Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Three Day Alliance
by Howard R. Simpson

(Ensign, 1975)

 From a distance, this might look the very essence of ‘70s retro-cool spy movie chic, but the closer one looks, the shoddier it gets. That one-piece, full-body knitted romper suit the girl seems to be wearing? That horribly forced, unnatural pose against the blank photo studio backdrop? And just take a good look at our super-spy himself - jesus, how many sit-com bank manager and Hammer bartender auditions did that guy fail before he was reduced to this? See the hatred in his eyes, and shudder.

Still, love those bright-yet-muted colours, and the simple-yet-elegant design, I suppose. Loved it enough to drop an astonishing *£3* on it in a Herne Hill vintage emporium recently, anyway.


revsven said...

I don't know which fact is the more incredible:

That a grot-shop in South London *dared* charge three pounds for this utter jank - I mean, not exactly a forgotten Adam Diment, is it?


That you actually reached out and bought it.

Well done, Ben, that was approaching the -ahem- heroic there. You took this one for all of us, buddy. You paid the price, but you did the right thing. You saved that book, and probably the very name of the author, from slow disintergrating oblivion. And who the hell *was* Howard R. Simpson? Will we ever know if he wasn't Michael Moorcock one damp weekend that needed the rent paying? I reckon there's about a 10% chance he could have been...

You know what, Ben? I swear I can sometimes *smell* these books when I open this site. I don't know how you manage that with only HTML tags but, wow. Just wow.

Elliot James said...

I'm sure the paperback male model was overjoyed to work with that blonde.

The world of novel cover modeling always fascinated me. There's no published history about it that I've ever seen.

Richard said...

I've just discovered your blog by accident, it's interesting. I've just had to give away the lion's share of my paperbacks in a flat move, but they were fairly standard editions and not classics/collectable. Do you have time to read them all?

Ben said...

Thanks for your comments guys - really appreciated, and sorry for the delay in getting around to replying!

Richard: sorry you lost all your paperbacks! And yeah, all of mine are on the cheap / unloved side of things too - I've very, very rarely given in and paid "collector's prices" for anything; unless stated otherwise, everything I post on this blog is a charity/second hand/book fair find. And no, to my shame, I very rarely actually read of them all the way through, unless they're by good authors whom I know I like. To ease my guilt, I'll usually dip into a book at random before I scan it to post here and try a few bits out; if I'm interested by what I find, I'll give it a go, but usually I'll leave it at that. (Not that I'm a snob about genre fiction or anything, I should point out - good crime, SF, horror and thrillers make up some of my favourite books of all-time, but y'know... life's too short to plough through the bad ones.)

Steve: thanks as ever for your great thoughts! But no, from the bits I read of this one, I think it's far too boring to be Moorcock; whoever Howard R. Simpson was, I fear he veered toward the dreary. Have you read Moorcock's 'The Chinese Agent' by the way? It's a really fun little light-hearted spy novel with various Cornelius/Ladbroke Grove in-jokes... almost feels like a treatment for a potentially great swinging '60s spy movie that never got made.

Elliot: yeah, modelled photos on paperback covers have always kinda fascinated me too! I mean, obviously modelling agencies always have a regular supply of pretty people to pose for stuff, but who do you phone when you need to hire somebody like the dude on this cover..!? Definitely an area someone should do some research on before it fades away into distant memory...