Convention Girl by Don Elliott (Robert Silverberg) — Nightstand Books #1547
This one is a little different from the other Silverberg Don Elliotts — more mature, dark, without the sappy romantic endings that he sometimes uses. Let’s say this books has one heck of a depressing ending, with three dead bodies.
It is NB #1547, the 46th book William Hamling published — Silverberg wrote the first one, Love Addict, that I have already discussed. This was perhaps at a dozen titles Silverberg had written — plus a John Dexter or two, and Sin Girls as Marlene Longman (a pen name later to be used by Marion Zimmer Bradley for The Twisted Ones).
Dan Holestein is in the “small home contracting business.” He’s worked hard and is successful, has his own company and employees, lives well. His wife, however, is frigid and cold, so he sometimes turns to other women, like “convention girls” when he goes out of town for conventions.
It seemed fitting to read Convention Girl while at the San Diego Internatinal ComicCon this weekend, since at the “Con” there are always calls girls working the hotels bars.
A convention girl, for 1960, is another form of call girl, hooker, whore. Young women go to hotel suite parties and entertain. They are called hostesses, and sometimes they hock product, or just stand around looking good. We’ve all seen them at conventions, film festivals, whatever — I have. Even at comic book conventions, where hookers have told me they make good money.
In Cincinatti, Holstein meets Judy. She’s 22, he’s 42. He falls in love and so does she, so she says. Here is where the book cover doesn’t get it right — Judy is jet black straught hair and a deep tan, whereas the female on the cover has red hair and pale skin. Go figure.
So Holstein convinces her to leave Cincinatti and move to New York City, where he will set her up in an apartment and give her money — a mistress/kept woman situation. She goes for it. He says he will divorce his wife and marry her.
He goes to her on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. he can never sepnd the night unless he tells his wife he had to go out of town. Judy is bored — he doesn’t know it at first, but she gets back into the convention girl biz to have something to do at night. She doesn’t need money, he gives her money. She needs “kicks.” But he is starting to have doubts, she being 2o years younger, and how he is getting to be an old man…
There is one sex scene that uses dialogue to describe a hand job/finger fuck moment betwenn the two. It reminded me if the sex-against-a-tree scene in Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, told in dialogue with hints…I am certain that Silverberg was nodding his head to the Hemingway influence:
“There. That’s better, isn’t it?” she asked.
“Lots better.” [he said]
“Stay still. Don’t move.”
“Hold me here.”
“You like that, do you?”
“Very very much,” she said. “That’s right,” she said a moment later. “Slowly. Don’t rush it. Slow. Keep doing it that way. Yes, Dan. Yes, that’s it. Just like that.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too, Dan. Here. Hold me.”
“Lift up a little.”
For minute after dizzying minute, Holstein gripped her while she performed incredible acrobaics beneath him…
For oral sex, there’s “kiss me there” or “he kissed her loins gently.”
He knows his wife will not grant a divorce, or take half his wealth, so he plots to murder her. But after he kills her, making it look like suicide, he finds out that Judy has been whoring, and he loses his mind and…
Reed Nightstand reprinted the book in 1973 as The Man Collector. The girl on the cover looks more like Judy is described…