Friday 2 November 2012

Westlake Sleaze Scores: Man Hungry, Sally and Backstage Love by Alan Marshall (Midwood, 1959/1962)

NB: Featured as part of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books. A version of this post also appears on The Violent World of Parker. 

Let's get stuck into those promised Westlake Scores from the 2012 London Paperback & Pulp Bookfair, with a book which featured only very recently over on The Violent World of Parker – where I am, as you well know by now, co-blogger – as part of VWoP proprietor Trent's series of posts on Donald E. Westlake's now confirmed (by Westlake's son, Paul) pseudonymous 1950s/60s sleaze works. Although the cover on this particular printing differs from the one Trent featured:

Man Hungry, Westlake's fourth novel under the Alan Marshall pen name, and therefore Westlake's fourth (published) novel overall, published in the US by Midwood. The edition Trent spotlighted – as showcased in more depth on the official Donald E. Westlake website – was the 1959 first printing, i.e. Midwood #20, with cover art by Paul Rader, but the edition I found at the fair is the 1962 second printing, renumbered by Midwood as #147 and boasting completely different, magnificent, but sadly uncredited (and with no identifying signature) "good girl" cover art. Indeed, for its third printing, the novel would gain yet another new cover (and presumably a new number, too), although of the three, I think my favourite is the appropriately scarlet second printing.

But Man Hungry isn't the only Alan Marshall novel I've acquired of late; because, suitably inspired by Trent's posts, I went online looking for others of Westlake's early sleaze efforts, and from a British bookseller came across (so to speak) this:

A first printing of Sally – a title which, with its attendant sapphic plot, never fails to tickle me, as Sally is the name of my ex-girlfriend; don't worry, we're still friends (and she's still straight, which is more than can be said for another of my exes), and I know it tickles her too – published by Midwood in 1959. Westlake's third published novel, the cover art on this one is by the aforementioned Paul Rader (about whom you can read – and see – much more on this dedicated website, including an essay by Lynn Munroe), and a gorgeous piece (again, so to speak) it is too. The book isn't in quite so pristine condition as the copy of Man Hungry, but then again it didn't cost as much – not that Man Hungry was that expensive anyway.

Here in the UK it's unusual to come across (one last time: so to speak) American sleaze paperbacks, and especially pseudonymous Westlake ones; the only other time I have in the last few years, other than at the London Paperback & Pulp Bookfair, was when I found this in a secondhand bookshop in Essex:

Backstage Love, Westlake's second Alan Marshall novel, again published by Midwood in 1959 – cover art in this instance by the appositely named Rudy Nappi – and blogged about as a Westlake Score back in 2010. So now I own three Westlake sleaze efforts, which, given that these novels aren't exactly prime Westlake, I think is probably quite enough for any sane Westlake collector. Mind you, when has anyone ever accused me of being sane...?

Thursday 1 November 2012

Non-Stop by Brian W. Aldiss (Digit Paperback, 1960, Ed Emshwiller Cover): from the 2012 London Paperback & Pulp Bookfair

For those who missed the notice on the Existential Ennui Facebook page – and if you haven't yet "liked" said page, then this is a prime example of the kind of exciting announcement you're potentially missing out on – I've had me mum down to stay for a few days, which is why things have been relatively quiet round here. Rest assured, however, that I've been enjoying myself immensely while you've all been staring at your computer screens, pining for the return of my (far-from) pithy missives: catching the latest Bond film, Skyfall, which, though very good, is by no means (as some have claimed) the best Bond ever; taking in a ballet – The Nutcracker at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill; checking out the excellent Peter Messer exhibition at Lewes' Hop Gallery; and attending the 2012 London Paperback & Pulp Bookfair at the London Victoria Park Plaza Hotel, which myself and the mysterious proprietor of The Accidental Bookshop (but not, oddly enough, my mum) trotted along to on Sunday. And while, for me, this year's event didn't prove quite so fruitful as last year's, I did still come away with a small pile of books the bulk of them of a crime/spy bent, but also one SF paperback:

The first British paperback edition of Brian W. Aldiss's debut science fiction novel (although his third published book overall), Non-Stop. Issued by Digit Books in the UK in 1960, two years after the Faber first edition, this particular edition is pretty scarce; I can't find any copies of it for sale on Amazon or AbeBooks. Possibly that's because it takes Ed Emshwiller's kinetic cover art from the 1959 Ace Double appearance of the novel – Ace D369, which retitled Aldiss's tale as Vanguard from Alpha and paired it with Kenneth Bulmer's The Changeling Worlds (thanks to Steve Holland at Bear Alley for that snippet of info). Whatever: it's a key work in both Aldiss's canon and science fiction in general, and one I've been meaning to read for a while, so not a bad purchase for a pound.

And there were certainly plenty of preposterously cheap paperbacks on offer from a variety of dealers at the Paperback & Pulp Bookfair – boxes and boxes of the buggers:

Not to mention freestanding stacks:

And some hardbacks too:

A selection of Jamie Sturgeon's hardback crime fiction pictured there. Certainly the fair seemed busy enough, and most of the dealers appeared to be doing brisk business; towards the end of the day Jamie told me he'd done pretty well, although the most expensive item he'd sold was something he'd brought along especially... for me! (More on that anon.) In fact, as Maurice Flanagan, owner of Zardoz Books and one of the organisers of the fair, told me, for a while it was touch and go whether or not the show would even happen: Peter Chapman, a co-organiser of the fair for twenty years, sadly passed away in December 2011, and Peter was the only person who had contacts for many of the regular dealers. Luckily, enough dealers were tracked down to make this year's event viable, among them this sterling chap:

David Hyman, who I met for the first time at the show, and who had some terrific paperbacks for sale, many of which can be seen on his Flickr stream (and a couple of which I bought). David introduced me to a genial American named Tom Lesser, who runs the Los Angeles Vintage Paperback Collectors Show, and is, according to David, "one of the original US paperback collectors from way back in the 70s, helped develop the hobby, organised the first shows of this type in the US and apparently also has a paperback collection that's to die for. He usually makes it over to the UK show every year." David for his part has his own splendid blog, Mr. Hardboiled, which is well worth a butcher's when you get a moment.

As for my ill-gotten gains from the show, well – they look a little like this:

Many of them, perhaps unsurprisingly, are by Donald E. Westlake (writing under various guises), and I'll be unveiling those as Westlake Scores over the coming weeks (in amongst some other business). But although I've angled the books in that photo to purposely obscure the Westlakes (I'm such a tease...), you might just be able to make out the identity of the author of the paperback on top of the pile, a man who I'll also be writing about shortly, having promised I'd blog about him bloody ages ago...