Friday, February 28, 2014

Paperback 747: The Strange Brigade / John Jennings (Cardinal C-137)

Paperback 747: Cardinal C-137 (1st ptg, 1954)

Title: The Strange Brigade
Author: John Jennings
Cover artist: Rudy Nappi

Yours for: $8


Best things about this cover:
  • If 'love' wasn't just a word, what else was it??! A deed? Are you talking about sex? You are, aren't you. 
  • Speaking of sex, this book is at least in part about trappers, i.e. beaver.
  • "Hey … hey baby … hey … I like your ears …" Ugh, I can practically feel his grog breath on my shoulder.
  • Steve did not take well to losing the "Who Wore It Best?" competition to Lionel. Even the awkward consolations of a concerned squaw could not alleviate Steve's fist-clenching fury.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Mmm, I love bois brûlés. My favorite dessert. Always puts me in the mood for bone-cracking / love-making.
  • I do love a woman who acts "quite otherwise." 
  • "Sinister half-breed"—I would think that in vintage paperback-speak, that would be redundant.

Page 123~
Here were abundant varieties of smaller game: hares and rabbits, chattering squirrels, the white partridge, and spruce grouse, foxes, beaver, martins, musquash, otter and a dozen others. 
This is a really weird list, not so much for what's on it, but for how it's set up. Why do the squirrels get a behavioral detail? Why is there a "the" with the white partridge? Why do we start a new list with a new "and" just before spruce grouse? Why do you list so many and then say "a dozen others?" Why not keep going? You're half way there, for god's sake. Also, "a dozen"? That's a pretty specific number. Are you sure it wasn't a baker's dozen? 10? This is what happens when you think too much about a random filler sentence in a middling historical novel from 60 years ago.

[Alternative comment: "Musquash Susie / Musquash Sam / Do the jitterbug out in Musquash Land …"]


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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Paperback 746: The Avon Book of Detective and Crime Stories / ed. John Rhode (Avon 21)

Paperback 746: Avon 21 (1st ptg, 1942)

TitleThe Avon Book of Detective and Crime Stories
Editor: John Rhode
Cover artist: NA

Yours for: $10


Best things about this cover:
  • The font? Maybe? Also pink. Pink is nice.
  • This old Avon has held up *really* well. I love a good old paperback that's beat-as-f*ck but still perfectly solid and tight. You could read this a hundred times and it would just get more broken in.
  • This is a classic detection bonanza right here. Not really my cup, but a pretty sweet collection nonetheless.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Shakespeare-Head!
  • Shakespeare likes mysteries and also the US Armed Forces. Heed Shakespeare's plea, y'all.
  • You can store paperbacks in such things as "clothing" or those new-fangled contraptions, "bags."

Page 123~ (from "A Shot in the Night" by The Baroness Orczy)

My experience is that in all emotions and all weaknesses, in all virtues and in all vices, women invariably outdo the men.

But this is beside the point.


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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Paperback 745: The Wild Horse / Les Savage, Jr. (Gold Medal 111)

Paperback 745: Gold Medal 111 (PBO, 1950)

Title: The Wild Horse
Author: Les Savage, Jr.
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $10


Best things about this cover:
  • The horse or the girl! Every man must choose.
  • When you find your horse "desirable," well, it reacts like this.
  • Few writers were more savage than … Les Savage!"
  • Musculature lovingly drawn by someone who appears to have spent a Lot of time underneath a horse.


Best things about this back cover:
  • "If you like girls and horses and especially girl horses, prepare your blood for stirring!"
  • Oh, the horse is a him. The plot thickens.
  • Look, there's "horse lover" and then there's whatever bizarre romance novel shenanigans is going on here. If your horse is kindling in your breast a wild dream of possession for more than four hours, see a doctor.
  • He's written best-sellers before, so … who's to say he won't some time again in the future. Les Savage!

Page 123~

"Why not put it in words, Rockwall? It's been in both our minds for a long time now. You can't deny it, can you?"

I really, really want the horse's name to be 'Rockwall.'


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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Paperback 744: Wild Town / Jim Thompson (Signet 1461)

Paperback 744: Signet 1461 (PBO, 1957)

Title: Wild Town
Author: Jim Thompson
Cover artist: Robert ***ing Maguire!

