You might as well stop lurkin' and join the party. We already cousins—no harm bein' kissin' cousins too.
Actually, this book has nothing to do with cousins, but the art spoke to us that way. Guess we've read too many Midwood sleaze novels. Ace Books is generally a bit more highbrow. The main character in 1957's Desire in the Ozarks is Shoog Dawkins, a happy-go-lucky hillbilly stereotype who, after some years of matrimony to his sweetheart Docey and the birth of a son, has his head turned by a girl named Genevy Trone. He's constitutionally unable to resist the basic pleasures of life, so trouble soon results. This was marketed as an authentic slice of rural life in the vein of Erskine Caldwell—unsuccessfully it seems, because though Steger authored numerous short stories, this seems to have been his/her only novel. Turning to the art, it's uncredited. We did a little digging and found that the original painting for this recently went up for auction and the sellers confirmed that it's unsigned. We figure if they can't identify the artist, nobody can, so this one will likely remain unattributed.
Sorry about your face. My aim isn't so good with this thing.
Give a girl a whip and you'll find out who's the boss. Luisita is about a Mexican girl living in nowheresville whose beauty brings her both opportunities and problems. After a run of bad luck in her home town she moves to Los Angeles and eventually lands a job in a massage parlor. There she learns how depraved men really are, but also how easy they are to manipulate, and of course she uses to this new knowledge to try and get herself a piece of the pie. Basically, it's one of those books that's supposed to expose a shocking subculture, but it has the added bonus of pretending to offer insights about an entire ethnic group. However, the racism subplots are probably accurate. Loomis later went on to write House of Deceit and The Marina Street Girls. The excellent art on this is by Robert Maguire and the copyright is 1954.
Baby, come out here and see this. The moonlight shining on the sewage canal is so romantic.
Kathleen Sully's Canal in Moonlight was titled Bikka Road in the U.S., and concerns a happy family of eighteen. Well, they're happy when the book starts. And they're soon to be nineteen, as the wife is pregnant yet again. But she dies in childbirth, a daughter whose beauty is garnering the attention of men disappears, a couple of major purchases go wrong, a revenge scheme is enacted against the man thought to have wronged the family, etc., and pretty soon nobody is happy anymore. This is pure literature rather than a pulp style novel, but we couldn't resist the cover art. It's by John Vernon, who painted numerous fronts for Ace Books during the 1950s. This nice effort is from 1957.
Go completely unnoticed in any setting with the amazing new Undercover Operative Trench Coat.
Well, some products don't work as advertised. We weren't going to buy it, but then we learned it came with a complimentary limited edition newspaper with two eye holes cut in it. But when we wore the coat we got spotted immediately and now we have a restraining order. 1955 copyright on this Ace Double of Harry Whittington's One Got Away (Robert Schulz cover art), bound with Cleve F. Adams' Shady Lady (Harry Barton on the art chores). We'll see you after our probation hearing.
Focus on both the writing and the art.
Focus was Arthur Miller's first novel, written in 1945, with this Ace Books edition appearing in 1960. If you haven't read it, basically it tells the story of a man who buys a new pair of glasses that alter his appearance to the extent that he is constantly mistaken for being Jewish. From harboring the same prejudices as others, he is suddenly cast as an enemy, as the hatreds around him are revealed. It's a very good, very earnest book. We've actually shared this, though, because the cover was painted by the Italian artist Sandro Symeoni, and it's the first time we've found his work on a paperback. The art reflects nothing of the book's content, but it's amazing just the same.
Asking for it? How is calling you a big smelly sub-mental mutant who has manners like a badger asking for it?
1955’s The Ripening is a novel in the vein of Steinbeck by Eugene Wyble about oppressed southern tomato pickers (we were thinking those were apples, but no) subsisting according to the whims of a cruel cannery operator. It was poorly reviewed and soon forgotten, but we appreciate the cover art, especially the shadow on the girl's thigh (her name is Teenie, as befits the mandatory nubile farmer's daughter you often find in this genre of fiction). Notice how the shadow of the hand—it could be his or hers, but we're thinking it's his—becomes a sort of beastly claw grasping her leg, yet is kept in balance with the male figure so it's an extension of him and a signifier of his violence and lust. That's clever. Unfortunately, the artist was not clever enough to get credit for his/her work. You may notice the Ace logo says “double” but this not one of their celebrated double-sided novels, with two front covers and the second book printed upside down relative to the first. It's a double-size novel. So you get only one book and one cover here.
How I got here is a long story. It starts with me not knowing how “penile” is spelled.
