Ep 15 Classic Paperbacks - The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

This is the second of a series of occasional podcasts focused on what I consider to be a "classic paperback". A classic paperback is one that has influenced a generation of readers and has sold phenomenally well (although classics aren't always bestsellers). These are paperbacks that changed our worldview significantly and are still relevant for contemporary readers. 

Our choice for this episode is The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. It was first published by Viking Press in 1959 (hardback).  The first paperback publication was by Popular Libary in 1963. The novel was very popular and was nominated for a National Book Award (it lost). The book was made into a very successful movie (The Haunting) by Robert Wise in 1963. Ironically, many people today have seen the movie, but have never read the book. 

Shirley Jackson, photographed in 1940, Erich Hartmann Magnum Photos

We cover Shirley Jackson's bio during the writing of HOHH in the first part of the podcast. You can find out more details of Shirley's life in the excellent 2017 biography, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin. If you want a shorter bio, there is an excellent Wikipedia entry on Shirley. There's a nice short bio of Shirley Jackson at shirleyjackson.org as well.

Popular Library, 1963

Popular Library Movie-tie-in, 1963

Haunting of Hill House in Paperback
Popular Library published the first paperback. That same year a movie-tie-in version of the paperback was published which is much easier to find for readers/collectors today. This version was reprinted several times over the next 10 years. Penguin Books picked up the reprint rights and published a trade paperback edition in 1984 (with a dreadful cover). Since then, there have been many reprintings of the paperback with much better covers. We mentioned the awesome Centipede Press hardback edition in the podcast. This edition features Shirley's ground for Hill House, her essay, "Writing and Experience", and an introduction by noted horror author Caitlin R. Kiernan. You can find out more about it here

Special Guest MARTHA WELTY

Martha Welty 

My co-host on this episode is my good friend and avid reader, Martha Welty. Martha Welty is a retired librarian and an actor who has appeared in numerous productions with many theatre companies in the Phoenix area. In her younger days, Martha played the role of Eleanor Vance in a production of The Haunting of Hill House. She lives in Phoenix Arizona with her sister Lisa and her cats, Archie and Benny. Australia.

You can find out more about her on her Facebook page

Episode 14 Classic Paperbacks: Man's Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frankl

This is the first of a series of occasional podcasts focused on what I consider to be a "classic paperback". A classic paperback is one that has influenced a generation of readers and has sold phenomenally well (although classics aren't always bestsellers). These are paperbacks that changed our worldview significantly and are still relevant for contemporary readers. 

Our choice for this episode is Victor E. Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. It was first published in German in 1946, then in English in 1953 (hardback). The first paperback publication was by Pocket Books in 1963. Since its initial publication, Man's Search for Meaning has never been out of print and the book still continues to be taught in high school and college English/History courses. Of course, general readers still read it and are moved by the book as were readers in 1946. 

Frankl in 1965

Victor Frankl in 1965

We cover Victor Frankl's background in the first part of the podcast. You can find out more about him at the Victor Frankl Institute website and on wikipedia. Briefly, he studied Psychology before WWII in Vienna but was rounded up by the Nazis, along with his wife and father. He spent 3 years in various concentration camps and survived miraculously. After the war, he returned to Vienna where he wrote Man's Search for Meaning in 9 days. He also received his doctorate in Psychology and worked in Vienna as a therapist and counselor. 

Man's Search for Meaning became a phenomenal bestseller and launched Frankl on speaking tours where he elaborated on his theories of Logotherapy, a therapeutic practice that focused on finding meaning in one's life. Frankl wrote 33 other books, but none as powerful and as popular as Man's Search for Meaning. Victor Frankl died in 1997, but his ideas live on at the Victor Frankl Institute. Millions of people continue to read his books and try to help themselves with Frankl's ideas and personal examples. 

This podcast features a short biographical introduction on Victor Frankl and the background of the paperback publication of his book, Man's Search for Meaning, in 1963. In the second half, we bring in author/editor Lauren Elise Daniels to discuss Frankl and his brilliant book. We talk about the impact of the book on 1960s readers and thinkers, discuss why the book is so important, and address some of the criticism of the book especially by Holocaust scholars. Finally, we examine several decades of covers for Man's Search for Meaning and talk about the symbols used in the cover design. 

Most of the information I discovered was from the Victor Frankl Institute, papers published in scholarly journals, and from Wikipedia article on Frankl. A biography of this great man is long overdue.

Youtube is filled with interviews with Victor Frankl as he was not shy about promoting himself and his ideas. 

Man's Search for Meaning in Paperback. 
Pocket was the first to reprint Man's Search for Meaning in 1963 (see cover above). Every decade there was a new cover for the reprint. Every paperback publication to the present day has multiple print runs. The book was translated into dozens of different languages and is popular in paperback all over the world. There was a revised edition published in 1998 which included additional material (primarily a lecture by Frankl) on Logotherapy. 


