Sunday, February 2, 2014

FOUND BOUND: The Gory Gazette

Periodically I find myself stuck in the pages of magazines (there's a punny sentence for you!). Usually I'm perusing old reviews of forgotten and obscure murder mysteries and adventure novels. Every now and then along the sidebar margins I find an advertisement or two that catches my eye. This is how I learned of the existence of Aunt Beardie, a fantastic example of the historical mystery done well with a whopper of an ending.

Now that my collection of ephemera has been completely exhausted, and the usual Sunday feature "Left Inside" is a very rare occurrence (the last one was in the summer of 2013), I am substituting it with a new feature called "Found Bound". Every other Sunday I'll be posting ads, cartoons and other interesting tidbits I find in magazines of the past.

Today we look at an advertising gimmick created by the clever gang at Simon & Schuster, one of the oldest existing publishing houses in the United States. S&S was very innovative when marketing their mysteries. They invented Pocket Books in the late 1920s, the very first mass market paperback imprint in the United States. Additionally, they were one of the first publishers to create a hardcover imprint solely for detective fiction ("Inner Sanctum Mysteries") and were rather clever in getting their message out to their audience. Below are two ads found in two early 1940s issues of The Saturday Review done along the lines of a newsletter they called "The Gory Gazette."

I've read the Woolrich novel The Black Curtain (1941) advertised in the second set of illustrations and highly recommend it. I've not yet found a copy of Gypsy Rose Lee's second mystery novel Mother Finds a Body (1942), but I'm still looking. BTW -- Lee did in fact write her own books. They were not ghost written by Craig Rice no matter what numerous websites and reference books are trying to convince you otherwise.



Click to enlarge all scans in order to read the ads.



5 comments:

  1. I'm going to respectfully disagree; I think Lee and Rice wrote "The G-String Murders" together and Lee wrote the second one herself. But all I have to base it on is style (so perhaps I should say I "feel" this is what happened). The first novel is structured the way that Rice structures a novel, but this is something that can be learned. The thing that really weighs heavily for me is that the second novel, "Mother Finds A Body", is just awful -- very poorly written, unfunny, laboured, badly constructed, and without that cheerful low-rent joie de vivre that the first book contained so beautifully. I suggest that the only reason for the huge difference is that -- and this is my fantasy -- Lee decided that she actually WAS an author after so many people told her she was a good one, and produced "Mother Finds A Body" on her own, thereby ending her writing career. Or maybe it's just that Lee had one novel in her and had nothing left when it came time to write the second one; also possible. But since so many people said over the years that Rice was involved, and she was known to be a ghost-writer for another celebrity, I'm going to be hard to convince that she did not contribute to "The G-String Murders".
    I'm aware of what Wikipedia says about a book from a couple of years ago claiming to have proof that Lee wrote both books alone … I haven't seen that book. I have seen photographs of Lee posing in front of a typewriter … those are publicity photographs. I'm sure there is evidence on both sides. All I can say is, when I learned that it was said that Craig Rice and Lee wrote the book together, I was convinced, because I'd read every Craig Rice novel repeatedly and it just seemed so correct. "The G-String Murders" to me reads as though it was written by Craig Rice. (For one thing, track the use of alcohol in "G-String"; the tiny point about initialing one's lip-prints on a glass is so like something that Rice would notice when she was drinking with Lee, and bring into the story, but it's a point that only a professional writer would realize was charming and accurate.)

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    1. Noralee Frankel, a biographer of Lee, found correspondence between Rice and Lee that supports the fact that Lee wrote both books herself. The decades long rumor that Rice ghost wrote G String Murders all begin when Rice was involved incidentally in the screenplay adaptation of ...G String Murders which became Lady of Burlesque. Read the book Stripping Gypsy: The Life of Gypsy Rose Lee by Frankel and you'll see there is no denying what the truth is.

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  2. Well, I'll have to accept it -- but gee, it was such a good theory, it seems a shame to interrupt it with the facts ROFL. I've sent off for a copy of Frankel's book and will read for myself. Wait till you find a copy of Mother Finds a Body -- boy oh boy, it's bad. Depressing. Nearly unreadable.

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    1. I have to chime in with John about the sources, but maybe the influence of Rice's work on Lee's first book so permeated it that it made the book.

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  3. John: Those are interesting ads. I think Gory Gazette would be a dynamite name for a crime review blog.

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