Paperback 869: N Or M? / Agatha Christie (Dell 187)

 1947, Agatha Christie, Crime Fiction, Dell, Gerald Gregg, Mapback, matches, Nautical, Smoking  Comments Off on Paperback 869: N Or M? / Agatha Christie (Dell 187)
Apr 102015

Paperback 869: Dell 187 (1st ptg, 1947)

Title: N Or M?
Author: Agatha Christie
Cover artist: Gerald Gregg

Estimated value: $10-15

Best things about this cover:

  • Norm!
  • The cigarette is puzzled. “What the hell does ‘NORM’ mean?” it wonders.
  • Design on this is so bizarre. Everything’s laid out at odd angles, the cigarette ashes have an eerie, vermiform look to them, and the whole thing kinda looks like a white whale with “NorM” tattooed to the side of its face is trying to fight the scourge of smoking by devouring all related paraphernalia in its sight.
  • Gerald Gregg is a cover artist god. As early, non-sexy paperback covers go, his weird abstractions are my favorite.

Best things about this back cover:

  • Mappington! Backington! These never get old.
  • If you call your place “Smuggler’s Rest,” the cops *are* going to find you.
  • “Road.” LOL. Thanks, map!
  • If the devil doesn’t live at Sans Souci, he will soon.

Page 123~

“Friends of friends of yours, I think you said?” Tommy suggested mendaciously.

Tommy always was a mendacious little bastard. I’ve always said that about him.


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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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Jan 292014

Paperback 737: Popular Library 219 (5th ptg, 1950)

Title: Duke
Author: Hal Ellson
Cover artist: Rudolph Belarski

Yours for: $12


Best things about this cover:
  • Her “whatever” face is the best.
  • Black Joan Crawford could take you or leave you.
  • Shoes! Why does everyone on old paperbacks look so damn cool. Even goofy people look cool. Even Flat-butt No Face here has a certain simple, shabby style I admire. 
  • Juvenile delinquency! Dope! Smoking (literally) hot girls who could give a damn! This book has it all.
  • The one word I think of when I see Belarski’s artwork: creamy. 


Best things about this back cover:
  • Love the advisory at the end there! “If you barf easy, or don’t, like, care about important stuff, then fuck off already.” This book has the same attitude as the lady on the cover.
  • Marijuana. I like when books name their drugs. Even though this is a 5th printing, the great condition, the JD (juvenile delinquency) theme, and the drug references make it super-sweet / collectible. 
  • “Cash before pleasure”? Come on, you gotta up your slang game if you’re gonna run the streets. “Money before honeys”? “Dough before ho”? “Cheddar before girls in tight sweaters”? Something.

Page 123~

“You got any sticks on you?” Chink said.
“Yeah, I got some. You want one.”
“I could use it.”
I gave Chink one. I passed some around to the others. I lit one for myself. I needed that. We all got to be feeling gay then. 

Aw, yeah … [cue sexy music] …


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Paperback 733: Waterfront Blonde / Gordon Semple (Beacon B352)

 1960, Acrostics, Beacon Books, Bed, Bikini, Fracé, Gordon Semple, Prostitution, Redheads, Shirtless man, Smoking  Comments Off on Paperback 733: Waterfront Blonde / Gordon Semple (Beacon B352)
Jan 162014

Paperback 733: Beacon B352 (PBO, 1960)

Title: Waterfront Blonde
Author: Gordon Semple
Cover artist: Fracé (!?) (see signature just left of Beacon icon)

Yours for: $12


Best things about this cover:
  • She was everything shirtless Carrot Top wanted … the body of a goddess, the eyes of an old-school extra-terrestrial, the smoking habit of a young Selma Diamond …
  • I thought the “Bawd” was the go-between / pimp. Yes, “a woman in charge of a brothel.” So she’s … half in charge of a brothel?
  • Love the bikini—appropriate attire, as the room appears to be underwater. 
  • I like how the cover copy reads like poetry/verse. Speaking of … 


Best things about this back cover:
  • Epic Sleaze Acrostic!
  • Seriously, someone worked long and hard on this. OK, maybe not “long,” but … someone *worked* on this, is what I’m saying.
  • Best word in the whole poem: “practically” (line 4)
  • Mmm, “velvety charms.” They’re magically delicious! (I assume)

Page 123~

She chuckled, gave his hair a rumpling, then went to the door and saw a pocket-size Venus attired in a nautical costume that did full justice to her hips and formidable bosom. The Venus flashed an insouciant smile. “Mrs. Marsh, no doubt?”

They don’t call Gordon Semple “The Faulkner of Sleaze” for nothing. Actually, they don’t call him that at all, but they should.


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Aug 082013

Paperback 681: Popular Library 443 (PBO, 1952)

Title: Sweet and Deadly
Author: Verne Chute
Cover artist: [A. Leslie Ross]

Yours for: $12


Best things about this cover:

  • So Many Great Things that I’m kind of paralyzed. I saw this last weekend at a bookshop in Ithaca and snapped it up without even looking at the price. I think this is one of my 20 favorite covers of all time.
  • So Much Action. The cover would be worth it for her alone—the baddest-looking Girl With a Gun in my collection—but we get Smashed Face McTireIron thrown into the bargain as well. How many ways were they planning on killing that poor blond guy?
  • Suicide doors!
  • Double Fear Hand! Or is he just dancing because she said so?
  • The art here balances pure hard-boiled action with a soft, luminous delicacy. Love.


