Archive for the Nightstand Books Category
This s a novelized version of a short story in Illicit Affair by Mark Ryan. Common practice of the prolific writer: if you have no new ideas, expand an old short story. So the story is basically Chapter One of Lust Demon.
Opens with a man named Carter driving from San Francisco to L.A. on the coast. Half-way, he spots a naked woman sunning on the beach. He stops to talk to her. Her name is Judy. She’s gorgeous, built, athletic, blonde, tanned. She seems to be a free love type of the era and soon he has his clothes off and they’re fucking on the deserted beach…she suggests a swim. They go out, and she clamps her muscular legs around him and pulls him under the water, drowns him, and leaves his body to sink.
In the story, that’s all we get, a sorta cautionary tale about you never know what strangers will do, hinting at maybe the girl is some sort of demon siren out to get passing men. In the novel, we learn of her motivations: Judy simply hates all men, and she uses their own desires for her against them, and kills them.
She was raped at sixteen by her own brother, a haunting memory of incest. She was raped two years later when she got drunk in a bar, still in despair about the disgust of the first rape, and a kindly middle aged man who helps her then rapes her, too.
In college, she decides to get revenge by making men fall in love with her and then breaking their hearts; making them grovel at her feet and crawl on their knees. Then she meets a man she actually falls in love with, thinks she will marry, and then he does the same to her: after three months, he kicks her out. He has his own revenge issues with women.
Several years later, she crosses paths with this man and invites him to her secluded cottage in the hills near the beach. It’s a romantic night but she has revenge in her heart and kills him, and drags his body to the ocean. The next two men she kills in the ocean. Carter was her fourth.
Thus far, the men have been reported missing or deemed suicides, but she wonders if the cops will ever get wise to what she is doing…
Everyone sees her as a quiet if kooky blonde hermit who makes pottery to sell to tourists. Nearby in a cottage are two lesbians she sometimes has a threesome with.
One day a man is waiting at her door. She fears he might be a cop. He says his car broke down and needs to use a phone. This and that, he spends the night. The sex between them is rough and violent — he can match her moves, smacks her around, draws blood, and they both like it. Without being too graphic, Silverberg deft handles the scene where Judy muses about biting his willywhacker off as she fellates him:
Abruptly, she brought her teeth into play. She kept her lips over them while she was caressing him, but now she pulled her lips back and let her sharp, white little teeth close in on him. Slowly, she brought her jaws together, a fraction of an inch at at a time. She knew that it must be painful for him. But he didn’t say a word, not even a murmur.
Judy took her mouth away from him. She looked up and saw him studying her with interest.
She said, “I’ve hot very strong jaws. One good snap — whose the boss then?” (p. 150)
She hears a news item on the radio about a man on the run who murdered his wife and another man, and the description of the man fits her new lover, as well as the make of his car. He admits he’s on the run. She tells him about her murders. She thinks she has found a kindred soul because she is not the lust demon — he is, the violent sex they had is nothing like she’s ever had, and everything she always secretly wanted.
This is the sort of psychological sexual horror that became popular in the 1980s. Silverberg, like Lawrence Block with his Shaw title, The Sadist, was ahead of the trend curve here.
It’s a good, swift read. Recommended, as most Silverberg Elliotts, Eliots, Beauchamps and Challons are.
Many of the latter books Silverberg wrote for Cornith in 1965-67 tend to be on the kinky, S/M and violent side, perhaps a foreshadow of the type of dark, sexual SF he produced a few years later.
A 1966 book — we are amazed whenever we read a book the same year we were born, thinking this little paperback was out there on the stands when we were just an infant sucking on our mother’s teat.
This was the fifth book William Hamling published at the end of 1959, and the first of many titles that a very young Larry Block furnished for Hamling and his editor, Harlan Ellison.
This is also one of the more hard-to-find Shaws, at a reasonable price, with a but of a cult status among Antioch University alumni from the 1950s and 60s. Block went to Antioch, later opting out for a career in Manhattan as a hack pulp writer, selling his first novel, as Lesely Evans, to Fawcett Crest in 1958, then to Midwood and Nightstand in 1959-63.
A number of Block’s early books are, well, uneven–they are either good or bad. Mona was very good and The Adulterers and The Wife-Swappers very bad. Campus Tramp is not on part with Mona, $20 Lust, The Sex Shuffle, or Candy, but it isn’t bad, and there’s even some sociology involved in the text.
