Saturday, February 20, 2010

Battle Surgeon

Children, I need your attention! Children? All eyes on me! Jeremy Dunlap! Eyes on me, please. Thank you. Now children, I want you to know that I am very proud of the work that you have done for the third grade art fair. Now, I have something very important to share with you. Are you listening to me? Jeremy! Now, children, as you know there will be some grownups judging the art at the art fair and there will be prizes awarded, including a $15 gift certificate to the art supply section of Target that was going to go to the first prize winner. But now there is a new prize for first place, so the certificate will now be for second place. The winner now will get to draw the cover for the Large Print edition of a book by Frank Slaughter called Battle Surgeon! Isn't that
wonderful? Jeremy!

Battle Surgeon was actually quite popular in it's day. The author, Frank Slaughter, banged out more than 40 novels in a long career and sold over 60 million books. Perhaps the most successful author I'd never heard of. As with so many Large Print covers, they really skimped on cover design on this edition, but the regular print ones weren't a whole lot better. Here are a few of the earlier efforts:

I thought that the appalling image of blood/kisses on the surgical mask was enough to make we want to weed this one. But it also hasn't circulated in years. So out it goes.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Contributions, Looking For

Because I don't read very fast and amazingly want to read some real quality books at the same time I am interested in any possible contributions of Very Bad Books to this blog or anyone who might be interested in being added as an author. Already I am excited to add deskslave as a contributor and look forward to being exposed to more Very Bad Books!

Dolores - miserable by name and by content

The title of 60's sensational author Jacqueline Susann's last book is Dolores -- a name of Spanish origin, meaning "sorrows". And what a sorry book this was!
Susann made the big time in 1966 with the barbiturates influenced modern girl's story Valley of the Dolls and continued to churn our likewise fluff, but never as successfully, for the rest of her writing career. Dolores was her last book, published posthumously and based off of a short story she had done for a women's magazine and finished by a close friend.
Because I like trash and had been somewhat entertained by her other works, I decided to give Dolores a try. The book reads like one of your friends is telling you their deep dark secrets -- but only if that friend has had too much to drink and is drifting in and out of a Jim Beam induced coma. The story meanders without character development or anything really interesting going on. I read it a few years ago and apparently was so bored with it I didn't pick up on the fact that it was a thinly veiled take on Jackie O's life, complete with the main character being married to an Irish Catholic president who is assassinated during a parade, and then the main character goes on to live it up glam style in NYC. The New York Times review of the book called it "a fanzine version of clippings and rumors about the former First Lady and the people who surround her. The writing is sluggish and the plot limp."
The only thing that interested me about this book was a folded up piece of paper in the back of it. I had purchased my copy from a bargain bag at the thrift store so this was not a library copy, but the paper in the back was a listing of about 12 people's names and work addresses with directions that Dolores was their book club's selection and that once one had finished reading it, they should cross their name off of the list and send it on to the next woman. The date at the top said "August 1977." Only three names had been crossed off, but it did interest me to see that apparently Peg Johnston, employed on the Second Floor at Mitre had broken the chain. Good for you, Peg, hope your coworkers appreciated you took a bullet for them!
On the smut scale, this book barely gets an eyebrow raised and certainly no gasps, nothing worth underlining and rereading later. I think I have witnessed episodes "Antiques Roadshow" that had more shock value. Recommended for: Susann fans who absolutely want to read everything she wrote including stuff she barely wrote for whatever insane reason, people obsessed with Jackie Kennedy, and possibly extremely bored teens who have finished reading all other books that reference drugs looking for instruction and want to reminisce about 70's pill-poppin' NYC, but where nothing ever happens.