Episode 12 Four Favorite Vintage Paperbacks 2022


Episode 12 of the Paperback Show is our final podcast of 2022. In this episode, I look at the four vintage paperbacks that were my favorite reads of the year. I read a lot and don't choose books randomly, so there was a lot of competition. These four paperbacks stood out for their originality and compelling stories/characters. I was particularly impressed by Daphne Du Maurier's novels (see episode 10 with author Greg Herren). I'm still thinking about her stories and characters. I can't recommend Du Maurier more highly for those of you who love to read. 

Four Favorite Vintage Paperbacks


                                          My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier, Avon 1972

Perhaps my favorite vintage paperback of the year was My Cousin Rachel by Daphne DuMaurier. Not only was the novel exciting to read, but it was a great pleasure to discover an author whom I’ve dismissed over the years as a “romance novelist”. Oh, boy, was I mistaken. Greg Herren, a professional mystery author, appeared on Ep 10 to discuss this novel with me. 


                                                The Great White Space by Basil Copper. Manor, 1976

My second favorite vintage paperback was The Great White Space by Basil Copper. I discovered this British horror author in the fanzine Paperback Fanatic, a great series that emphasizes cover reproductions and forgotten authors. Cooper’s books are not as easy to find at reasonable prices and it took me a while to find a good copy of GWS. Imagine a combination of Jules Verne and H.P. Lovecraft. A Journey to the Center of the Earth with the Old Gods. The story was so engrossing that I ended up catching only a few hours of sleep on the night I started reading this amazing novel. The style is like adventure fiction, but there’s a creepy, undertone to the whole thing. I'm now collecting all of the Basil Copper I can find. 

                                                             Bugles in the Afternoon by Ernest Haycox. Signet, 1973

My third favorite vintage paperback is Bugles in the Afternoon by Ernest Haycox. This is a western novel about General Custer and the slaughter at Little Big Horn by a master of the western novel. Haycox was a self-made man who through hard work and intelligence became a best-selling Pulp Western writer. His work carried over into the paperback era. What made him different from the other pulpsters was his attention to detail and his creative variations of western genre tropes. Bugles in the Afternoon is considered his best novel. After having read half a dozen of his books, I tend to agree, although there are some other titles that are of very high quality. 



                                          Black Easter, or Faust Aleph-Null by James Blish.  Avon, 1982

My fourth and final favorite vintage paperback read for 2022 was an extremely unusual novel, Black Easter, or Faust Aleph-Null by James Blish. Although I had read Blish as a science fiction author (His Cities in Flight series of four generation-starship novels are favorites), I had no idea he wrote horror fiction as well. Really though, Black Easter is not so much horror as it is a completely unique blend of the occult, adventure, horror, and philosophical dialogue. If that combination sounds dry, it isn’t in the hands of a master writer like James Blish. 


LINKS


PM Press is a progressive and original publisher that published three books on various paperback topics that, for the most part, have not been covered. The three titles are: 

1.  Sticking It to the Man: Revolution and Counterculture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950 to 1980 by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre
2. Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980 by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre
3.  Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950 to 1985 by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre

I've discovered so many great paperbacks (including 3 of the 4 paperbacks on this favorites list) in these books. I urge you to visit the PW website page for these three titles to find out more. 

2023 Paperback Show Topics

Some of the paperback authors I’ll be covering in the podcast are Ross MacDonald, Chester Himes, Barney Rossett, Grove Press Black Cat paperbacks, Ishmael Reed, Ernest Haycox, Basil Copper, Bantam Books,  and Ace paranormal/occult paperbacks among others. We’ll have Lisa Morton back along with Richard Brewer and perhaps Duane Swizcerzynski discussing the Black Lizard paperback series. All in all, it looks like a fun year of reading and discussion. 

