Archive for the Midwood Books Category

I Take What I Want by Hal Ellson (Midwood, 1958)

Posted in crime noir, Midwood Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on January 1, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

What Hal Ellson did best: juvenile criminal tales with a snappy style. Like many of his novels, this one is in first person and present tense, told by teenage Al, a hood, a punk, a crook, a gang member. Real life knocks on his door when he knocks up his girl and he needs to find the money to get it fixed. His girl wants him to go out and get a real job and stop being a gang bum.

There is plenty of violence and sex, murder and rape, bad cops and good girls gone bad in this one but it is not one of Ellson’s best, like Duke or Tomboy, probably why he sold it to new company, Midwood Books — the real early Midwoods of 1958 and 1959 were noy numbered and published in small digest size.

Why did every juvie gang book always have the same cover? — a frightened woman on the group looking up at some hood in leather jacket and holding a switch blade?

Anybody’s Girl by March Hastings aka Sally Singer (Midwood Books #37, 1960)

Posted in lesbian pulp fiction, Midwood Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on December 13, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

I have enjoyed all the March Hastings books I have read so far, such as The Drifter and others. Anybody’s Girl is a decent, albeit predictable read about sexual confusion.

Addie is 19 and lives with her abusive alcoholic mother. Her father is absent, living in Manhattan with a woman named Margo. She is ready to give up her viriginity and when she does, the guy treats her like a whore, even tosses a twenty dollar bill at her when it is over.  Humiliated, she vows to become a slut, to sleep with whatever man wants her, to become as the title says anybody’s girl. And she does…

One day she goes to visit her father and has a talk with her father’s girlfriend, Margo. They have a curious good  rapport. She stays the night in the guest room and Margo comes to visit her, to seduce Addie, and Addie gives in…why not? And she likes it. It is apparent that Margo is only with her father for his money.

Margo sets Addie up in her own apartment so the two have a place to maintain their lesbian love affair. Margo takes Addie to Greenwich Village and the lesbian bars to introduce her to the third sex way of life. But Margo does not like that Addie still likes to fuck men.

In fact, Addie meets Cliff, the man who will turn her away from sinful dykedom, the way these lesbian novels often concluded as per genre stipulation: that heterosexuality wins out.

The cover is a Paul Rader classic with the classic Rader-esque woman. He also did the cover for the 1964 reprint:

Honey Child – Greg Hamilton – Midwood Books (1965)

Posted in Midwood Books, Paul Rader, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on November 29, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

The yummy Paul Rader GGA and cover copy makes you think this is a Lolita type story, and Midwood certainly never shied away from the sexcapades of teen wantons…but Robin, the heroine, is a 19-year-old college student; she is hardly a nymphet although she acts like she is twelve when it comses to maturity and the games she plays.

Not all that impressive. I need to read more Greg Hamilton, one of the pen names used by Ron Singer, the brother of Sally Singer, aka March Hastings, lesbiana author gallant.  Apparantly, Midwood’s Harry Shorten had set up a small writing office in the Village that various people used as a manuscript grindhouse, so says Gil Fox in an interview with Lynn Munroe:

I also wrote some books for one of the Midwood writers, Ron Singer. They had an office set up at Christopher and Hudson in the Village, with typewriters, and you could go in there and write for money.

Ah, the good ol’ vintage days of analog pulp writing. A simpler time? What would they have done if they had iPads and laptops?

Got Book? We Like Book

Posted in Beacon Books, crime noir, lesbian pulp fiction, Midwood Books, Nightstand Books, noir fiction, Paul Rader, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on November 29, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Is there a vintage book or author you think we should discuss/review on this website?  Are you a publisher or have you had published a novel that has a vintage feel, pays homage to the style and subetmatter of the 1940s-70s?  Feel free to send them along. We will mention your name and thank you in the post if you like.

Send to:

Those Sexy Vintage Sleaze Books

C/o M. Hemmingson

PO Box 1284

Lemon Grove, CA 91946

Enough of Sorrow by Jill Emerson aka Lawrence Block (Midwood Books, 1965)

Posted in Lawrence Block, lesbian pulp fiction, Midwood Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on September 21, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Lawrence Block stopped writing as Andrew Shaw and Sheldon Lord by 1964, but he kept at the lesbian novels as Jill Emerson with two titles, Enough of Sorrow and Warm & Willing. As previously noted, Block would use his Emerson pen name for more commercial, hardback womens and erotic fiction.

