The Drunk, the Damned and the Bedevilled, by Terence Ford

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The cover of The Drunk, the Damned, and the Bedevilled is chock full of all that is good in pulp fiction: sex, violence, alcohol and weirdness. The weirdness comes in part from the rather odd perspective of the picture (perhaps the artist had been punched by the guy in the tie and was looking up from the floor), in part from the Gregory Peck-like man in the middle, who seems outraged by the behavior of the guy in the tie but unable to get up from his chair, and in part from the title. Drunk, damned and bedevilled? We can easily imagine a classic pulp titled, The Drunk and the Damned. But Bedevilled? It comes across as hardly stronger than Befuddled.

The title is even odder when one considers that the novel’s original title was He Feeds the Birds, which comes from the Bible, Matthew 6:26: “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” One can see how this title wasn’t exactly fit for purpose if the aim was to grab the eye of a scanning would-be buyer of cheap fiction, but did Bedevilled slip in as an unconscious nod to the Christian basis of the original?

Finally, to top off things odd, when Berkeley Books decided to give Terence Ford’s book another try as a pulp in 1959, they steered in the opposite direction, going with the riveting title, Easy Living, and a cover that replaces a cocktail party fight with a starving writer listening to his wife’s pregnant belly.

easyliving


The Drunk, the Damned, and the Bedevilled, by Terence Ford
New York: Avon Books, 1952

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