Sunday, December 27, 2015

Paperback 918: Call for the Saint / Leslie Charteris (Avon 526)

Paperback 918: Avon 526 (1st ptg, 1953)

Title: Call for the Saint
Author: Leslie Charteris
Cover artist: Uncredited

Estimated value: $10-15

Best things about this cover:
  • Tied-up lady's expression: "So, uh, are we gonna do this or aren't we? .... guys?"
  • This looks more like ballet than a legit needle take-away. What is that showoff one-handed bullshit? With that dramatic right hand? WTF, Saint?
  • Would-be assailant is both racially and genderly ambiguous. I'm going with Philippine woman, but that's a (needle) stab in the dark.
  • This cover has needle *and* bondage, so it's priceless, no matter what the market dictates.

Best things about this back cover:
  • She's got quadrilateral eyes!
  • Needle me once, needle me twice!
  • No shapely rags for you, missy!
  • "Almost screamed"? Not sure if her voice didn't quite there, or if she thought better of it, and went for demure statement instead.

Page 123~

"Killed? De Champ? Why, he'll moider de bum!"

Had to read this a few times to get it. I figured De Champ was a French dude.


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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Paperback 917: The Fall of the Dream Machine / Dean R. Koontz // The Star Venturers / Kenneth Bulmer (Ace Double 22600)

Paperback 917: Ace Double 22600 (PBO / PBO, 1969)

Title: The Fall of the Dream Machine / The Star Venturers
Author: Dean R. Koontz / Kenneth Bulmer
Cover artists: Jack Gaughan / John Schoenherr

Estimated value: $20

Best things about this cover:
  • That water slide needs cleaning. Badly.
  • I love the incongruous whimsy of the polka dots. It's like the ghoul faces are all angrily thinking "What Is This Silliness!?!?!"
  • Q: What do you get when you cross Edgar Winter with a blow-up doll?

Best things about this other cover:
  • When Car Grilles Attack.
  • Tentacled floating beast ripping apart stupid flimsy human ... Now *that's* a scifi cover!
  • Galactic Haystack had some minor psychedelic rock hits in the late '60s. Then they joined a cult. I hear the lead singer's a hedge fund manager now.
Page 123~ (from "The Fall of the Dream Machine")

The man's face disappeared in a spray of unmentionable things.

This conjures up either terrible carnage or a man being assaulted by lingerie.


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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Paperback 916: In a Lonely Place / Dorothy B. Hughes (Carroll & Graf nn)

Paperback 916: Carroll & Graf (unnumbered) (1st thus, 1984)

Title: In a Lonely Place
Author: Dorothy B. Hughes
Cover artist: [movie stills] [colorized!]

Estimated value: $25 (prices All over map on this ... up to $136???!)

Best things about this cover:
  • Not really in my main collection. More ... collection-adjacent. But it's Dorothy Hughes and it's got film noir stills on the cover and its *immaculate*, so I'm throwing it in.
  • Library Sale FTW!
  • If you ever thought Bogie would be sexier with cobalt contacts and pink lip gloss: here you go!

Best things about this back cover:
  • Nothing to see here, except the comically phallic name of DIX STEELE.
  • I do like the font on the title, actually. Monumental.

Page 123~

She hadn't been to bed!



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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Paperback 915: Murder in Room 13 / Albert Conroy (Gold Medal 806)

Paperback 915: Gold Medal 806 (PBO, 1958)

Title: Murder in Room 13
Author: Albert Conroy
Cover artist: Uncredited

Estimated value: $6-8

Best things about this cover:
  • Women Falling Backwards Over Beds Or Couches should really be a "Tag" on this blog. Happens all the time, or at least, let's say, six times.
  • This looks like Barye Phillips, but there's no art credit, so ... Uncredited.
  • I think the figure departing via the door is supposed to look sinister, but instead he looks cartoonishly cornball. Like some combination of Peter Lorre and Boris Badinov and a badger.
  • I think the giant "13" is where it is because the artist kind of screwed up her middle section. Foreshortening of the body is all wrong and her boobs are just ... odd ... somehow.

