Archive for the pulp fiction Category

Explosive Teaser – Jerry M. Goff, Jr. (Merit Books, 1963)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on January 30, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

A pretty good one here, and again: did Goff lift anything from Prather for this?

This is a Vegas novel, narrated by Barry, a 23-year-old dreamy hunk crooner, grew up in the Virginia coal mines, learned to play guitar and sing, cut a record that went Gold, got a gig in a Vegas room where he packs the women, old ladies and teens and lookers, and has the pick of any each night…but he is secretly married to Adrian, a gorgeous lounge singer in the same room. Their marriage has t be secret so their fans will think they are single and available.

A problem arises when an out of town housing developer gets a lucky streak and wins $150,000 from the hotel. The boss, Boccio, wants to keep the guy, Henderson, there so he will lose the money back the hotel — such a chunk will get the Syndicate boys back in Chicago pissed and Baccio could lose his job, or a hand.  Henderson has fallen for Adrian, so Boccio wants her to “entertain” him, to keep him in Vegas, to encourage him to bet heavy and lose…

Well, neither Barry nor Adrian are keen on this, because she will have to fuck the guy t keep him in Vegas, to promise to. Boccio informs Barry that it would be unwise to say no, and offers a $10K kick back if they get their money back from Henderson.

Barry and Adrian try to take a week-long trip away from Vegas that night, but Boccio and his two henchmen catch them — they beat Barry up pretty bad, and make Adrian keep her date with Henderson.

Barry is certain his wife will notive in, but when he comes to after the beating, he sees her standing naked on a craps table…Henderson is rolling dice  have her…if he wins, he doesn’tet her; if he loses, he gets her…so he loses her…and Barry watches in horror as the man fucks his wife on the crap table, and instead of fighting him off, she is enjoying it, encouraging the man…and then later Boccio shows Barry a hdden-camera 8 mm film of Henderson and Adrian going at it in a room — she does not seem like the Adrian the wife we had seen at the top of the novel: she talks dirty, smokes and drinks, throws herself on Henderson, does “perverse” things with him…and all Barry can do is watch and cringe and wonder if he really knows the woman he married…

Goff writes these scenes in a cold way, but you too cringe as you read what Adrain does, what the mob makes her do, how Boccio and his boys get a nasty thrill out of hurting Barry, physically and mentally.

After Dark, My Sweet – Jim Thompson (Popular Library, 1955)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on January 25, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Reading the Jim Thompson bio, Savage Art, Lion Books had pruchased too many manuscripts from the writer…not all his books were published in the chronology he wrote them, some were inventoried for a few years, and some were re-sold to other publishers, often new ones that needed quick product, as the case is here with After Dark, My Sweet with Popular Library. (Harlan Ellison has a great personal story of selling his first novel, Web of the City, to Lion for $1,000 in 1958 — in fact he met Thompson at the Lion Books office — and then he was drafted, and while working on the armny base newspaper over a year later where he talked them into a book review section, he opened a box of review copies from Pryamid Books and found one called Rumble with bis name on it…Lion had gone ot of bisiness and had sold its unpublished inventory of manuscripts to Pryamid.)

After Dark is narrated by the typical outsider caught up in crime…Kevin “Kid” Collins is an ex-boxer who has escaped from a mental institute…he has anger management and rage issues and had removed his goves and murdered his oppenent in the ring.  Acting a bit insane and mentally challenged, he got off the murder charge on an insanity plea.

He wanders into a small town and in a bar, he meets Fay, a sexy widow who takes him home and hires him to maintain the house, and later maintain her in bed. He gets pissed off at the bartender and knocks the bartender out with a skillful punch, which impresses Kay, who at first was making fun of him because he seemed slow and dim-witted.  She has a “friend,” an older man and ex-cop known as Uncle Bud, who has been plotting the kidnapping of a rich family’s sickly son.  Uncle Bud recruits Collie — as Fay calls him — into the crime, and seems she has been luring him into the scheme from the start.

Collie almost splits town, but he is in love with Kay and thinks fhey have a future, and the possibility of a three-split ransom entices him, even though he suspects that Uncle Bud will double-cross him, kill him, pin the whole kidnapping on him to make Uncle Bud look like a hero and get back into the good graces of the police department. (Mel Gibson’s movie Ransom had a simnilar plot.)

Of course, things go awry — at first taking the wrong boy from a playground, the boy having diabetes issues and needed medicine, Fay’s ambiguous attitude after she learns Collie is a bughouse escapee…

There is a 1990 movie version, a smooth indie, with Jason Patric playing Collie, Rachel Ward as Fay (with a Brit accent) and Bruce Dern as Uncle Bud.  The movie is fairly faithful to Thomspson’s story, adding in a pretty stemy multi-orgasmoic all-night sex scene (and many shots of Rachel Ward’s behind in veruy tight demin short-shorts). It was filmed in Indo, a place I know, and I was pleased to see familiar territory.

Like a number of Thomspon’s books, the novel is the final thoughts of a man before he dies, but we see it coming…how else could it be for Kid Collins?  It’s almost as if he wants it, knowing he is a loser in life who knew a few moments of happiness.

Torrid Wench – Orrie Hitt (Kozy Books, 1962)

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on January 25, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Discussed here.

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.

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