The Man Who Wrote Dirty Books by Hal Dresner
Hal Dresner wrote this novel about a dirty book writer that got him out of the dirty book business. Simon and Schuster bought it, a Broadway produced optioned it, and he was hired by Jack Lemmon to be the actor’s main comedy writer. Drenser moved to Hollywood and his pen name for Nightstand, Don Holliday, was taken over by others c. 1963 — Art Plotnik, William Coons, etc.
This is an epistle tome, a novel made up of correspondence by a reclsuive author in Virginia, Mason, who wrtites under the name Guy LaDouche, and his editor at Sceptre Books, a few friends, his lawyer, a man suing him and the man’s attorneys.
He is being sued for libel for his Sceptre Books title, The Flogged Flesh, by a retured Naval commander, Dibbs, on behalf of Dibbs wayward daughter, whom Mason apparently used in the book, with a tell-tale birthmark and family history. Dibbs is also an eccentric Nazi hunter and believes Mason is also an ex-Nazi who stole an American’s identity and is posing as a porn author. Dibbs manges to get the FBI involved. We soon discover that Dibbs, through his letters, is an insane paranoid.
A lone FBI agent shows up at his cabin, 10 miles from civilization, in the snow, and Mason befriends him, while “under arrest and surveillance,” they get drunk in Jack Daniels with the local sheriff, and absurd conversations abound — all told in letters to Mason’s lawyer, a nam with a curious name: Michael Westlake.
I can’t held but think that Dresner was making fun of the absurdity of the FBI and Hoover’s surveillance and harassment of Nightstand Books and William Hamling.
This is a crazy fun book, sometimes it does’t make sense, and you wonder: what is the point of all this? But that’s exactly what Dresner wants you to think. It was the early 1960s, Kennedy had been killed, postmodernism had rushed in, and little made sense in a crazy nuclear war fearing nation.
In the end, Mason only finishes 22 pages of the novel his editor keeps asking for, and quits the biz.