|Here is an early, and rather uncommon example of Mordecai Richler's first novel. Its title: Wicked We Love. Please refer to the pictures below. Dedicated to his Mother, Lily (Leah Rosenberg), the book was originally published as The Acrobats one year earlier. This paperback is from the Popular Library Edition numbered 677. It originally sold for 25 cents. The sub-title reads, They Turned Life Into An All-Night Party. I believe this is fine example of the commonly used 'Good Girl Art' (GGA) that illustrated pulp fiction covers on the front (and back). The true first edition of this novel was published in London by Deutsch in July 1954. The first US edition, G. P. Putnam's Sons, was published in September 1954. This paperback edition, July 1955. As I recenlty discovered, there was another 1970 paper back edition of the book that was issued. Richler was infamous for not talking about his first novel as he acknowledged as a derivative piece of fiction and he was somewhat embarrassed by it. As a young author he was inspired by such authors as Sartre, Camus and Céline. This novel was again released in a Canadian paperback edtion shortly after Richler's death.
Now onto the description of the book. On the cover are two of the novels characters: the male (André Bennett) laying at the foot of the bed between the bed rail, arms crossed, holding two paint brushes intensely studying the right bare leg of the female (Toni). She is standing at the front of the bed holding a lit cigarette, right arm holding her left forearm in a long yellow dess with four discernable buttons down the front. The collar is opened providing a glimps of cleavage and the lighting enhances the shadow of her bust. At least I think so. Looking like a young Jane Russell in her first movie, The Outlaw, (Grrrrr!) Toni's black full hair is shoulder length and she has thickly styled eyelashes and sports red lipstick. She blankly stares off into the foreground. The bed covering is green on the cover. On the rear cover, the male is now sitting on the floor beside the bed in a white t-shirt with blue jeans rolled-up at the cuffs (very 50's). He now has a cigarette in his right hand which rests on his knee. He has propped up an art canvas turned towards him while she looks on from the bed. Her same yellow dress is now loosley way off her right shoulder, her bare right leg tucked under her other leg which dangles off the front of the bed. Woah there! -- the bed cover is now red and there is no bed rail! New bed? New sheets? The art easel appears in the background apparently sticking out of André's back. The cover artwork is, alas, uncredited, but there are probably some GGA experts out there who know ...
The text on the front cover reads:
POPULAR LIBRARY | 25c | They Turned Life In An All-Night Party
WICKED WE LOVE
"REBELLIOUS... GUTSY... POWERFUL!" - Toronto TELEGRAM
Complete and Unabriged.
On the rear cover appears:
Andre Bennett fled to Spain seeking pleasures that would help him forget the girl he'd betrayed in America. Among the "lost and damned" of Valencia's underworld, he found Toni, a passionate cabaret girl.
But Toni's sadistic German lover, Kraus, had other plans for her. And when Andre tried to interfere, his frenzied seach for love drove hin to the edge of ruin.
"INTENSE... HONEST... BITTERLY ACCURATE... - SATURDAY REVIEW
"A DEFINITE NEW TALENT, RAW, VIVID - MIAMI HERALD
|Wicked We Love (The Acrobats) by Mordecai Richler|
|© John W. MacDonald, 2004|
|Dated December 19, 1967 the letter was sent from Richler's home in Hillcrest, Kingston Hill, Surrey, England at the time and written on a pre-stamped post office letter sheet. The 37 year old letter was written to an old friend who offered him honorary membership in a film industry organization. It reads: “Dear Dave [Bairstow]: Your Society of Film Makers letter of Sept 14 was on my desk when I got back to London. And so, let me say “as a prominent (?) film-maker of international reputation (?), I’d be honored to be an honorary member” of your Society. Though I hesitate to associate with any group that has awarded a prize to Maxine Samuels [Forest Rangers] A prize for what? Michael Sadlier [sic? Sadleir]. Best, Mordecai”|