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.


pattinase (abbott) said...

On my TBR pile and moving up right now.

Laurie Powers said...

Yes, this sounds like a fun one. thanks for the review.

Evan Lewis said...

Sounds good, Bill. Dang, wish I knew enough of my neighbors' sexy secrets to write a best-selling novel.

Anonymous said...

The cover artist is, of course, Robert McGinnis (he did the cover for Adam Blessing also).

Art Scott

Todd Mason said...

And it should go without saying that Vin Packer's real name is Marijane Meaker, and she writes YA fiction (starting with the first thing I read by her, the excellent DINKY HOCKER SHOOTS SMACK!) as M. E. Kerr, and went to college with Richard Matheson, worked at Fawcett before she started publishing with them, and wrote a memoir about her life, romantic and otherwise, with fellow writer Patricia Highsmith (who was, during their cohabitation period, jealous as hell of Packer's royalties from Gold Medal, even as Highsmith was growing into a very big name indeed publishing with Knopf for relative peanuts).

Ed Gorman said...

Vin Packer belongs right up there with Peter Rabe and JDM and Malcolm Braly (among others) as one of the Gold Medal greats. Her voice was fresh, literate and all her own. Plus she was one hell of a storyteller who used her tales, ala John O'Hara, to comment sardonically on our culture. Something In The Shadows is also one of her finest.