Archive for the pulp fiction Category

Torrid Wenches – Arnold Marmor (Merit Books, 1960)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on January 24, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Another swift and nifty crime tale from Arnold Marmor with the typical Camerarts/Merit title and cover.

Karl is a real estate developer come into New York City over the death of his brother, a freelance investigative journalist. It was made to look like his brother committed suicide but Karl knew his brother well, and he was not the suicida; type.  Karl goes on his own investiagtion, racking up a list of possible suspects: the shady lawyer who stole ten grand from his brother’s estate; his brother’s floozy lover/call girl, Lola Knight; a magazine editor; a rich party throewe who makes his money from blackmail; and his brother’s jilted ex-girlfriend, Janice, a TV actress who soon becomes Karl’s lover…

Th wrap-up is a bit implausible, but reading Marmor’s prose is fun: fast and witty, a lot of snappy dialogue and wise-cracking a la Chandler or Robert Parker’s Spencer.

Abnormal Assault Jerry M. Goff, Jr. (Merit Books, 1962)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on January 20, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Another quirky fun Merit crime book from Goff. Charles Simmons is fresh out of journalism school and has joined the weekly paper, The Kirby Bugle, in small mid-western town Kirby, mainly to be near his girlfriend, Marcy, who is in the teacher’s school. This set-up seems to be a nod to Jim Thompson’s Savage Night, even with the buffoon local sheriff.

Simmons is replacing a reporter who was murdered, a crime that the paper’s editor, egomaniac Higgins, has been hounding the sheriff to solve.

Just as Simmons lands into town, crime erupts: the hit-and-run murder of the town drunk, who is the secret husband of the town floozy, Polly Cast, a strumpet that Simmons quickly cheats on Marcy with, and then is defiled and  murdered. Then there is a fire in the women’s dorms in the college, and then Simmons is knocked out and Marcy is brutally raped and disfigured: her nipples slashed off, her face beaten to a pulp…hence the title, Abnormal Assault.

For a while we think Simmons might be the culprit and has another personality, killing the other reporter to get the job, assaulting Marcy for his deep hatred of her; killing Polly for having seduced him. No, too easy…

The real killer rapist maiac is also too easy, and Goff drops plenty of clues and hints. It’s a toss from Citizen Kane, the newspaper publisher creating the news. Higgins wants to up the circulation of the Bugke, get national wire syndication, sensstional stories of blood, sexual crime sprees and madness…so why not…

Community of Women – Sheldon Lord aka Lawrence Block (Beacon, 1963)

Posted in Beacon Books, Lawrence Block, lesbian pulp fiction, pulp fiction, Sheldon Lord, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on January 11, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Was this one a “major bestseller” Beacon claims on the cover of the 1964 second edition, third printing? Who knows what is truth or hyperbole. Community of Women is Block fo’shure (BFS) and he has recently made it available as an ebook reprint.

The terse novel, told in 22 short chapters, is one of Block’s multi-character soap operas, like the many Andrew Shaws that take that form, a form Block still employs now and then, most recently with his 9/11 mainstream novel, Small Town. (I tend to prefer Block keeping to one POV, usually first-person.)  The caharcters here are residents of suburba, Cheshire Point, a commuter train’s ride outside Manhattan where many of the men work and their wives stay at home and have their own secret lives, such as Maggie, a secret lesbian married to a gay man for appearaces, who sets her seductive third sex sites of Elly Carr, a woman who sleeps with any man who comes around when her hubby is away — she has been a nympho since her days at Clifton College (a BFS giveaway). But when Maggie does get Elly into bed, Maggie convinces her the nymphomania has been misdirected, that no man has ever been able to satisfy her because she needs a woman’s lusty tongue and touch.

One fun character is Linc, a hack novelist having writer’s block; a new novel is overdue and he cannot seem to get any words on paper so he drinks to a stupor.  He and his wife, Roz, moved to Cheshire Point when he sold a novel to Warner Books for $35K…now, with books ovedue, no sales of stories, no advances, he and Roz are nearly in the poor house among the upper middleclass suburbanites. Not to fear, he gets his writer’s wings back, making love to Roz in between writing marathon hours.

One thing surprising here, for these books at that time, is the lesbian awkening is a positive thing; Elly does not discover despair in dykedom but seeks a happy new life in the arms of Maggie.

Another fun read!

I Should Have Stayed Home – Horace McCoy (Signet, 1939)

Posted in noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on January 10, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

McCoy’s second novel is also pretty short, maybe 30K words, bleak, first-person, and covers similar ground as They Shoot Horses: the struggles of hopeful wannabe actors scrambling each day for extra work in the 1930s Hollywood industry.