Yours for: $65


Best things about this cover:
  • It's pretty much the quintessential cover. It's the first book I brought home (almost 20 years ago now) that made me feel like I had committed; I was really doing this; I was a collector. I got into paperback collecting because of Polito's Thompson biography, with its B&W repros of all Thompson's Lion paperback originals from the '50s. The idea that I actually owned a first edition J.T.—however mauled (and it is mauled)—was mind-blowing to me. I spent more than I should have, as I often did when buying books from my earliest dealer (what's up, Kaleidoscope?), but I Did Not (and Do Not) Care. 
  • Robert Maguire is the greatest paperback cover artist of all time and I will fight anyone who says otherwise, despite my being highly averse to violence of all kinds. That is how much I care about this subject.
  • I'm not even sure how you *get* a book to tear like that. It's like some drunk person decided to see if he could tear it in half, after failing to get anywhere with the phone book, and then got distracted immediately after starting. Gash runs from spine to dead center of the cover and appears to affect many of the first pages. The effect on readability, however, as well as overall book tightness, is nil.
  • "Are you suffering from migraines brought on by stress, hormones, or the occasional dead guy in your oil field?! We've all been there, right ladies?"


Best things about this back cover:
  • Put up or shut up, Job!
  • Hey look—competent, genuinely engaging cover copy! Huzzah.
  • It's your classic sheriff-meets-beautiful-tramp-of-a-wife story. I'm sure it all ends well.

Page 123~

Her head moved irritably against the pillows. She took a deep breath and held it; then, slowly let it out again in a quiet sigh of surrender.
"All right, Bugs," she said. "All right, darling. You don't trust me, but I'll still—"
"Out with it!"
"I want you to kill him. I want you to kill my husband!"

So, spoiler alert, I guess.


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Monday, February 17, 2014

Paperback 743: The High Window / Raymond Chandler (Pocket Books 320)

Paperback 743: Pocket Books 342 (1st ptg, 1945)

Title: The High Window
Author: Raymond Chandler
Cover artist: E. McKnight Kuffer

Yours for: $8


Best things about this cover:
  • Well, they can't all be sexy. 
  • As abstract/representational hybrid covers go, this one's pretty cool (is there a word for that style? pretty common on '40s paperbacks). There's a nice dramatic interplay between that angry red building, with its crazily barred windows, and the lonely falling silhouette.
  • This guy's got a weird signature. Had to look it up. I think the letters read "E MCK K" (for E. McKnight Kuffer)
  • For a more, let's say, realistic version of this cover, see Paperback 91.


Best things about this back cover:
  • This description is just a mess of "things that might appear in a mystery novel." Not even much of an attempt to take it out of list form.
  • Not sure what number incarnation of the pocket kangaroo we're up to here, but I like this one, with the joey holding the book for bespectacled mom.
  • Other war-time books tell you exactly what postage you'll need to send the book to a soldier. Here, the plea is much vaguer. Can I "share" it with my diner waitress? She's in "uniform."

Page 123~

I felt myself getting pinched around the nose. My mouth felt dry. I needed air. I took another deep breath and another dive into the tub of blubber that was sitting across the room from me on the reed chaise-longue, looking as unperturbed as a bank president refusing a loan.

My new life's goal is to own a reed chaise-longue. Wait. Nope. On further research, it looks like a rickshaw for Victorian invalids, so I'm good.


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Friday, February 14, 2014

Paperback 742: The Quick Brown Fox / Lawrence Schoonover (Bantam 1178)

Paperback 742: Bantam 1178 (1st ptg, 1953)

Title: The Quick Brown Fox
Author: Lawrence Schoonover
Cover artist: Harry Schaare

Yours for: $16


Best things about this cover:
  • "Hey, baby, I'm just a quick brown fox looking for a lazy dog … wait, let me rephrase that … oh, man, I shouldn't have drunk All That Alcohol."
  • I count five bottles. I assume other people were there, earlier.
  • I love this cover so much. So many details. Wreaths! Charts! Rolodexes! Typewriters! 
  • I also love her I-could-take-you-or-leave-you expression. Seriously sexy.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Gah. Horrible.
  • You'll pardon me if I don't think "dry Gibsons, quick seductions and eccentric clients" sound "dreary."
  • There is a hole-punch in the shape of an apostrophe at the bottom left of this back cover. I have no idea why.

