Complete in one volume, including Judge Woolsey's historic decision; $3.50"

Page 123~
"Funny sort of novel my brother seems to be writing. Diet of Worms, twin noblemen, and modern scientists."

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Paperback 825: The Radio Planet / Ralph Milne Farley (Ace F-312)

Paperback 825: Ace F-312 (PBO, 1964)

Title: The Radio Planet
Author: Ralph Milne Farley [Roger Sherman Hoar]
Cover artist: John Schoenherr

Yours for: $8


Best things about this cover:

  • Flash Gordon cosplay just got Real.
  • Myles Cabot: Ant Barber!
  • Are those ants? Beetles? Entomologists—little help?
  • Yeah, get that "Milne" name in there. Someone might take a chance.


Best things about this back cover:

  • "Radio transmission of matter"—is that like a 3D printer!?
  • First paragraph is about as dull as one can make a (return!) trip to Venus sound.
  • "Untapped resources." Nice fudge.
  • "But Myles Cabot didn't know the meaning of the word impossible—or "dearth," or "fecundity," or "peripatetic," or "spatula," or a host of other words. But he could build an electronic device from raw rocks and untapped resources, so suck on that, fancy word knowledge people!"

Page 123~

"For Builder's sake, man!" Cabot cut in. This is not time to quibble over words! Give us the plane, if you would save Theoph, yourself, and Arkilu."

Man, Myles Cabot really does have a thing against words. And he worships Bob the Builder. What a character!


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Paperback 824: Bullet Proof / Amber Dean (Popular Library SP294)

Paperback 824: Popular Library SP294 (1st ptg, 1964)

Title: Bullet Proof
Author: Amber Dean
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $15


Best things about this cover:

  • Wow, turns out you can do A Lot with a fairly monochromatic palette. This is fantastic.
  • For a simple cover, it's amazingly suspenseful. Great use of light, especially on her face. Her face is the key—the craning around and the look of wide-eyed horror really sell the idea that something terrible is just on its way, just out of view.
  • The creepiness of the bondage is amplified ten-fold by the simple, naked mattress. How can a cover be so elegant and so sleazy at the same time?


Best things about this back cover:

  • I still hate this logo. It does not look like "CRIME." It looks a poorly executed fertility statue.
  • "Virginia Kirkus calls it 'non-stop'"—that made me LOL: "Seriously, it wouldn't stop. I as like 'Stop! Why won't this story stop!?' But it just kept going!"
  • "Readable!"—these just get better and better. "… in that it was made out of recognizable words, which were arranged in vaguely grammatical patterns…"

Page 123~

"It was their job, Hallie. Police have to learn how to destroy human dignity, or they'd never break through the really calloused, the hardened."

I'm just gonna leave that there.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]