Say When by Max Collier (Midwood, 1963)
I was blown away by Max Collier’s Mark of a Man (aka Carol Came First), reviewed here, so I came to this one with high expectations and was somewhat disappointed. Say When is a good read, just not the work of literature at the other one.
This one falls in the same categry as Sin Professor, reviewed here, the story of a college English prof who has a break down — call it mid-life crises or a rebellion against academic constraints.
Dr. Joseph Gorell, “Joe,” your average joe academic, wakes up one morning and is bored with his dreary life: he is in his late 30s, wakes up the same time every day, same wife in bed, same breakfast, same classes.
In his morning class, he discusses early newspapers as works of English lit, and comments on risque political cartoons showing fornication. This is a shocker! The department admin. has sat in and is not pleased and later scorns Joe. Joe is offended by this censorship, so the next day he talks about the origins of erotic fiction and drawings, and their use as political commentary. He also shows up unshaven and half drunk. He gets barred for the day from his classes.
As in the other book, I suspect whoever Collier was, he had experiece in academia, because his depiction of institutional politics rings true. Much like Orrie Hitt’s Taboo Thrills, reviewed here, Say When doubles as both lurid Midwood book and criticism of censorship, attitudes about sexual literature, and the oppression of expression. Collier sets out to expose the pettiness of administrations who claim to support “academic freedom” but are hypocrites.
Joe leaves his wife, rents a room, and sits down to write a novel about sex. He is banned from teaching, grows a beard, starts to drinks and womanize — there are two students, one a campus slut, the other an innocent; there is the woman he shares office space with and the woman who runs the boarding house. He juggles and sleeps with them all, feeling liberated.
The book cover is a bit misleading — indicating it is about a campus slut who collects men, when that character is a minor one. This is about Joe and his breakdown and escape from conformity.
Worth reading as a sleaze book and a Collier book.