Page 123~

But lately, Betty said, while Don was drinking so much and getting all these weird and twisted notions about her, the banks had been uncooperative with some of his loans and the finance company had been pressing them about payments on the car. 

Let me get this straight: it's a book about mid-century Madison Avenue and two of the main characters are a couple named "Don" and "Betty"? And "Don was drinking…" Huh. Interesting. Sounds familiar.


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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Paperback 741: Lady in Peril / Lester Dent // Wired for Scandal / Floyd Wallace (Ace Double D-357)

Paperback 741: Ace D-357 (PBO /PBO?)

Title: Lady in Peril / Wired for Scandal
Author: Lester Dent / Floyd Wallace
Cover artist: Uncredited / Uncredited

Yours for: $18


Best things about this cover:
  • Nice, ominous, off-kilter, killer-POV shot. 
  • She has incredibly good posture for someone about to be brutally murdered. Style points for erect bearing and dramatic hand placement.
  • This painting is like a giant metaphor for "No Means No"—What part of "Do Not Enter" do you not understand!?
  • Lester Dent helped create the pulp hero Doc Savage.


Best things about this other cover:
  • LOVE the design on this one. Strategic bursts of red against a semi-abstract green/white background. Nice variation on the floating head motif. Green rectangle with the tagline "Tune In And Die" brings balance and drama. 
  • Those guys are amazing dancers. Shake those hips, boys!
  • I kind of dress like the victim but I secretly aspire to dress like the killer.

Page 123~

"Can I look around?"
"Look, but keep your prints to yourself."
"I left some last night."

"If you know what I mean…"


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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Paperback 740: Your Own Party Book / Gertrude Crampton (Comet Books 23)

Paperback 740: Comet Books 23 (PBO, 1949)

Title: Your Own Party Book
Author: Gertrude Crampton
Cover artist: Abbi Damerow (illus.)

Yours for: $10


Best things about this cover:
  • That. Record. Player.
  • Pink! Honestly, this is a super-delightful cover. Makes the '40s seem like fun. Super-white, but still fun.
  • And nothing says "fun" like "Gertrude Crampton."
  • P.S. "Gay"


Best things about this back cover:
  • Everyone's so skinny and happy and gay! Look at the adorable short pants and pigtails. Weenie roast! Let's all go back! Civil rights, shmivil rights, the '40s were fun!
  • Holy crap, did phones still look like that in '49?! Is your date gonna pick you up in his surrey?
  • Jane's glue-sniffing addiction got totally out-of-control at the Valentine's Day dance…

Page 123~

[A recipe for "English Monkey"] [Yes, seriously]

English Monkey
2 cups stale bread crumbs
2 cups milk
2 cups cheese in small pieces
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
A little pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon thin bottled meat sauce

"Sprinkle with paprika to look stylish."

Note that they didn't have *kinds* of cheese in the '40s. Just "cheese." Also, I am unaccountably imagining a teamster grabbing his crotch and going "I got yer thin bottled meat sauce right here!"

I will straight-up *give* this book to someone if he/she promises to a. throw a party directly out of this book, and b. provide multiple photos.


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Friday, February 7, 2014

Paperback 739: Main Line / Livingston Biddle, Jr. (Popular Library 402)

Paperback 739: Popular Library 402 (1st ptg, 1952)

Title: Main Line
Author: Livingston Biddle, Jr.
Cover artist: Barton

Yours for: $9


Best things about this cover:
  • Slouchy guy's expression is priceless. I can almost hear him going "Pfft. Dames. Whaddyagonnado?"
  • I love the action in this painting, but her face doesn't look quite … attached. Almost like she's holding a face-mask up to her real face as she runs.
  • This painting has amazing street-level details. The cracks in the sidewalk, the guys on the stoop, the red awning, the hot dog / Italian ice vendor. It's a cool action street shot unlike almost anything I've seen on my paperback covers.


Best things about this back cover:
  • The '50s, when things you might say to a cabbie were considered erotic.
  • "Uh, I said 'Take me to a hotel,' not 'Take me to a shabby downtown hotel.'"
  • I like how they are going to have one of those so-called, quote unquote "one-night stands." Oh, the saucy lingo.

Page 123~

"That's true … I can't offer Cassandra security in the terms you outline—but I honestly believe I can make her happy."
"You have found a place to take my daughter?"
"Where is it?"

This is an awfully dark game of 20 questions.


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