Monday, July 30, 2018

Paperback 1031: The Great Mail Robbery / Clarence Budington Kelland (Popular Library 432)

Paperback 1031: Popular Library 432 (1st ptg, 1952)

Title: The Great Mail Robbery
Author: Clarence Budington Kelland
Cover artist: [Earle Bergey]

Condition: 7/10
Estimated value: $15-20

Best things about this cover:
  • "Cheese it, fellas! It's Miss Smokestack 1952!"
  • Mr. Freaked Out Impossible-Over-the-Shoulder-Glance in the extreme foreground there is pretty special.
  • There is a lot happening in this manframe (n: a framelike structure composed primarily of man parts). There's shocked bighead, Li'l Cap'n Fearhand, and then Gunhand (he handles the guns). The lady does have a manic look—and she's radiating some kind of toxic emissions—but her body language says Bored Tween. Weird.
  • They Made A Living Out Of Death = C-minus pun irony

Best things about this back cover:
  • HIS!
  • Inca! 
  • "This side of Hell," LOL. What's on the other side of Hell? A Wendy's?
  • "Suddenly there wasn't any robe." So she's some kind of ecdysiast-magician? Must be confusing for poor Will Scarlet.
  • This book should be called "Will Scarlet and the Starlet." Or "The Great Female Disrobery."
Page 123~
He had been immersed but a few minutes when his telephone rang irritatingly. He forced himself to get up and, dripping and shivering, walked to the table beside his bed where the telephone stood.
"Hello," he said impatiently.
"This," said a voice, "is Jahala Vidmar."
"... said a voice" is about as pure an example of needless wordery as you're ever gonna see. Made me laugh out loud and completely forget the horrific adverb abuse that preceded it.


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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Paperback 1030: Damon Runyon Favorites / Damon Runyon (Pocket Books 158)

Paperback 1030: Pocket Books 158 (1st ptg, 1942)

Title: Damon Runyon Favorites
Author: Damon Runyon
Cover artist: criminally uncredited [Frank J. Lieberman]

Condition: 8.5/10
Estimated value: $20

Best things about this cover:

  • You guys it's just so beautiful. I don't really have much to say. It just evokes a whole era, a magical place and time, as seen through the haze of nostalgia. It's So Soft.
  • The orange is wonderfully bright. These early Pocket Books are rarely this nice, with the colors unfaded and the Permagloss largely intact (just the tiniest bits of pull-away on some of the edges). Not perfectly square, but perfectly tight. Pages are practically bone white. Not sure it's been read at all.
  • That cab!
  • I want to go to Mindy's *right now*.

Best things about this back cover:

  • Master Of The Main Stem! (!) (!?) (!!??)
  • I wonder when "according to Walter Winchell" stopped working.
  • Runyon is such an important popularizer of the colloquial speech and lowbrow slang that dominated mid-century crime fiction. Colorful New York characters. Big False Face! BFF!

Page 123~ (from "Sense of Humor")
"Why," he says, "do not you hear the news about Rosa? She takes the wind on me a couple of months ago for my friend Frankie Ferocious, and is living in an apartment over in Brooklyn, right near his house, although," Joe says, "of course you understand I am telling you this only to answer your question, and not to holler copper on Rosa."
Joe the Joker doesn't want to holler copper because Rosa spends money like nobody's business and Frankie is about to find out how expensive she is. Dames!


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Monday, July 9, 2018

Paperback 1029: Widow's Web / Ursula Curtiss (Ace G-561)

Paperback 1029: Ace G-561 (1st ptg, 1965)

Title: Widow's Web
Author: Ursula Curtiss
Cover artist: M. Engel (signature) (who is this?)

Condition: 7/10
Estimated value: $10-12

Best things about this cover:
  • Well this is the weirdest damn spider I ever did see
  • Head of a woman, body of a haunted house, one leg a pill bottle, the other leg a tiny couple. I pity the fly!
  • This cover fits right into the Ace woman-authored suspense novel mold, reminiscent of virtually every Ace novel by, say, Charlotte Armstrong or Elisabeth Sanxay Holding (who, coincidentally, published a novel with Ace called "Widow's Mite")
  • What's up with that couple? She's leaning in like "Oh, Larry, kiss me," and he's like "Wait, wait ... where did I leave my pill bottle? It was just here, I swear."

