The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Polaroid Book Stash

A bookseller in Georgia made a sympathy buy of several boxes of worthless bookclub editions and discovered that many of them were hollowed-out booksafes filled with pornographic polaroids.

The lengths that people will go to hide their porn stashes is always fascinating.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

French Pulp Art

A french blogger found my flickr sets and sent me links to his blogs devoted to book art, photography and vintage nudes.

I can't read a word but who needs 'em with images like the above.

Au carrefour etrange
French Book Covers

I'll add them to my sidebar too.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tiny Boobs!

Actually the boobs seem fairly generous, it's the book that's small.

Miniature book turned up by Silent Porn-Star and available for purchase here.

Only 1" square!

Baby Flat Rate

Alice sent me this post from on an unfortunately short-lived form of child transportation.

(photo via the Smithsonian photo collection on Flickr)
Description: This city letter carrier posed for a humorous photograph with a young boy in his mailbag. After parcel post service was introduced in 1913, at least two children were sent by the service. With stamps attached to their clothing, the children rode with railway and city carriers to their destination. The Postmaster General quickly issued a regulation forbidding the sending of children in the mail after hearing of those examples.

Update: A 1913 NY Times article includes a query from a citizen to the Post Office inquiring whether they could send a baby through the mail:
Sir: I have been corresponding with a party in Pa about getting a baby to rais (our home being without One.) May I ask you what specifications to use in wrapping so it (baby) would comply with regulations and be allowed shipment by parcel post as the express co are to rough in handling
Child neglect and shipping humor! She knows me so well.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Patent Medicine Flyer 1919: Goshen Distemperine Company

Dear Sir:

May we ask you whether the epidemic of INFLUENZA and DISTEMPER has appeared in your community? If so, are you convinced that DISTEMPERINE has no equal for this peculiar ailments?
Someone was obviously convinced because the order blank is torn off.

If you'd like this item send me an email. I'll provide contact info and you'll send me an SASE. I'll place the item in whatever envelope I receive so make sure you provide appropriate protection for the item and sufficient postage to cover the weight.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Remote Control Flying Saucer

Another Remote control Flying Saucer (from a 1950s issue of Air Trails: Hobbies for Young Men) to match last June's flying pizza tray.

Now you can have Martian dog-fights while the world watches in terrified awe.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New Bookplates

"John Lynch II and III" bookplate with the popular reading-under-a-tree theme. Found in Gladstone by Philip Magnus (John Murray, 1960)

"Phyllis F. Saperstein": a lonely windswept plate found in The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall (Blue Ribbon, 1928)

"Harriet and George Wasserman" bookplate. Found in The Complete Stories of Maupassant (Blue Rubbon, 1940) An interesting expressionistic naval scene. I like how the negative white space makes up the fish and the slash of light across the sail.

A Harriet Wasserman was the agent of Saul Bellow and wrote a memoir about her life with him. Can't say if this is her plate but it's a good possibility.

Two children's plates. First this generic but nicely colored bookworm plate belonging to "Irene Cole":

And lastly this custom-designed plate belonging to "Van Santvoord Merle-Smith" found in Romantic Story of the Mayflower Pilgrims by Addison (Page, Boston 1924). A beautiful plate with red highlights features Alice and the Rabbit, Santa Claus, and (I'm guessing) the Wizard of Oz.

The illustrator's style seems very familiar (particularly the mountains). I wonder if the "Z" on the ship's flag and the "OV" on the knight's standard comprise a signature?

Van Santvoord Merle-Smith was an aid to General George Patton from the end of WWII until Patton's death and was the subject of the biography Big All the Way Through.

If only everyone were this easy to Google.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Book CSI: Permanent Stickers and Huge boxes

Don't you love it when you find a book that has struggled through almost 80 years of existence and--against-all-odds--held onto it's delicate DJ only to have a dumbass thrift store employee slap a non-removeable price sticker on it?

Is it that hard to find a f***ing pencil?

Or how about when you receive a long awaited package only to discover your books have been rattling around like beans in a maraca?

On the flip side I received a vintage paperback packed with a very clever use of recycled materials. The seller used an old clamshell VHS case.

I was a little afraid the book would have been dented by the reel sprockets but they were thoughtful enough to wrap the book in plastic and crumpled paper.

Gold Star! Next time I see a case of these things by the curb I'm going to grab them.

All right, to continue my tradition of doing tedious, arduous things on my birthday (and prove that I'm the worst boss I've ever had) I'm off to pack and ship books.

Seeing the new Werner Herzog South Pole movie tonight though and getting salt-baked fish and black sesame ice cream in China town. That'll make up for it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Quick Reviews: The Twisted Ones and Shame Market

THE TWISTED ONES (Gold Medal s861)

I recently filled a large paperback order bound for Norway that included this Vin Packer (aka: Marijane Meaker) title, so I had to hurry up and read it.

From the cover and copy you would expect a typical JD or crazed killer novel but--as is usual with this author--she came up with something unique and interesting. The book is made up of three semi-overlapping short novellas each focused on a single young character who's about to crack. We meet the "All Shook Up" kid (I don't have the book anymore and the character names have escaped me), a stutterer, and a child TV quiz show genius.

