The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Path Between

Title: The Path Between (MIDWOOD No. 72)
Author: Jay Warren
Artist: Paul Rader
Year: 1961

"The bizarre world of the outcast sex--women who seek their pleasure with other women....Ellie could not understand what mysterious force it was that threw up this terrible barrier. That forced her to take the path between a man's love for a woman and a woman's love for a man."

Categories: 1960s Sleaze and GGA, Lesbians and Lesbiana

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Gloria Grahame Podcast

This episode of the podcast You Must Remember This describes a life that is about as noir as it gets. With her masochism, addictions to plastic surgery, sex and alcohol, Gloria Grahame seems like she stepped out of a particularly overheated Jim Thompson story.

Her characters in The Big Heat, Crossfire and In a Lonely Place are among the most memorable female roles of the film noir-era but now I will never get the image of male actors getting a mouthful of wet tissue after screen-kissing Graham (she stuffed it under her lip to accentuate her pout) out of my head.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Love in Suburbia

Title: Love in Suburbia (Monarch 455)
Author: John Conway (aka: John Chadwick)
Artist: Unknown
Year: 1960

"They spiced their lives with other men's wives.... "

Categories: 1960s Sleaze and GGA

Monday, December 7, 2015


Title: Steffi (Beacon B216)
Author: Eunice Gray
Artist: Clement Micarelli
Year: 1951

"Too reckless with her charms--too lavish with her love..."

Categories: 1950s Sleaze and GGA

Winter Paperback Haul

Behold my haul from the weekend!

A past customer or site-visitor (thank you unknown benefactor) gave my contact info to a woman who wanted to clear out her Dad's collection of well-maintained 1960s-early 70s paperbacks.

There's some great stuff in these bins which I've just begun to sort, including: Bonfils Rader and Maguire covers, Jim Thompson Dave Goodis and Lawrence Block pbos, lesbiana, and non-book novelties like African-American pin-up calendars, Playboy centerfold jigsaw puzzles and a backlit 3D slide-viewer.

 I feel like a fat squirrel with an acorn stockpile to last through the winter. Watch for these to start appearing in the shop this coming week (and for many new additions to the Pulp Fiction Cover Gallery).

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Jaws: The Revenge (Movie Tie-in)

Jaws: The Revenge
Movie adaptation by Hank Searls, based on a screenplay by Michael de Guzman
Berkeley Books, 1987

A letter writer to an episode of The Flop House (my favorite bad movie podcast) called the hosts out for not mentioning the novelization of Jaws: The Revenge during a Bad Movie Night screening of this infamously terrible film. His pitch for the book included a voodoo priest soul-bonded to a shark and Miami Vice-style drug-running. I couldn't resist such appealing craziness and immediately requested a copy from PaperbackSwap.

To my surprise the novel was engaging well beyond the camp level I expected. The author, Hank Searls--a Navy flier, yachtsman and underwater photographer--brought a high level of authentic detail to the book. He also used some Turn of the Screw technique and provided alternate (more realistic) psychological and/or biological motivations for the human and animal characters. The reader can believe the shark is revenge driven and stalks a family across the globe OR they could believe it followed an unfortunate chain of prey down the coast. Sure maybe the shark was directed by voodoo drums to take out a Hougan's enemies or maybe it was just chasing the sonar pings coming from a boat that was tracking its heartbeat. Searls also works in a fair amount of tropical economics and class resentment to raise the tension and give an Amity Beach-worthy reason for hiding the lingering presence of a three-ton shark.

In one of my favorite scenes, Mike Brody is chased by the shark and trapped in a wrecked ship. He's panicking as the shark rams his way through the sand covering a rupture in the side of the boat. The impacts loosen a rusted door latch and Mike takes shelter in a ghostly, still chamber that hasn't been entered since the boat went down and is still occupied by a drowned sailor. This scene is an excellently atmospheric haunted house story in miniature.

Never having seen the film all the way through, I tracked down a copy, curious how it compared to the book. Disappointingly there was no voodoo priest and no drug-running double agent. These subplots were from an early draft of the screenplay and were cut to focus on developing the character of Ellen Brody. This is unfortunate as Lorraine Gary's performance in the film has two settings: Over-the-top Medea level grief (in huge shoulderpadded sweaters) or the dazed happiness of a 1980s douche commercial.

I can only imagine Searls' irritation when he saw the finished film and all the ludicrous twists that he struggled to make...if not plausible at least unlaughable weren't even in the movie. This book inspired me to seek out two of Searls' other sea-faring novels: Soundings--a book following an aging sperm whale (which was supposedly the inspiration for the Sega Genesis game Ecco the Dolphin) and Overboard--a survival at sea novel about a yachtsmen who discovers his wife was swept away at some point during the night. I'm looking forward to enjoying these books which don't carry the burden of adapting a ridiculous screenplay.

[By the way, reading this--a beat-up movie tie-in paperback for the worst Jaws movie ever--on the subway felt like the literary equivalent of normcore.]