Archive for Andrew Shaw

Sin Alley by Andrew Shaw (Lawrence Block and ?), Lesiure Book #613

Posted in Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Shaw - Sin Alley

The cover alone is worth the price of admission.  It’s such a cool cover that, like Midwood’s Sin of Wheels art by Paul Rader or Gil Brewer’s The Bitch, it’s been reprinted on matchbooks, keychains, coffee mugs, and posters.

paul-rader-sin-on-wheels Brewer - The Bitch

 

 

 

 

 

The cover also reminds me so much of this former dancer at L.A.’s Jumbo’s Clown Room. When I showed her this cover (she no longer dances, but is an esatte chef in Bel Air) her eyes popped and she said, “That’s me!” Really — same body type, same hair, same lips.  Strange.

There’s no date on this, but as a Cornith Leisure Book, it would date between 1965-66.  It is on Lynn Munroe’s list of “are they or are they not” Lawrence Blocks from his article,”The First Andrew Shaw.”  There’s also question as to whether or not Block continued to write for Hamling and Kemp after 1963, when he and his agent split from Scott Meredith — after all, Meredith contracted all titles to Hamling & Kemp via The Black Box.

I think I’ve become adept at spotting Block’s style.  For one, in general, both his and Westlake’s Nightstands and Midwoods are between 9 and eleven chapters, often ten.  It’s a pragmatic thing — to get a 50,000 words manuscript, you do ten 5,000 word chapters, or nine 6,000 word chapters, and at on chapter a day, in less than two weeks you have a finished book. (Robert Silverberg’s were all fourteen chapters, until after 1965 when Greenlead required all books to be an exact 12 chapters).

Block also has a way of writing about Greenwich Village, a section of Manhattan that he obviously loves.  This is how Sin Alley opens, with colorful depictions of the the streets, trees, and builings of the Village, as well as its doomed youth in th streets:

It is a tough neighborhood.

They fourteen they have smoked their first marijuana cigaratte; by age fifteen they have taken their first hit of H; by sixteen they have graduated to sin-popping and by sixteen they are ready to shoot with medical hardware.

They have already had their first love by age twelve. In the basement or boiler room or hallway or on a fat rooftop, with a girl who is a known tramp, someone from the crowded apartment next door or the street. They start early and soon learn all about that. They know how to get their kicks. (pp. 6-7)

That passage is pure early vintage Block, as if taken from the pages of Pads Are for Passion.  In fact, there are a lot of “pads,” man, in early Block, and, like, beatnik lingio, Daddy-O.

In Sin Alley, The Pad is a special place, a cool space, it is “five rooms on the top floor of a four-story brick painted apartment building” (p. 8).  No one lives there and some think it is a myth; only those with a key, or know someone with a key, can get in.  No one knows who pays for it.  But The Pad is a safe place to take a chick and make her, smoke M or shoot H, play jazz and trip and float and ride the reefer wave.

So happens with a girl named Marion in chapter one; she meets a sexy beatnik trumpet player, they have dinner, he gives her booze and speed, and they go up to the pad.  He tells her to never talk about The Pad and to deny being there if ever asked. She’s too high to remeber anyway.

Chapters two and thre are in completely different writing styles which causes me to think this is a collaborative novel.  Chapter two reads like Westlake’s dense early style and I believe chapter three could be William Coons, who was already ghosting Andrew Shaws as of 1962.

This is a multi-character book, almost a collection of stories, a biout various people in the Village finding their way to The Pad and experiencing mind0-blowing sex and drugs and music.  We don’t get back to Marion’s story until chapter six, and back to Block’s writing — in fact, his chaptrs are choppy, stucatto, single word paragraphs that flow like jazz riffs, returning to themes — the way we return to Marion half way through the book.

It’s an okay book, I’m not a fan of multi-character novels or collections disguised as a novel, because you don’t get to know the characters or even care for them.  Plus, the different writing styles throughout make it an nerratic read.  But like I said at the top, the cover is worth the price of admission into this pad, Daddy-O.

Mona by Lawrence Block (Gold Medal, 1961)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Block - Mona2An early Block with quite a history. It’s been reprinted twice since its Gold Medal debut in 1961 — as Sweet Slow Death in 1986 from Jove, Mona in 1994 from Carroll & Graf,  and as Grifter’s Game as the the first offering from Hard Case Crime in 2005.  A lot of mileage for an old title that has now become somewhat a classic in 60s noir.

block-791579I read somewhere that Block had started this one as a Nightstand title, and $20 Lust as something for Gold Medal or Beacon, but things got switched around, and when his agent Henry Morrison at Scott Meredith read the manuscript, he concluded it was good enough for Gold Medal and under Block’s own name.  Thus, Mona became the first paperback Block had his name on the cover, instead of Lesley Evans, Sheldon Lord, or Andrew Shaw.

