Vintage Pulp Nov 19 2017
RV READY TO DO THIS?
I had new shocks installed, so theoretically nobody outside should be able to tell we're in there humping like beasts.

In Sin on Wheels a virgin moves into a trailer park with her new husband and discovers he and most of the other residents are swingers. He's cheating on her within a week, she's cheating back days later, and pretty soon everyone wants a piece of her wedding cake. Of course, it was always the husband's plan to share his bride, which means the friction, so to speak, derives from her attempts to resist being turned into a trailer park plaything. It's all written from her point of view, so it's basically a male fantasy of a woman's descent into the sexual gutter. This is credited to Loren Beauchamp but it was written by Robert Silverberg. If you're thinking this is somehow a diamond in the rough we'll tell you bluntly it's not distinguishable from most other light sleaze. It's fun and quick, though, with lots of heavy drinking, strip poker, and round robin intercourse. It's 1962 copyright, with Paul Rader cover art of one of his best temptresses, an aspect that contributes to the book's collectibility.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 15 2017
ALLEY OF THE DOLLS
You're damned picky all of a sudden for a dame I found dumpster diving behind White Castle.


Alley Girl has some of the harder boiled characters we've come across in mid-century fiction. We're reminded a bit of James Ellroy, whom we suspect must have read and been influenced by this book. The style of author Jonathan Craig, aka Frank E. Smith, is not similar to Ellroy's, but the feel is a match. The lead male Steven Lambert is a crooked cop, a sexual predator, and a serial swindler. His girlfriend is a hardcore drunk, a nymphomaniac, and a self-destructive thrill seeker. Most everyone else is a victim or a dupe, particularly the innocent man Lambert is framing for murder, and the man's beautiful wife who Lambert coerces into sex by promising not to go through with the frame-up. We throughly enjoyed this book. It's anchored by just the sort of irredeemable heel that makes crime fiction so entertaining. The only problem is a 1954 edition from Lion like you see here could cost you a fortune. The 2013 re-issue, which comes from Black Curtain Press—but without the excellent cover art from Robert Maguire—is much more economical. We recommend reading it in any case.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 13 2017
A CASE OF MEDICAL NEGLIGEE
You're lovely in that, but for pure sexiness nothing beats a woman in an assless hospital gown.


Above is an alternate cover for a book we featured a couple of years ago—Frank G. Slaughter's Eastside General. The previous art was from 1957, but this edition is from 1952 with cover work by Owen Kampen. It struck us for a couple of reasons. First, the patient is wearing a negligée, and second, she's smoking. Possibly the doctor would tell her smoking is bad for her, but in 1952 the link between cigarette smoking and cancer was suspected but not established. Sometimes it takes a while but science always reaches a consensus. So do we, and our consensus on this cover is that it's great. You can see our original write-up on Eastside General at this link.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 10 2017
COUNTER INTELLIGENCE
Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest—and you all know it!

You know the aphorism about intelligence, right? The one where smart people never feel smart enough and stupid people never realize they're stupid? The lead character in Jonathan Gant's, aka Clifton Adams' Never Say No to a Killer constantly brags about how smart he is. He even claims to have a genius I.Q. He puts this brainpower to use in escaping prison, setting himself up in Lake City, gaining possession of a million dollars worth of blackmail material, and sparking interest from the most beautiful woman he's ever seen, but you have a sneaking suspicion the entire time he isn't really that smart.

Since the story is told from first person point-of-view you have no evidence he's a blowhard, but for a guy who's allegedly so much smarter than everyone else plenty of things go wrong with his schemes, and the corpses he generates don't inspire confidence in his self assessment. And indeed, later you discover definitively that he isn't bright at all—he just has an enormous ego, one that allows him to bluster his way through problems, but which keeps him from spotting obvious dangers and prevents him from understanding it's he who's being played.

He believes beautiful women are his reward for being so much better than everyone else, which makes it especially satisfying when these women begin giving him trouble. If he was really a genius he'd have known that you never cross a femme fatale. Never Say No to a Killer is not an especially well written book, but the story is great and the character of Roy Surratt is rare. Well, rare in fiction. In real life people like him are everywhere. Recommended stuff from Ace Double Novels, circa 1956, with uncredited cover art, and Louis Trimble's Stab in the Dark on the flipside.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 10 2017
URBAN DECAY
Population 1280. Correction—1274.


