Archive for October, 2009

Sinners in White by Mike Avallone (Midwood, 1962)

Posted in Midwood Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Midwood - Sinners in White

I’ve had several Mike Avallone Midwoods here for a while, this one and Stag Stripper, and wondered what kind of writer he was.  Avallone was mostly known as a mystery/crime author with his Ed Noon P.I. series andhis active involvement with the Mystery Writers of America, plus he seemed to be fairly full of himself, based on his bio entry at Thrilling Detective, viz:

…he was quick. He once completed a novel in a day and a half. One story goes that he wrote a 1,500-word short story in 20 minutes, while dining in a New York restaurant. One year, he supposedly churned out 27 books. Avallone was a tireless committee volunteer for the MWA, serving on the Board of Directors, as well as editing the newsletter. He was also the chairman of its awards, television and motion picture committees. And he was always quick with a quip. Rumours have it was the Avallone who coined the “Father, Son, & Holy Ghost” line to describe Hammett, Chandler, and Macdonald, way back in the early sixties.

He was also legendary for being quick to take offense and quick to lash out, and for his high opinion of himself. An original; a seemingly tireless letter-writer and self-promoter, his own biggest fan, a romping stomping ornery cuss, often charging off in two or three directions at once, at times bitter and spiteful, prickly, opinionated, pounding out white hot attacks on anyone he felt had failed to acknowledge their debt and pay their proper respects to him (never mind that some of these writers never READ him) or in some other way slighted him. He was especially venomous towards more successful writers, notably, supposedly, Stephen King who, Avallone exclaimed at every chance, based every thing he ever wrote on an a Robert Bloch novel.

“A few times,” Avallone’s son, David, admits, “he substituted himself for Bloch, but this was mostly to drive King fans into rage. Most of his “ornery cussedness” had a pretty simple intention; to piss people off and get attention. Once when I was a child and we were in London, he calmly threw into an interview that he thought Arthur Conan-Doyle must have known exactly who Jack the Ripper was… otherwise he wouldn’t have avoided writing about it. This managed to get him into all the other papers, with headlines like “Yank Writer Says Sherlock Was Jack The Ripper”… My point being (one that seems to be lost on a lot of folks) I don’t think Dad particularly believed King plagarized him any more than he believed Conan-Doyle knew the Ripper. He just got a huge kick out of the reaction it caused when he said it.”

Certainly, Avallone had a high opinion of his own work. After his death, the quips and stories rolled out. “He never wrote a book he didn’t like.” “He rewrote one book three times, and sold each version, once as a mystery, once as a romance and once as a horror story, to three different publishers.” “In making a list of the ten best mysteries of all time, he included one of his own books.” “Reading him may have sometimes been a dubious pleasure, and dealing with him an onerous task, but I was glad I knew him. He was his own best character.”

I enjoyed his essay in Paperback Parade #33, talking about the books he did for Midwood and Beacon in the early 60s.  He had lost his editor at Gold Medal, and new editor Knox Burger (later a powerful agent, and famed for having given his old army buddy Kurt Vonnegut his first publishing breaks, buying stories for Collier Magazine and buying Vonnegut’s first two novels as paperback originals in SF with Dell) didn’t want to work with him, so Avallone started to seek new publishers for his work; his agent suggested Midwood. I liked how Avallone was not afraid to put his real name on his “sex” books, wasproud of them, and even dedicated some to family members — Sinners in White is dedicated to his sister, “who would have been a fine nurse.”

Avallone (“Avo” to friends)  claims he wrote his books in a week, some in 3 days.  Seems he’d take on any job, writing many tie-ins for Man from UNCLE, Mannis, Hawaii-5-0 and The Partridge Family (!).

Since I was on a vintage nurse novel kick this week, I decided to sit down with Sinners in White, not knowing what to expect.  I was pleasantly surprised — this little novel is no work of art, but it was smoothly written, fast-paced, and entertaining.

It opens absurdly, with three nurses being interviewed for jobs by one Dr. Stryker, who presents himself completely naked when they walk in.  Only one nurse, Kelly Connors, starts to remove he clothes, assuming the interview involves sex.  The other two have different reactions.