There’s a Mona, a dead ex-wife, in $20 Lust (aka Cinderella Sims), talked about earlier, and a number of Monas show up in Block’s Andrew Shaw books.  She’s like Harry Whittington’s Cora, popping up often in different, same soul.

Block’s many Monas are just no good…tramps, cheats, and liars all…

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Adios, Scheherazade by Donald E. Westlake (Simon and Schuster, 1970)

Posted in Midwood Books, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Westlake - AdiosDonald Westlake, RIP, wrote this funny book around the same time that Hal Dresner wrote his funny book, The Man Who Wrote Dirty Books, both novels about the sleaze publishing racket, both published by Simon and Schuster.  Both wrote for Midwood and Nightstand as young writers needing money experience, both were contracted out by Scott Meredith, both went on to bigger and better careers, both got a funny book out of the experience.

The narrator of Adios is a writer, 25, with a wife and kid and dreams of graduate school someday, knocking out a book a month for a New Orleans paperback house as Dirk Smuff.  The pen name used to belong to his friend Rod, who now has a spy series with a better house at $3,000 advances, publishes articles in Playboy, and has a movie deal in Hollywood.  The smut publisher still thinks they are getting Dirk Smuff novels from him, not knowing he has “a ghost” as they call it.

adiosP

His cadre of writing friends all have ghosts, collecting part of the $1,200 per book minus the agent’s commisson; they all have better careers and magazine or mainstream book writers. All except the lonly narrator, who is having a hard time getting his monthly books in on time…first two days late, then three, then four, then nine…the agency tells him if he’s late one more time, they will replace him with an eager writer who can do the work.

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Lover by Andrew Shaw (Lawrence Block), Nightstand #1551 (1961)

Posted in Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Shaw - Lover

Another potent early Lawrence Block, this time as Andrew Shaw; it’s a dark tale with a rather depressing ending, not the usual happy endings we tend to see in sleaze books where the protagonist repents from his/her sinful ways and finds happiness in the arms of a good man or woman.

Lover chronicles the making of a gigolo, how a kid from the slums learns to use lonely rich women for their money, and remakes himself through autodidcactism — similar in a way to Loren Beauchamp’s Connie, reviewed here months back.

Johnny Wells is 17 when the book opens. He’s a good-looking sexy boy in jeans and a leather jacket and long hair. He wanders the streets around 57th and Third in New York until he exchanges looks with older women who find him tasty-looking.

It all started when he was 15…

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Candy by Sheldon Lord (Lawrence Block), Midwood #40 (1960)

Posted in crime noir, lesbian pulp fiction, Midwood Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Lord - Candy

Early Lawrence Block is always a mixed bag of good and not-so-good, such as some of the very early Nightstands. Midwood published Block’s first book as a Sheldon Lord, Carla [Midwood #7, 1958]  (later reprinted as Puta), although his first sale was the Lesley Evans lesbian novel, Strange Are the Ways of Love, for Fawcett Crest, 1959.  Seems Midwood had less turnaround time from manuscript sale to publication.

Evans - Strang are the ways of love

Lord - CarlaBock excelled in the lesbian themed novels as Sheldon Lord, some Andrew Shaws, and as Jill Emerson, who went from sleaze paperbacks to several mainstream novels with Putnam in the 1970s.  Many critics were convinced that Jill Emerson was actually a woman, and has been included in some lesbian pulp fiction anthologies without a mention that Emerson is really a man.  Block was more convincing a female writer than Silverberg.

So Block continued to write more books for Midwood, most lesbian themed works, and one he collaborated with Donald Westlake, Of Shame and Joy.

Candy is considered a lesbian novel, or a novel with lesbian sex going on…an instance where the woman, Candy, leaves the narrator for what a wealthy Park Avenue lesbian has to offer a sexy girl from the backwoods of America.

Candy is also one of Block’s finest Sheldon Lord books and early works, better than April North, better than the Sheldon Lords that Hard Case published. His early Nightstands were about college kids and young sexuality, and then he started to move toward crime noir/erotica, like Shame Dame as John Dexter.

In one typical Block line, he has a character reading a book by Alan Marshall (Westlake), with one hand in his pocket…

Jeff Flanders is 34 and works at a finance company that gives personal loans with a high rate of interest.  They are basically legal loan sharks without the leg breakers.