One project I’m very excited about is the paperback classics series. These will be short podcasts on paperbacks that have achieved “classics” status in our culture.  Each show will cover the book itself, the paperback publishing history, the author, and why the book has become a classic. We will not only cover fiction but non-fiction as well.  Paperback classics like “The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson and “The Art of Loving by Eric Fromm” will be featured. Look for the series to start up in March of 2023


Episode 11 - James M. Cain and Double Indemnity



James M. Cain is one of those great mystery/suspense writers that everyone interested in good writing should read. The problem is that film versions of two of the novels were made into Hollywood films that are so popular they have overshadowed their sources. As our guest, Richard Brewer, put it in the podcast, "Well, I've seen the movies, so I feel like I've read the books". I think a lot of readers think this way which is why Cain has been neglected as an author compared to Hammett, Chandler, and Ross MacDonald. 

This podcast tries to bring attention to this wonderful, stylish author: his life, the paperback reprints of his novels, and a discussion of what I consider to be his masterpiece, Double Indemnity. The first half of the podcast is the biography and paperback publishing history (in general). And the second half is a discussion with our favorite guest, Richard Brewer. Richard appeared in Ep 3 & 7 (Chandler and Cain) and so we brought him back to discuss James M. Cain.

James M. Cain 

SHOW NOTES

The music for this podcast is from archive.org and is in the public domain. The opera solo is from Verdi's La Traviata, a French recording (1920?) sung warmly by Arthur Endreze

Biographical and critical information for this podcast came primarily from Roy Hoopes's definitive biography, Cain: The Biography of James M. Cain (1987). The paperback publishing history came primarily from research in the wonderful Jon Warren's The Official Price Guide to Paperbacks, an essential guide for anyone who wants to learn/research the history and publishing of paperbacks. The actual price guide element in the book is long out of date though. 

Surprisingly, the James M. Cain wikipdedia entry is quite well written and informative. You can find a complete bibliography and reviews at the excellent mysteryfile.com website. The IMDB has a full listing of film/TV adaptations of his works. 

Avon paperback (1945) Cover by Paul Stahr

COLLECTING JAMES M. CAIN IN PAPERBACK

In the podcast, I trace the history of James M. Cain in paperback or at least the first 20 or so years of paperback publication. The Armed Service Editions (ARC) were the first paperbacks published (I don't count magazines or digests as paperbacks) followed by AVON editions which are probably the most collectible. Penguin, before they split off into Signet/New American Libray, published some early works. The Signet editions are awfully nice and I think they are the best to collect since they are readily available and not as pricey as the AVON paperbacks. Pocket Books did some lovely editions with great cover art, although James Avati created a cover for Serenade for Signet which is fantastic. There is a nice collection of James M. Cain covers on Pinterest.

SIGNET paperback (1950) Cover by James Avati

I personally like the vintage (Random House) editions of the 1970s with their photographic covers. The current paperbacks (quality paperback size) use graphics instead of noir photos. These editions make for excellent reading copies. You can frequently find a collection of Cain's paperbacks for sale on 
eBay or Etsy, but patience and regular visits to your local used bookstore will result in a good collection of Cain's works. 

Vintage 1978 paperback cover

Later novels are easy to find, but not in paperback. Some never had paperback reprints. Plus, they can be pricey even though they really shouldn't be. 

I highly recommend Sixy Years of Journalism by James M. Cain (edited by Roy Hoopes). His newspaper essays are writing are so very funny. Read the essay on Southern California and you'll be laughing your ass off. This is a side of Cain that is not nearly as well known as it should be. 


SPECIAL GUEST RICHARD BREWER

My co-host on this episode is a long-time mystery reader. We first met while working at the Mysterious Bookshops back in the 90s. He is also an audiobook director having recently completed the novels of Raymond Chandler as audiobooks. Check out his Facebook page. The Chandler audiobooks (narrated by Scott Brick) can be found here. 

Richard mentioned the Raymond Chandler series he directed for Audible. You can find those recordings here. He recently finished narrating a Bart Hall western-noir book for Audible called Under Tower Peak. The anthology Culprits: The Heist Was Only the Beginning that Richard and Gary Phillips edited can be found here. 