The narrator is Ralph, a young and naive kid from Georgia, a strapping farm boy who is handsome but cannot get a break, mainly because of his thick accent. He lives on a couch in Mona’s Hollywood bungalow, a would-be actress who has a history of finding young men who need her mothering. They do not have a sexual relationship but the way they act with one another is almost like a marriage. Her previous stray boy is now the sex toy for an older woman, a rich Beverly Hills widow who has a lot of influence in the film industry and gets written up in the gossip columns and fan magazines.  This woman sets her sites on Ralph as her next boy toy, something Mona is not too keen on…unless it might help her career.

The novel opens with a neighbor of theirs being sentenced to three years in the women’s prison for grand theft — out of desperation, this staring wannabe actress turned to crime. She later escapes and gets Ralph into legal trouble too.

Ralph moves about the shallow and materialistic power players and movie stars of Hollywood, both wishing for what they have and loathing the kind of people fame, money and attention has turned them into.

Other bloggers have recently written about this lost classic, noting its noir attributes and probable influence on Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard. It takes on some interesting 1930s social and political issues, such as the beginnings of Nazi Germany, union strikes among actors, and budding Communist ideals in Tinsel Town that would later destroy many, even Mona in this story. There is a telling scene where Ralph gets riled up when he sees a white woman kissing a black man at a party; Mona has to hopld him back from beating the black fellow up — Ralph is a Georgia boy and seeing interracial affection is an abberation in his eyes, even though he is surrounded by naked women in pools, drunken lechers and wild lesbians, a black man kissing a white woman to him is a crime.

Mona is similar to Glora from They Shoot Horses: she is angry that others have gotten breaks in the biz she feels she is better at; she hates the shallowness and broken dreams of Hollwyood; she is jaded, witty, and self-destructive.

What is sad is that we know Ralph, or even Mona, will never become the famous actors they hope for; they will be crushed by Tinsel Town, used by rich people until they are too old to be desirable for the sharks, men and women alike; and will wind up going back home with their tails curled under their rears. And it ends on that very bleak note: they are all doomed failures.

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? – Horace McCoy (Harper & Sons, 1934; Signet Books, 1935)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on January 9, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

I have only now discovered Hoarce McCoy, a best-selling noir novelist who wrote in a combination of Hemingway’s minimal style and Nathaniel West’s existential angst of Hollywood back in the 1930s-50s.

McCoy was a newspaper and radio man and small theater actor/playwright from Dallas who moved to Hollywood to act and wound up as a screenwriter — most notably an uncredited hand in the script for the first King Kong. While he worked with many fine directors and wrote in many fine genres, he never produced a memorable or classic film.

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? was his first novel and put him in the limelight — the French existentialists loved him like they did Jim Thompson and James Cain. This is a very short novel, 120 pages, maybe 25-30,000 words, narrated by Robert Syverten as a memory text as he is being sentenced by a judge to death row for murdering Goria Beatty, using a .22 to her head on the Santa Monica Pier.

He meets Gloria by the Paramount Studio lot at Melrose and Western, both looking for extra work and having no luck, as they are not registered with Central Casting. His goal is to be a great director; hers is to be a grand actress even though she does not have the Hollywood looks, and may be too old to start from square one.

Gloria is a bitter, pessimisstic narcissist, bipolar before there was a word, suicidal and angry: “As long as I am a failure I’m jealous of anyone who’s a success,” she tells Robert.  She thinks she can act better than most famous actresses. She comes from Texas, having run away from her abusive aunt and uncle, basically selling herself to men for food and a bed; after a failed suicide attempt, she took off for Hollywood.

Througout the story, she constantly talks about how she wants to die, how she hopes someone will kill her, how she hates life and hates everyone, etc.  She talks Robert into beng her partner in a dance marathon by the Santa Monica Pier — where many couples dance for hours, days, weeks, the winner getting $1500. It is the Depression, they cannot find work, the marathon offers meals for all and cots to sleep on during breaks.

The marathon is grueling, a rackett — it draws in an audience who want to see the couples suffer. It draws Hollywood in. It is like a reality game show before TV had them. So many desperate people enter, hoping for sponsors and money, or just to get free food and a place to crash. The whole situation is depressing and brings Gloria down more and more…there is the daily derby where the couples have to trot and run like horses around the dance hall and people make bets and cheer them on, and contestants fall down and pass ouyt from exhaustion. A doctor and nurses are always on hand. Some couples do tap dances and other enetertaining tricks and have coins tossed at them for tips. It all seems rather humiliating for these struggling wannabe actors and such…and apparently these sort of events were around back in the Depression, kind of like drawf-tossing today, or people doing humiliatting things on TV in shows such as Fear Factor.