One day a sexpot 19-year-old blonde from the sticks, now in the big city, wanders into the finance company looking to borrow $1000.  She has no job, is new in New York, and no credit or collateral, but she figures her looks and sexuality will get her the loan.  She suggests Jeff co-sign her loan and in exchange he can have sex with her….

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The Many Faces of John Dexter #2: Shame Dame Penned by Lawrence Block

Posted in crime noir, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Dexter - Shame Dame

Published in 1963 as Midnight Reader #471, Shame Dame is the only John Dexter book that Lawrence Block has admitted to writing, although there are probably others since in the past he has denied writing any Dexter, and denied writing any Sheldon Lords when he wrote many. His general pen name at Nightstand was Andrew Shaw, with one or two Don Hollidays and J.X. Williams tossed in there, maybe a Alan Marshall collaboration, since Dnald Westlake collaborated on some Andrew Shaws.

A better title for this would have been Bad Wife, as there are two of them.  The novel opens with Frank Fisher, 20s, sitting in a bar on Hollywood Blvd. and celebrating a letter he just got from his agent, stating that a publisher wants to buy his first novel.

He had been working on the novel for several years, since getting out of the Marines, and then meeting Helen, a rich woman who has been his sugar momma.  He feels good that he will have an income now.

He meets a girl in the bar and almost has sex with her but backs out, pissing her off. He has to think of his wife.  But when he goes home to surprise her with the good news, he overhears her and another man talking — her lover, and they make fun of him, and she says she used him for sex but now he isn’t enough, and she ridicules his desire to be a novelist.

Frank sees red. He attacks the other man and beats the other man to such a pulp that it’s murder.  Frank takes off, on the run.

The next chapter opens a year or two later in Fort Lauderdale, FL (Gil Brewer and Harry Whittington country, I can’t help but think Block did this on purpose) with Hank making a meager living as a drifter and boat hand.  His novel was published but he has been unable to collect on the money or else the cops would find him.

A series of strange events happen…this is definitely Block’s style here, and by 1963 he had honed his crime fiction pacing well, publishing alternately between Cornith, Gold Medal, Beacon, and Midwood. There’s plenty of sex in this one, sometimes lacking in his Beacon sleaze books as Sheldon Lord.

Frank has a series of encounters with three women — 30 year old Norma, married to a rich older man (again that theme); her 19 year old stepdaughter, a rebellious wildcat; and a revivalist preacher who was a former stripper and still has a body.  He has sex with them all. he’s a stud.  Norma wants him to knock her up and she will pay him $5K, so she will have something to hold onto her husband’s money…the stepdaughter needs sex because her boyfriend won;t do it until they are married…and, drunk, he rapes the preacher but she gets into it, since she once liked rough sex in her sinner years,  and then she falls in love with Frank…

What Norma doesn’t know is that her rich husband will also pay Frank to knock his wife up, because she does not know he had a vasectomy and he will use it as  a surprise on her plan during the divorce…but seems Norma really wants Frank for something else…she has had a private eye do a background, she knows Frank is wanted to murder in Los Angeles, and she puts it this way: shoot her husband dead or she will turn him into the cops.

This is a fast paced and enjoyable read and with some toned down sex, this could have been a Gold Medal crime novel; perhaps Block gave it to Hamling to meet his contractual obligation.  There are some interesting sub-plots: Hank working on another novel, Hank getting caught up in a student street riot, the preacher woman’s sordid past and her own sins and crimes…

Frank is indeed a “fisher” in Florida, fishing for crime noir and trouble everywhere he turns.  Seems he can’t make a move without having strange things happen.

The ending was a little too moralistic and unrealistic for my tastes — Frank is a likable character and who could blame him for killing his wife’s lover on what was supposed to be the greatest day of any young writer, the sale of a first novel…I wanted to see Frank vanish with his love and the money and getting away from jail…

Two thumbs up as both a Dexter and Block book.

Warm & Willing by Jill Emerson (Lawrence Block, Midwood Books)

Posted in lesbian pulp fiction, Midwood Books, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Emerson - warm and willing

Robert Silverberg wasn’t the only man writing a plethora of lesbian titles under female pseudonyms — Lawrence Block had him beat.

In fact, Block’s first sale, in 1958 (at the age of 19 -20) was the lesbiania novel, Strange Are the Ways of Love by Lesley Evans (again that pun with the first name, like Leslie in Longman/Silverberg’s Sin Girls).  And here you tought Mr. (Ms?) Lawrence Block started off as the great crime fiction writer he is today…

Evans - Strang are the ways of love

He only used that pen name once — he then went on to be Sheldon Lord at Beacon and Midwood, Andrew Shaw at Nightstand, and then Jill Emerson at Midwood for several titles — one, Enough of Sorrow, is considered a lesbian classic, and has been excerpted in a Cleis Press anthology, Lesbian Pulp, where no mention is made that this is a man writing as a woman — as all the other writers in that book are actual women (and lesbians) it seems Block duped the editor, which attests to his skills as a writer.

