Sunday, April 30, 2017

Paperback 989: Once Upon a Dreadful Time / ed. Alfred Hitchcock (Dell 6622)

Paperback 989: Dell 6622 (1st ptg, 1964)

Title: (Alfred Hitchcock's) Once Upon a Dreadful Time (Dell 6622)
Editor: Alfred Hitchcock
Cover artist: Banbury (one name! stylish)

Estimated value: $8-10
Condition: 8/10

Dell6622
Best things about this cover:
  • Alas, poor Hitchcock...
  • Nice self-sideeye
  • Not sure why he's hiding a skull ... from ... himself ... but I'll admit it all looks super-cool.

Dell6622bc
Best things about this back cover:
  • Donald Westlake completists will want to be sure to pick this up
  • Contributors are indeed exclusively male. Women wrote a lot of horror / crime / suspense stories, so the men-only thing here is at least a little weird.
  • The whole Hal Ellson / Hal Elison thing is so weird that his name is spelled both ways in this book (in table of contents, it's ELLSON—which is correct. Here's the NYT also getting it wrong in 1955). And then there's this, from wikipedia:
Harlan Ellison cites Ellson's work as having inspired his own interest in juvenile delinquency — an interest which led directly to the writing of Ellison's first novel, Web of the City. Ellison has also stated that in the earliest days of his career as a writer, he was often mistaken for Ellson writing under a pseudonym — and that decades later, when Ellison had become much more known and Ellson's career had waned, Ellson was often mistaken for Ellison writing under a pseudonym.
 Page 123~ (from "Anatomy of an Anatomy" by Donald Westlake)

At three o'clock on the dot, she heard a thump from above, and knew it was the head.

Westlake is just a champ and that's all there is to it.

~RP

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Paperback 988: The Trail of Fu Manchu / Sax Rohmer (Pyramid R-1003)

Paperback 988: Pyramid R-1003 (1st ptg, 1964)

Title: The Trail of Fu Manchu
Author: Sax Rohmer
Cover artist: Robert Maguire (credited as "Bob Maguire")

Estimated value: $10-15
Condition: 8/10

PyrR1003
Best things about this cover:
  • Psst, guys, he's up there ... up ... to your right ... your ... my left ... up ...
  • "I say, old man, is he in there?" "I'm afraid not." "Perhaps if you put down your brolly..." "No, I think not." "Well, we've done all we can. Tea?"
  • This cover has all the drama and suspense of two dapper gents opening a green box.
  • I like the inverted male gaze here—instead of two guys ogling naked lady statues, we have naked lady statues ogling two guys.
  • It's not one of Maguire's more memorable covers, but Maguire is Maguire is Maguire; I'll take it.
  • My wife got me this book at The Last Bookstore in L.A., which sounds Uh-mazing.

PyrR1003bc
Best things about this back cover:
  • Blah blah pulp cliche / orientalist nonsense
  • But Nay!
  • This was quite the franchise. I have never read any of these. Wonder if it's worth it...

Page 123~

"We are in part of the workings of an abandoned Thames tunnel. We are together because . . . we are going to die together."

See, I know I'm supposed to be rapt by the dramatic final utterance here, but all I can think of is "Why the hell is 'part of the workings of' in that first sentence!? Do you enjoy murdering sentences? Do You!?"

~RP

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Friday, March 3, 2017

Paperback 987: New York: Confidential / Jack Lait & Lee Mortimer (Dell 1534)

Paperback 987: Dell 1534 (2nd ptg, 1951)

Title: New York: Confidential
Author: Jack Lait & Lee Mortimer
Cover artist: Robert Stanley

Estimated value: $12-15
Condition: 8/10

Dell1534
Best things about this cover:
  • Guys! Dolls! Together!
  • Robert Stanley's people are always ridiculously rich and creamy.
  • Seriously, the art is gorgeous. That dark aquamarine NYC night sky somehow works perfectly.

Dell1534bc
Best things about this back cover:
  • Map! Back! Mapback!
  • It's a pretty dang dull map, from a design point of view, but the "Key" on p. 240 is amazing. All those little numbers on the map represent "Hotels," "Night Clubs & Restaurants," "Theaters," and "Shopping":
Dell1534Key

Also, there are appendices of cool info like "Headwaiters' Names" (!?) and a "Glossary of Harlemisms":

Harlemisms
Harlemisms2


Page 123~

Do not use cheap perfume when night-clubbing (or at any time).