Best things about this back cover:
  • The evidence! Now in dramatic yellow!
  • This reads like the most generic crime story pitch of all time. It's got all the elements. Ex-pug. Alcoholic haze. Motel. Raincoat. I mean, I'd be *in* if you gave me even the *slightest* reason to care.
  • Murderer! Now in dramatic italics!

Page 123~

"What the hell do you want?" She sounded surly-drunk.

This novel probably sucks, but I'd say this guy's compound adjective skills are at least promising.


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Friday, November 20, 2015

Paperback 914: Enter the Saint / Leslie Charteris (Pocket Books 257)

Paperback 914: Pocket Books 257 (1st ptg, 1944)

Title: Enter the Saint
Author: Leslie Charteris
Cover artist: Uncredited

Estimated value: $8-12

Best things about this cover:
  • Strike a pose.
  • The Pocket Books logo went through a lot of versions in the early years. This is one of the more adorable variants.
  • I know remarkably little about the Saint, except he was played by Roger Moore on television. There were reruns in syndication on TV when I was a kid. I don't remember a damn thing about them. I had no idea he was known as "The Robin Hood of Modern Crime." I just thought he was a charming cut-rate Bond.

Best things about this back cover.
  • It's weird how (relatively) quickly "gay" lost its non-sexual connotation. I was reading "Cotton Comes to Harlem" this week, and Cotton Ed and Grave Digger talk about wanting to get gay, i.e. go out, drink, have fun ... you know: have a gay old time. I wonder when that meaning essentially died, because it has died hard.
  • Meet Snake Ganning ... Jane, his wife!
  • Piratical!
  • This is a war-time book (1944). Pocket Books' whole "Send this book to a boy in the armed forces" thing was a genius marketing strategy. Together with the Armed Services Editions of cheap books, Pocket Books was helping cultivate a huge paperback-buying market for the post-war era.

Page 123~

The removal of the "dope bird" to a quiet cellar where a ruthless interrogation could proceed without interruption.

A sentence ominous in its incompleteness as well as its all-too-common anti-avian rhetoric.


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Friday, October 30, 2015

Paperback 913: One More Unfortunate / Edgar Lustgarten (Bantam 360)

Paperback 913: Bantam 360 (1st ptg, 1949)

Title: One More Unfortunate
Author: Edgar Lustgarten
Cover artist: Bernard Safran

Estimated value: $15-20

Best things about this cover:
  • "I was Mr. Arm Veins 1938, 1939, and 1941. Don't ask about 1940. Here, drink this."
  • "First, let me show you this here invention I come up with. I call it, 'The Butt Scratcher'...."
  • Wow, when he rolls up his sleeves, he really Rolls Up His Sleeves.
  • That knife-arm, everything about it, is really striking. And yet I'm weirdly mesmerized by the torn wallpaper patch (authentic seediness!) and her shoes, which I really wish I could see in profile. And closer up.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Young Ronald Reagan was not allowed to ride the children's choo-choo train. Would / he / die?!
  • I love how the issue here isn't the horrific fate of Kate Haggerty, but how her horrific fate might reflect on Captain White Man.
  • Damn evidence. Always with the mounting.

Page 123~

He gave his answer in loud, almost truculent tones.

Ooh, I like that. I think I'm gonna steal it. "Almost Truculent: The Rex Parker Story"


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Monday, October 26, 2015

Paperback 912: Coming of Age in Samoa / Margaret Mead (Mentor M44)

Paperback 912: Mentor M44 (1st ptg, 1949)

Title: Coming of Age in Samoa
Author: Margaret Mead
Cover artist: jonas

Estimated value: $10-15

Best things about this cover:
  • Striking design. Love the stylized monochrome foliage against the stark white backdrop.
  • They seem like they're having fun.
  • This probably shouldn't remind me of John Travolta and Uma Thurman dancing in "Pulp Fiction," but it does.
  • The most important difference between Samoan society and our own is No Nipples ... For Anyone!

