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!


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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.


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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Paperback 823: Last of the Breed / Les Savage, Jr. (Dell First Edition 37)

Paperback 823: Dell First Edition 37 (PBO, 1954)

Title: Last of the Breed
Author: Les Savage, Jr.
Cover artist: Stanley Borack

Yours for: $12


Best things about this cover:

  • "I told you I didn't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no calves! I told you!"
  • Mysterious stranger just wants to borrow a bucket.
  • Wardrobe malfunction in 5, 4, 3 ...
  • We get it, Stan Borack—you are good at drawing hands. Stop showing off.
  • "I don't know, Les, I think this tale might be a bit too savage. Do you think you could make it …?"


Best things about this back cover:
  • Looks like this book was in Brian Sheridan's back pocket when he got into whatever he got into on the front cover. Books with war wounds!
  • He came alive as a man. It was a good feeling. If this isn't a tale of sexual awakening, I'm gonna be very disappointed.
  • What is up with the design on this cover? "The blue arrow going round and round symbolizes life's twists and turns, while the sloppy gray daubs that frame the arrow symbolize the artist's not giving a shit."

Page 123~

Jess Miller was helping a pair of bonneted women near the rear.

Because bonnets make it practically impossible to see back there.


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Friday, October 3, 2014

Paperback 822: Human? / ed. Judith Merril (intro by Fredric Brown)

Paperback 822: Lion Books 205 (PBO, 1954)

Title: Human?
Editor: Judith Merril
Introduction: Fredric Brown
Cover artist: Rafael DeSoto [R. DeSaint??] [signature in bottom right corner, hard to make out—I read it as "R. DeSoto" because Rafael DeSoto is a famous cover artist. The Internet Speculative Fiction Database has "R. DeSaint," but I can't find any other mention of such a person on the Internet, so …?]

Yours for: $18


Best things about this cover:

  • And that's when the 2213 Miss Glotron-X swimsuit competition got a little weird …
  • "Um … sir? … your mankini top … it's just … if you could … maybe pull it … a little …"
  • "This device allows me to speak to my own jugular veins directly!"
  • "'Human?' The game show where you … decide what the answer to that question is. Are you ready, Bill? Let's bring out our first set of subjects!"
  • Bill does not look confident. Or else that's just his "ill-fitting mankini-bottom" face.
  • I'm all for body modification, but I think I draw the line at chicken-fishing.


Best things about this back cover:

  • don marquis is the e. e. cummings of paperback scifi anthologies.
  • Some heavy hitters in there. Also, Graham Doar. "My friends call me 'Trap'!" Sure they do, Graham.
  • Just how many anthologists are there, Boucher? That's about as ringing an endorsement as "Sammy Hagar is among the very best Van Halen frontmen."

Page 123~
Immediately the room seemed to shake itself; things wavered uncomfortably; then I realized Drip was astigmatic.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]