Episode 10 - Daphne Du Maurier & My Cousin Rachel

 


Daphne Du Maurier is best known for the film adaptations of her novels. Her bestselling novel Rebecca was made into a very popular Alfred Hitchcock film starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontane. The novel itself has never been out of print, but most people remember the movie and not the original novel which is much, much different than the film. Daphne has been unfairly (and inaccurately) labeled a "woman's author" and a writer of "gothic romances". Nothing could be further from the truth. She was an unsentimental author who wrote of the power struggles between men and women, especially in marriage. She had an uncanny ability to create suspense and mood along with a gift for storytelling. If anything her novels are anti-romances as the woman doesn't get her man and there are no happy endings to her novels. 

In this episode of the Paperback Show, we look at Daphne Du Maurier's life and writings paying attention to the paperback versions of her works. We also feature a discussion of her masterpiece novel, My Cousin Rachel, a brilliant, nasty novel that tells the story of neurosis and jealousy from a young man's point of view. Author Greg Herren joins me in the discussion. In fact, it was Greg who got me to read Du Maurier because, frankly, I thought of her as a romance novelist like everyone else. 

Young Daphne Du Maurier

NOTES

Biographical and critical information for this podcast came from two books: The excellent standard biography, Daphne Du Maurier: The Secret Life of the Renowned Storyteller by Margaret Foster. I've also used a very personal account of the noted critic, Nina Auerbach, titled Daphne Du Maurier: The Haunted Heiress. The Foster biography has information about Du Maurier's paperback publications, although it's only general info. I recommend Jon Warren's The Official Price Guide to Paperbacks if you want to track her paperbacks published in the U.S.  

Avon edition of My Cousin Rachel (1972)

COLLECTING DAPHNE DU MAURIER IN PAPERBACK

It's relatively easy to find inexpensive paperbacks of Du Maurier's major novels (Jamaica Inn, Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel), but a bit harder for her other novels. Fortunately, if you just want to read Du Maurier there are lots of book club hardbacks out there if you look. My favorite paperback series is one published by Avon in the 1970's. Prices vary on these online and you'll find that book scouts have scoured your local paperback bookstore, so if you see one under $5 grab it. Penguin editions are also somewhat pricey, but not too much so. The early Pocket Books editions of Du Maurier are collectible and expensive, but they are beautiful and still hold up to reading. I thoroughly enjoyed the NYRB trade paperback, Don't Look Now and Other Stories (edited by Patrick McGrath who wrote a bang-up introduction). You can find a full list of her novels by googling or there's one at the end of Margaret Foster's wonderful biography. 

SPECIAL GUEST GREGG HERREN

Greg is an award-winning author who lives in New Orleans. That's where I met him at a Horror Convention several years ago which I attended with my partner, Lisa Morton. It was over a long lunch that Greg shared his passion for the novels of Daphne Du Maurier and especially My Cousin Rachel. His comments stayed with me and broke the ice of my preconceptions about Du Maurier. I eventually started reading her and am now addicted. 

You can find out more about Greg in his Wikipedia entry and there's a fine interview with him at Lambda Literary. My thanks to Greg for taking the time to talk to me.


Episode 9 Dan Marlowe - Neglected Gold Medal Crime Novelist


Dan J. Marlowe is a master crime novelist who deserves to be part of the pantheon of crime writers like Jim Thompson, Richard Stark (aka Donald Westlake), and Patricia Highsmith. Why has he been forgotten? Probably because he wrote his major crime novels for a paperback publisher (Gold Medal) and never had a hardback publisher. Also, there's never been a major motion picture or tv series made from one of his books. It's primarily because readers don't know about him and there have been few reprints of his best novels. 

Episode 9 of the Paperback Show introduces listeners (and hopefully readers) to this compelling novelist whose life reflected his novels (minus the killing). We offer a short biography of Dan J. Marlowe and then a wide-ranging discussion of his masterpiece, The Name of the Game is Death (date) with crime novelist, graphic novelist, and generally cool guy, Duane Swierczynski. Thank you, Duane, for sharing your time with me (and our podcast audience). 