Best things about this back cover:
  • I enjoy mentally changing "earnestly" (in Dorsey's review) to "salaciously," "lustily," "hornily," and the like.
  • Freud!?
  • "The domain of erotics." I want to go to there.
  • I read "primitive heart-stirrings" as "primitive heart-strings," because it's nicer.

Page 123~

People forgave her violence and her quarrelsomeness for sheer mirth over her propitiatory antics.

She got away with shit 'cause she was fun to be around and sometimes bought the drinks. (You're welcome)


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Friday, October 23, 2015

Paperback 911: Darkness at Noon / Arthur Koestler (Signet 671)

Paperback 911: Signet 671 (2nd ptg, 1950)

Title: Darkness at Noon
Author: Arthur Koestler
Cover artist: [jonas?]

Estimated value: $7-10

Best things about this cover:
  • This looks like me at roughly 9:30am on the days I don't teach. Minus the cigarette, I mean. Ladies ... liquor ... mystery dude in a hat ... these are where my thoughts wander.
  • This is a classic, but I haven't read it. I am surprised to find it is about a lazy dude fantasizing about Parisian booze and broads.
  • It's a prison novel, but this doesn't really evoke prison. Faint hints of "brick" in the walls, but that robe looks too comfy for prisonwear.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Ah, the era of the author-smoking photo. So ... debonair.
  • But also so tiny, what the hell's with the picture shrinkage?
  • That cover copy does not offer much in the way of breathing room. Yikes.

Page 123~

Woe to the fool and the aesthete who only ask how and not why.

This is in the middle of a dense philosophical section that is all italics and also a bummer.


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Friday, October 16, 2015

Paperback 910: The Key / Junichiro Tanizaki (Signet D2073)

Paperback 910: Signet D2073 (1st ptg, 1962)

Title: The Key
Author: Junichiro Tanizaki
Cover artist: [gah, can anyone make out that signature underneath the noodle bowl?!]

Estimated value: $8-12

Best things about this cover:
  • Font Victory! That title is smashing.
  • In case you could tell the people on the cover are Japanese ... chopsticks!
  • This painting is beautiful yet boring. It really really wants you to believe that the hardcore marital boning inside is tasteful.

Best things about this back cover:
  • "It leaves one both roused and afraid." Uh ... TMI, "The Reporter."
  • Mid-century was a big time for arguing that books about Doing It could be "art." Like, you had to justify it because of stupid hypocritical censorious America. Note the critical armature on this book's covers. Some kind of Chatterley-related hold-over. "If critics like it, then it's OK to jerk off to."
  • Love the author photo. "Just take the fucking picture. You weary me."

Page 123~

All through March I'd written that I was still stubbornly defending the "last line," and I did my best to convince him of it. In fact, it was on March twenty-fifth that I surrendered that last "paper-thin" defense.

It seems like she is talking about "anal sex" but I "can't be sure."


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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Paperback 909: Music out of Dixie / Harold Sinclair (PermaBooks P203)

Paperback 909: Perma Books P203 (1st ptg, 1953)

Title: Music out of Dixie
Author: Harold Sinclair
Cover artist: Uncredited :(

Estimated value: $10-15

Best things about this cover:
  • "Well you ain't no John Tesh, I know that."
  • There are 31 flavors of Disappointment on that woman's face.
  • I like this painting a lot. Perfectly positioned burning cigarette is a nice touch.
  • I love his shirt. I want his shirt. I also want to wear a sleeve garter for no good reason.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Dade Tarrant! LOL, sure, that's a plausible name, why not?
  • I hope his business cards read: "Dade Tarrant / Slum-Bred Pianist"
  • Raffish! Is that like "rakish"? [looks word up...] Hey, look at that: first synonym. So I *kinda* knew what it meant...

Page 123~

"Oh, Jesus lover, let's don't have that routine at this time o' day. I can't take it."

This expresses a sentiment I feel on a regular basis.


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Friday, October 9, 2015

Paperback 908: Six Seconds to Kill / Brett Halliday (Dell 8001)

Paperback 908: Dell 8001 (1st ptg, 1970)

Title: Six Seconds to Kill
Author: Brett Halliday
Cover artist: photo

Estimated value: sentimental, at best ($10?)

