Vintage Pulp Dec 12 2021
BARGE RIGHT IN
Hi, sorry to interrupt. Can I borrow your life preserver?


Originally published in hardback in 1949 as Body a la Mode, this Uni Books edition of Wright Williams' River Barge Virgin has a cover that misleads. First, the male figure seems more interested in the life preserver on the wall than the blonde in the foreground, but maybe that's just a flaw in the printing process. Uni promoted this as a stalkerish type of tale, but, “he took one look and vowed to possess her,” is way off. He took one look, thought she was real cute, and decided to meet her, is more like it. The he involved would be Carl, living for free in his rich uncle's Manhattan penthouse, and the her would be Diana, living on a house barge on the East River directly below that penthouse. As neighbors, they were destined to meet, and once they do, Williams constructs several obstacles preventing their joining, including a reporter determined to prove Diana is an escaped killer, a former girlfriend of Carl's determined to keep him for herself, a job beckoning Carl to southern climes, etc. But with these Uni potboilers it's not if, but how the couple will get together. Williams pulls a few surprises, but the ending is pre-ordained. Middling effort, but not a waste of time. The book has no copyright date inside, but online sources say this edition is 1952.
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Vintage Pulp Oct 13 2021
NEAR MRS.
It's a tough job but somebody's got to do her.


Wright Williams' 1948 novel Hired Husband came in a group of pulp novels we bought, and clearly isn't a crime or adventure novel, but a sleazy romance. And what vintage sleazy romances typically do is get the female protagonist laid, but not entirely due to her own efforts. In this case Laurette and John want to have a child, but can't get married because John's wife is wasting away comatose in a hospital, could continue doing so indefinitely, and divorcing a sick spouse who can't speak for herself isn't legal. So John is stuck. But he and Laurette feel they have no time to waste in pursuit of happiness and family, so they hire Latham to marry Laurette, so that John can impregnate her and the child will be so-called legitimate. After John's wife finishes withering to oblivion, Laurette will divorce her platonic hubby Latham, marry the widowed John after a respectable interval, and presto, instant family. What could possibly go wrong? Hah hah, plenty. Hired Husband is preposterous, and only marginally well written, but it kept us engaged. Also engaging is the cover art by Bill Wenzel, a guy we've featured before. See more here.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 9 2019
YOUR CHEATING ART
It looks amazing, baby. Er... aaaand should look even better on my lovely wife. Thanks for letting me test it on your neck.

Sometimes when you're caught you're caught. You can try and brazen the moment out, but it usually does no good, at least in mid-century fiction. From there it's just a short distance to mayhem, murder, trials, prison, and all the other fun stuff that makes genre fiction worth reading. From James M. Cain's iconic The Postman Always Rings Twice to J.X. Williams' ridiculous The Sin Scene, infidelity is one of the most reliable and common plot devices. What isn't common is cover art that depicts the precise moment of being caught. Of all the cover collections we've put together, this was the hardest one for which to find examples, simply because there are no easy search parameters. We managed a grand total of sixteen (yes, there's a third person on the cover of Ed Schiddel's The Break-Up—note the hand pushing open the door). The artists here are L.B. Cole, Harry Schaare, Tom Miller, Bernard Safran, and others. And we have thre more excellent examples of this theme we posted a while back. Check here, hereand here.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 29 2017
SCREW LOOSE
Shhh... poor baby. Don't think of them as my ex-lovers. Think of them as practice sessions for all the fun we have.

We like this pretty cover for Loose Ladies, a "Love Novel" written by Wright Williams, aka Watkins E. Wright, for Knickerbocker Books. Williams also wrote Bar-Fly Wives, Borrowed Ecstasy, Carnival Girl, Cheaters at Love, and a bunch of other books of this ilk. Loose Ladies was number forty-eight in Knickerbocker's Love Novels series and appeared in 1946. You'll often see these referred to online as sleaze, but they're chaste by today's standards, though this one actually touches on the idea of test tube babies, weirdly. The uncredited cover painting is in a style seen on true pulp novels of the 1930s and 1940s, before good girl art took over. Maybe we'll put together a Knickerbocker collection later. Keep an eye out. 

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Vintage Pulp Mar 10 2016
GROSS VALUE
You can’t put a price on genius.
 
We spend a lot of time looking for obscure paperback fronts, but sometimes you have to go with the top artists just for a reminder of how good they were. Therefore behold the immortal George Gross—six examples, all perfect.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 24
1930—Amy Johnson Flies from England to Australia
English aviatrix Amy Johnson lands in Darwin, Northern Territory, becoming the first woman to fly from England to Australia. She had departed from Croydon on May 5 and flown 11,000 miles to complete the feat. Her storied career ends in January 1941 when, while flying a secret mission for Britain, she either bails out into the Thames estuary and drowns, or is mistakenly shot down by British fighter planes. The facts of her death remain clouded today.
May 23
1934—Bonnie and Clyde Are Shot To Death
Outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, who traveled the central United States during the Great Depression robbing banks, stores and gas stations, are ambushed and shot to death in Louisiana by a posse of six law officers. Officially, the autopsy report lists seventeen separate entrance wounds on Barrow and twenty-six on Parker, including several head shots on each. So numerous are the bullet holes that an undertaker claims to have difficulty embalming the bodies because they won't hold the embalming fluid.
May 22
1942—Ted Williams Enlists
Baseball player Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox enlists in the United States Marine Corps, where he undergoes flight training and eventually serves as a flight instructor in Pensacola, Florida. The years he lost to World War II (and later another year to the Korean War) considerably diminished his career baseball statistics, but even so, he is indisputably one of greatest players in the history of the sport.
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