Best things about this back cover:
  • That’s what they all say.
  • Wow, that’s some pretty overt gropiness there at the beginning.
  • “What did you say your name was? ‘Methane?'” “It’s MEL Thane, doll. Don’t you forget it.” “I already have.”
  • If that blond guy is Mel, I am *super* glad she shot him.

Page 123~

Mel’s match lighting a cigarette made a harsh sound. “I’ve got a sort of client who’s being blackmailed. He managed to steal a few things out of a blackmail mob’s file . . .”

Ew, Mel is the *detective* in this story? Oh well, my desire that he get shot stands.


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Paperback 550: Yesterday I Died! / John Cooper (World Distributors Nn, 1951?))

 1951, Asians, Bamboo, Charles Atlas, Crime Fiction, John Cooper, MWG, MWV, slm, Smoking, Turbans, World Distributors Novels  Comments Off on Paperback 550: Yesterday I Died! / John Cooper (World Distributors Nn, 1951?))
Aug 202012

Paperback 550: World Distributors Novel (no #) (PBO? 1951?)

Title: Yesterday I Died!
Author: John Cooper
Cover artist: Sure, why not…

Yours for: I have no idea …


Best things about this cover:
  • Him: “Yesterday Day I Died!” Her: “So I smell!”
  • Gun v. Nipple face-off.
  • Has she got an 8 1/2 x 11 pad of paper in her pocket? 
  • Awkwardly positioned gunman wonders “Am I in frame now? How ’bout now?”


Best things about this back cover:
  • One of three Awesome ads in this thing.
  • Charles Atlas promises you “fresh blood” if you join him and his vampiric children of the night.
  • “Joy-killing ailments” is a great phrase. 

Other ads!

  • The crossword constructor in me really wishes APAL had caught on.
  • How is that drawing of that dude supposed to relate to my quitting smoking. Frankly, it’s creeping me out and making me want to light up.
  • Hey, “S.A.E.” — more crosswordy goodness!

  • First, I thought it said “I am Bam-Bou!” and thought “awesome name for a guru.” Then I thought it said “Make Money By Growing Babies” and thought “that’s … a new angle.”
  • It’s a well-know scientific fact that bamboo release spores in the form of pound coins.
  • The Orientalism here is epic—the sexy East will lay bare her secrets to the hungry eyes of the horny West!

Page 123~ (This Book Has No Page Numbers!?!?!)

So … Random Page~

Lugs O’Malley said suddenly, “For Pete’s sake, Champion … do something. If you’re gonna blow us all to hades with the bomb … well hell, let’s go. But don’t forget, you go too.”

First, give it up for ‘Lugs O’Malley,’ which belongs in the Corney Gangster Name Hall O’ Fame. Second, who says (uncapitalized!?) “hades” in this context? Normally, I would say: the person who thinks “hell” is a curse word. But … the next sentence …


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Jun 152012

Paperback 538: Signet 1326 (4th ptg, 1956)

Title: Nightmare Alley
Author: William Lindsay Gresham
Cover artist: James Avati

Yours for: $21

Best things about this cover:

  • A noir classic. Early editions (Signets, like this one) are pretty rare. New York Review of Books reissued this book a couple years ago.
  • “Nightmare Alley, or The Carny’s Ennui”
  • “I’m so ashamed that Eddie Munster has to see me in this get-up.”
  • Not just “frank”—”Brutally Frank!” This book is so frank, it hurts my eyeballs.
  • No lie, I love her outfit. Pants could be a little lower-waisted, but the bra is a total win.


Best things about this back cover:

Ooh, the rarely seen “Double Frank” paperback. Nice. Whoa, triple … though that SF Chronicle quote is really just a callback of the front cover copy.

William Lindsay Gresham is not happy with how this photo session is going.

Page 123~

Under that brilliant stare she began to simper and found it difficult to control her hands.

This explains why she’s looking away from him and anchoring her hands on the edge of the, let’s say, dunk tank.


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Paperback 527: Arch of Triumph / Erich Maria Remarque (Signet S796)

 1950, alcohol, Erich Maria Remarque, france, James Avati, Signet, Smoking  Comments Off on Paperback 527: Arch of Triumph / Erich Maria Remarque (Signet S796)
May 112012

Paperback 527: Signet S796 (1st ptg, 1950)

Title: Arch of Triumph
Author: Erich Maria Remarque
Cover artist: James Avati

Yours for: $6

Best things about this cover:
  • Now *this* is what an Avati cover typically looks like. A set piece. Still life with moody people. There’s something almost religious about the tone of the paintings. This one is a very miniature Last Supper, if the Last Supper had consisted of wine, coffee, cigarettes, moody introspection, and distant staring.
  • Figures even have very faint haloes of light—grime-colored haloes.
  • What’s happening beneath the table? Is he on pillows? Sitting crosslegged? Perspective seems slightly off to me.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Seriously, that is one freaky author photo.

Page 123~

He got up and began to dress. One must remain independent. Everything began with small dependencies. One did not notice them much. And suddenly one was entangled in the net of habit. Habit for which many names existed—love was one of them. One should not grow accustomed to anything. Not even to a body.

Not a fan of the long sentences. I like. I’m mentally underlining “entangled in the net of habit,” which is a useful and elegant metaphor.


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