RARA-AVIS: Paperback Parade & Vachss

From: Bill Bowers ( BBowers@one.net)
Date: 03 May 2003

miker (& others):

_Paperback Parade_ is one of my all-time favorite "magazines", and I firmly believe that it is worth supporting by anyone who is at all seriously interested in vintage paperbacks, mysteries in general, noir, "sleeze" ... and All That Jazz.

I put "magazine" in quotes deliberately. It is, in truth -- a 'fanzine' -- digest-sized, 100+ pages center-stapled, with color 'board' covers, graphically chaotic, and with more typoes-per-page than a Rick Sneary LoC
... but I read each issue cover-to-cover, which is rare for me with any magazine/fanzine these days.

Lot's of b&w cover-cuts, Indexii, and photographs. It comes out two or three times a year. (Gary has finally given up on the "bi-monthly" charade, I note.)

I don't know whether it's carried by any 'specialist' bookstores (should you be so lucky!) but the website is at


It, as with the magazine, is less-than-optimally designed, but if you plow thru it, you'll find details on PP -- as well as any number of the many booklets (usually) tpbs, Gary Lovisi has published -- several otherwise unavailable Howard Browne mysteries, a Dick Lupoff collection on 'a writer's life', for example, tons of obscure used magazines and paperbacks....

Also tidbits such as this, from the 'News' page:

> Coming soon: new books by veteran science fiction author Michael
> Kurland, Images, Lollygags & Conceits (with a Kelly Freas cover!) and an
> original traditional mystery by crime master, Julius Fast, A Trunkfull of
> Trouble (done in the classic Dell Map Back design!). Both books are trade
> paperbacks with color covers and can be pre-ordered now for $20.00 each
> (+$2.00 Media Mail postage).

[No, I don't get any financial consideration from Gary for these un-solicited plugs; I simply try to support small-press presses I enjoy.]

And yes, I do have the Issue with the 'Circus/Carnival' novels article; but don't have the energy (after the above. <g>) to look it up, re-read the article, and then list out the citations... Sorry.


For all those wavering, given some of the less-than-objective comments being made ... Vachss _is_ definitely an acquired taste, both to read and, I hear, to meet -- a bit of the Ellroy-syndrome, perhaps. But a friend who went to one of the signings said a good portion of Vachss'is table was allocated to _other_ non-present authors he was recommending to his readers
(in this case, Lansdale, and a couple of others) ... and when was the last time you heard of a prima-donna author doing _that_!

I read all the Burke's up to the one where Vachss-discovered-email -- which was fully as 'bad' as the first fanzine I published after *I* discovered email, so I know of where I speak -- so I gave up on 'Burke' ... until I was offered firsts of the last three for $5/each -- so they go into the TBR stacks, and some day.....

But I am, at this moment, two-thirds of the way thru his "paperback original" homage to the 50s/60s Gold Medal mysteries - "The Getaway Man" -- and it _is_ a romp! Even if you can't stomach 'Burke', I think most rara-avians will enjoy this one.

No, the "Burke" novels are not, well, Cheerful. Indeed, they make Paul Cain, Goodis, Thompson, et al, seem downright Pollyannaish. But, from everything I've been able to find out -- Andrew Vachss is not a poser: the victims of child porn are his passion, and he does put the proceeds from his novels toward their defense.

Like his work, or loathe it -- it has not so far been demonstrated to me that, even if more than likely fallible, he is a hypocrite. And that's all I can ask of any crusader....

But all that is prelude to my recommendation is that if you are a
"hard-boiled" fan, you search out a book simply titled:

"Sex Crimes"

It is, gasp, non-fiction, and I can't cite publication details (my copy, which I picked up, remaindered, in the mid-90s, is long-buried), but you might "search" by author:

Alice Vachss.

Yes, _his_ wife ... who was, in fact, Sex Crimes Prosecutor for one of the NYC boroughs, in the 80s ... and who, he has acknowledged, is the 'model' for the (very hot!) sex crimes prosecutor, who is often Burke's nemesis ... and constant lust-object.

All that aside, Alice's book is considerably more scary than most of her husband's books.

Dunno if that makes it "hard-boiled" in terms of the List. But close enough for me.

Enough. For today!

Bill Bowers
         "Right now the Hard-Boiled Hero looks like a candidate for a Spousal Abuse Seminar."
                          --Fred Zackel, Rara-Avis

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