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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book Review: Hip Pocket Sleaze, John Harrison, WorldHeadPress, 391 pages.


Okay, admit it. You know you can. You can tell me. Come on. Okay, I will, if you will. Sheepish are we. Fine, I will go first. I am comfortable enough in my own skin to admit it and so should you. Still not ready? Okay, then what if I say it and you can mouth the words? Come on, say it --- I AM A BIBLIOPHILE. Feel better? You should. Now that you have finally admitted it, doesn’t the air smell fresher? Isn’t the sun brighter?

Well, it should be. And as book freak, you should feel EVEN BETTER after you have secured your copy of Hip Pocket Sleaze.

In the old days, being a bibliophile meant you walked around in a bright, silky quilted jacket with a flaking and dusty leather bound volume under one pit, while smoking a pipe (tobacco only, mister!) and muttering incessantly about Proust. Even if Proust sucked (and yes I think he did), you still muttered about him.

Thank God for the guy who invented paperbacks because literature became much more interesting in pocket format. And for us, that means LURID.

Hip Pocket Sleaze, though mainly a romp through the British Isles, works on many levels: as a history book about the rise of the industry, the publishers, writers and artists; as entertainment for the interviews, anecdotes and synopsis of classic sleaze and horror; and finally, utilitarian, as a checklist for collectors.

These were the books that needed the brown wrapper. These were the books with the best covers (the main reason they sold). These volumes were certainly hot in their day, but today they are scorching. Just go to any used book store or online auction. Vintage paperbacks featuring sleaze and horror command high prices.

Kudos to Mr. Harrison for also including chapters on the companions of this written genre: the 8mm film stag loop, photo sets and Adam Film World.

In short, there is a lot here and thank God and Mr. Harrison for that.

Buy this book.

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