Vintage Pulp Jul 3 2023
LOSING FACE
A single hard look is worth a thousand threats.

Peter Held is another new author for us. He's a pseudonym used by sci-fi author Jack Vance. Take My Face was first published in 1957, with this Pyramid paperback coming in 1958 fronted by John Floherty, Jr. art featuring a clever upper body variation on the classic alpha pose. The book is about a teenaged boy whose face is burned and permanently scarred in a scooter accident. When he's later humiliated by four girls during a sorority initiation (one of whom had caused the original accident), he snaps and ends up in a reform school. The girls forget him and go on with their lives. Years later when the quartet start being murdered, there are no suspects—until someone remembers that long ago incident of youthful callousness toward the burned boy. But is he now grown up and committing the murders, or is something else going on? We thought Take My Face had a good premise, but it reads a bit dispassionately, which led to diminished involvement for us. We won't go running back to Held, but we won't run away either, should we encounter him again.

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Vintage Pulp May 12 2023
THE UNFORGIVEN
*sob* Have a few affairs, trash a hotel room, wreck a car, slap a child—and your reputation is ruined. It isn't fair.

Above is a cover for Day Keene's 1954 novel Notorious, republished in Italian by Longanesi & Co. in 1958 with cover art by John Floherty, Jr. The art reminded us that we have a couple of Keene books, so we're going to move him near the top of the pile because he's always given us a wild read. Meanwhile, if all goes well, one of our beloved pulp mules will be bringing us a group of fun paperbacks from the U.S., including efforts from Milton K. Ozaki, Lou Cameron, Chester Himes, and Dorothy Salisbury Davis. We hope to have a summer of great reading. 

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Vintage Pulp Sep 27 2018
HELL AND GOODBYE
I know I shouldn't laugh, but I never realized you even had a heart.


In the 1952 crime thriller One for Hell trouble comes to the fictional West Texas oil town of Breton and it arrives by train. Author Jada M. Davis tells the readers this with strong style, as various characters around town hear a sound portentous of approaching calamity but which they don't yet recognize as such. Davis writes in chapter three, “Far off, faint but clear, a train whistle mourned the passing of the night. Whoo-ooo-ooo, whoo-ooo-ooo, whooooo...”

Chapter four starts this way: The mayor heard the whistle, the whoo-ooo-oooing, shrilly whoo-ooo-oooing whistle, and sat up in bed.

Chapter five opens with this: Chief Bronson heard the whoo-ooo-oooing, whoo-ooo-OOO, whoo-ooo-oooing of the train and was glad morning was on its way.

And chapter six opens: The train whistle sounded fuzzy and dreamy to Laura Green, the whoo-ooo-ooo, whoo-ooo-ooo, whooooo-oooing-oooing lonesomely lonely and by itself.

Yes, trouble has arrived in the form of a man so bad he'll turn even the most corrupt town west of the Mississippi River upside down. He's a man who has no limits to how much he'll lie, what he'll steal, and who he'll hurt. He's a thief and a grifter. When he stumbles into a position of authority there's no thought of playing it straight. The trust he's given just means more opportunity to do wrong.

We suspect Jada Davis identified a bit with his creation, because like the author, his lead character has a name that sounds like it belongs to a woman—Willa. And he has an attitude about it, as a couple of characters find out when they comment on the fact. Willa robs stores, frames the innocent, beats women, and worse. He's racist, sexist, and destructive in ways most ’50s crime novel bad guys can't even touch. Nature or nurture? It's impossible to know.

All in all One for Hell is an effectively dark piece of entertainment, but not for the faint of heart in these days when the difference between depicting evil and endorsing it seems ever harder for people to discern. This edition came from Red Seal and it has cover art by John Floherty, Jr., who was active throughout the 1940s and 1950s. We featured another one of his covers not long ago, and you can see that here. We'll see if we can dig up more down the line.
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Vintage Pulp Feb 12 2018
THE THINGS SHE SAID
Have you ever considered the possibility that it's just a penis substitute offering psycho orgasmic relief for self esteem inadequacies?


Leave it to a woman to overcomplicate things. Sometimes a gun is just a plain old penis substitute. Dan Cushman's 1953 novel Jungle She features plenty of those, as his franchise man's-man Frisco Dougherty helps an escaped “half caste” damsel in distress return to the locale of her captivity on a Borneo plantation to try and steal the tyrannical owner Van Hoog's hidden fortune. That's supposed to be her in John Floherty, Jr.'s cover art, and if you're thinking to yourself she looks inclined to use the gun on Frisco, well—spoiler alert—she actually does shoot him, but he survives to confront Van Hoog in a vertiginous rope bridge climax. If you want to buy any of Cushman's jungle adventures you'll probably find them expensive—up to $100 for this one. But be patient. We also saw it for eight bucks.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 22
1944—G.I. Bill Goes into Effect
U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Servicemen's Readjustment Act into law. Commonly known as the G.I. Bill of Rights, or simply G.I. Bill, the grants toward college and vocational education, generous unemployment benefits, and low interest home and business loans the Bill provided to nearly ten million military veterans was one of the largest factors involved in building the vast American middle class of the 1950s and 1960s.
June 21
1940—Smedley Butler Dies
American general Smedley Butler dies. Butler had served in the Philippines, China, Central America, the Caribbean and France, and earned sixteen medals, five of which were for heroism. In 1934 he was approached by a group of wealthy industrialists wanting his help with a coup against President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and in 1935 he wrote the book War Is a Racket, explaining that, based upon his many firsthand observations, warfare is always wholly about greed and profit, and all other ascribed motives are simply fiction designed to deceive the public.
June 20
1967—Muhammad Ali Sentenced for Draft Evasion
Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who was known as Cassius Clay before his conversion to Islam, is sentenced to five years in prison for refusing to serve in the military during the Vietnam War. In elucidating his opposition to serving, he uttered the now-famous phrase, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.”
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