Stryker is eccentric and wants to see their reactions — he’s kooky in a Dr. House sort of way.  All three nurses pass the test and are hired. Avallone gives each a chapter about their past, and what led them to the nurse field:

Kelly Connor — prety much a slut nad failed actress, an incident of delivering a baby and helping an accident victim leads her to nusring…

Fran Turner — girl from NY tenement slums, wanting to better herself, get away from her prostitute/drunk mother and the thug who wants to marry her…

Kate Orley — Innocent little rich girl and psychology major, she gets car jacked and raped repeatly for 18 hours by a man. She was a virgin. She does not blame the man, thinking he just needed help…so she decides to go into nursing to help people and deny her debutante life…

nurse

From there it gets soap opera-ish with all the dirty little gioings-ons within the hispital staff — from the one womanier doctor who has to bed every nurse to a love affair between Nurse Turner and Dr. Stryker, to Striker’s invalid wife hiring a private eye to pregnancies and car crashes and emegercy room surger to the head nurse’s gabling problems…

Not bad, not bad, a B-.  I will definitely read more by Avallone.

Man’s Nurse by Orrie Hitt

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on October 20, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Hitt - Man's NurseReviewed here.

Nurse Carolyn by Loren Beauchamp (Robert Silverberg), Midwood #65, 1960, 1963

Posted in Don Elliott, Loren Beauchamp, Midwood Books, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Beauchamp - Nurse

The last of Robert Silverberg’s Loren Beauchamp books here, I have read and reviewed them all; all were for Midwood except one, The Wife Traders, which was for Boudoir Books and was a truncated version of David Challon’s Suburban Sin Club, discussed here.

Nurse Carolyn is a somewhat dark tale of a naive young nurse in white, Carolyn Wright, taken down the dark path of wealth and S/M.  The first edition, above, has one of Paul Rader’s best art; Rader also did the cover for the second edition, which is less striking but still Rader.

Beauchamp - Nurse CarolynWe first meet Carolyn as a quasi-sexually liberated nurse at Netherlands Hospital, engaged to a young go-getter intern named Dick. (“I love Dick” obviously double-entendre when she says it.)

For two days she took care of a diabetic and multi-millionaire, Cornelias Baird.  He has requested her to be his private nurse at his Long Island estate, at $125 week and free room and board.  For the late 50s, which this is set, that was pretty good wages for an R.N.  The hospital hates to see her go — they have a nurse shortage — but Baird is on the Board of Directors, his family has given gifts to the hospital since its inception, and Baird has suggested he would build a new wing for taking Carolyn away.

To Carolyn, this is only a five-month job where she can save the  money to help with her eventual wedding to Dick.  She does not suspect anything nefarious–Mr. Baird is in his late 50s, and although handsome and tall, he is also sickly and very thin (six-foot-five and 160 lbs).  He seems very old-world and gentlemanly, but behind that mask is a perverted sadist at heart.

He has 12 house staff, several pretty young women in their late teens-20s as “maids.”  One pulls her aside and tells Carolyn to run away fast before it’s too late, before she becomes a sexual slave of depravity like they all are.  Carolyn doesn’t believe it…

The weird thing, Baird looks like an older version of her first love, four years ago when she started out as a nurse, a young rich boy who won her heart and virginity, only to find out he was using her for sex as he was engaged to a high society debutante, marrying her:  Carolyn discovered this truth in the paper.  For Baird, Carolyn is the spitting image of his long dead first wife from the roaring 20s — Carolyn herself is shocked to see how much she resembles the portraits on the wall of his old wife.

One day, Baird talks her into stripping into her undies to play hand ball; one night, he talks her into drinking champagne on the 30th anniversary of his wedding; she gets drunk and he pretends she is his long dead wife and she pretends he is the young man who broke her heart…in a dark and sad moment, they have drunken sex, caught in their own depraved sin fantasies…

There is something seductive about Baird…as much as she tries to tell him no, or quit, his soothing voice hypnotizes her, as it does to the other women on staff, so they all do his bidding to please his sexual needs, such as putting on S/M shows (“carnivals” he calls them) with the maids being whipped then fucked by the limo driver/aide  (a big black guy) and the butler (a genteel man).

Soon, Carolyn forgets Dick and falls in love with Baird, despite his age and health.  Is it his millions, the diamonds and pearls he lavishes on her, the promise of inheriting  his vast fortune if she marries him?  She can put up with his sex shows, a voyeur fetish  he picked up from France in the 1920s; she can watch, but she does not want to participate.  When he demands she put on a lesbian show for him, with one of the other staff women, she refuses, and he gets mad and threatens to fire her — forget his love, he has to have what he demands, and he is not used to being told no.