Author Dan J. Marlowe

NOTES

Biographical and critical information for this podcast came from an outstanding book on Dan J. Marlowe: Gunshots in Another Room: The Forgotten Life of Dan J. Marlowe (2012) by Charles Kelly. This is an excellent book that will leave you with a feeling of having lived Marlowe's life. Mr. Kelly (a veteran news reporter) is an authority on Marlowe and a very good writer himself. There's a shorter version of the biography archived at Allan Guthrie's website (he's a very good mystery writer). It's called, "Mystery Man: Dan J. Marlowe"

Jon Warren's The Official Price Guide to Paperbacks was also a good source for tracking Marlowe's novels and their publishers. And Josef Hoffman's article, PLAYING WITH FIRE: DAN J. MARLOWE, AL NUSSBAUM, AND EARL DRAKE, was indispensable in figuring out the connection between Nussbaum and Marlowe. 


COLLECTING DAN J. MARLOWE

Fortunately, collecting and reading Marlowe is not that difficult or expensive. Black Lizard paperbacks reprinted several Marlowe novels including The Name of the Game is Death. These are fairly easy to find and is probably the best place to start. Gold Medal printed a lot of copies of his books, so they are not rare. The Gold Medal editions of Marlowe (the originals) can be pricey. Expect to pay $20-$70 for most of them depending upon the condition. I've found several of his paperbacks in "good" condition at etsy.com and occasionally there are lots of Marlowe's Gold Medals at ebay.com for reasonable prices. You just have to be patient and do some comparison shopping. Look out for scalpers though. 

If you just want to read Dan J. Marlowe and believe me he can become addictive, Simon & Schuster has a page dedicated to their ebook reprints which are ridiculously cheap. This may be the way to go to get your feet wet so to speak. 


SPECIAL GUEST DUANE SWIERCZYNSKI

I discovered Duane's hard-boiled crime novel Wheel Man when it came out in 2005 and have been reading his excellent novels ever since. He lives in Los Angeles and is a frequent shopper at the Iliad Bookshop where he overhead me recommending Wheel Man to a customer. I'm delighted that he agreed to join me on the Dan J. Marlowe podcast. Thank you very much, Duane. 

You can get a link to all of Duane's links at https://linktr.ee/swierczy. He also has a newsletter which you can find at https://gleefulmayhem.substack.com and a cool twitter pageThe main Wikipedia page for Duane has a list of his works which include non-fiction (This Here’s A Stick-Up: The Big Bad Book Of American Bank Robbery sounds wonderful) and all of his novels and a ton of his work in comics/graphic novels. 



Dan J. Marlowe Paperback Covers Gallery

This is a small gallery of paperback covers of Dan J. Marlowe paperbacks. Most are from my own collection, but some were taken from a Flickr collection by Steve and a paperback Drake series collection at spyguysandgals.com. The early Gold Medal covers are the best. The reprint covers were much less interesting. Black Lizard did a nice job with their pulp covers although they all tend to look the same. Early Avon covers of Marlowe's Johnny Killain are quite nice but are much like the covers of other authors they were publishing at the time (the late 1940s). 

Untitled Document

Sardines, Bordeaux Mid-day in Paris

Gold Medal s1184 (1962)

Gold Medal revised (1973)

Sardines, Bordeaux Mid-day in Paris

Black Lizard (1988)

Italian paperback (?)

Sardines, Bordeaux Mid-day in Paris

Gold Medal (1969)

Black Lizard (1988)

Sardines, Bordeaux Mid-day in Paris

Digit Books (?)

Avon (?)

Sardines, Bordeaux Mid-day in Paris

Gold Medal (1974)

Black Lizard (1988)

Sardines, Bordeaux Mid-day in Paris

Gold Medal (1968)

Gold Medal (1974)