Now that I have slain *beep* my human rival I will show you that my hard drive *click* does more than just store data.
We haven't seen Carlo Jacono's work in a while, so here's a nice effort of his on the cover of Black Abyss by J.L. Powers, aka John Glasby, 1966, from Badger Books. The book deals with humans traversing the gulfs of space and encountering hostile lifeforms. We presume, based upon the art, that at least one of those lifeforms is robotic. Don't worry though—it has a Windows operating system, so it'll break down before accomplishing anything. Jacono has used this motif of an unconscious woman being carried before. Look here to see what we mean. And for an entire collection of his work look here.
Please don't die. I promise from now on instead of going hiking we can sit on the sofa and watch sports.
With winter slipping into spring we thought we'd share the above cover of someone who possibly slipped into the great beyond. The 1951 novel Le forces de l'amour was written for Éditions Mondiales Del Duca's popular Collection Nous Deux by Italian author Lucienne Peverelly, who also published as Luciana Perverelli and Greta Granor. We said a while back we thought she might be Lucienne Royer too, but we found no evidence to confirm that. Peverelly was a prolific writer who churned out more than 300 novels, always of the romantic and adventure type. She also served as editor-in-chief of the Italian weekly Il Monello starting in 1933, wrote for many women's magazines, daily newspapers like Il Tempo, and movie periodicals like Stelle. Del Duca didn't credit this cover, so it goes in the unknown artist bin.
I'm no doctor, but if a man isn't moving and isn't snoring, he's probably a corpse.
Above: a cover for Drury Lane's Last Case by Ellery Queen, who was actually Daniel Nathan partnering with Manford Lepofsky. It's originally 1933, with the above edition from Avon coming in 1952.
Everyone says I can't sing, I can't dance, and I can't act. But I must have something because I keep getting hired.
1959's Broadway Bait is a slightly better than average—for the sleaze genre, that is—tale of two ambitious actresses, the owner of a prestigious acting school, and the scam that his financial benefactors are running behind his back. Once the owner of the school realizes he's been funded not because of his elevated teaching techniques, but because the school makes a perfect clearing house for stolen goods, he decides to investigate, and his top two students are caught in the middle.
There's some Broadway atmosphere here that feels authentic, but in the end the book is nothing to write home about as a thriller, and is tame sexually. What it does have, though, is a fantastic piece of cover art, which is—you know what's we're going to say next—uncredited. Chariot Books seemingly never gave credit. The only reason anyone knows which artists painted some of their covers is because of visible signatures, which is not the case here, unfortunately. But for the seven dollars we paid we're happy to have this one in the collection.
I am with child. Your diving for lobsters and snaring rabbits must end. I hear the new Burger King on the island is hiring.
We appreciate when genre authors think outside the box, so first off we have to give credit to Charles Runyon for trying to throw readers a curve with his thriller Color Him Dead. It was published in 1963 and has a premise that's unusual. A man breaks out of prison and flees to the fictional Caribbean island of St. Patricia, set on revenge against the person who framed him and got him a life sentence for murder. That person is Edith Barrington, wife and virtual prisoner of her husband Ian. Our anti-hero, whose name is Drew Simmons, plans to murder Edith.
But when Drew finally finds her, he discovers she has total amnesia, the result of a breakdown and electroshock treatment. So he decides he can't kill her until she remembers what she did to him. He needs that recognition to make his revenge sweet. That means restoring her memory. And the only way he can figure out to do that is to have an affair with her. Maybe some deep dicking from a penis out of her past will jog her memory. Offbeat, no?
The plan hinges on one of the hoariest clichés in genre fiction: we'll call it the beat-and-switch. Ian keeps Edith guarded around the clock by a fearsome brute named Doxie. The end product of a century-old slave breeding experiment (we won't even get into that), Doxie is supposed to keep Edith from enjoying any extracurriculars with island visitors, and since he's castrated he's perfect for the job. But when Drew beats the shit out of Doxie, Ian fires his loyal aide and gives Drew the job of guarding his wife.
That's a completely stupid move, not least because Drew has a penis that works, yet more than a few thrillers are built around the device of a foolish man placing an enemy in control of that which he wants most protected. It rarely passes the credulity test, and it doesn't pass here either. In addition to this, Drew gets caught up in a revolution. In fact, he somehow becomes central to it, as often happens to tough guy protagonists in mid-century fiction. We won't get into that either, because it's stupid also.
Runyon tried something different, and we'll also note that he took advantage of the loosening censorship standards of the 1960s to write a tale that's more sexual than most, but he needed better conceptualizing and execution—particularly to get at the core of Drew's conflict over using sex as an avenue to murder. At least the paperback has nice Robert McGinnis cover art—which in mood is very much like this one. McGinnis goes topless with his female figure, probably one of the earlier instances of nudity on a Gold Medal novel.
Finally some privacy. Now I can really play with these things.