My co-host on this episode is A New Englander living in Australia for over 20 years, Lauren Elise Daniels is an awarded poet, editor, and author. Her novel, an allegory written for adults dealing with trauma, Serpent’s Wake: A Tale for the Bitten listed with Singapore's 'Half the World' Literati Award and is a Notable Work with the HWA’s Mental Health Initiative. An editor for over 100 titles, Lauren directs the Brisbane Writers Workshop in Australia.

Social media contacts: 

Website: https://www.brisbanewriters.com 

Good Reads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17886924.L_E_Daniels 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LEDanielsAuthor 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LEDaniels 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lauren_elise_daniels/ 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauren-daniels-5519323b/ 

Man's Search for Meaning Paperback Cover Gallery

In the podcast, Lauren and I discuss several decades of paperback cover illustrations. It's interesting that there are several recurring themes in the graphic representation of this book. Here is the gallery we refer to in the show

           Pocket Books 1963


                     Beacon Press 2006

                      Pocket Books 1971

                    Pocket Books 2008

                   Pocket Books 2023

Episode 13 Ross MacDonald and Black Money

Ross MacDonald is a mystery author who specialized in the private-eye novel. His series character (18 books) is the low-key Lew Archer (Archer from Hammet's Maltese Falcon). He began writing in the late forties and gradually his books became more popular until eventually in the seventies he became a best-selling author. Hollywood adapted two of his books into movies featuring Paul Newman. 

Initially, Millar began writing in the style of Raymond Chandler - short, snappy prose with quick violence and starkly realized characters. But over the years (and after much psychotherapy) he developed his own, low-key style which emphasized empathy (on Lew Archer's part) for the characters and the terrible things they do. It's not about vengeance or justice with Archer, but humanity. Themes of identity, family dissolution and money are common in the second half of his career. He also used events in his life as elements of his plots. He transposed events and re-imagined them. You could say that he was trying to work out his feelings about his life events through his later novels. 

He is the doorway for authors like Joseph Hansen, Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky. His novels showed that you didn't have to play to violence and cliche to create compelling mysteries. There are those who say that he made the mystery form into literature. I don't believe that, but he did "deepen" the quality of the mystery novel and put the emphasis on character. He was a master writer whose legacy is still being appreciated. 

This podcast features a short biography of Ross MacDonald (Kenneth Millar), an even shorter paperback history of his books, and a longish discussion of his key work, Black Money (1966), with fellow podcaster Richard Brewer. 

I primarily used the Tom Nolan biography, the Twayne series of author studies on Ross MacDonald by Bernard A. Schopen, and a fascinating study of Ross MacDonald and his Novels,   and Dreamers Who Live Their Dreams by Peter Wolf. 

There are also some wonderful articles and pages devoted to Ross MacDonald his series character, Lew Archer. My favorites include killercoversoftheweek, CrimeLit, and Tom Nolan's Gatsby as Noir: The Genesis of Ross MacDonald's 'Black Mondy". 

There's a very enjoyable documentary on Kenneth Millar created in the mid-seventies for the "Writers in America" series. You can view it on YouTube. It's silly at times, but it has some excellent sequences of Millar swimming in the ocean and writing in his chair using a board across the arms and a yellow legal tablet. You can find the documentary here.

Black Money in Paperback. 
Bantam reprinted MacDonald the most. Pretty much every decade they would come out with a new series of reprints with a unique cover design. Google individual novels for their covers. I'll focus on our highlighted title, Black Money. 

Ross MacDonald Paperback Covers
It seemed like every decade Bantam would roll out a new cover design for the series. They varied wildly from straight graphics to staged photos. These are the American paperbacks I'm referring to. The UK-published paperback versions were mostly photo collages (and not very good). Early Pocket and Dell paperbacks had typically painted covers that mostly looked like every other paperback on the market.  The current series of trade paperbacks by Random House uses typical staged photos but are well-designed graphically. 

A good reference for these changing cover styles by Bantam is the CrimeLit article by J. Kingston Pierce: Ross MacDonald's 'Moving Target", A History in 25 covers. He even includes non-English paperback publications. 


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. 

The 43rd Annual Los Angeles Vintage Paperback Show

The 43rd LA Vintage Paperback Show took place on March 19, 2023. Created and produced by Tom Lessor (thank you, Tom), the show was a lot of fun. More importantly it featured over 40 paperback sellers nicely spaced inside of the Glendale Auditorium. I purchased about $50 worth of books from a variety of sellers. Most of the books were from sellers dollar boxes which the stacked under their selling counters. It was a bit of a scramble to get a place, but I found a lot of wonderful paperbacks which I share in this video. PS Thanks to Jules Burt (an excellent paperback collector and youtuber) for the inspiration to create this video. Jules Burt    / @julesburt  

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. 


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