Monday, August 6, 2012

The Dell Paperbacks of Felice Picano

Two more vintage '70s paperback covers to compare, this time Smart as the Devil, the 1975 debut novel from Felice Picano. At the top is the 1976 paperback; below, the 1978 reprint, both from Dell. I vaguely recognized Picano's name from my days shelving this kind of paperback as a used bookstore clerk; Picano wrote bestseller-type thrillers, sort of an Ira Levin lite, maybe? Ever-present '70s horror-paperback blurb comparing it to Rosemary's Baby: present and accounted for!

As for his other titles, man, I just love, absolutely love these other Dell paperbacks of his. He may have began his career writing what look to be tawdry contemporary thrillers, but he's got excellent cred in the gay literary world today. But these glorious old paperback cover illustrations are a cornucopia of bad hair and sexual threat. And I wouldn't have it any other way!

The Lure (Dell 1980)
Eyes (Dell 1977)
The Mesmerist (Dell 1977)


Barrymore Tebbs said...

I worked at Waldenbooks when The Lure was out in paperback. It sold very well to our gay customers. It's not horror but is unique in that it is a murder mystery, psychological thriller, and conspiracy theory all set within the NYC gay communities of the early seventies. Better than the movie Cruising, that's for sure.

Unknown said...

Picano also wrote another horror novel in the late '80s called TO THE SEVENTH POWER, about kids with psychic powers and a government conspiracy.
I've read his later novels and memoirs, but not his earlier genre work. I've got to read THE LURE.

Will Errickson said...

I saw that one, Brian, but wasn't too impressed with the cover. Sounds too much like Farris's THE FURY, doncha think?

"Better than Cruising"? HOW DARE YOU. No really, anything with Al Pacino dancing must be bleached from the mind.

Unknown said...

Oh, it certainly sounds like second-rate Farris, and I do love THE FURY (and, without remorse or apology, Brian De Palma's 1978 flick -- I know we'll disagree there). I'm sure Picano was "paying the bills" with his early genre novels, but being the completist I am, I had to add copies of those on the bookshelf next to his later novels and memoirs.

Will Errickson said...

Actually I didn't mind THE FURY film - Amy Irving I guess - but the book I couldn't finish. Gonna be on vacation soon so will be hitting up strange new used bookstores and these are on my list!

highwayknees said...

Funny but I remember reading The Lure, and Smart As the Devil-back when they came out-and I came out, as it were. lol But they weren't so impressive that I remember them fondly to this day. Just -meh.

And about that Farris business and The FURY. I Absolutely love John Farris as a novelist and have read everything he has written...NOBODY-but NOBODy plots like that man. And with humor, terror ,and skill a -plenty! And I too am an unabashed fan of DePalma's THE FURY.
Unfortunately ,it is the ONLY one of Farris' books that I couldn't finish! lol So I feel ya Will-now I know I'm not crazy! But , I will add that the 3 Fury sequels which have totally different characters are all wild rides, and MUST READS!

Fernando Brambila O. said...

I've yet to read anything by him, but that cover to Eyes is very interesting in that it inverts the usual image of a man spying a woman: here, it's a woman spying a man, who himself is presented as rather vulnerable: shirtless, and clinging to a telephone.

C. Brian Autry said...

The white-cover edition of "Smart as the Devil" terrified me as very small child. I think it took my grandmother over a year to read it because every time she'd set it down, I'd hide it somewhere so that the freaky, pop-eyed devil on the cover would stop looking into my soul.

Will Errickson said...

Ha ha yes, thanks for sharing! I had the same problem with other horror covers, like TRICYCLE.