Best things about this cover:
  • This is either the story of the world's most efficient lady assassin or the story of a lady executive determined to squeeze all the joy she can out of the world's shortest helicopter layover. Pilot: "You need to be back here in six sec—" Lady: "I KNOW WHAT I'M DOING!"
  • I feel sorry for the model. That can't have been an easy pose to hold. Not in those nutso clog-heels.
  • I bought this book in a vintage clothing store in Minneapolis, MN.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Ladies and gentlemen—my new business card.
  • Also, ladies and gentlemen—my new bride. (My wife will understand. She had a good run.)
  • I love this classy lady: "I will drink [yes] and fuck [you go, girl] and kill Ed Meese [of cour— ... wait, what?]"

Page 123~

Shayne set the handbrake and got out. Understanding suddenly that she was about to be taken prisoner, she scrambled for a shotgun lying on the grass. Shayne kicked it away, pulled her to her feet and thrust her into the car.
"The fight's over. You're all by yourself, as far as I know."

I like the part where he set the handbrake.


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Monday, October 5, 2015

Paperback 907: Treasure of the Brasada / Les Savage, Jr. (Dell 673)

Paperback 907: Dell 673 (1st ptg, 1953)

Title: Treasure of the Brasada
Author: Les Savage, Jr.
Cover artist: Stanley Borack

Estimated value: $8-12

Best things about this cover:
  • She's got the whole gun / amulet / boob trifecta going. Dude's like "Whoa... easy."
  • Gun-crotch nexus. Who has the phallus now, buddy!
  • I think she stopped a lynching. Or else she interrupted some very risky sex play.
  • Hey, it's Les Savage's son, Even Less Savage!
  • I got this paperback in a vintage clothing store in Minneapolis. 

Best things about this back cover:
  • Look out! Arrows!
  • "The faint rattle of mesquite berries" is how I will describe the sound of my next chest cold.
  • This (long!) description is vague to the point of making me not care.
  • "Try it. Come on, try it. I'm here. Try it." These are some pretty mediocre 70s dance song lyrics.

Page 123~

"Let's close the poke," he said.

Early Texans had very lively idiomatic sexual expressions.


P.S. I've been pretty lax with the updates recently because of a million things, but I'm gonna try diligently to get on a (minimum) M / F posting schedule.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Friday, September 11, 2015

Paperback 906: Amorous Dietitian / Mary Shomette Gooch (Novel Library U171)

Paperback 906: Novel Library U171 (PBO, 1961)

Title: Amorous Dietitian
Author: Mary Shomette Gooch
Cover artist: [I know his name but it's eluding me right now...] [Is it Robert Bonfils?]

Estimated value: $INFINITY (no copies listed at abebooks)

[Newest addition to the Doug Peterson Collection]

Best things about this cover:
  • "O god you smell like onions [smack smack smack] that's so hot [slurp]..."
  • Tony Curtis *is* ... The Dietitian *in* ... "Some Like It Hot (& Sour)!"
  • This is possibly the dumbest concept in the history of sex fiction. "We've done the whole doctors/nurses thing ... where can we go? ..." "Uh ... truck-driving?" "Really? Truck-driving? DO TRUCK DRIVERS WEAR WHITE LAB COATS, BOB? DO THEY!? How's anyone gonna get properly aroused without white lab coats, you idiot!"
  • Nice inner side-boob, which I think used to be called "cleavage."
  • What kind of antiseptic seraglio is this? Between our breath-smellers in the foreground and the butt-grabbers in the background, there doesn't appear to be much dietitianing happening up in here.

Best things about this back cover:
  • First sentence = instant LOL. You can "grin" words now?
  • Ladies and gentlemen, meet your newest dietitian: Clete.
  • Mmm, breasts in the raw. Pretty sure I saw that on a Brooklyn bar menu.
  • Jesus, does this woman have any body parts that aren't breasts?
  • "She was a woman and clean." One of the all-time great mic-drop lines. Biblical in its epicness and crypticness. All other writers can suck it. There's a new word sheriff in town.

