Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Judging a book by its cover (and why not?)

It used to be a "tradition" I tried to follow when I started this blog: to upload the picture of an old pulp magazine (Detective Tales) every month and comment on it.It was a picture from a magazine published at the same month of my  I don't know why I stopped it. I guess I started working. I was unemployed for most of 2008, when I first started this blog, so I had more time to waste thinking about topics like this one. But I barely had any readership to speak of and I think those posts about those book covers were interesting for me mainly. But now I decided to upload one again, mainly, I love the aesthetic of old pulp magazines and because I read a lot of crime fiction these days.

So here is the cover from November 1936. I wonder if there was any story attached to this cover. I hope so, as it was a good one. Maybe not as melodramatic as this one, but still very good. When I want to read, I don't often judge a book by its cover. By its title, yes, absolutely, but not its cover. Except for pulp fiction and comic books. Covers are an art form by themselves. You need for the crime genre a specific sense of drama, atmosphere and character, the book cover has to show it. Here, you have the squared jaw, sharp eyed hero, probably a private eye, the blonde femme fatale next to him, fighting for their lives an unseen adversary, who already made one victim. Was it intentional? Was it accidental killing? It doesn't matter, we know the protagonists are in danger. And there is the setting, the dark smoky casino den, the roulette that reminds us that what is gambled here is life even more than money. I just love it. If there is no story about this image, there should be one written.


PJ said...

Tu me rappelles en secondaire 4. La première nouvelle qu'il nous fallait écrire, c'est en s'inspirant d'une des images du livre de cours. J'avais, comme plusieurs, pris l'image d'un roi de jeu de cartes se faisant déshabiller/voler contre son gré, attaché à une nouvelle de magicien au spectateur chiant. Mettons que mon histoire de poker était ordinaire. Aujourd'hui, je ferais une nouvelle de partie de poker tendue où le punch serait que ce sont des chiens qui jouent au poker. Ça ce serait plus inspiré.
En fait, c'est un bon exercice que de concocter une histoire à partir d'une "simple" image, quelle qu'elle soit. Ce serait un bon truc pour forcer à écrire quelque chose régulièrement.

Quant à la couverture des histoires de détective, j'adore aussi. L'ambiance est superbe. J'espère qu'il y a une histoire pour l'accompagner.

Anonymous said...

I love this cover. You should write a story about it anyway.

Mantan Calaveras said...

Heh, great!

One of my roommates brought home a reprint of "The Spider" a while back. It was interesting to read some really low-grade pulp from the 20's.

Plus, I just have a taste for vintage promotional art from the 60's backwards.

Guillaume said...

@PJ-Qu'est-ce qu'il fallait pas faire en secondaire 4, au lieu de lire de la littérature... Une histoire de poker peut être fascinante.
@Anonymous-I might try, but it's almost too good an image for me write a story that will give it justice. I really wonder of it had any story.
@Mantan Calaveras-I love old pulp fiction. I don't read enough of them. So much to read, so little time.

PJ said...

Oui, une histoire de poker peut être fascinante, mais ma nouvelle ne l'était pas. On réussit pas toujours des chefs-d'oeuvres.