Rex Parker

Apr 092014
Paperback 762: Gold Medal 645 (PBO, 1957)

Title: Case of the Cold Coquette
Author: Jonathan Craig
Cover artist: George Mayers

Yours for: $11


Best things about this cover:
  • Cold? Maybe if she put her shirt back on …
  • Oh, *that* kind of iceberg. The ones that are beautiful and are thawed by money. I was thinking of the ones that are made of ice and float in the ocean and are thawed by the rays of the sun. But I get it now. Good analogy.
  • If you're looking for your right shoe, lady, it's under the bench … there … toward your left … no, not in the corner—down … straight down … are you even trying? 
  • Seriously, what is she doing? Some kind of weird half-naked bench yoga?


Best things about this back cover:
  • "I'm a cop." Original!
  • Champagne tastes … but caviar guts-on-the-track!
  • We get it. Cold, thaw, etc. Give the metaphor a rest; I think it's tired.
  • I always say, the best leads are succulent leads. Like aloe. A great lead, aloe.

Page 123~

"The mark is so hotted up he can't think straight."


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Apr 082014
Paperback 761: Pocket Books 1098 (1st ptg, 1955)

Title: Guys and Dolls
Author: Damon Runyon
Cover artist: photo cover / unknown

Yours for: $15


Best things about this cover:
  • Brando unsure about quality of doll's breath!
  • I sort of kind of love this art/photo hybrid. Also, the Vincent Price-esque title font. Random.
  • LOVE the full-body "fuck off, boys" pose of the be-stoled smoking doll. Classic.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Well, it's … uh … not particularly soiled or torn. That's something.
  • "Master of the Main Stem" — not a phrase I'd ever really want to be called.
  • Lusty Slice was my favorite Slice Girl.

Page 123~

Dave the Dude is more corned than anybody else, because he has two or three days' running start on everybody. And when Dave the Dude is corned I wish to say that he is a very unreliable guy as to temper, and he is apt to explode right in your face any minute. But he seems to be getting a great bang out of the doings.

When your corned, a great bang is just the thing.


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Apr 072014
Paperback 760: Dell 696 (1st ptg, 1953)

Title: Slan
Author: A.E. Van Vogt
Cover artist: Uncredited, aarrgh!

Yours for: $20


Best things about this cover:
  • "I Was a 22nd-Century Gun Moll!"
  • Her mouth! Is she talking? Hissing? Shouting "Slan!"?
  • I have seen the future. It is full of 8th graders' atom diagrams.
  • Pretty bold to paint right on top of a well-used bandage.
  • Quintessential mid-century sci-fi cover art. Iconic. Beautiful. Perfect.


Best things about this back cover.
  • Why aren't people named "Groff" any more? Or "Jommy"?
  • Idea: Western / Scifi epic with a hero named "Slim Tendrils"…
  • I'm guessing that's not "Jommy" on the cover. But who knows what the future holds…

Page 123~

The impression smashed into fragments. Granny.

That has to be the weirdest two-sentence sequence in literary history.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]
Apr 052014
Paperback 759: Signet 1188 (1st ptg, 1955)

Title: Inspector Maigret and the Strangled Stripper
Author: Georges Simenon
Cover artist: Robert Maguire

Yours for: $9


Best things about this cover:
  • That guy has the best "[sigh] Dames…" face ever. Ever.
  • His hands are amazing. This pose is so weird, the framing of the stripper so unusual. I kind of want to shout "Get Out Of The Way, Dude!" but then I remember a. she's dead, so that's kind of wrong, and b. artistically, this cover is original and cool.
  • It's hard to believe she's dead with her right arm in that position and her right knee up like that. I say she's alive, and therefore, "Get Out Of The Way, Dude!"


Best things about this back cover:
  • "Yes, I smoke a pipe. Why? Because I'm manly and Belgian—what the fuck do you care, buddy?"
  • Mmm, "dark bistros" and "smoke-filled dives" … tell me more.
  • Simenon is one of those writers I keep meaning to read and never do. I read one novel, I think: "Maigret à New York." In French. I enjoyed it. The end.