Enough of Sorrow exhibits much more maturity in authorship and seriousness in theme than previous lesbian titles by Block, as Leslie Evans, Benjamin Morse, Ben Christopher and Sheldon Lord.

The novel opens with a depressed and lost woman, Karen Winslow, who checks into a cheap New York City weekly rooming house with the plan to commit suicide. She is pregnant and the married man who gave her the baby skipped out when she told him, leaving her alone to deal with a child.  She is saved by a neighbor amd wakes up in the hospital alive, but told she lost the fetus.

She later gets an apartment and meets a new tenant named Rachel. The two become friends, then lovers. Karen realizes she may have been a lesbian all the time, never knew it, maybe this is why her relationships with men were always bad.  She and Rachel (Rae) move in together and are happy lovers for a while. Karen gets a job as a receptionist for a talent agent who deals mostly with TV and bit actors and exotic dancers.

Karen starts drinking a lot, a gradual downswing from too such social drinking to drinking at home and then needing booze to function. Rae is worried,. Karen says it is no problem until she tries three dry days sober.  It is hard at first, then hellish, as she cant type at work and she has a headache and the shakes.  On the third day she gives in to her addiction and gets sauced, comes home and fights with Rae, then goes out on a bender, hitting up a number of lesbian bars, dancing, making out, and fingering all kinds of dykes, from lipsticks to bulls to skinny young girls exploring the scene.  She wakes up in bed with a drooling, snoring bulldyke and runs out…when she gets home, Rae has left a note saying she needs some time away from these troubles.

The passage about the evils of booze eminded me of Block going into the same issues with his Matt Scudder character, who destroyed his life with booze and then went to AA. It makes me wonder about Block and alcohiolism, if this is personal ‘… and I am sure Block has talked about it somewhere, I have just not seen it. MMaybe not… this is from wikipedia;

Though it’s been suggested that Scudder’s struggle with alcoholism is in part autobiographical, Block has repeatedly refused to discuss the subject, citing AA’s own tradition of anonymity.

Eventually, Karen does win her battle with booze and disasterously sleeps with an actor she knows, an older man in his 60s, to determine if she is really gay or bi or whatever.

The book ends on a somber note, with Karen finding the strength to move on, move to anther city, and to say enough of sorrow, time to live.

Not a bad little book…would have preferred a darker ending, more in a Block tradition, but this is a moral lesbian tale…

Man Hungry by Alan Marshall aka Donald E. Westlake (Midwood #20, 1959)

Posted in Midwood Books, Paul Rader, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on August 22, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Donald Westlake wrote the first ten Alan Marshalls for Midwood (and one Sheldon Lord and a couple Lord/Marshalls); this is the first one that Paul Rader did a cover for.

Man Hungry is an unfortunate trite title for what happens to be a rather excellent, quasi-literary novel.  It opens with 23-year-old Daniel Blake finishing his first novel, frantic behind the typewriter, and now that he is done, his girlfriend  realizes he no longer needs her, she acted as muse and he’s done with her like he’s done with the novel.

Five years later, Blake has yet to publish a second novel to follow-up his successful first.  He’s written four, but his agent and publisher have all turned them away, and have dropped him. Broke, he takes a teaching job at a small college in upper New York state. He immediately gets involved with Ann, a fellow teacher in physical education for girls…they live near each other in faculty housing. At first she is afraid to be intimate with Blake, she just wants to be friends, but she finally gives in and seems glad she did. Blake has no idea why she fears sex so much.

Next we meet 18-year-old Janice, highly intelligent, once a geeky awkward girl until around age 16 her body changed and she became a beauty to behold.  She has tried boys her age, older men, men from all strata, and she’s easily bored with them all.  She has an unknown need to be filled.  She is currently trying a lesbian affair with a woman who makes money by having her taxi cab driving uncle being her men for sex-for-money. When she hears about this new young professor who is a published novelist, she enrolls in his creative writing course and decided he could be the man who will fit her need: not too young, not too old, handsome, accomplished. Little does she know about his failures.  But Ann is in the way, and she seduces Blake, and Blake finds she is a lot like the girlfriend he had while writing his first novel, and Janice could be the muse he needs. But Janice gets bored once she has conquered him, and he has sacrificed his relationship with Ann and possibly his job, but at least he has fuel for that second novel…

A remarkably good read from a young Westlake.

The Seduction Game by Vin Fields (Midwood #33-882, 1967)

Posted in Midwood Books, Paul Rader, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags on August 18, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

A medicore book in two ways — the Rader cover art and the text, which takes on the common theme of a mother and daughter vying for the same man.

