Vintage Pulp Jul 15 2017
FILE IT AWAY
Maybe it fell behind the cabinet. If you get on your knees and look back there I bet you can see it.

This cover for Rock Anthony's 1963 novel Fringe Benefits was painted by Paul Rader and ranks as one of his most famous pieces. You see it everywhere. But as far as we know, nobody posting the art has bothered to read the story, so we bought a copy of this Midwood Books classic and sat down with some cold white wine. It took just over three hours to read, which was perfect timing because we were out of wine by then. Basically, you have a corporate drone who has his pick of women but isn't inspired by any of them. There's Adele, the society woman who's the major shareholder of the company. There's the boss's smoldering cougar secretary Mildred. There's the drab but sweet office assistant Nina. There's Gladys, the always available member of the steno pool. And eventually there's the eighteen-year-old new girl Dolly. We have no idea which one is supposed to be depicted in Rader's cover art. Probably Mildred, though she's a redhead in the book.

Anyway, the protagonist's continual scheming to get laid leads to him landing an executive position, and from there he finds himself in the middle of a takeover war. If he makes the right moves he'll end up as company president, and if not—well, at least he still has love. And is there any doubt who he'll end up with? Take a guess. Of course it's the drab but sweet Nina—but only after she transforms herself into a super hotty. Fringe Benefits may be a classic in the pantheon of mid-century sleaze art, but don't be fooled into reading it. There isn't enough humor or sex to maintain interest, and with vocabulary like “sarcasmed” and “sideglanced,” the writing might make you wonder if Rock Anthony got his break because he had an uncle in Midwood's executive suite. You know what the real fringe benefit is? We read the bad books so you don't have to. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
August 23
1942—Battle of Stalingrad Begins
The Battle of Stalingrad, perhaps the most pivotal event of World War II, begins. It lasts for more than six months, spread across the brutal Russian winter, and ends with two million casualties. The Russian sacrifice reduces the powerful German army to a shell of its former self, and as a result Nazi defeat in the war becomes a simple matter of time.
1979—Alexander Gudonov Defects
Russian ballet dancer and actor Alexander Borisovich Godunov defects to the U.S. The event causes an international diplomatic crisis, but Gudonov manages to win asylum. He joins the famous American Ballet Theater, where he becomes a colleague of fellow-defector Mikhail Baryshnikov, and later earns roles in such Hollywood films as Witness and Die Hard.
August 22
1950—Althea Gibson Breaks the Color Barrier
Althea Gibson becomes the first African-American woman to compete on the World Tennis Tour, and the first to earn a Grand Slam title when she wins the French Open in 1956. Later she becomes the first African-American woman to compete in the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
1952—Devil's Island Closed
Devil's Island, the penal colony located off the coast of French Guiana, is permanently closed. The prison is later made world famous by Henri Charrière's bestselling novel Papillon, and the subsequent film starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman.
1962—De Gaulle Survives Assassination Attempt
Jean Bastien-Thiry, a French air weaponry engineer, attempts to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle to prevent Algerian independence. Bastien-Thiry and others attack de Gaulle's armored limousine with machine guns, but after expending hundreds of rounds, they succeed only in puncturing two tires.
August 21
1911—Mona Lisa Disappears
Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, aka La Gioconda, is stolen from the Louvre. After many wild theories and false leads, it turns out the painting was snatched by museum employee Vincenzo Peruggia.
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