Campus Queen by Ursula Grant (Midwood 33-682, 1966)
As often is the case with me, I initially acquired a copy of Campus Queen because of the nifty Paul Rader art.
Campus Queen fits a double-bill for my wanting to read/review sleaze books that are lesbian or college-set for the next week or two — this one is set on campus at a city university that is an “Ivy League” and seems that it could be Yale or Brown. And there’s lesbian action — bi-sexuality if you want to get technical.
Previously, I suggested that “Ursula Grant” was one of Julie/Joan Ellis’ pen names, like Linda Michaels and Randy Baker that are Midwood exclusive. This was upon a quick look at the prose, and there seemed to be some Ellis-like sentences.
Now that I have read it, I know Grant is not Ellis. Have no idea who Grant is, pen name or not. Grant is not a man in drag, this I am almost certain; this reads with a touch of sensitivity that (and I could be wrong) has the female pen all over it.
Grant seems to have only written three stand-alone novels and a couple Midwood Doubles…in fact, I’m, guessing Campus Queen was meant to be a Double because it’s short — 138 pages and small trim size book, is about 35-40K words. For some reason, Midwood made this a book of its own — and I have several 1966  Midwoods that are short and small sized (e.g., March Hastings’ Barbie), so perhaps these were trying out new formats as publishers are liking to do. (The very early Midwoods were digest-sized like Nightstand and Newstand Library, then switched over to standard mm ppbk.)
Campus Queen is an elegantly-written co-ed/dorm/lesbian story that’s not all that original yet still a joy to read. Nancy Malone is a 19-year-old undergrad wo is eager for experience and shares a dorm with Elizabeth, who has traveled the world and went to boarding school, where she learned, among other things, lesbian sex.
Both girls date guys, and talk about their experiences. Elizabeth tells her how men from different countris are in bed — Greeks are rough, French are gentle, etc. They share the same bed because it’s winter and cold, and their bodies are close, but it seems innocent. One night, Nancy says she wonders what sex with another woman is like and Elizabeth says it’s great, she’s done it, do you want to try? Nancy is shocked at first but she gives in to twilight sin:
Boldly, she rose to meet her roommate’s naked body\[…]Elizabeth began to move her hands and hermouth danced over [Nancy’s] body [which] glistened with caresses, her breasts and her belly glowing with warmth […] Nancy discovered the primal rhythms and let her body pick its way to movement, let her hips slowly revolve, let her legs thrash until her heels dug into the mattress […] She was on a rollercoaster that was climbing to the dizzying heights of that first big hill […] She heard herself scream, fingernails digging into Elizabeth’s back and clinging for dear life. (51-52)
Had this little book been published in 1959-61, that third sex scene would have been less descriptive. And a man does not write lesbian sex like that.
So begins their life as lovers, and like lovers in a cramped living situaion, they fight and bicker. Elizabeth likes to have sex with many boys and Nancy doesn’t mind. They don’t compete over men, until Nancy corsses path with
Timothy Forrest, visiting professor in literature, was [the university’s] catch for the year and one of the most celebrated poets in the country. At the age of 21 he had published his first volume of poetry and became the center of a full-blown literary controversy. The critics who thought he was prodigiously brilliant had fought vrbal duels in the literary quarterlies with the critics who found him precocious. And dull. (63)
Nancy meets him at the commons and he seems interested in her and she wonders why some famous poet, only 25, would like her. She says she and her rommate wanted to take his class next semester but they cannot because they are nit juniors. He says he can swing it to get them in and he does.
Elizabeth is jealous that the poet likes Nancy…she decides that she wants the poet and this angers Nancy. There is arguing, hurt feelings, but in the end — as these books often end — Nancy winds up in bed with the poet/prof and “it was good. It had never been so good.” (138)
I look forward to reading Grant’s other Midwoods, especially Boss Lady
1. For those interested, most Midwood novels were 50-60K words (200-240 manuscript pages, 158-184 book pages), and pay was $1000-1200, depending on who you were, your history with the company, how well your books did. Midwood Doubles clocked in at 40K words (140-160 manscript pages, 120-130 book pages) and paid $900. Midwood Triples were 30K words (100-120 manuscript pages, 90-110 book pages) and paid $750. Info courtesy of Barry N. Malzberg, who wrote some Midwoods as Mel Johnson.
2. It’s always curious to read a book published the same year one was born…puts things into perspective.