|Intl. Notebook||Mar 23 2018|
|Vintage Pulp||Oct 23 2017|
“It is at this point—still on the Great Plains, but with the towering mountains so close that it seems as if a man could reach out and touch them—that Skyline City occurs. The city itself has had many incarnations. At first it was no more than a stagecoach stop, a fort and a trading post. Then, with the advent of cattle ranching on the plains and the discovery of gold in the Rockies, it grew and prospered. It became a center of trade and finance—the capital of an enormous Western empire."
These days Denver is the capital of an enormous collection of immigrants from other states. More than three-hundred thousand came from California, mainly fleeing the west coast's culture, taxes and—ironically—its immigration. Such people would not recognize the city described in Sex on Arrival, but indeed, Denver was once a live-and-let-live paradise where the foolishness described by the author wouldn't have raised an eyebrow. And we're talking about during the eighties when we were young. We can't even imagine what the city was like in 1968.
Thus the book, though set before our time, is a bit of a nostalgia trip for us. On the whole it's a love story—with numerous sexual detours of semi-explicit variety. Semi explicit as in: “Then she wriggled around and her lips were on him. And the sensation radiated outward from his groin in stronger and stronger waves. It was almost more than he could bear. Almost more than any man could bear.” It's racy but not pornographic, and the interludes are short and widely spaced, as actual plot rears its ugly head.
Midwood sleaze titles were generally written under pseudonyms, and this particular author was probably Donald E. Westlake, who admitted producing close to thirty books as Marshall and Alan Marsh. But other authors used the Marshall name too. It isn't possible to know whether this is Westlake—at least not for us—by looking for hints of his style. Whoever wrote this worked fast, and the haste shows. But if you can pick it up cheap—and we mean real cheap—it's worth a read.
|Sex Files||Apr 5 2016|
|The Naked City||Dec 12 2014|
We would love if this issue of Uncensored Detective published this month in 1946 had a story relating to the desperate clown on the cover, but no such luck. You can read the text of the issue at this link, but we’ll summarize for those short of time—you learn about cheating spouses, a killer cop, and a millionaire con artist, but no clowns. The stories are all interesting (as are the photos and photo-illustrations posed by models that probably barely earned meal money for the week), but the tale of double homicide on Lowry Air Force Base in Denver is the one that caught our interest. The details of the murders are not in any way fantastic, but because the parties of interest are all Chinese cadets Uncensored Detective gets to drop lines like this one: The workings of the Oriental mind are strange indeed. And this one: What secret mechanism in the Oriental mind caused a normal Chinese student to go berserk and commit murders for pride? Oh, those inscrutable Chinese. The story is a classic case of framing the banal as somehow alien when it involves other ethnic groups, and it’s a lazy, vicious form of journalism you see often in both old magazines and modern cable news. The mechanism of murder in the Denver crime was indeed pride, and that’s not so secret or strange. The other murders in the magazine were committed for jealousy, money, and lust, and there’s nothing secret or strange about those either. What would be strange is clowns. But there isn’t a single damned one in the magazine.
|Vintage Pulp||Aug 16 2014|
|Vintage Pulp||Oct 4 2013|
Nice art from Barye Phillips (signing not with his usual "Baryé" but with his last name) for Frank O’Malley’s The Best Go First. O’Malley was in reality Denver-born western writer Frank O’Rourke, whose successful career included a string of hit novels and film adaptations. The Best Go First, a detective thriller set in Texas involving oil money and murder, was published in hardback in 1950, and in this paperback edition in 1952.
|Vintage Pulp||Sep 6 2013|
Above is a nice but uncredited cover for Nelson Nye’s Desert of the Damned. Nye was an important author of Western fiction who wrote more than one hundred novels and co-founded the Western Writers of America guild. He also used the pseudonyms Clem Colt and Drake C. Denver. Desert of the Damned involves a man named Ben Reifel (kind of like “rifle,” see what he did there?) being hunted for a murder he didn’t commit. He has to find a way to dodge both the law and a character named Breen who’s out for revenge. Nye’s work is quite popular, and this novel was reprinted several times, and appeared electronically from Prologue Books in 2012. This Popular Library version was published in 1953.
|Vintage Pulp||Mar 1 2013|
Printed by Sydney, Australia’s Cleveland Publishing Co., The Lonely Gun was written by the prolific author who called himself Marshall Grover, as well as Marshall McCoy, Val Sterling, Johnny Nelson, Shad Denver, Ward Brennan and other names. He was in reality Leonard F. Meares, and he published an astounding 746 novels. Amazingly, he didn’t even see his first on the shelf until he was thirty-four—young for publishing one’s first novel, but not for publishing the first of 746. Or better yet—look at it this way: that’s an average of just more than nineteen novels every year until he died at age seventy-two.
|Intl. Notebook||Mar 1 2012|
The Denver Book Fair may not look like much on the outside, but as you see below, the interior is loaded. And that’s just one room. The Book Fair is probably one of the better used bookstores in the U.S., thanks to its focus not just on books, but on vintage magazines. The shot below shows just a room of magazines, of all types, boxed, shelved, from the 1930s through 1980s. Customers have to grab a ladder and dig through the stacks themselves, which we did three days in a row. We were also given access to a utility closet that was piled high with stuff that had never been sorted, including some old calendars. We’ll start scanning some of these finds tomorrow. Now the bad news. The Book Fair is closing down. The owners haven’t decided on a shutdown date yet, but it will be soon. It’s really too bad we won’t be in the U.S. for their fire sale. While many of the tens of thousands of books will certainly find good homes, we suspect most of the vintage magazines will end up in a dumpster. But at least we were fortunate enough to be able to raid the stocks before the end. Farewell Book Fair.
|Vintage Pulp||Feb 24 2012|
Above, a cover for Walter D. Edmonds’ frontier novel The Captive Women, which appeared in 1950 as a paperback, 1949 as a hardback, and had been serialized in 1937 in the Saturday Evening Post as In the Hands of the Senecas. Basically, what you get here are separate accounts of whites, mostly women, who have been captured by Native Americans, circa 1776 to 1784. Edmonds, who wrote the acclaimed Drums Along the Mohawk, specialized in historical novels set in the American northeast. The right of white men to invade the land is presumed, but you still have to consider this fairly balanced writing for the time period. The Indians have personalities and motivations, which is the most you can hope for in 1930s-era pop fiction on this particular subject. The captive whose odyssey is followed most closely is that of a newlywed named Delia, who ends up wife to an Indian chief and bears him a child. Edmonds also wrote about fifteen books for children, including Bert Breen’s Barn, which won the National Book Award for Children’s Literature in 1976. The art here is by Denver Gillen, whose work you can see much more of at this blog.