Purely by coincidence, we also read a novel that's the dark twin of Never Say No to a Killer. The book was Jim Thompson's Pop. 1280, and in this one the main character is a self-described moron, and so is everyone else. At least it seems that way at first. Or maybe it's kinder to say they're simply unpretentious and earthy. Check out this exchange between two lawmen from adjacent counties:

Pre-zactly! Ken said. “So I'll tell you what to do about them pimps. The next time they even look like they're goin' to sass you, you just kick 'em in the balls as hard as you can.”

Huh? But don't that hurt awful bad?

Pshaw. 'Course it don't hurt. Not if you're wearing a good pair o' boots.

I mean, wouldn't it hurt the pimps?

Once we're immersed in this chaw-and-cornbread milieu, one character emerges to be considerably more cunning than the others. The aphorism applies again. Though he doesn't consider himself to be smart, somehow he's more than up to the task of conniving his way through multiple nefarious schemes to reach his ultimate goals, which consist of getting laid and not working too hard as sheriff.

The book is set during the Great Depression and its portrait of man-woman and white-black relations is both horrifying and hilarious. Thompson's approach is partly satirical, but the actual ideas espoused by his characters are deadly serious, as well as historically grounded, such as in a conversation about whether the county's black residents have souls. The consensus is they don't. Why? Because they aren't really people.

It's a pointed commentary on the distant Jim Crow south, yet the very same question of black humanness festers at the core of America's 2017 problems. If you doubt it ask yourself how the same observers who have limitless sympathy for a white rancher shot after initiating a standoff with federal lawmen somehow have none for unarmed black men shot in the back, or why rich white ranchers who refuse to pay their federal grazing fees are perceived as persecuted, while a poor black man trying to survive by selling loose cigarettes is not.

Critic Stephen Marche once described Pop. 1280 as “preposterously upsetting,” which is as apt a description as we can imagine. The idea of who's really human, what is sexual consent, what are the obligations of lawmen, and what is evil are played for laughs by Thompson, but always with an incisive twist that lets you know where his sympathies lie. Yet as shocking as the book is to read, it's addictive and consistently entertaining, particularly when various characters dispense their tabacky soaked wisdom…

… about women: “I'd been chasing females all my life, not paying no mind to the fact that whatever's got tail at one end has teeth at the other, and now I was getting chomped on.”

... about the mentally challenged: “You probably ain't got as long a dingle-dangle as him—they tell me them idjits are hung like a stud hoss.”

… about learning: “I mean I caught him reading a book, that's what! Yes sir, I caught him red-handed. Oh, he claimed he was only lookin' at the pitchers, but I knew he was lyin'.

We recommend Pop. 1280 highly. The Gold Medal paperback you see above with its Robert McGinnis cover art is expensive, but numerous later printings are available at reasonable prices. Just go into the reading with your psyche girded. You'll root for the main character Nick Corey, but he's merely one of the most charming bad apples in a town that's rife with rot. That rot leads to the reliable pulp staples of adultery, betrayal, and murder many times over, but in the most unique and enjoyable way.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 8 2017
TROUBLE AFOOT
Uh, guys? Remember when you said there was no reason for panic because she always makes it home in one piece?


The art on this Handi-Book edition of Edward Ronn's, née Edward S. Aarons' 1950 thriller Dark Memory isn't what you'd call masterfully executed (we've never see a foot that had a straight little toe), but it sure makes you look twice, and that's really the point. It was painted by Mike Privitello. The art on the other editions is interesting too, and we've uploaded those for the sake of comparison.

Also published as The Art Studio Murders, the novel opens with a man pushed in front of a subway train. He survives only to endure a blow to his art career when the paintings he's been toiling over for years are destroyed days in advance of a big exhibition. This atrocity is followed by the murder of a friend. At that point he flees to a bucolic island, but quickly learns that whoever is after him is not someone he can shake with a mere change of area code.

Aarons authored more than 80 novels during a long career spanning the 1930s through 1970s. Six more novels appeared after he died in 1975, but these were built from partial manuscripts and were ghost written by Lawrence Hall. We haven't actually read any Aarons, but considering his output we'll almost certainly run across him in our local used paperback outlet at some point. When we do we'll report back.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 7 2017
FEMININE PERSUASION
Well, if that's the way you feel about it, fine—I'll go to the damn grocery store with you.


