We’re on vacation, and I went into a bookstore in Brandon, Vermont, yesterday. It’s called the Book and Leaf (tea leaves, that is). It has a nice selection of books, including young adult books right at the front of the store. It was a little upsetting that there didn’t seem to be a section devoted solely to science fiction on the walls. However, there are three drugstore-style book carousels that hold old, well-nigh vintage paperbacks, including pulp science fiction.
Oh, my goodness. The covers on these things. They’re intense, with livid colors, deranged damsels, and men with backstories. Everyone is simmering or cowering, and there’s a lot of leaning and lunging. So I bought Pagoda, by James Atlee Phillips. According to the back cover, the New York Herald Tribune described it as “Fierce…Swift…Electric.” The blurb says “This is a tough, hard-hitting novel about a washed-up American flyer who gambled his life for a fortune in the broiling war-ravaged jungles of Burma. Here are the hard-bitten and cynical men out for a quick million, and restless, avid-eyed women who are part of the winner’s spoils.” Irresistible. I spent a chunk of my childhood in southeast Asia, and my dad would tell stories of goings-on in Burma, so I picked it up.
It cost $5.00 plus tax (about the price of an indie e-book) and came in a nice plastic wrapper. I felt some trepidation removing the wrapper, but finally decided I wouldn’t be able to read it unless I did. It has that old book smell, and the edges of the pages are red and feel rough. I’m a little afraid to read it, in case it’s better in my imagination. I’ll report back if it’s awesome. Read what you will into any silence.by