Thursday, June 30, 2011

Paperback Flashback: The Great Smith by Edison Marshall

Celebrating vintage paperbacks--both the cheesy & the profound.
But mostly the cheesy.

And now, Captain John Smith as you've never seen him before...

Colonial porn star!

(click on image to enlarge it)

 (click on image to enlarge it)

This 1943 novel about the legendary explorer and Jamestown chopping-block hero is one of many historical novels penned by Marshall, an author who fancied himself a big-game hunter and once claimed to have written "the most widely-read story in English written in this century."  He had Hemingway choking on his whiskey with that one.

I grabbed The Great Smith at a recent estate sale somewhere here in Montana, lured by the incredibly irrelevant pecs of the title character on the cover of the Dell paperback.  Notice how he's the background character, but yet our eyes are immediately drawn to that stiff, awkward pose and the bizarre head which looks like it belongs on a Swedish actor in a movie whose primary soundtrack goes wakka-wakka-bow-bow.  We even look right past that demure hint of exposed boob thrust in Smith's direction by the resident of the Turkish harem.  And no, you're not dreaming--that really is a topless Pocahontas on the back cover.

Ye gods!

Opening lines:  "A fig for the first seventeen years of my life.  They were no more notable than the first two years of a stallion's eating, and running, exploring the pasture, and sniffing the mares to windward.  I was busy growing up, and made a fair enough job of it, too, as you would have seen had you met me in Boston town, on our waterish Lincolnshire coast, on the night my man's life began."

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