Thursday, January 1, 2015

Paperback 847: The Wine of Astonishment / Martha Gellhorn (Bantam 736)

Paperback 847: Bantam 736 (1st ptg, 1949)

Title: The Wine of Astonishment
Author: Martha Gellhorn
Cover artist: James Avati

Estimated value: $15-20


Best things about this cover:

  • Spoiler: he's Jewish. That's "The Secret Within Him."
  • "Wine? You served wine, Kathe? How could you? I'm astonished. [portentous 100-yard stare]"
  • "Blue chairs … why must the chairs be blue? I'm tired of living my life with blue chairs! Why, when I was a boy, my mother…" "Steve! Oh, Steve, please. I'll paint the chairs. Just … no more stories about your mother, Steve. [sobs]" [end scene].
  • Man, Avati drives me nuts. Staid, boring, straining after religiosity. The single most humorless cover artist. Also, sadly one of the most prolific. I associate him more with Signet. Unusual to see him on other imprints (at least in my collection).


Best things about this back cover:

  • "Might" (?)
  • Wow, that cover copy is straight out of romance novels / two movie promos I saw earlier today. Cheeseball-o-rama.
  • Martha Gellhorn was an important war journalist. Also, an ex-Mrs. Hemingway.

Page 123~

"You're a sensible guy, aren't you, Johnny?"
"I'm a good sensible old man."
"Shall I fix you a drink?"
"Sure, let's polish off the bottle and go to bed."

Man. Johnny likes to get to the point.


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DemetriosX said...

I hadn't paid any attention to the author, so given the cover copy I was expecting this book to be "frank". Unless this isn't post-war Germany and he's in the Wehrmacht not the US Army, just how devastating could the fact that he's Jewish be? Her family might not be too keen on it, but it shouldn't have been something he needs to hide from, say, his superiors.

The cover is so overwrought, it's hard to take seriously. But just where is her right hand? Considering the look on young Peter Lorre's face, I think she's doing something wrong.

Rex Parker said...

It's on his left arm. I had the same thought, and had to really look for it.


DemetriosX said...

Wow, I thought those were blood spots on his sleeve. Now that I've seen it, I can't unsee it, but I liked my earlier interpretation better.

infoqueen said...

I'm with you on the hand question. I thought she was about to find out for herself that he was Jewish, and he was bracing himself for the Whine of Astonishment.

Random White Guy said...

I'm like the others that I was wondering where exactly her hand was. I never would have seen her fingers (until you pointed them out) as they kind of blend into the folds of his sleeve.

Anonymous said...

I don't drink wine, I'll just have the Beer of Pretennousness, please.