Page 123~

They had only about five hundred yards to go in the nearly deserted boulevard. The nightclubs, their signs glowing in the rain, couldn't be making a fortune in this kind of weather, and the bedecked doormen stayed under cover, ready to unfurl their big red umbrellas.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]
Apr 042014
Paperback 758: Ballantine Books 102 (PBO, 1955)

Title: Beyond Eden
Author: David Duncan
Cover artist: Richard Powers

Yours for: $15


Best things about this cover:
  • "I see the source of life itself—there! Beyond Eden. Eden … hey Eden … *EDEN*, would you get your giant body out of the way so we can see the damned source of life itself!?" 
  • Eden looks like giant space actress who has forgotten her line.
  • Richard Powers is the king of interplanetary fever dreams and wackadoodle future machines. My favorite scifi/fantasy cover artist (even if this isn't exactly his best work) (with respect to Valigursky, Emshwiller, etc.).


Best things about this back cover:
  • Living Water ™ —part of the Coca-Cola family of horror beverages
  • Excellent back cover art by somebody's 13-month-old niece.
  • If the "man" and the "woman" had names, this cover might be milligrams sexier.

Page 123~

Spectralium grew rapidly in Gayley's pilot tank.

That is some grade-A space porn right there.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]
Mar 262014
Paperback 757: Dell 223 (1st ptg, 1948)

Title: Hammett Homicides
Author: Dashiell Hammett
Cover artist: Gerald Gregg

Yours for: $30


Best things about this cover:
  • Taste the (lead) rainbow!
  • Uh, guys? I think it's probably dead now.
  • I see a pretty butterfly.
  • Gerald Gregg is my favorite early, semi-abstract, non-sleazy cover artist.


Best things about this back cover:
  • [ahem] … MAPBACK!
  • So iconic—Hammett's S.F.!
  • Sausaleto? What the?! … aw, I can't stay mad at you, mapback! Come here!

Page 123~ (opening paragraph of "The Main Death")

The captain told me Hacken and Begg were handling the job. I caught them leaving the detectives' assembly room. Begg was a freckled heavyweight, as friendly as a Saint Bernard puppy, but less intelligent. Lanky Detective-Sergeant Hacken, not so playful, carried the team's brains behind his worried hatchet face.


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Mar 242014
Paperback 756: Signet S1148 (1st ptg, 1954)

Title: The Wild Palms and The Old Man
Author: William Faulkner
Cover artist: James Avati

Yours for: $11


Best things about this cover:

  • Contemptuous Annette Bening resents your intrusion into her back-porch reveries.
  • James Avati is by far the best boring cover artist of all time.
  • There are many nice features to this painting—the expression on her face, the color of her shirt, the … let's call it an 'awning,' her bare feet, the grain in the wood … but still, this is pretty dull as covers go. Maybe they dialed it back out of respect for the Nobel Prize?


Best things about this back cover:

  • Yawn.
  • You can do better than this, Signet Giant!
  • The only part of this back cover that I like is the word "drenched."

Page 123~ (from "The Wild Palms")

The yellow eyes were full on him, she released the bitten lip and as he sprang back toward the bed he heard over the chuckling murmur of the wind the two voices at the front door, the porch—the plump-calved doctor's high, almost shrill, almost breaking, that of the gray gorgon wife cold and level, at a baritone pitch a good deal more masculine than the man's voice, the two of them unorientable because of the wind like the voices of two ghosts quarreling about nothing, he (Wilbourne) hearing them and losing them too in the same instant as he bent over the wide yellow stare in the head which had ceased to roll, above the relaxed bleeding lip.

In case you were wondering what "Faulknerian" meant.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]
Mar 212014
Paperback 755: Novel Book 6094 (PBO, 1961)

Title: A New Kind of Orgy
Author: Con Sellers
Cover artist: "posed by professional models"

Yours for: Not for Sale—part of the Doug Peterson Collection


Best things about this cover:
  • No more togas and vomitoria—it's … a new kind of orgy!
  • "OK, people, we're inventing a new orgy here, so … um … First, everyone push your boobs together. OK … that's … yep, get in there … just … ouch! … OK good … alright, this is pretty hot, right? … Now … let's see … hey, wait, don't fall asleep yet, you two!"
  • "Feel all strange and squirmy" … Did she drop the pronoun 'cause she's intoxicated? Or is that a command? "I said 'Feel strange and squirmy!' FEEL IT! Don't make me shake my big, now bared bosom at you!"