Page 123~

Warren Grant turned, looked at her, then grinned and sauntered over. His eyes rested on her jutting breasts for a moment, then lifted to her face.

Mary Shomette Gooch graduated summa cum laude from the Grin & Boob School of Writingticians.


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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Paperback 905: Perverted Lust Couple / Val Grasse (Royal Line 118)

Paperback 905: Royal Line RL 118 (PBO, 1965)

Title: Perverted Lust Couple
Author: Val Grasse
Cover artist: photo cover

Estimated value: Infinity dollars (none are offered on Abebooks, so I don't even know...)

[Part of the esteemed Doug Peterson collection]

Best things about this cover:
  • "I'm *bored*. This perversion is *stupid*. Why is there a *tree branch* stuck in my hair? You said you were going to get a *nice* birdcage. This one smells like bird. God. It's like 'perverted lust couple' doesn't even mean anything any more..."
  • The only kind of sex I can see this cover inspiring is missionary, in the dark, under the covers, weeping.
  • My favorite thing about this book so far is not about the book at all, but about my blog: namely that I *already have* a "Birdcages" label/tag. What the hell were those other books?

Best things about this back cover:
  • Oddly, the most confusing word on this cover is "one."
  • "Hidden"? Check (twice). "Twisted"? Check (twice).
  • Sorry, but "lesbian" and "homo" sound positively vanilla compared to whatever avian/oral fetish thing is happening on the cover.

Page 123~
"See, I got everything a man wants. I'm physically a woman. She placed her hands to her lower body and parted herself lewdly.
Missing close quotes here are part of the book's unique "style." This book seems to throw quotation marks in randomly. There are at least three errors (missing quotation marks) on this page alone. I think the book was typeset in some terrible sweatshop where English competence was minimal and desperation was high. And you thought the *content* of the book made you feel dirty...


P.S. this book is in amazing condition

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Paperback 904: Redburn / Herman Melville (Anchor A118)

Paperback 904: Anchor Books A118 (1st ptg, 1957)

Title: Redburn: His First Voyage
Author: Herman Melville
Cover artist: Edward Gorey (!)

Estimated value: $9

Best things about this cover:
  • Well, it's a Gorey, so there's that.
  • Sooooo much erotic tension.
  • His shirt is so red it hurts my teeth.
  • Barefoot! Adorbs.
  • Look at the rounded serifs on the "U" and "N"; again, adorbs.
  • I want a big checklist of all Gorey's cover art work. I don't actually want to see the covers ahead of time. I just want to know the titles to hunt for, so when I finally discover them, my joy can be fresh.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Well, nothing, so ... moving on.

Page 123~

"What was not wrong then, is right now," said Max; "so, mind your eye, Buttons, or I'll crack your pepper-box for you!"

OK that's as good as any hardboiled tough-guy film noir dialogue I've ever heard, even though I think he's just making phrases up.


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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Paperback 903: Joy Killer / Ralph Brandon (Vega V-4)

Paperback 903: Vega Books V-4 (PBO, 1960)

Title: Joy Killer
Author: Ralph Brandon
Cover artist: Uncredited

Estimated value: $20 (unread / perfect condition)

[Newest addition to the Doug Peterson Collection!]

Best things about this cover:
  • I think that's her underwear on the floor wax can there. I think. For their sakes, I really hope the floor wax is for the floor.
  • Seaman Apprentice! Subtle.
  • I can't get over the fact that together, their names make BABY KILLER.
  • Once again, Vega (and Fabian, and Saber) books are the best, that is, the worst, in a good way. God bless Sanford Aday and his short-lived Fresno-based softcore ridicu-porn empire.

Best things about this back cover:
  • That first sentence of the second paragraph makes me think the writer hasn't really mastered the art of the conjunction.
  • So they're both kinky, but not in compatible ways? Am I reading that last sentence right?
  • I believe that the title "Joy Killer" makes absolutely no sense. Unless there is some as-yet unmentioned character named Joy ... nope, even then, no sense.

Page 123~

"An orgy of sensual lust! Oh Killer, that sounds so exciting."
"I'm trying to help you, you depraved female. Now pay attention to what the book says."