~RP

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Paperback 986: Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts / Donald Barthelme (Pocket 80771)

Paperback 986: Pocket Books 80771 (1st ptg, 1976)

Title: Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts
Author: Donald Barthelme
Cover artist: Harry Bennett

Estimated value: $12-15
Condition: 9/10

PB80771
Best things about this cover:
  • Holy crap.
  • "Uh ... Martha ... Junior's up."
  • Seriously, though, holy crap. That ain't right.
  • I don't normally go past the '60s with my collection, but I discovered some time ago that '70s paperback covers are their own kind of bonkers. Not always fully painted, but often loopy enough design-wise to be really interesting. I suspect that if I ever start *adding* to my collection again (I've still got ~2000 books I *haven't* written about), I'll be hunting a lot of pristine '70s/'80s-era stuff. I mean, if the 60s were my outer limit 22 years ago (when I started collecting) ... no reason that limit can't shift with the times.
  • Nice to see Harry Bennett's name in the artist credit. Hell, nice to see an artist credit at all. Bennett was a prolific '60s cover artist. No idea how long his cover career lasted. . . whoa. He lived until 2012, age 93.
  • FEEL FREE TO BUY ME THIS ORIGINAL BENNETT COVER PAINTING ANY TIME.
PB80771bc
Best things about this back cover:
  • No, this "text" crap will not do, you stupid '70s blurb-driven back cover.
  • It does make me want to read Barthelme, though, which I haven't done in decades.

Page 123~ (from "Alice")

I want to fornicate with Alice but it is a doomed project fornicating with Alice there are obstacles impediments preclusions estoppels I will exhaust them for you what a gas see cruel deprivements SECTION SEVEN moral ambiguities SECTION NINETEEN Alice's thighs are like SECTION TWENTY-ONE

I need to know all the SECTIONs so I can use them as shorthand I am somewhat interested in SECTION TWENTY-ONE PS there is no punctuation in this story

~RP

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Paperback 985: Runyon First and Last / Damon Runyon (Graphic 30)

Paperback 985: Graphic 30 (1st ptg, 1951)

Title: Runyon First and Last
Author: Damon Runyon
Cover artist: Uncredited

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

Graphic30
Best things about this cover:
  • I oppose fur but that is a magnificent fur. That is an ostentatious, almost comically elongated sleeve. And shoulder pad.
  • I love how she seems to be admiring Runyon's name while poor Slats pleads spectrally in the background.
  • Runyon is a really important early 20c. American newspaperman and short story writer. He records and cultivates a certain hardboiled, slangy, colloquial style that ends up being very influential. You may know him from such things as "Guy & Dolls."

Graphic30bc
Best things about this back cover:
  • Runyonese. I like my ham on rye with extra Runyonese.
  • The titles of these stories alone are worth the price of admission. Soupbone Pew!
  • "Informal Execution" is such a menacing phrase. I'm guessing that one wasn't made into a musical.

Page 123~ (from "Old New Year's")

On this day everybody swears off doing something or other, generally drinking, which is very easy for most people to swear off on New Year's Day, because generally they feel so tough from welcoming in the New Year that they never wish to see another drink again as long as they live, or anyway until they feel better.

I like that usage of "tough." So much more delicately ambiguous than the straight jab of "hungover."

~RP

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Friday, January 6, 2017

Paperback 984: Vanish in an Instant / Margaret Millar (Dell 730)

Paperback 984: Dell 730 (1st ptg, 1953)

Title: Vanish in an Instant
Author: Margaret Millar
Cover artist: Griffith Foxley

Estimated value: $8
Condition: 6/10

Dell730
Best things about this cover:
  • Death comes for Richie and Joanie and the whole Arnold's gang!
  • Two great surprise faces. And then blond dude. Blond dude is like "Hey ... I'm also here ... what's up? Nice knife."
  • My two favorite things about this cover are That Hand and That Ribbon.
  • Margaret Millar was the wife of Kenneth Millar, aka Ross Macdonald. Ross and I both have English Ph.D.s from Michigan. Go Blue.

Dell730bc
Best things about this back cover:
  • It's kinda busy. Swoosh, swish, plummet!
  • "How many mysteries rate THIS kind of rave?" Uh, six! No, eight! Thirty-four! ... what do you mean, "rhetorical"?
  • Gonna need a fact-check on "Not one in a hundred." Sounds kinda made-up.

Page 123~

"Are you still here?"
"Yes."
"Want a drink?"
"Not now, thanks."
"It's rum," she said.

~RP

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Paperback 983: Angel! / Carter Brown (Signet S2094)

Paperback 983: Signet 2094S (PBO, 1962)

Title: Angel!
Author: Carter Brown
Cover artist: Robert McGinnis

Estimated value: $6
Condition: 6/10 (stupid sticker pull) (8th ring of hell for pb stickerers!)

Signet2094
Best things about this cover:
  • I have always been fascinated by highly localized storms. Here, we see a downpour located exclusively in the butt region of a woman whose name, I gather, is Angel (!)
  • Yes ... a "luscious lass." A very luscious lass. Lass is definitely what I think when I look at this cover. "Nice lass!" I think to myself. McGinnis had an amazing talent for drawing ... lasses. 
  • The wraparound hand! To go with the wraparound gaze! It's an exquisite, if uneventful, cover painting.

Signet2094bc
Best things about this back cover:
  • That's a rather defensive opening claim. I saw the cover. I didn't have doubts. Easy, copywriter.
  • Don't tell Venus she took second. Trust me, when goddesses lose beauty contests, *very* bad things happen.
  • Mavis Seidlitz thrillers!? I don't think I own any of these. Color me intrigued.

Page 123~

"So what happens after the bomb, huh? Tell me that?"

Wow. Timely.

~RP

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]