Best things about this back cover:
  • Ugh, text, boo.
  • "Catch-throat" is not a compound adjective I'm familiar with. I'm guessing it's a one-off invented by this reviewer to try to sound super reviewy. 
  • Why is "hand" in that second blurb? That line works just fine hand(s)-free.
Page 123~
Torrant said that he would have coffee after all.
Despite his having one of fictiondom's more ridiculous names, I relate to Torrant.


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Friday, July 6, 2018

Paperback 1028: Footsteps in the Night / Dolores Hitchens (Permabook M-4261)

Paperback 1028: Perma Books M-4261 (1st ptg, 1962)

Title: Footsteps in the Night
Author: Dolores Hitchens
Cover artist: Harry Bennett

Condition: 8.5/10
Estimated value: $15

Best things about this cover:

  • I have no idea what this book is about, but I love trying to work out what the hell is going on in this scene. Is she being stalked? Or is that just her husband wondering why the hell his drunk wife is wandering off in one shoe while holding the other shoe?
  • Love her little fingernail-biting gesture. So perfectly pensive. "Hmmm ... now where did I leave my other shoe?" This is the shoe equivalent of losing your glasses because they are on top of your damned head.
  • I'm not the biggest fan of Harry Bennett's art work—a little too sketchy/sloppy-looking for my tastes—but this scene is pretty evocative and intriguing. I just wish there were ... more of it. The '60s are a fast-moving tragedy for fully painted cover art. Canvas shrinks. Text takes over. I don't even like thinking about it.
  • Dolores Hitchens is one of those writers I keep meaning to read but not reading. I think I read something of hers a while back and liked it. I just opened to a random page and this is the first thing my eyes hit: "Mrs. Holden's pouter-pigeon bosom strained the buttons of the blue quilted housecoat." OK, sure, I'm in.

Best things about this back cover:

  • LOL text shaping. Actually, it's kind of perfect that her quizzical face is being used as the top end of a "?"
  • This isn't the greatest back cover copy. There's no context for any of these names. You could just keep asking questions with random names and I'd be like "I ... don't know. Still don't know. Should I care? Who Are These People? What Is Happening In This Book?"
  • Dronk! When you're not just drunk ...

Page 123~
"Cops are like this, as long as you admit what they want you to admit, they're okay. So I admit I was up there, in your house, and I left at such-and-such a time, and I got home at a certain hour and all that crap. You think they're going to lean on me, try to make me say what we were doing?"
Now I want to know what they were doing. According to an earlier paragraph on this page, it involved "hot yearnings." Hot shoeless yearnings, no doubt.


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Monday, July 2, 2018

Paperback 1027: The Needs We Share / Rea Michaels (Domino 72-793)

Paperback 1027: Domino Books 72-793 (PBO, 1965)

Title: The Needs We Share
Author: Rea Michaels
Cover artist: photo cover

Condition: 5/10 (terrible stain on back, else 7/10)
Estimated value: $25-30

[Newest addition to the Doug Peterson Collection]

Best things about this cover:

  • This is like a half-step away from the cover of, like, a knitting magazine from the same time period. That font! That font color! Those houseplants! Put her in a cardigan and bam—feel the craft work!
  • The divorcee on the couch is giving me life! She's like, "Yep, life without Harry is O, K!"
  • Miss Bouffant is also amazing. So fierce. "You wanna watch! I don't care, ya ****ing pervs!" The cheapness of that slip, though, is making me very sad. I can almost hear the crappy thick nylon rubbing against, well, everything.
  • I love love LOVE the Kinsey-inspired books (they are a significant subgenre of 50s/60s sleaze). Kinsey's peering behind facade of American sex lives (semi-) legitimized readers' natural voyeurism. "I'm reading this ... for science!"

Best things about this back cover:

  • Yep, she's great even in isolation like that.
  • Oh man, that stain. I think Dolores the divorcee got her cigarette a little too close to her nighttime reading material...
  • FIND THE SINNER is soooo tacked-on. It makes no sense, especially after the dramatic final ellipse on the cover copy. Also, was the sinner hiding? Psst ... she's right there.

Page 123~
As far as the eye could see there was whiteness.
Yep, that *does* sound like suburbia.


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