There follows several pages of Killer reading aloud from some kind of sex-phobic sex manual for new wives, which is then followed by a marriage consummation scene in which "I plunged my throbbing masculinity into the depths of her quivering feminity [sic]."


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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Paperback 902: The Black Curtain / Cornell Woolrich (Ace H-104)

Paperback 902: Ace H-104 (1st thus, 1968)

Title: The Black Curtain
Author: Cornell Woolrich
Cover artist: Stan Hunter [signature]

Estimated value: $12

Best things about this cover:
  • Conjoined twins connected at the forehead are pulled apart like taffy. The good twin becomes a stock broker, while the evil twin becomes someone who shoots squirrels with a shotgun. The stress of all this causes their mother to have a stroke that lands her in a wheelchair. I hate covers that give away the whole plot.
  • The one-mass-of-images style of cover art was, unfortunately, a popular thing for about five years in the '60s. It's as if, as the amount of real estate for images on covers shrank, the images that should have filled a whole cover decided to huddle together in a kind of amorphous glob. Rather than give the cover art room to breathe, or simplifying the art concept, the cover designers give us ... this.
  • My favorite part of this cover is the astonishingly legible full-name signature of the cover artist. Now I know whom to be mad at.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Text. Boring. Boo.
  • "You've heard of amnesia victims." Have I? How do you know? You don't know me.
    "An average person, like you..." Hey, that stings. YOU DON'T KNOW ME!
  • Frank Townsend would eventually find out he's spent three years pretending to be Dick Nixon.

Page 123~

The awful propinquity was over.


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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Paperback 901: The Queen's Awards / Ed. Ellery Queen (Perma Books M-3015)

Paperback 901: Perma Books M-3015 (1st ptg, 1955)

Title: The Queen's Awards
Editor: Ellery Queen
Cover artist: William George

Estimated value: $10-14

Best things about this cover:
  • Hunting Che Fear Hand Strangulation Revolutionary Ponytail! I love this story!
  • Those frames are a bit ... ornate. That said, I'd kill for a real-life version of Strangulation in Red, frame and all.
  • Ellery Queen was a pseudonym for these guys. Also the name of the main character in their novels.

Best things about this back cover:
  • I give the opening alliterative salvo a C-.
  • "Anyway you like your murders..." is a phrase that bespeaks a certain Coliseum-esque savagery in the typical mystery story audience.
  • Eleazar Lipsky wrote the story that was the basis of the film noir classic "Kiss of Death" (1947).

Page 123~ [From "The Stroke of Thirteen" by Lillian de la Torre ("as told by James Boswell, August 1780") (!?!?!)]
"The ingenious Captain Donellan," replied Dr. Johnson, "is a disciple of Linnaeus. He grows the oriental poppy. With that cord-handled claw by his tent he sacrifices the capsule of the poppy, as I have been told they do it in the East Indies where he served. He collects the gum that forms. To put a name to it, it is opium. I smelled opium in the affair when I was informed that Allan MacDonald had been hearing 'sounds colored crimson,' as drugged men may do."
18th-century drug-induced synesthesia! Who saw that coming?


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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Paperback 900: Outlaw Guns / E.E. Halleran (Avon 522)

Paperback 900!!!!!!!!!!: Avon 522 (2nd ptg / 1st thus, 1953)

Title: Outlaw Guns
Author: E.E. Halleran
Cover artist: Bill Randall

Estimated value: $10-14

Best things about this cover:
  • I call this one "Rampant Horses On Yellow Background For Some Reason"
  • Beardy's all "Oh, 'Outlaw Guns' ... I get it now! Yuck yuck yuck .... boobs."
  • She has insane murdery dead-eyed vacant 1000-yard stare.
  • Bitch eyebrows? Bitch eyebrows.
  • This cover is terribly ill-conceived. *She* seems ready to go, right out of the box, but everything else (except the wicked awesome wood font and Beardy's mug!) is a total mess.

