Friday, November 20, 2009
Forgotten Books: THE GIRL ON THE BEST SELLER LIST -- Vin Packer
I've made no secret of my fondness for Grace Metalious's Peyton Place, and I've also mentioned Vin Packer's The Girl on the Best Seller List. Packer might be best-known for her lesbian-themed fiction for Gold Medal, but she wrote a number of quality crime novels for the line. Sometimes the novels might be based on actual cases (The Evil Friendship). In this case, it's the author imagining what might happen if someone in a small town wrote a sexy fictionalized tell-all account of life there.
There's a lot to like about The Girl on the Best Seller List, starting with the cover. I've put the back cover with the famous photo of Grace Metalious so you can make the comparison. Jeans? Check. Shirt with big squares? Check. Typewriter? Sure. Overflowing ashtray? Check. And look at the shoes. Now admittedly the woman on the cover of Packer's book is a bit more glamorous, but, hey, it's a paperback original.
People whose secrets were exposed in a best-selling book might not be too happy with the whole thing, right? Why, some of them might even want to kill the author. Everybody has a motive.
Packer was an expert at multiple POV, and she shows it here. Lots of characters, all individualized and distinct, and each chapter begins with an excerpt from Population 12,360 (the best seller) that gives you further insight into the characters. I've read a number of Vin Packer's books, and this one remains a favorite. If you can't find it, try another.
As an aside, Packer is also the author of The Damnation of Adam Blessing, which you might not think would be a good name for a rock band, but it was. I may be one of the few who remember that.
And as another aside, Kurt Vonnegut has a story (not a very good one) based on the same sort of idea in his new collection, Look at the Birdie.