Above, the cover of Penal Colony, written for Ace Books by Robert S. Close, 1957. The story was inspired by real life Irish convict Elizabeth Callaghan, who in the 1820s was sentenced to the incredibly harsh sentence of death for forgery, then had the sentence commuted and was shipped off to colonize Australia along with one hundred other criminals. She stayed in trouble most of her life and was finally stomped to death in a barroom brawl in 1852 in Geelong. This “lusty” novel is, of course, only loosely based on fact, which is good, because what a downer that'd be. Cover art by uncredited.
Well, if you insist, doctor. I mean, I’ve heard of a Freudian slip, but I already told you I’m not wearing one.
We recently featured a novel about a therapist sleeping with his patient, and today here we go again with this very popular theme. Henry Lewis Nixon’s The Golden Couch is a bit more clinical than Have Love, Will Share, but both books end up in the same slippery place. 1954 with uncredited art.
My husband is down the chimney right now, but when he gets back you’re definitely going on his naughty list.
Switcheroo is a detective yarn set in the unlikely locale of Louisville, Kentucky, but since author Emmett McDowell lived there most of his life, it’s no surprise. Nearly all his writing featured Kentucky in some form, and he even branched out into non-fiction and wrote a Civil War history of Louisville. Switcheroo was his first book, and originally appeared in 1954 as one half of an Ace Double, with Lawrence Treat’s Over the Edge on the flipside. The edition you see above is from the Australian imprint Phantom Books and was published in 1955. Basically, low rent detective Jaimie McRae is hired to locate a missing woman. All the usual benchmarks are there—unhelpful cops, a hot secretary and girl Friday, and unexpected developments. It earned lukewarm reviews all the way around. The uncredited art for Phantom closely resembles the original Victor Olson art for the Ace Double edition, which you see above and right, but we doubt Olson had a hand in the rooftop makeover.
Fifty authors gather in Mission Hills for Black Ace Books' annual paperback signing event.
While pulp digging in L.A. we found this cool flyer advertising Black Ace Books’ 33rd Annual Paperback Collectors Show and Sale. There will be some heavyweight authors at this thing, including some award winners, but unfortunately, we can’t go because we won’t be in L.A. anymore. It was a lovely three weeks in the U.S., though. We saw many friends, and between forays into the abundant and diverse nightlife found plenty of new pulp, which you’ll see as the year progresses. Anyway, if you happen to be in Southern California, consider attending the Black Ace event. Mission Hills is a little out of the way, in our opinion, but if you’re from the area you’re certainly used to driving an hour or two to get where you want to go.
On another note, we’ll be moving headquarters in the next few weeks, which involves the torturous process of getting new internet set up, so don’t be surprised if we post a bit more intermittently than usual through the first part of April. On the other hand, things could go really smoothly and we’ll avoid disruptions. It’s impossible to predict, though. That’s just the nature of infrastructure related issues where we live. If we really wanted fast, cheap, reliable internet we’d move to Scandinavia, but sadly our bodies cannot tolerate ice unless it’s in a margarita. Thanks, America, for a fun trip.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1961—Plane Carrying Nuclear Bombs Crashes
A B-52 Stratofortress carrying two H-bombs experiences trouble during a refueling operation, and in the midst of an emergency descent breaks up in mid-air over Goldsboro, North Carolina. Five of the six arming devices on one of the bombs somehow activate before it lands via parachute in a wooded region where it is later recovered. The other bomb does not deploy its chute and crashes into muddy ground at 700 mph, disintegrating while driving its radioactive core fifty feet into the earth, where it remains to this day.
1912—International Opium Convention Signed
The International Opium Convention is signed at The Hague, Netherlands, and is the first international drug control treaty. The agreement was signed by Germany, the U.S., China, France, the UK, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Persia, Portugal, Russia, and Siam.
1946—CIA Forerunner Created
U.S. president Harry S. Truman establishes the Central Intelligence Group or CIG, an interim authority that lasts until the Central Intelligence Agency is established in September of 1947.
1957—George Metesky Is Arrested
The New York City "Mad Bomber," a man named George P. Metesky, is arrested in Waterbury, Connecticut and charged with planting more than 30 bombs. Metesky was angry about events surrounding a workplace injury suffered years earlier. Of the thirty-three known bombs he planted, twenty-two exploded, injuring fifteen people. He was apprehended based on an early use of offender profiling and because of clues given in letters he wrote to a newspaper. At trial he was found legally insane and committed to a state mental hospital.
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