All Shook Up hates rock and roll but identifies with the Elvis lyric. He dresses sharp in high teen fashion and tries to win the attention of a girl by ignoring her and making dramatic exits. He's introduced comically, straightening his color and peeling out of the school parking lot, but as he endlessly replays and analyzes this exit, you get the impression that he's more than a bit OCD.

The stutterer is the child of a domineering mother who keeps regaling him with ego destroying aphorisms like "If you can't be a strong oak, be a pretty shrub". The stutterer actually wants to be that oak and attempts to escape his mother through a dalliance with an attractive and understanding waitress who lives in a trailer at the edge of town.

The quiz show genius is an 8-year-old with a photographic memory who's built up a huge prize jackpot on a local game show. His father is simultaneously proud of his achievement (especially because of the potential 5 figure cash prize) and afraid that his boss and friends will recognize that his kid is a bookish oddball.

The chapters alternate between these three characters and the only way they (very cleverly) overlap is that both All Shook Up and the stutterer watch--and react to--the quiz kid's TV appearances because he's a local celebrity.

These are all borderline personalities and Meaker gets in their heads as well as anyone I've read (on par with Highsmith's Ripley novels). But they probably could have safely navigated their adolescence (They don't. Spoiler!) if not for the interference of fearful and incompetent authority figures who try to make the boys conform to arbitrary social norms.

Because of the format it was more or less dictated that this book had to end in violence. One bloody ending is good, two is silly, but three makes it back into a tragic metaphor for the 1950s.

This is the 3rd Meaker title I've read. Each had an innovative perspective that still feels modern. They must have been challenging for the buyer who picked them up for the lurid packaging.

SHAME MARKET (Ember / Corinth 1964)

This is my first Clyde Allison read. He's most collected for his Agent 0008 - Sadisto spy spoof series but he also did a TON of standalone stroke books for Corinth Publications (Nightstand, Ember, Midnight, et al). I wouldn't exactly call him a stylist (I almost didn't make it through the first clunky, adjective-choked paragraph) but he's inventive and has good comic timing.

The book opens with a hardboiled PI making his way through a lush tropical forest, dodging parrots and catching fleeting glimpses of naked Polynesian beauties. He takes a rest, mops his brow and muses "To think, I always thought Akron, Ohio was a dull town."

Turns out he's in a giant converted blimp hanger that's been turned into a tropical forest by a shut-in billionaire. The PI learns that he must find the billionaire's pneumatic daughter who's "naked, in peril" somewhere on one of the fifteenth parallels (the billionaire would have been more specific but the ransom note fell into his hot tub).

So the PI goes globe-hopping from one tropical bordello to another, asking a question or two, but mostly just sampling the local trade and padding his expense account.

The sex scenes in the book (never much of a lark in the Corinth titles) are particularly rote and wearying here. I tried to skim but realized I was missing good gag lines and skipping half the book, so I knuckled down (heh heh). The best things in these scenes were the ridiculous euphemisms for lady parts.
She was nude. Joyously nude--nude as only a Polynesian girl can be....Her flesh was as smooth as stretched silk, as taut as an inflated rubber balloon--a five foot four, utterly lewd and lascivious balloon.
I wish I had thought to make a list of these but I thought of it half way through and I wasn't going back.

All in all an enjoyable read.

The Not-Men

"Superior"? You can just poke em right in the cerebrum.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Heatwave Project

My new corkboard:

All it took was a two-day heatwave, 200 wine and 4 champagne corks from freecycle, six hot glue sticks, and a pile of bad 80s horror tv on DVD.

If you attempt one of these make sure you sort your corks by size and trim off any stray pieces left by the corkscrew.

Now I can tack up all my weird paper in style.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Lots more Pulp

in my 1950s and 1960s sets (or just view by recent arrival here).

All certified Grade A.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ephemera Giveaway

I'm going to start posting paper curiosities here that can be had for merely the price of an SASE.

Once I've scanned and blogged about an item, it's time to pass it on.

First this 1920s era real-photo flapper postcard. The subject is a real bobbed cutie wearing a nice top with ivory buttons and a cameo.

Next this vintage Sunshine Biscuits order sheet (makers of Hydrox, Cheez-its, etc) found in a first edition of the Kinsey report.

The back of the invoice bears this wacky note:
Dear Reader:

One that thing has slowed down, this book--or any other--will never serve as a rejuvenator. Let the dead rest in peace.

Verce of Hexperience

If you'd like either of these items (one per customer) send me an email. I'll provide contact info and you'll send me an SASE. I'll place the item in whatever envelope I receive so make sure you provide appropriate protection for the item and sufficient postage to cover the weight.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Junk in My Trunk

My first contribution to the "Junk in Your Trunk" Flickr photopool, with special Thrift-O-Vision annotations (visible on Flickr). This is a group dedicated to documenting all of your finds from one outing of garage saling/thrifting by taking a photo of the items in your car trunk.

Had to stretch the definition a bit because I don't drive (but I think I deserve the leeway since the elevator was out all weekend and I had to carry my loot up 5 flights of stairs).

Most items--except the toaster, clock, and mailing stamps--will be making their way onto eBay or my book inventory so look sharp if you want something.