06 July 2011

Bottoms Up, Shy Photographer

Reading The Queers of New York a couple of weeks ago got me thinking about Jock Carroll, under whose editorial direction the book was published. A fine photographer, but not much of an editor, he's at least partly to blame for the novel's failings. Truth be told, Carroll wasn't much of a writer either, though he did have a number of titles to his credit. The first edition of Bottoms Up (1961) is the most sought-after, but only because it was published by the infamous Olympia Press. Carroll's only novel, it is perhaps the blandest piece of writing Maurice Girodias ever passed off as "erotica".

It's a wonder that Bottoms Up thing ever made it into print – that it was republished seems not improbable, but impossible. And yet, for more than a decade the novel was available in one form or another. There were at least thirteen editions, published in six counties, making Bottoms Up one of Canada's all-time best selling novels. Carroll once boasted that it had moved close one million copies. The editions below go some way in backing up his claim.

Bitte recht scharf
Bremen: Schünemann Verlag, 1963
Not only the first translation, but the first hardcover edition in any language. The German was followed by Italian (Il Fotografo Timido, 1967) and Danish (Den blufærdige fotograf, 1969) translations.

The Shy Photographer
New York: Stein & Day, 1964
Retitled, Carroll's novel kicked off Stein & Day's "Olympia Press Series". Short-lived, ill-fated, the series actually began and ended with The Shy Photographer. The cover was also used on the first British edition, published in 1964 by Macgibbon & Kee.

The Shy Photographer
New York: Bantam, 1965
The first and only legal American paperback edition. "Candy with a camera!" exclaims, um... whoever wrote the cover copy, I guess.

The Shy Photographer
London: Panther, 1965

"The novel that's loaded with heaven-ly nudes". Not true.
The image was also used for the 1970 German paperback edition.

Bottoms Up
Covina, CA: Collectors Publications, 1967
A pirated edition produced by the notorious Marvin Miller. "FIRST AMERICAN PRINTING" is the claim. Again, not true.

The Shy Photographer
London: Panther, 1967
A droog takes a photograph. Whoever designed the second Panther edition seems to have been intent on representing both titles.
Wholly unappealing. And is not superimposing the author's name across some guy's ass just a tad insulting?

Il Fotografo Timido
Collana: Longanesi, 1970
The first Italian paperback edition recycles the hardcover image (which was in turn borrowed from the Bantam paperback). Of all the translations, the Italian is by far the most common.

Il Fotografo Timido
Collana: Longanesi, 1972.
A later Italian edition, the last in any language, continues the tradition of misrepresentation. Protagonist Arthur King does not become a photographer for Playboy, and at no point does he don a pair of purple panties.

There has never been a Canadian edition.

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  1. Angus Carroll, the author's son, provided the following to Patrick Kearney (from PJK's note to Bottom's Up in his full-descriptive bibliography):

    "The heroine...is based on Marilyn Monroe. Carroll, a photojournalist, had met Monroe on the set of the movie Niagra in 1952. Unable to get the book published in Canada or the U.S., Carroll turned to Girodias as a last resort. Unlike most North American publishers who thought it had too much sex in it, Girodias didn't think it had enough. He asked Carroll to spice it up, which he did...Falling for Marilyn, a book of photographs Carroll took of Monroe in 1952, appeared posthumously in 1996."

  2. Should've mentioned the Marilyn Monroe connection (there's a bit more in this early post). Thanks for reminding me.

    What I find peculiar about Angus Carroll's story is that the published version contains no sex. The most one can say, is that there are dashes of mildly dirty talk here and there. More spice, please!