Campus Tramp tells the story of Linda Shepard, a nineteen-year-old young lady from Cleveland, Ohio, who is off to her freshman year at Clifton College, Block’s version of Antioch, a liberal arts institute with a loose structure in experimental (for the time) pedagogy.
Linda is a virgin and has been proud of keeping it that way, as a number of boys in high school tried to claim her cherry but she was firm in her desire to wait until marriage…until college that is. Once at Clifton, she decides that she wants a lover, that she wants to lose her virginity, and while a guy named Joe has his love eye on her, the man she really wants is a senior, Don Gibbs, a sort of bohemian rich boy who edits the college newspaper (as Block did at Antioch).
Many sociological studies have been conducted over the decade about how wild freshmen get in college, especially in the dorms: they are away from home, mommy and daddy, they have access to alcohol and drugs, they let loose. I remember when I was in the “older student” dorm floor way way b ack when, and the freshmen were all on the eighth and seventh floors, said floors in shambles every weekend, shattered bottles, beer cans, clothes everywhere…rooms where a drunk or high 18 year old was taking on anyone, and guys lining up for a turn…yeah, the good old days. Later, the young girls who did this would experience shame, and they’d leave the dorms or even try to kill themselves, or they’d wallow in booze and cocaine and sleep with anyone who passed by…
That’s what happens to Linda. She gets Don Gibbs, inserting herself into his life, and when she loses her virginity, and experiences lust, she can’t get enough. She an Don fuck whenever they can; she spends all her time with him, not going to classes, her grades slipping.
When Don breaks up with her over her ultra possessiveness, Linda sinks deep into debauchery, having sex with any boy or guy or man who wants her, a shabby replacement for Don; she thinks of suicide but getting drunk is better to dull the pain, and there are plenty of older students willing to give her the booze in exchange for a romp in the backseat.
Linda starts to get a reputation as the campus tramp, and guys ask her out only with sex on their minds. Linda doesn’t care what people think of her. Her roommate, Rachel, is quite concerned, and one drunken night, when Rachel gives Linda a massage, the two girls go at it. Linda is shocked by what she has done, and her roommate confesses that she’s been a lesbian since she was fourteen.
Then Linda realizes she is pregnant, and she has no idea who the father could be…just as she decides to stop drinking and tramping and get her grades back up, the school informs her that they want her to leave for a year or face explusion…and now she is pregnant…she isn’t getting a break anywhere.
The book doesn’t wrap up as expected — usually these stories, for moral standards, have the wanton floozie realize the errors of her sinful ways, and finds the boy who loves her…we thought it would be Joe, that seemed to be the set up, he confesses his love despite her reputation, but she just fucks him and drops him…
Instead, Linda returns to Don Gibbs and tells him she’s knocked up and needs help. He’s willing to help because, unknown to her, he broke it up because he was in love and was afraid of the emotion…
Creeping Hemlock Press recently reprinted Campus Tramp as a a trade paperback, with an intro by Ed Gorman and an afterword by Block; the afterword is worth the price of admission: Blocks talks about leaving high school and going to Antioch as a would-be young writer, sellingb his early novels, moving to New York, and being asked to leave Antioch in a way that Linda is asked to leave Clifton. He talks about the book’s cult status at Antioich, and how some students and faculty thought the book was his way of “getting back” at Antioch.
Clifton College appears in a number of Andrew Shaws, referred to in one Sheldon Lord, and is the setting of one of Donald Westlake’s softcores, as Edwin West.
Creeping Hemlock is set to reprint the Seeldon Lord, April North, which has many similarities to Campus Tramp.
This one wasn’t penned by Lawrence Block and there are no clues who wrote this, of the many other Andrew Shaws, such as William Coons or David Case. It does have some crime elements and the multi-character narrative that Block often used in his Shaw novels.
The setting is Neuvo Lardo, in Mexico at the Texas border; in 1966 it was a haven for Americans to gamble,party, and have sex with a variety of prostitutes; today, of course, it is blood-spattered from the drug cartels. The novel focuses on a number of Americans who find themselves down south, and eventually their lives cross paths — much like Crossroads of Lust, so this might be Coons imitating Block as he has done in other Shaws.
Sharon is a lost soul who works the bars down south, and seems to have the gift of precognition, hence the title. Eddie and Lee are a couple of criminals on the run, Lee a sadistic psycho serial killer. Kitkat Kelly is a butch lesbian who performs in dyke shows for people to watch, and seduces Mexican girls on the side — she is a female Humbert Humbert, and in one strange chapter she works on a slow seduction of a preteen Mexican girl who seems virgina, although she notes in Neuvo Ladro, any girl keeping her virginity past age seven is rare, and many preteen girls make themselves available to pedophile gringos.
