Vintage Reads #6: More Praise for Paperbacks

I've just started tackling this novel after reading a Shirley Jackson recommendation at the Too Much Horror Fiction blog. Haven't heard of this blog? Well, it happens to be the only blog dedicated to horror paperbacks that I can find out there.  Will started it up just a week or so ago after reading my post where I bitch about the shameful horror paperback vacuum in the blogosphere.

Nothing against movie blogs, music blogs or comic blogs. It's just that there's a surplus of those kind of blogs and a complete absence of blogs devoted to vintage fiction.  It kind of surprises me, in a way, because the retro/vintage blogs seem very literate (as for this blog, it sometimes creeps past the sixth grade reading level) - and really, to be truthful, most of the blogs on vintage movies, music and comics are well written and intelligent. (I can't speak on blogs about contemporary topics, because I don't generally visit them.) Thus, you'd think there would be a good number of vintage fiction blogs to meet the demands of such a well-read crowd.  Alas, this is not the case.

And I'm not necessarily talking about Steinbeck and Hemingway. Pulp fiction is always a treat. The trashier the better....


The last time I whined about this issue, it took a couple of days to even get a single comment. You could almost hear the crickets chirping. Evidently, it's not a hot topic.  However, I feel strongly that books are just as much (if not more) a part of the retro culture as the movies, music, TV shows and comics.  Therefore, as a firm believer in "retro preservation", it's important that old books, once again, see the light of day.

I'd start another blog myself, if I had a minute to spare. Unfortunately, I already spend too much time on this one, to even begin thinking of starting another.  However, if you are thinking of starting one yourself as Will did with Too Much Horror Fiction, I certainly will be happy to help you promote it.  After you've published a few posts, drop me an email or comment, and I'll check it out!

Here's a few more paperback covers from books I plan to read in the next few months.  Like I said, they ain't Hemingway.

Note: If you happen to have read any of these, drop me a comment.


  1. Wow, thanks for the plug! And of course, for the inspiration in the first place. I haven't read either of those Jackson novels you put up but I am trying to find decent, cheap copies of them. This past Saturday I grabbed a nice handful of old-school horror paperbacks so there's plenty more coming!

  2. Hey, nice post. I own and have read the first three "Executioner" novels, but never got any further than that. As for the others, I never even knew those particular books existed! That "Dirty Harry" one may definitely be worth checking out, though. Also, I'm a subscriber to Will's blog, and I agree that he's doing a great thing over there. My own blog covers mostly movies, I confess, but I've also done some literature reviews--Philip K. Dick, Charles Willeford, Robert E. Howard, etc., and I'm currently working my way through the complete Lovecraft library. I'm trying to be more literate minded, these days.


  3. I'm sure i had the Executioner book, used to read those like candy. I should check and see if i have any of them left.

  4. Gilligan,

    That Malzberg paperback original is a blow to the head. A post-modern sci-fi head-trip about a seriously neurotic astronaut who is telling his story as a sci-fi novel (the one you're reading). He's completely unreliable (as in "unreliable narrator") and clearly insane. Much more set-pieces, sex dreams and high-art fiction with a cover that any boy of 16 would love (me, when it came out).

    Enjoy! I love this thread you're trying to weave. Now I am going to track down Assignment Nuclear Nude!


  5. I have to admit, guiltily, that I had read the Dirty Harry book. Pulp trash, indeed.

  6. Thanks for the info on the book. Sounds like it'll be an interesting read. BTW - I checked out your blog, and was real impressed with some of your thoughts on film and so forth. My favorite is your "cloud" theory.

  7. I keep having to remind myself it was 20 years ago I worked in a used bookstore, and a lot of these paperbacks have just disappeared. It's tough tracking some of them down as most used bookstores don't take them any longer, or only take the newer reprints of classics. My job used to have shelves and shelves of them. I kept a lot but have also lost more over the years. God, those men's adventure books! Gothic romances! Pre-King horror! Pulp crime! Even sleeezy adult paperbacks with mysterious stains--! We had them all. But, of course, it weren't vintage yet! Fortunately I know some employees at local bookstores so I got some lookouts for me.

  8. COME ALONG WITH ME is a short story collection, and no, the Jacksons and the Malzberg aren't Hemingway...they're better than a fair amount of Hemingway. Pulp, despite many folks' "hip" (actually utterly unhip( misuse of the term, actually means fiction which originated in the pulp magazines...Aarons doesn't qualify, though the EXECUTIONER series is certainly an heir to pulp action antiheroes.

    Never assume a book's cover is particularly indicative of much of anything...but you've heard a shorter form of this before, haven't you?

  9. For that matter, Malzberg has written fiction about Hemingway...

    And The Groovy Age of Horror started out being largely about paperbacks, though has become mostly about comics, it's true.

  10. I try to cover a lot of paperbacks on my blog, in between the movies and stuff:


    The rule is they all have to be scans of books I actually own, and ones I found in charity/second hand shops, rather than at 'collector' prices.

    I love the fact that unlike records/comics etc., there isn't much of an obsessive collector's market around old paperbacks (unless they're rare editions by popular authors or something), meaning it's still easy to stumble across bizarre/awesome stuff on sale for pennies.

    Also worth a look in your hunt for good book-blogs:

  11. "The rule is they all have to be scans of books I actually own, and ones I found in charity/second hand shops, rather than at 'collector' prices."

    Exactly right! Anybody can buy a first print paperback of I AM LEGEND for $30; the trick is to find it for a dollar. And if I ever do post a pic of a book I don't actually have, I mention it in the post. I want to *own* these books!

  12. I love that the blurb for The Starhoppers is a tepid "Very Good." I assume they left off the "A for effort!" Also, the "design" of that Watergate guy's book? There are no words.

  13. I have covered nearly 200 books on my blog, including the Executioner and Dirty Harry paperback series. Please feel free to check some posts out at:

  14. Great post.
    Maybe the reason that you don't see more blog posts about books like these is that the cover art is usually the best part of a lot of these books.

  15. I had a blog called The Vintage Reader for about seven years. I read and collect vintage paperbacks (also not at collectors' prices; I'm a big fan of last-day-of-the-book-sale dollar-a-bag finds, myself) but had a hard time writing about them exclusively. I kept veering off into other topics, and I never did much to build my readership.

    Eventually I found myself doing a lot of microblogging, so I killed the blog and shifted over to Twitter to link to interesting articles or comment briefly on something like reading an Ellery Queen novel in which Ellery lets a woman drive herself home after she's had--by his count--seven glasses of Scotch. :-) On Twitter people will actually respond to that; on my blog it would have just sat there.

  16. AnonymousJune 01, 2011

    In the late 70s, I used to read "The Executioner" series. The descriptions of Mack Bolan's equipment were pretty detailed, and I recall there was one book that described all the equipment in his arsenal. The stories seemed to have lost some of their edge when Bolan was pretty much finished with his self-appointed jihad to destroy the Mafia, and he became a "hired gun" for the government, with even more toys, and (horrors!) fell in love with a woman he worked with.

    I had a couple of the "Dirty Harry" novels; not bad.

    I also recall that "Soldier of (Mis)Fortune" had a series of "Men's Novels" with some pretty elaborate plots, lots of guns and sex.