Is this an erotic play on the nurse genre?  I haven’t read any nurse books. I remember my grandmother had a few Avalon hardback nurse novels on her shelf and looking at them when I was a teenager and finding them sappy and romantically silly, books for girls and women with nurse fantasies in the General Hospital sense.  There was a time when nurse novels were a big thing (1940s-70s) — writers like Peggy Gaddis wrote scores of them, like  Nurse Ellen, as well as more racier Beacon titles like Dr. Prescott’s Secret.

nurse ellenGaddis - Dr. Prescott's Secret

The nurse genre may have a recent infusion of life on TV, with the success of Nurse Jackie on Showtime and Mercy on NBC, about a group of nurses and their loves and woes (perhaps akin to The Young Nurses by Harry Whittington?).

Whittington - Young Nurses

The ending to Nurse Carolyn is probably far more darker than the typical nurse and doctor novels. This one ends in tragedy and blood and depraved emotions.

A fairly good read, on a scale of 1-10 of all Silverberg’s Beauchamps, I would give it an 8.  The best of the Loren Beauchamp novels are, by far, Connie and Meg (both bestsellers for Midwood), then Love Nest (a dark tale of womanizing), Wayward Wife (reprint of Thirst for Love by Mark Ryan), Unwilling Sinner (reprint of Twisted Love by Ryan) — two books Slverberg said he was not paid for by Bedstand, so re-sold to Midwood with slight changes in character names, which was also the case with Campus Sex Club, reprint of Campus Love Club by David Challon (in a few days, I will talk about Lawrence Block/Andrew Shaw’s plagaraism of that book with College for Sinners). A Fire Within was okay; And When She was Bad somewhat typical…

While Sin on Wheels has another great cover by Rader, and is hard to find, I thought the story was disappointing, as reviewed here.

Nurse Carolyn was also reprinted, with minor changes, in 1967 by Cornith/Greenleaf’s Companion  series, as Registered Nympho, under the Don Elliott pen name, with a cover that might be closer to the story than the two Midwoods, although Carolyn is not exactly a “nympho” per se.

Elliott - Registered Nympho

Recommended: New Mundinger-Klow Title About Tawdry Incest

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Klow - Incest Fam Olympia Press has published Dr. Mundinger-Klow’s new study that asks the question: “Is incest the best?”

A dark read of taboo sex…all very relative.

On Amazon Kindle.

Pagan Summer by Dallas Mayo (Gil Fox), Midwood, 1965

Posted in lesbian pulp fiction, Midwood Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

pagan summerPSThere were two editions of this novel, each with a great Paul Rader cover to drool over.

Muriel is a lesbian nurse.  She thinks she has her perverted lesbian desires beat with the beatnik painter, Chan Crieghton. Until she becomes the private nurse of a beautiful young widow, Erin.

Erin became a widow the same day she married Barry, worth millions.  It was a car accident. In the hospital she makes a connection with Nurse Muriel and offers to hire her full-time, privately.  Mostly the two lounge on the beach in North Carolina, drinking beer…and soon having sex.

Then Chan shows up and Erin has a yen for the artist, complicating things in a bi-sexual way…

Sound good?  Boring, boring as all hell.  Gil Fox wrote under three pen names for Midwood: Paul V. Russo, Kimberly Kemp, and Dallas Mayo.  The Kemp titles were generally lesbian, and are collectible, while the Mayo books seem to be bi-sexual and tawdry.

In an interview with Lynn Munroe, Fox rags on Orrie Hitt, saying Hitt wrote unreadable “drivel.”  Obviously jealousy and the green monster, because it is Fox’s work I have found to be unreadable, whatever name intimate nursehe uses. His sentences are awful, his dialogue flat, his characters two dimensional. I tried to read Intimate Nurse, which I have posted the full text here: you can see how bad Fox’s writing is. The Groovy Age of Horror, however, seemed to dig it.

The only thing going for this yawner is the Rader art for both editions, to collect for art alone.  Those seeking a cool (or hot) lesbian nurse read won’t find it here.

I have a few other Mayos and Kemps here, and a coule of Russos I got in ebay lots…I’ll give them a try down the line (next year) but I don’t have any high hopes for a good read.

Fox tells Munroe he wrote books for Olympia, Grove, Masquerade and Blue Moon…I have no idea who he “was” at Blue Moon but it makes me shudder that we shared the same publisher. 😉

Kidding, of course.

The Many Faces of John Dexter #3: The Abortionists by Harry Whittington (Nightstand #1790, 1966)

Posted in Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Dexter - The Abortionists

One of the “missing 38” of Harry Whittingon’s ouvere, as he produced a book a month for William Hamling and Earl Kemp between 1964-1967, 38 in all (only 36 have been “found,” however).  The books were published under the John Dexter and J.X. Williams house names, and then as Curt Colman, an exclusive pen name for Whittington.

