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 ridiculous, 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.
June 12
1978—Son of Sam Goes to Prison
David Berkowitz, the New York City serial killer known as Son of Sam, is sentenced to 365 years in prison for six killings. Berkowitz had acquired his nickname from letters addressed to the NYPD and columnist Jimmy Breslin. He is eventually caught when a chain of events beginning with a parking ticket leads to his car being searched and police discovering ammunition and maps of crime scenes.
June 11
1963—Buddhist Monk Immolates Himself
In South Vietnam, Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc burns himself to death by dousing himself with gasoline and lighting a match. He does it to protest the persecution of Buddhists by Ngô Đình Diệm administration, choosing a busy Saigon intersection for his protest. An image of the monk being consumed by flames as he sits crosslegged on the pavement, shot by Malcolm Browne, wins a Pulitzer Prize and becomes one of the most shocking and recognizable photos ever published.
June 10
1935—AA Founded
In New York City, Dr. Robert Smith and William Griffith Wilson, who were both recovering alcoholics, establish the organization Alcoholics Anonymous, which pioneers a 12-step rehabilitation program that is so helpful and popular it eventually spreads to every corner of the globe.
1973—John Paul Getty III Is Kidnapped
John Paul Getty III, grandson of billionaire oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, is kidnapped in Rome, Italy. The elder Getty ignores a ransom demand for $17 million, thinking it is a joke. When John Paul's ear later arrives in the mail along with a note promising further mutilation, he negotiates the ransom down to $2.9 million, which he pays only on the condition that John Paul repay him at four percent interest. Getty's kidnappers are never caught.
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