18 February 2010

Carroll's Canadian Originals

Those adverts at the back of The Last Canadian have had me scouring local thrift shops for Leo Orenstein's The Queers of New York. How could I not? The very idea that a respected director of Anton Chekhov, Henrik Ibsen and George Bernard Shaw, not to mention Harlan Ellison (The Starlost), wrote a "novel of the homosexual underworld" intrigues. What's more, according to one online bookseller, it features a "gay glossary", a "Yiddish glossary" and "camp pictorial wraps (painted by the author)".

While I can't confirm the bookseller's description, I don't doubt the accuracy. Covers for Pocket's Canadian originals look like they were done on the cheap, so we might expect that the firm appreciated writers who could supply an image. In terms of quality, they're to be all over the map. Series editor Jock Carroll's photo of a faux Marilyn Monroe isn't so bad, but what are we to make of the flower-carrying girl exiting an outhouse?

That is a girl, right?

Daddy's Darling Daughter
William Thomas
"A shocking novel of today's children and their life-style."

Down the Road
Jock Carroll
"Uninhibited talks with Marilyn Monroe and other famous sex symbols. Photos."

Backroom Boys and Girls
John Philip Maclean
"A novel that raises basic questions about Canadian politicians – and sex."

Love Affair
Earl L. Knickerbocker
"The bitter-sweet romance of two young schoolteachers."

Right Now Would Be a Good Time to Cut My Throat
Paul Fulford
"A bawdy sailor adrift in Toronto publishing circles."


  1. Thanks for this and the last post. I had never heard of Carroll's Canadian Originals. Fascinating bunch.

    Going to have to start looking for them. Do you know how many were published with this tag?

  2. Almost all I know about Pocket Books' "Paperback Originals by Canadian Authors" comes through the two pages of adverts at the back of The Last Canadian. Twenty titles are listed, but I suspect there were more. Of these, the only one I recognize is Some Canadian Ghosts by Sheila Hervey, which I remember buying as an elementary school student.

    Carroll, Heine and Orenstein aside, the only author name that means anything to me is Jim Proudfoot (Pro Hockey 74-75). That said, there's something called Crosbie's Dictionary of Puns by John Crosbie. Could it be the work of the current Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador? I wouldn't be at all surprised.

  3. These covers are definitely worth owning and framing...

    ...because nothing is more beautiful than a girl in a yellow dress, exiting an outhouse while carrying a bouquet of flowers...

    as there appear to be no flowers in the field, I cannot help but wonder why she brought them to the bathroom with her.

    Almost strikes me as a cheesy 1970s ad for a feminine hygiene product.

    JAW fan

  4. That's surely not a Ronald Searle cover at the end? It looks a lot like his work, but I would have thought he was above the general run of these covers.

  5. JRSM, I wondered whether it might be Searle... though the signature doesn't seem to match. Certainly, as the illustrator of The Great Fur Opera, Searle shared something with the "bawdy sailor adrift in Toronto publishing circles."

    JAW fan, it does remind me of old adverts for feminine hygiene products... though I'm still not sure that daddy's daughter's not a dude.