19-year-old Jean Shaw is the product of divorced parents.  She doesn’t get along with her mother, whom she lives with, and she only sees her traveling father once or twice a month, and she loves him desperately.  She doesn’t admit it, but it’s between the lines: she has an Elektra complex for her dad. Instead of sleeping with her father, she instead goes after her mother’s new boyfriend, who is 10 years younger than her mother and ten years older than Jean. The fight gets ugly but the guy sure has fun, fucking both of them.

This wasn’t as engaging as The Baby-Sitter.

The Baby-Sitter by Vin Fields (Midwood #F342, 1964)

Posted in Midwood Books, Paul Rader, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , on August 16, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Another ultra sexy Paul Rader cover!

Vin Fields was a pen name used by Irving A. Greenfield, for a handful of Midwoods and Beacons.  Greenfield wrote men’s action and military paperbacks for Zebra, Manor, Signet, Dell, etc.

The Baby-Sitter is an engaging, well-written short novel (about 40K words) about a Madison Avenue ad man, Cliff Morton, who has a lot of troubles and problems: his wife has gone frigid and she knows about his tom-catting around; he’s about to lose some accounts and a large one is uncertain; the boss has moral issues with his providing call girls to potential clients; and he has started to have a thing for his jailbait baby-sitter, Charna,  a little sex kitten that could be the end of him.

Charna is in the background of the novel until the end really; much of the story deals with Cliff’s jumbling business around, and sleeping with a female account exec who is trying to talk him into breaking off and starting a new agency, stealing accounts in the process.  We can feel Cliff’s Mad Man tension and who can blame him for needing a lot of sexual relief, the kind his wife won’t give him but what he can get from a blond, tanned teenage girl.

Then he fucks up and fucks up bad when he talks Charna into sleeping with a man who can get a potential account with a bra company, and the thing is, Charna’s uncle, who raised her, is a cop…

The ending is quite different from your usual sleaze or Midwood fair…

We will definitely read more Vin Fields.

No Way Back by Russell Trainer (Midwood F307, 1962)

Posted in Midwood Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on August 12, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Another great Paul Rader cover, this woman wading through stormy waters, apparently having jumped from the yacht in the background, her nipples cold and hard (what they called headlights back then on cover art).

No Way Out is an okay novel whose author is much more interesting than the book.  According to a wikipedia entry, Russell Trainer was a low key criminal who wrote his first novel, The Wardens Wife, in 1959, and sold it to Beracon Books. And this…

Russel Trainer’s importance stems from his publication in 1965, of his most famous work, “The Lolita Complex”, which had the appearance of a serious psychological work, with an extensive bibliography of legitimate authorities, who were liberally quoted and referenced from their work. Trainer, however, had no credentials at all as a psychologist, and many authorities saw the work as a sham and the author as a charlatan. The title is a reference to Vladimir Nabokov‘s book, Lolita, in which a middle-aged man becomes sexually obsessed with a 12-year-old girl. When Trainer’s book was translated into Japanese, it triggered a movement known as Lolicon, the Japanese form of the title of the translated book.

We have ordered The Lolita Complex and will review that when it comes in, as well as some other Trainer Midwoods.

No Way Out starts with a lot of promise…Dan is on a train going home, returning from Vietnam where he was doing spy and intelligence work. He can be called back at any time, but he has been in Vietnam, the early years before things escalated, for two years, and he yearns to see his wife.

On the train he sees a young woman who looks familiar.  Seems she is the daughter of a woman he once dated. He has not seen her since she was a girl in braces. Now she is a woman, and they have, after a few drinks, a quick fuck in the bathroom.

It does not matter that he has been unfaithful to his wife at home, because a mere hour before they reunite, she has sex with her lesbian lover, Rebecca, or Bobby.

His wife and Bobby have been running the family real estate business in his absence and it has been lucrative, and the two of them scheme to get Dan out, even if they have to kill him.

The novel suffers too many characters, to many sideline stories, than keeping to the main one.  More development of the Vietnam stuff would have been great, we only get glimpses.

Still, enough good stuff to warrant looking at more Russell Trainer novels.  He also started the sleaze paperback company Chevron Books.

Lawrence Block Seeks Lost Pulp Sleaze Novel

Posted in Andrew Shaw, Beacon Books, crime noir, Lawrence Block, Midwood Books, Nightstand Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Sheldon Lord, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on August 12, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Great essay online by Lawrence Block.

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