It's time we circled back to Alain Gourdon, aka Aslan, whose wonderful work you see here on an amazing cover for Folco Romano's Quand la chair š'éveillé, a title that translates as “when the flesh awoke.” This is a coming-of-age erotic novel from Éditions Le Styx for its Collection Les Fruits Verts, and even in a country as dedicated to l'art de l'amour as France there are limits. It was published in 1958, and banned in 1959, along with numerous other books from Le Styx. How many? At least eleven in two years. Quand la chair š'éveillé is so rare we can't find info on what specifically got it cancelled, but we'll keep looking into it. Meanwhile, see more Aslan by clicking his keywords.
Louisiana territory proves extremely inhospitable in 1957 manhunt thriller.
We bought The Tight Corner by Sam Ross because it was cheap. We knew nothing about Ross, and the uncredited cover art is decent but not special. But price sometimes wins, so we found ourselves reading a five dollar paperback about an ex-boxer named Tommy Berk who gets tangled up in a gambling scam gone wrong, is hunted by police for a murder he didn't commit, and after being shot and falling off a ferry in the Mississippi River Delta near New Orleans, is rescued by a Cajun fisherman and his sister as they take their shrimp boat out to sea.
Meanwhile, back on land, Berk's partners in the scam are looking for him to kill him. They're a diverse trio. Steve is a cold, calculating sociopath, but one with a secret weakness; Willy is an addle-brained killer, a trained attack dog; and Vi is a femme fatale who serves as the plot's honeytrap but is looking for a way to get out of the criminal life. It doesn't take long for them to realize Berk is somewhere at sea and has no choice but to come back sooner or later. When he does, they'll be waiting.
The Tight Corner is why we love buying vintage books. It's well written. Its bayou and ocean setting, simple but believable plot, and hard luck main character you end up liking all work in its favor. In addition, the prose has a lyrical style that's pleasing to read:
It was all mixed up in him and he saw himself swirling in her sea-green eyes. All at once, in the way she gazed at him, he seemed to plunge into them. He found himself close to her. And when he kissed her, he felt the sun she had been under all her life melt through him.
There are page-long passages written in that style and they're mostly interesting, though the book's dialogue suffers from name overusage. You know what we mean:
“It takes a lot of living to grow up, Jo.”
“Why'd he leave us, Adam?”
“Animals in a trap do strange things, Jo.”
“But I don't understand, Adam.”
People don't talk like that, so we generally take it as a sign of a bad ear for dialogue, but Ross does well with Cajun vernacular. He doesn't try to write their accents. Instead he uses careful word choices to lightly infuse their speech with the correct flavor. It works, and in the end, that and other positives outweigh the negatives, making The Tight Corner a saga that entertained us greatly. If you see it somewhere at a reasonable price, we think it's worth a read.
Wherever you look, there it is.
We're back. We said we'd keep an eye out for pulp during our trip to Donostia-San Sebastián, and we did see some, though we couldn't buy it—it was all under glass in a museum. The Tabakalera (above), a cultural space mainly focused on modern art, was staging an exhibit titled, “Evil Eye - The Parallel History of Optics and Ballistics.” A small part of the exhibition was a selection of Editorial Valenciana's Luchadores del Espacio, a series of two-hundred and thirty-four sci-fi novels published from 1953 to 1963.
We snuck a few shots of the novels, which you can see below. Overall, though, what was on offer were photos, short films, political literature, and physical artifacts dealing with war and conflict. Since the participants were all artists, journalists, and witnesses from outside the U.S., everything naturally focused on wars that the U.S. started or sponsored—those ones they don't teach in school. The pulp fit because of its suggestion that human conflict would continue even into outer space.
We also said we'd try to pick up some French pulp, and that side trip happened too. We managed to score several 1970s copies of Ciné-Revue that we'll share a bit later, and those will feature some favorite stars. Though the collecting was fun, we're glad to be back. The birthday party was a success, as always, and now we're down south where the weather is gorgeous and hopes are always high. We'll resume our regular postings tomorrow.
Don't worry about how my husband would react. He gets mad at everything I do anyway.
Most of the authors of sleaze or love novels tended to come and go quickly, and Margaret Carruthers, who wrote 1953's Another Man's Wife, is one of those cases. She's also credited with the novel His Best Friend's Wife, but beyond that, and a possible magazine short story, we've got nothing on her. The cover, however, is by the well known and talented Bernard Safran, a painter who isn't in the same class perhaps as paperback digest illustrators like George Gross and Rudy Nappi, but someone whose work we've always liked. This effort, with its beautiful colors and effortless pose, is so good it makes us want to lounge in bed too.
Mwah! I love you left hook. You get it done every time.
1954's The Man from Laramie by T.T. Flynn is fronted by Stanley Borack art featuring a standing figure nursing sore knuckles, but we prefer to think of him as gratefully kissing his fist. You get a couple of archetypal western elements in this novel, most importantly the mysterious stranger from out of town, and the powerful rancher with no scruples. If the title sounds familiar, it's probably because the book was made into a hit 1955 movie with James Stewart. We may have a look at that later.
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