Noir elements enter: loose women, crooked show runners, a contestant who is a prison escapee and wanted killer, a murder from an argument and a stray bullet killing an innocent bystander.

And then Gloria asks Robert to end her miserable life for her, to do her a favor…he sees her as a wounded horse, and there is only one way to put a wounded horse out of misery…

Apparently Charlie Chaplain had optioned this fine terse novel in 1950 for Marilyn Monroe to star in, but when J.Edgar Hoover had Chaplain’s re-entry visa from England revoked (Hoover fingered him as a Communist sympathizer and a danger to US culture and ideals), the project was shelved and was not made intil 1969 with Jane Fonda playing Gloria. McCoy had been dead for 14 years so never saw a notable film with his name on it — this one with Fonda and Bruce Dern garnered many Oscar nominations. I have not seen it yet…

I definitely have to read Horace McCoy’s other books…

The Genuine Wanton by Jerry M. Goff, Jr. (Merit Books, 1963)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on January 6, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This is strange…apparently I read and wrote about this one almost two years ago in February, 2010. I do not recall either reading or blogging about it…and what I sid in that post I was going to say here. Is my memory going? Have I slipped into an alternate universe?

Very strange…I still like this Goff, though, plagazrized from Prather or not.

Husband Chaser by Shelden Lord (Lawrence Block, Hal Dresner?) – Beacon Books, 1962

Posted in Beacon Books, Lawrence Block, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Sheldon Lord, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on January 3, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Fairly certain this one is Lawrence Block. Block did moist if not all Sheldon Lords for Beacon from 1960-63. It reads pretty much like early Block. Someone told me it might be Hal Dresner, and I am thinking maybe they collobarorated, or Block wrote this with someone, because there is a marked tone and style shift mid-way through the novel — and the second half is most defintely Block (aka M.D.B.).

Either way, either how, this is a pretty good one.

Stephanie has learned how to make money by marrying and divorcing men., She married at seveneteen to get away from her abusive moither, divorcing the guy two years later before he heads off to Korea and getting $15,000 as a settlement, one -tird to her shady Las Vegas lawyer.  $10,000 is better money than she has ever had to herself, and she lives high on the hog for a but.  She thinks: if dicorce is profitable, why not find men with money and do the same?

So she does.

The novel opens and she is 25 and on her fourth divorce, going the six -week Las Vegas route. In Vegas, she finds men to spend money on her in the casinos but she doesn’t let them sleep with her. Or some she does, especially when she wants to get rvenge on their fat obnoxious wives.

With twenty grand from her new divorce, she moves back to New York and takes a three room suite in a nice hotel at $425 a month (a fortune in 1962 money).  She starts pondering on a fifth husband. She notices the man living nextdoor to her is quite handsome and possibly well-off, his name is Jim Holloway (Don Holliday, Dresner’s pen name at Nightstand?).  She starts to see him, and surprisingly she falls in love with him and spends her money on him for a change.

Her money low, she knows she needs cash flow for her and Jim so she goes to get a job as a stripper, and then a call girl…Jim seems to know but does not care. This baffles her.

Her recent ex-husband does care. He wants her back. He has had a private detective on her and knows she’s hooking her sweet ass to any man with $100.

Things get violent in classic Block manner…

Everything is fine and noirsih dandy until the hokey happy ending, implausible in all ways. I was hoping for an ending like Sheldon Lord’s Candy…

…but genre needs at Beacon were different than Midwood.

Despite the sappy ending, this is an excellent little blast from the vintage sleaze past.

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?

New Cover for The Trouble with Tramps

Posted in noir fiction, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on December 30, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Smashwords Edition.

Sidney’s Wife by Sheldon Lord aka Milo Perichitich (Beacon, 1964)

Posted in Beacon Books, Lawrence Block, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags on December 30, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Boy had I hoped this would be a keen Lawrence Block Sheldon Lord in the vein of The Sex Shuffle or April North…but no, this one is not Block, it is Milo Perichitich, the lesser of the Sheldon Lords.  Possible, as was the case with Nighttstand, Block stopped being Lord and Andrew Shaw after 1963 as he persued his crime fiction career and was being Jill Emerson. (Being Jill Emerson would be a great title for something.)

This one is your typical corporate suit types who lust after each other’s wives and use one another’s wife to advance or get revenge. Been there done that in pulp sleazeland. Sidney’s Wife is almost unreadable.

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