A good read–many of the post-1965 Shaws aren’t–but confusing at times with too many characters. Worth looking at if you come across a copy.
This is the third juvenile delinquent softcore Robert Silverberg published; the other two were in 1959, Streets of Sin as Mark Ryan and Gang Girl as Don Elliott. All three have similar plot lines: about teenage hoodlums moving to a new town and having to join a new gang, and then meeting their doom when their ambitions get too…ambitious. In Streets of Sin, a young Brooklyn thug moves to Ohio and tries to muscle his way into being gang leader; in Gang Girl, a teenage girl moves to a new part of New York City and joins a gang as a deb, with her eye on the Prez and being Top Girl; in Jungle Street, Danny Flahetry has to prove himself in the new gang area to join the Golden Dragons: he headsup the robbery of a store, smashing a bottle on the head of the old store owner, putting him in a coma, later dying. Another initiation is similar to the initiation in Campus Sex Club: Danny has to get it up three times and have sex with three different girls in one hour.
His sister joins the gang too, and he watches, with an arousal that makes him feel odd, “Sis” strip for everyone, and have sex with the guys in the gang as spectator sport.
There’s a snobby 16-year-old girl in his apartment complex that he has a thing for but she won’t give him the time of say, so he rapes her in the basement laundry. she runs away, into the street, and gets hit by a truck and dies. Now Danny has two deaths on his hands…when he tries for a third, attempting to kill the cop who is investigating him, things go to shit.
Jungle Street is the better of Silverberg’s juvie gang books; it goes beyond the point of genre literature as a page-turning crime novel, better than some of Hal Ellson’s tomes in the genre. It also has a bit of Camus-esque existential noir to it, the story of a young criminal without a conscience, yet knows when karma comes to get him, he deserves it for his sins.
The 1973 Reed Nightstand reprint has the same cover art that the 1960 small paperback had.
Great essay online by Lawrence Block.
Some of Silverberg’s best softsores are set in the corporate workplace and all the sexual shenanigans that happen there, found in Savage Love and Company Girl (Mark Ryan), The Bra Peddlers (John Dexter) Convention Girl and Woman Chaser(Elliott)…
In Expense Account Sinnes, Llyod Burks is Vice President and Public Relations Manager for an electronic firm…but he is more VP of Cal Girls and Good Times. His job is to entertain VIPs from the government and other companies that are potential clients for electronics parts, meaing millions of dollars of contracts.
Burks job is to show these buyers a good time, which means getting them call girls and partying it up. To show the buyers he too is having a good time, Burks often has to sleep with one of the call girls too.
Burks makes 26 grand a year, good money for the early 1960s, a top exec job. He lives in the suburbs with his wife, Miriam, and their two children. He likes to see himself as a good husband, nine years of devotion, and he only sins for the good of the company…he never spends the night with a hooker, he always comes home.
Then he finds out one of the owners of the company has been phoning his wife Miraim and trying to get her to have an affair (similar to Company Girl). This bothers him. This bos even tells Miriam about the call girls and she doesnt believe him…until Burks secretary, Jean, tells her the same…seems Jean has harbored a secret love for Burks for a while, and when he rejects her and has her transferred, she decides to get revenge…
Here Burks is ready to call it quits with call girls and be a monogumous husband, and all his birds come home to roost…
He is indeed an expense account sinner…aprops title.
Tis is one of the best of the Don Elliotts, a great read about cause and effect and redemption. The back cover copy, penned by Harlan Ellison in Ellisonesque flamboyant manner, is spot on…
Westlake published this hardboiled crime noir when he was still doing Alan Marshall duty at Nightstand and Midwood.
A simple set-up: guy gets out of Navy, goes to see his dad, someone takes out a hit on his dad, plus his brother’s wife, and leaves him in the hospital.
Getting out of the hospital, he sets out, with his brother, to find out who killed his dad and why. Seems his dad had connections with the mob, when he was a lawyer many years back, and was told to stay out of New York or else.
This is not the “funny” Westlake many of his fans know and love. This is ultra hardboiled, stuff, cold, stoic, noir…more Richard Stark territory.
An interesting read when compared to the stuff he was writing at the same time for the softcores…
Hard Case Crime has a recent mass market edition.