Enouigh of Sorrow lesbianpulp

He later switched lesbian and bi-sexual novels to Putnam in the 70s, such as the explict The Trouble with Eden, about swingers.

Emerson - troible with Eden

As Dr. Benjamin Morse, he wrote the faux sexology studies The Lesbian and The Sexually Promisciuous Female (discusses lesbianism and bi-sexuality) akin to Silverberg’s L.T. Woodward, M.D.’s Twilight Women, for the same publishers (Monarch and Lancer).

Morse - Lesbian

In a funny act of postmodern reflexivity, in the Andrew Shaw novel, Butch, a confused woman sees and buys Morse’s The Lesbian on a newsstand; after reading it, she realzies this is what she is and sets herself on a stange sexual journey (such references to other books is common in the Shaws and Sheldon Lords, plus a continuous ref. to a film/book, The Sound of Distant Drums).

BUTCH

So: a fake gender study influences a fictional character’s life path…this begs a question with moral and ethical undertones: did any actual women read The Lesbian at the time and were influenced by what was fiction masquerading as fact?

Back to Warm and Willing

This certainly is Block’s style (another one, by Sheldon Lord, The Sisterhood, I’m not sure) and is set in Greenwich Village — so lush is the detail (and in other Block books) we know Block loves this part of New York, and lived there at the time (he may still).

The protagonist is Rhoda, 24, just out of a loveless marriage (usual set-up for many lesbian novels).  Why did she marry?  She thought that’s what young women do by age 22.  But she did not care for sex, did not love her husband.  She was “frigid.”  She let her husband go out and have affairs.

She works in a gift shop in the Village, lives in a small room nerby, lives an uneventful, invisible existence until one day a 28-year-old blonde, Megan, comes in to buy a gift (for the woman she juts broke up with, we later find out).  There is an odd connection.  Megan comes back the next day and asks Rhoda out to lunch.  Rhoda accepts, and she has no idea Megan is gay.

Later, Megan lures Rhoda up to her apartment on the West Side and plies Rhoda with scotch and proceeds to tell her that Rhoda probably doesn’t know, but the reason she could not enjoy sex with her ex-husband is because she’s a dyke, in the closet.  Megan “knows.”  Rhoda is shocked. But Rhoda lets Megan have sex with her and the doors to escstasy com flying open and Rhoda has never felt such “release” before.

She moves in with Megan.  Megan is an interior decorator.  They hang with a group of lesbians at lesbian-only Village bafrs and events.  At a party one night, a tall woman, a trust fund baby, a 19 year old girl named Bobbie, dances with Rhoda all night because Megan does not like to dance.  Megan gets very jealous.

Then Rhoda gets jealous of any woman that pays Megan attention.  Soon the two are living in constant battle of distrust, they fight and argue, etc.  They are like any straight couple: the same issues of insecurity and fear.

Megan turns to Bobbie for love, and moves in with Bobbie, and whioe it seems magical at the start, the two are worse than Rhoda was with Megan: constant fighting and jealousy.

Rhoda sees a lot of “disfunction” among the lesbian crowd: attempted suicides, infidelity, going from one meaningless relationsip to the next, hurt feelings…thinking she may have made a mistake, one week while Bobbie is out of town, Rhoda acceopts a dinner date with a man who comes in to the store.  She decides she will sleep with him and find out if there is passion, if she’s not gay…

Now, this book was published in 1964 — had it been 10 years, five years earlier, the set-up would have been obvious and common: Rhoda would sleep with the guy, stars would fly, she’d fall in love and marry the man, denouncing her lesbian past.  But that was for Beacon and Nightstand books…for Midwood, Block takes a funny turn –

Rhoda stops the man from sex, half way through foreplay.  She admits to him that this was an experiment, but she says she feels nothing and does  ot find the male sex attractive.  She says she will go through with it for leading him on but he says no, he says, “Go away.”

So Rhoda leaves — back to her apartment with Bobbie, back to her lif as a realized, maybe empowered lesbian.

Well-written, well-crafted, maybe a tad slow in parts — I was disappointed that none of the Block/Shaw/Westlake/Marshall/Lord in jokes were absent from the text, but perhaops Jill Emerson, being a lesbian, did not hang with those “guys.”

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