Best things about this back cover:
  • He looks less like a bandit and more like a guy protecting himself from a smell.
  • Still, that sketch is pretty cool. Love the cute yellow inset.
  • Well, of course, if you're gonna have "Outlaw Guns," you gotta have Outlaw Bullets. Otherwise you're just running around waving your guns going "pew! pew!"
  • "Pronto!"

Page 123~

"Don't jam the chute," Frazer warned him.

Good advice.


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Monday, July 6, 2015

Paperback 899: Messer Marco Polo: a love story / Donn Byrne (Penguin 611)

Paperback 899: Penguin 611 (1st ptg, 1946)

Title: Messer Marco Polo
Author: Donn Byrne
Cover artist: jonas

Estimated value: $9-12

Best things about this cover:
  • Honestly I have no idea what's happening here, on any level.
  • The palette, the art, the word "Messer" (!?), it's all so ... uncharacteristic of my smutty collection.
  • It looks like he's holding an asp in the crook of his left arm.
  • This book represents that stage in Penguin's American publishing when it's about to morph into Penguin-Signet and then, finally, Signet.

Best things about this back cover:
  • "Punched cows." That's pretty hardboiled.
  • If you google, in quotation marks, ["gang of howling literary brigands"], this book, and only this book, shows up. Joyce Kilmer wrote "Trees." Don Marquis is (by total coincidence) my newest literary crush—he wrote light verse in the voice of a cockroach named Archy (who used no capitals or punctuation because cockroaches can't possibly use the Shift key). His books of Archy verse were often illustrated by the legendary George Herriman (of "Krazy Kat" fame).
  • Wait, "Messer Marco Polo brought him fame and fortune"? Can that be right?!
  • Car crash. Dang.

Page 23~ (book's only 116 pages long!)

And suddenly there's a headsman in a red cloak and a red mask, and the axe swings and falls. The head pops off and the body falls limp.

Somehow the word "pops" sucks all the seriousness out of the situation.


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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Paperback 898: Seminole / Theodore Pratt (Gold Medal 635)

Paperback 898: Gold Medal 635 (2nd ptg, 1957)

Title: Seminole
Author: Theodore Pratt
Cover artist: Jack Floherty [signature]

Estimated value: $7-10

Best things about this cover:
  • Full frontal is cool if a. the woman is "native" or otherwise of color and b. you airbrush the nipple into virtual nothingness.
  • Nothing says "sexy" like a slave auction! Seriously, this cover is infinitely gross.
  • Mr. Top Hat Akimbo in the background knows it's gross. He and his bow tie are having none of it.
  • If you're wondering whom the auctioneer is pointing at, just wait ...

Best things about this back cover:
  • Wraparound!
  • Sky looks even more insane back here. It's like Captain Cogitation there is summoning storm clouds with his mind. And his pointing pal is saying "Oooh, that one looks like a bunny."
  • This painting is much, much better with the native slave auction cropped out of it.
  • Just watched "Key Largo" and I'm pretty sure those two Native Americans that killed are called "The Osceola  Brothers." This Osceola was a leader of the Seminole resistance during the Second Seminole War.
  • At least this novel seems to know what the white man is a "marauder."

Page 123~

Indians lay in water with lily pads over their faces to hide from the white soldiers. Seminole children were buried in pits to their heads, which were covered over with palmetto to conceal them.


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Friday, July 3, 2015

Paperback 897: Love Is the Winner / Natalie Shipman (Bantam 451)

Paperback 897: Bantam 451 (1st ptg, 1948)

Title: Love Is the Winner
Author: Natalie Shipman
Cover artist: Nelson Davis

Estimated value: ~$15

Best things about this cover:
  • And Joan is the loser.
  • You can tell by Joan's face that she is *not* going to lose her man to some cut-rate Lauren Bacall. "First, watercress sandwiches. Then ... revenge!"
  • That knob at fake-Bacall's crotch level is, to put it mildly, distracting.
  • I'd say the paperback title is an upgrade. "Who Wins His Love" = the "Who's on First" of book titles.

Best things about this back cover:
  • I am serious when I say I want the top third of this cover on a t-shirt. WHAT'S A GIRL TO DO indeed.
  • "Or shall she turn to another man..." Wait, were there really no other options in there?
  • Are the demanding lips forming words that are demanding, or are they just ... really muscular and squirmy on your face?