Here's how food shopping works around here. When we go to the market we buy only enough for a day or two because we want to prevent food from going over, but when the Pulp Intl. girlfriends go they buy more than they can carry. Therefore, when we go alone we never get everything they want, and when they go alone they never have the help they need. We're thinking of buying them a donkey to solve that problem. Paul Kenny's Consigne impitoyable has nothing to do with any of that. It's an espionage thriller featuring the long-running character Francis Coplan, aka FX 18, who works for SDECE (Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-Espionnage). The series, which was credited to Kenny as a pseudonym but written by Belgian authors Gaston Van den Panhuyse and Jean Libert, was immensely popular and sold tens of millions of copies globally. As you can see, Consigne impitoyable had two nearly identical covers, presumably representing two nearly identical occasions when extra persuasion was needed to get Coplan off his ass to help with the shopping. He may need to buy a donkey too. Both editions had Michel Gourdon cover art and appeared in 1958.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 5 2017
OUT OF POCKETS
You're absolutely right! Because corpses don't need money, keys, gum, or any of that stuff. What was I thinking?


First of all, when we see a title like No Pockets in a Shroud and see an angry guy with a crushed piece of paper it seems to us that he's just decided to go back to the drawing board with something, possibly shroud design. Which is how we came up with our silly subhead. But the book isn't about shrouds at all. What happens is a newspaperman's rigid personal ethics compel him to expose corruption in the big city, including bribery in professional baseball, a crooked abortion ring, and a racist group that bears a strong resemblance to the KKK. This truth-telling will cost him of course, but exactly how much is the question.

The book was written by Horace McCoy, who is often called an underrated writer, but once multiple sources use that term, maybe you aren't underrated anymore. He wrote numerous tales for the classic pulp magazine Black Mask, as well as for Detective-Dragnet Magazine, Man Stories, et al, before branching out to author classic novels like Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye and They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? Generally, No Pockets in a Shroud is considered substandard for McCoy, but it has an interesting point of view. The rather intense cover art is signed “T.V.,” which we take to mean Tony Varaday. And the title, incidentally, is just another way of saying: You can't can't take it with you.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 4 2017
LUNAR ROVER
I was wishing for a telescope to look at the moon and here you show up with what feels like one in your pants.


What's Elizabeth's Dunn's Moonlit Voyage about? It's a romance. A debutante takes a cruise to look for a man and ends up having to deal with this handsy chap in a tuxedo. If she looks a tad alarmed it's probably because she's noticed her new acquaintance has a serial killer haircut. The book was originally titled The Moon To Play With, and while in actuality it isn't pulp style fiction, it caught our eye because there's a full moon tonight. Copyright 1948, with cover art by David Attie. 

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Vintage Pulp Nov 1 2017
GULF HANDICAP
Nothing's funny, really. I just can't help laughing about how utterly screwed we are.


Gulf Coast Girl is more solid aquatic themed work from Charles Williams. This time the story involves a woman who seeks help from a crack salvage diver in finding a small plane that crashed in the Gulf of Mexico with a fortune on board. The story has a framing device—the boat they use for their salvage operation is found abandoned and the only clue to their whereabouts is a diary. So the story is narrated by the captain of the rescue vessel, reading from the diary what happened to the protagonists. This frame seems unneeded for nearly the entire length of the book, but the always competent Williams shows late that this device is in no way extraneous. Nifty work. We're really ripping through Williams' catalog now. Originally published in hardback in 1955 as Scorpion Reef, these Dell paperback editions of Gulf Coast Girl appeared in 1955 and 1960 with cover art from Robert Maguire and Robert McGinnis. 

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Next Page
History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
November 21
1959—Max Baer Dies
Former heavyweight boxing champ Max Baer dies of a heart attack in Hollywood, California. Baer had a turbulent career. He lost to Joe Louis in 1935, but two years earlier, in his prime, he defeated German champ and Nazi hero Max Schmeling while wearing a Star of David on his trunks. The victory was his legacy, making him a symbol to Jews, and also to all who hated Nazis.
November 20
1945—Nuremberg Trials Begin
In Nuremberg, Germany, in the Palace of Justice, the trials of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of Nazi Germany begin. Among the men tried were Martin Bormann (in absentia), Hermann Göring, Rudolph Hess, and Ernst Kaltenbrunner.
1984—SETI Institute Founded
The SETI Institute, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, the discovery of extrasolar planets, and the habitability of the galaxy, is founded in California by Thomas Pierson and Dr. Jill Tarter.
November 19
1916—Goldwyn Pictures Formed
In the U.S.A., Samuel Goldfish and Edgar Selwyn establish Goldwyn Pictures, which becomes one of the most successful independent film studios in Hollywood. Goldfish also takes the opportunity to legally change his last name to Goldwyn.
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