OK, now for the really good part: Imagine what the author of a book like "A New Kind of Orgy" might look like. Go ahead, imagine it. I'll wait … OK, you got a clear image? Well, did it look anything like this? (warning: brace yourselves):


Best things about this back cover:
  • Con Sellers, satanic grave-robbing phys ed teacher.
  • Con Sellers, alcoholic sweater fetishist.
  • Con Sellers, collector of trinkets, smoker of weed.
  • Con Sellers, proud holder of service medals, male fiction writing medals, and other shiny things he keeps in his home dungeon basement.
  • "He's done everything from —" HA ha. Fill in the blank! Even the cover's like "Yep, whatever crazy-ass shit you can imagine, Con Sellers has Done It."
  • That smile … it stays with you … trust me.
  • Count Chocula, retiree.
  • I have never not laughed when looking at this picture. Never. Not once.

Page 123~
Mai gave him a smile. "Nothing to nobody—I know that rule, too. I just don't want you to get hurt, Pio."
"Me? Get hurt?" His laugh was high and brittle. "That ain't the way it goes, baby. It's the other guys that get hurt."
"How do you think I got my medallion collection, baby? Service to my country? [high and brittle laughter] Oh, Mai, you adorable kid, you. Go fetch me my lounging sweater. And all the weed you can carry."


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]
Mar 192014
Paperback 754: Epic Book Original No. 120 (PBO, 1961)

Title: Passionate Trio
Author: John Davidson
Cover artist: photo cover

Yours for: Not for Sale (part of the Doug Peterson Collection)


Best things about this cover:

  • I can't believe this cover photo *ever* read as salacious. It could easily be the cover of a modern girl group's album Right Now. Adorable.
  • "Half-female" raises the important question WHAT IS THE OTHER HALF!? IS IT RANCH DRESSING!?
  • Seriously, this photo looks like it was taken yesterday. Fantastic swimsuits! This may be the only cover where my reasons for wanting to see more of the women's bodies are almost purely fashion-related.


Best things about this back cover:

  • Wild Font! Love it.
  • Wow, the tonal gulf between cover photo and cover copy just gets deeper and wider…
  • "Bill Hayward" made me laugh out loud. "Here is the story of something racy … Here is the story of something salacious … Here is the story of some random guy's name."
  • Next time I feel caught in the insane whirl of my existence, and people ask me how I'm feeling, I'll be like "not gonna lie, kinda Bill Hayward today."
  • READ THIS STORY, NOW! = my kind of advertising come-on. No beating around the bush. JUST BUY IT, MOTHERFUCKER!

Page 123~

Even from where he stood he could see that she was drunk.

"Why aren't you at work?"

"Too drunk," she replied. "Aha," he exclaimed. "Just as I thought."


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]
Mar 162014
Paperback 753: Ace D-110 (1st ptg / PBO, 1955)

Title: The 1,000-Year Plan / No World of Their Own
Author: Isaac Asimov / Poul Anderson
Cover artist: [Ed Valigursky] / Uncredited

Yours for: $25


Best things about this cover:
  • The Minister of Eyebrows is not pleased.
  • Rocket-shooting epaulets! Sign me up.
  • I saw this sitting on top of the pull boxes at my comic book store and asked the owner if I could look at it. She said, "You like it? Take it." So there's one more benefit to buying local.


Best things about this other cover:
  • Are we not men? We are Smear-Face.
  • This looks like a very polished sci-fi artist's sketchpad. Buncha vaguely space-y stuff, no real concept.
  • The capitalization scheme here is irking me. Titles capitalized, great. Uncapitalized, ok. First two words only … that just adds to the half-baked feel of this entire cover.

Page 123~

Through the shrieking din and confusion, Wienis' bull voice sounded, "Get the flares! Get the flares!"


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]