Lilies of the Field

German Nuns! Black men crouching submissively! Sidney Poitier! POWERFUL! Yes, it's (White) Lilies of the (Black) Field. This cover isn't quite so much funny as dated, tired, oddly monochromatic, and exhibiting a '60s borderline racism that pervaded so much of the American culture at that time (and, whom are we kidding, now).

But here's what's really funny (which I can't show you, unfortunately, until I get a scanner). On the back, the narrative blurb goes something like this:
Homer Smith, a black ex-GI, was a carefree and happy man on the open road - until he met a group of refugee nuns...
Yeah, nuns make me unhappy and careworn, too. And I'm so happy they felt the need to point out Homer's race. Have you ever noticed how people sometimes feel the need to gratuitously throw in race when they're talking about things? Like, "I was having dinner at that new restaurant downtown and the waiter, who was black, suggested the tuna." I've particularly noticed this trend when talking to people who are 50+ years old. Just like this book, which feels the need to tell us that Homer Smith was black, was a GI, and that nuns ruined his lighthearted existence.

I leave you with these words, also from the back cover:

When you have finished the last page, you will have one of those rare
experiences. -The Pilot (Boston, MA)
I hope your experience is a pleasant one.



DocTurtle said...

"One of those rare experiences"? There are a lot of rare experiences that quite frankly I'd never want to have. The vagueness of the statement leads me to believe the reviewer is referring to some "moving" bodily function of one sort or another.

Snow said...

Homer Smith, a black ex-GI, was a carefree and happy man on the open road - until he met a group of refugee nuns..
Am I the only one who interprets this as Homer falls in with a nun biker gang?

Kiwi said...

I think he meant one of those rare experience in which you question your sanity.

Anonymous said...

That title is Michael Patterson worthy.

Anonymous said...


Cool idea for a blog. I read a lot of SF/Fantasy, so I've seen my fair share of godawful covers too.

If you're looking for a topic for a post or three, maybe you can compare some of the book covers from different markets.

Here are links to galleries for two of my favorite authors:
George RR Martin
Lois McMaster Bujold (I completely agree with you about how atrocious the Baen cover art is, btw.)

The Japanese covers for the Wheel of Time series are also quite nice, IMO.

I've seen some interesting galleries for Harry Turtledove and Terry Pratchett too, but I can't find the links.

Andrew Leal said...

"Lilies of the Field" is a favorite movie of my mother and self. It's actually a lot better than the blurb suggests, with Homer's race only being acknowledge twice (once in an English lesson, when ho ho ho, hilarity as the German nuns repeat the phrase "My skin is black") and sort of with a white contractor and the way he seems to view Homer.

Of course, to add in to the stereotypes, we also have a drunken Irish priest and a lax Catholic Mexican cafe owner. Still, it's actually aged quite well, unlike the cover (no crouching at all, that I can recall). And yes, from his perspective, for much of the film, the nuns did ruin his life! (And tellingly, while lessons are learned and all that, once his work is done, he buggers out as quickly as he can. Forget you, nuns!)

Anonymous said...

D'oh, forgot the URL for the Wheel of time link. Here it is:
Japanese covers

Anonymous said...

This is a very funny blog. I just came over here from CC and read all the entries you've done so far. Keep up the great work!!

k4f said...

This is TRUE, it is not spam! Homer Smith, a black ex-GI, was a carefree and happy man on the open road until he met a group of refugee nuns. Post this on 5 other blogs and when you have posted the last one, you will have one of those rare experiences. This really works! If you do not, then Mumbo Jumbo, god of the Congo (and all of the other gods of the Congo) will Vachel your Lindsay in a satchel by Wednesday.