Friday, April 6, 2018

Paperback 1013: Serenade / James M. Cain (Penguin 621)

Paperback 1013: Penguin 621 (1st ptg, 1947)

Title: Serenade
Author: James M. Cain
Cover artist: jonas

Condition: 8/10 (laminate buckling in places, but perfectly square and tight)
Estimated value: $10-12

Best things about this cover:
  • Ferdinand! What happened to you!?
  • Love jonas's covers. What they lack in luridness they make up in flat-color mid-century graphic beauty. Somewhere between figurative and abstract painting. Like if Mondrian did cheap paperback cover art. That bull's face is borderline cubist.
  • I love her impossible dress, the straps for which appear to start in her armpits
  • I also love the weirdly mathematically balanced JAMES and M. CAIN. So weird to isolate middle initial and last name like that, and yet ... five letters on one side, five letters on the other. Makes sense.
  • I also love how the expressive jagged lines behind the señorita make her look like she's in a mood.
Best things about this back cover:
  • James M. Cain looks like a professor whose enthusiasm for medieval love poetry will never be shared by any of his students.
  • "F.P. Adams" is exactly the kind of name you would have to have in order to coneive the phrase "vernacularly dictaphonic."
  • Like Mildred Pierce and Double Indemnity, this book too was made into a movie. Unlike those movies, it is not famous (though it was directed by Anthony Mann and stars Mario Lanza, Joan Fontaine, and (!) Vincent Price). In the book, the singing protagonist has sex with a (male) impresario, and falls in love with a (female) prostitue. The movie ... did not preserve those plot elements. 
Page 139~ (I haven't even looked at p. 123 because, well, I saw this first and ...)
All of a sudden she broke from me, shoved the dress down from her shoulder, slipped the brassiere and shoved a nipple in my mouth. "Eat. Eat much. Make big toro."
"I know now my whole life comes from there."
"Yes, eat." 
I mean ... does he point when he says "there" or ... ? ... yeah, wow.


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Hugh Candyside said...

F.P. Adams, aka Franklin Pierce Adams, was an influential columnist of the 1920s and 30s. As a member of the Algonquin Round Table he once wrote "I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way." I would love to have heard his thoughts on the internet.

Larry said...

"Make big toro." What more can you say.