Page 123~

"Are you having lunch with Jim?" Mrs. Converse had asked before she left.
"I'm going to telephone him," Kathy said. "He may be tied up."

I have to imagine him literally tied up, because otherwise this ends up being the single most boring Page 123 I've ever read.


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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Paperback 896: Ecstasy Girl / Jack Woodford (Novel Library 2)

Paperback 896: Novel Library 2 (1st ptg, 1948)

Title: Ecstasy Girl
Author: Jack Woodford
Cover artist: Uncredited

Estimated value: ~$25

Best things about this cover:
  • My armpits bring all the boys to the yard!
  • Is that a cut-out or some kind of avant-garde necktie?
  • "I'm hung down to here, baby." "Oh, Brad..."
  • His hands are alarmingly tiny.

Best things about this back cover:
  • I have decided that Handsome Gail Tanner's first name is Handsome so please don't tell me different.
  • "Dropped an anatomic bomb!" That sounds both fun and grotesque.
  • Ladies: if your earl does not provoke swoons, keep walking.

Page 123~

"Now, please, Miss Carter, please, don't excite yourself further." The station manager backed hastily away.

It's hard to back away hastily. You so often smash into things. Miss Carter's autoerotic adventures must have been truly startling.


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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Paperback 895: Flame / Joan Ellis (Midwood 61)

Paperback 895: Midwood 61 (PBO, 1960)

Title: Flame
Author: Joan Ellis
Cover artist: [Paul Rader]

Estimated value: $17-20

Best things about this cover:
  • I don't know what you're about to do with the cigarette, lady, but please stop.
  • She looks like if Lauren Bacall and Satan had a baby.
  • I am on fire with burning ambition and a smouldering need for CHAIR.
  • Font!
  • Heels!
  • Scare quotes!
  • This book is, like, the reddest thing I own.
  • I don't know if this is a Paul Rader cover, but it feels that way, so ... partial credit!

Best things about this back cover:
  • HA ha, more scare quotes for all things "school"-related. We get it. It's a racket.
  • They're pushing this "FLAME" motif a little hard.
  • No cooked facts! Only raw! This is "Talent School," ladies!
  • If not a band, Hardened Harlots is at least a roller derby team name.

Page 123~

"Let 'em get all hot and bothered. Do 'em good," he insisted, sliding her robe into a heap on the floor, and then the bikini pajamas she wore underneath.

Google image search of "bikini pajamas" yields mostly ... well, neither bikinis nor pajamas. Is "bikini pajamas" what hep cats used to call "underwear"?


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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Paperback 894: Death Has Many Doors / Fredric Brown (Bantam 1567)

Paperback 894: Bantam 1567 (3rd ptg, 1st thus, 1957)

Title: Death Has Many Doors
Author: Fredric Brown
Cover artist: Barye Phillips

Estimated Value: $20-25

Best things about this cover:

  • Gah, stupid late-'50s covers with their newfangled love of "text," crowding out the good stuff. Painting is great, but more of a smudge-sketch than a fully realized painting. I like covers that give the art Real Estate.
  • She's like a suggestion of a sexy backlit lingerie lady. Like, I get it, but I don't feel it. His pasty enigmatic leering face is wonderful, but that tower of Fuchsia Letters is crowding him.
  • Fredric Brown could Wrrrite. He has bouts of hackneyed sucking, but when he's on, he's sharp and dark and hilarious.

Best things about this back cover:
  • HA ha. Arrows! That gave me a genuine laugh. When in doubt--->arrows.
  • So … it's warm then?
  • I read "The Screaming Mimi" this past winter. Recommended.

Page 123~
I said, "This is John Smith. I want Charlie's address." "You mean my brother-in-law? I don't know where he is, Mr. Smith." I said, "Fine. I'll send a couple of the boys out some evening to see you. I won't mention which evening. We wouldn't want coppers around." He said, "Huh?" and sounded properly scared and excited.
See. Good.


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