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.
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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."

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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.

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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.

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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

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Paperback 982: Nothing More Than Murder / Jim Thompson (Dell 738)

Paperback 982: Dell 738 (1st ptg, 1953)

Title: Nothing More Than Murder
Author: Jim Thompson
Cover artist: George Geygan

Estimated value: $60-75
Condition: 7/10

Dell7738
Best things about this cover:
  • Seriously, what part of him is she stroking? It looks like a lion's paw is growing out of his stomach.
  • I think the bed is supposed to be on fire, but all I see is his hair on fire. Like, "Oh my god, she's stroking my paw ....!!!" and then cartoon fire shoots out of his head.
  • Her hair is nuts, but she is otherwise not hard to look at.

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Best things about this back cover:
  • Love love love the color blocks, and the terse, terse blurbs.
  • More blurbs should be as succinct and enigmatic as "Strong meat"
  • But then "both in style and story" shoulda been lopped. Adds nothing. Why am I editing this back cover copy 60+ years after the fact!?

Page 123~

A couple of bobby soxers stood up near the popcorn machine, giggling and talking to Harry, and watching me out of the corner of their eyes.

The period of pulp culture I'm most interested in can probably best be defined as "that period during which the term 'bobby soxer' had currency" (so, '40s-'60s, give or take)

~RP

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Paperback 981: Hangover House / Sax Rohmer (Graphic 78)

Paperback 981: Graphic 78 (1st ptg, 1954)

Title: Hangover House
Author: Sax Rohmer
Cover artist: Uncredited

Condition: 6/10
Estimated value: $12-18

Graphic78
Best things about this cover:
  • Dang. That's one bad hangover.
  • The ever-so-delicate, blood red FEAR HAND
  • The line and shape and color of her gown and gloves, truly exquisite
  • Her molded plastic hair, however, yeeps.
  • Fantastic eyebrows. She looks a lot like ... that actress ... from "Downton Abbey" ... Dockery? Mockery? Clockery? Yes, Dockery. Michelle Dockery. Tuesday Weld meets Michelle Dockery.
  • Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you don't spend tomorrow in, well, the Hangover House.

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Best things about this back cover:
  • Usually gay. Screw your categories.
  • Storm Kennedy LOL. Storm Kennedy, Porn Detective.
  • Jeez, explain the plot more, why don't you? Ugh.

Page 123~

"Titles? Yes. Mrs. Muller was playing a published song of mine, last night—after the band had gone: Summer Is Winter When You're Not Around."

I Feel Like They've Taken My Dog to the Pound...
I'm Haunted by Demons Who Don't Make a Sound...
I've Run Your Dad's Company Into the Ground...

etc.

~RP

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Paperback 980: Away and Beyond / A.E. Van Vogt (Berkley F812)

Paperback 980: Berkley Medallion F812 (1st ptg, 1963)

Title: Away and Beyond
Author: A.E. Van Vogt
Cover artist: Richard Powers

Estimated value: $10-15
Condition: 7-8/10 (near perfect, but w/ smushed corner on back cover)

BerkF812
Best things about this cover:
  • I feel like a crucial part of this scene is *just* off-cover: what is the humanoid figure holding / pointing toward / squeezing? Another humanoid? A Nobel Prize? Pancakes?
  • Powers could basically draw anything and it looked amazing. Who has any idea what is going on here? Who cares?
  • Loopy laser lines swooping in and out of figures. Structural, skeletal, electric.

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Best things about this back cover:
  • August Derleth ... is not a dynamic writer.
  • Those samples are Unevocative. Scare quotes don't do what you think they do, copywriter.
  • Only way you're buying this is if you already like Van Vogt. Or are bored and will take a flyer on anything that looks this cool.

Page 123~

[from "Film Library"]

Mr. Arlay said, "Careful, Tania. We're almost at rock bottom."

Next time someone goes too far, forget "Slow your roll" or "TMI"—just tell 'em "Careful, Tania."

~RP

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