cover image Over My Dead Body

Over My Dead Body

Lee Server, Chronicle Books. Chronicle Books, $16.95 (108pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-0550-6

Gorgeously illustrated with eye-opening color cover reproductions on almost every page, Server's enthusiastic follow-up to Danger Is My Business is a nostalgic look into the brief but ``rambunctious adolescence'' of the mass market paperback. The particular flavor of this sleazy period he attributes to the taste of its targeted audience of ex-GIs, the early success of Mickey Spillane and the sudden availability of writers and cover artists from the dying pulp publications. Life in this new market was a mixed bag for even successful ``paperback writers'' such as Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Chester Himes and Philip K. Dick as their pay was modest and their shelf-life short. Server is best when describing the early subgenres which, then as now, blossomed from the seed of a single bestseller. Thus God's Little Acre begat a slew of ``hillbilly fiction,'' pseudo-Beat stories joined Kerouac's On the Road , The Amboy Dukes spawned the juvenile delinquent genre and imitators of Vin Packer's Spring Fire lured readers into the ``twilight world'' of ``lesbiana.'' Not as thorough as his previous book, Server skimps on names and dates and neglects the role of distribution in the industry's success. But readers will want this slick volume of low-brow entertainment turned campy collectible for its ``magnificently lurid'' cover illustrations of busty babes with smoking guns, which coaxed quarters from suckers in exchange for the often ``monumental trash'' within. (May)