For a while in 1966, Nightstand was issuing books without cover art and with a strange eye-straining design as seen above. Lynn Munroe speculates that a court case may have been going on, like when Hamling briefly spelled the house names differently (John Baxter, Andrew Schole, Dan Eliot, Alan Marsh).  Most likely this is the case, but we might also consider the topic of this novel, which was a political and social suicide bomb in the mid-60s, with heated curltural and legal debate and religious debate on abortion, murder, a woman’s right to choose, women dying in back room abortions, health care, and so on.

Apparently this novel is expanded from a story Whittington published in a romance pulp.  It may have also been an unfinished or unsold nurse novel he had (he wrote a number of them under a female pen name), since the obligatory sex scenes seem to be “dropped in” — the first is a masturbation scene, the next a double rape.

This is a combination southern gothic and nurse tale. Munroe tells the synopsis better than I on his website:

Virginal nurse Mary Hood fights off all the advances from the lecherous doctors at home and takes a job offered by her Uncle in the Deep South. She travels to Mayesville, a town run for years by the Mayes and Conline families, called there by her handsome Uncle, Dr. Mayes Conline. His hospital is located on the grounds of his decaying Southern mansion, complete with insane relatives locked in upstairs rooms and strange goings on throughout the dark nights. On page 100, there is a shocking surprise: Dr. Conline is performing abortions late at night at his hospital. That is, it was designed to be a shock, but the editors put a new title on Whittington’s manuscript, one that gives everything away.

Mary has fallen in love with the brooding and mysterious Dr. Mayes Conline, and the plot twists and thickens from there. Whittington’s challenge was to describe sexual activity without using any naughty words. I think he fares well here when he refers to Mary “taking her pleasure from the obelisk of his strength .”

Dr. Mayes Conline is also her uncle — not by blood, the second hubby of her Aunt Rose, a man 10 years younger, and a seemingly successful good ol’ southern physician.  From the start, Mary is attracted to him, and Conline is drawn to her, and he says, “I must keep in mind that you are my niece.”

A gothic is not a gothic without some incest brewing in the backwoods, after all.  But 19 year old Mary, a nurse, has left the big city in favor of the woods because she loathes the world that orbits sex, a world where men see her as nothing but vagina to conquer.  In one flashback scene, on graduation day for the nurses, a drnk intern, Cal, rapes her.  She had looked up to Cal, even favored romance and marriage, but he forces himself on her — when she runs off, clothes torn, legs and boobs sticking out, and tells one of the doctors what happened to her, the doctor is turned on by it all and rapes her too.  Two rapes back and back — the invitation to be a nurse at her uncle’s southern bacwoods hospital sounds like a good way to get away from the evils of the world.

Hardly…soon she finds out why her uncle works late hours and sleeps till noon.  At night, he performs illegal abortions, where he makes more money than taking care of the elderly and sickly.  Women who have complications and die from the procedure are tossed into a river or left in the woods (back then, some abortionists would have dead patients cremated, to get rid of the evidence).

The novel moves into the moral and medically ethical questioning of abortion, a quagmire for Mary since she has the hots for her uncle.  Whe her aunt dies, the path is clear for romance, but can she love a man who is a murderer of children?

There is also the evil head nurse who gets in the way and hates Mary’s coming into the picture and stomping on her territory — where can all this lead but the fires of hell, physically?  No gothic can have a happy ending, like your usual nurse novel…

Not the best Whittington in my opinion, but not the worst (I prefer crime noir and hardboiled Whittington).

I feel like getting on a nurse novel kick here — next up: Nurse Carolyn by Loren Beauchamp (Midwood, 1960)  and Man’s Nurse by Orrie Hitt (Chariot, 1963).

Shabby Street by Orrie Hitt

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on October 15, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Hitt - Shabby StreetReviewed here.

Savage Love by Mark Ryan (Robert Silverberg), Bedstand Books, 1960

Posted in pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Ryan - Savage LOve

A dark story here, about revenge best served cold, a Bedstand Book by Robert Silverberg writing as Mark Ryan.

Ted Dennis is a successful copy writer on Madison Avenue at age 32. All is well except his sex/married life — his wife of six years had major surgery four years  back and has low energy and a zero sex drive.

One day, walking down the street, Ted crosses paths with a woman from his past: Carol.  Ten years back, when she was 18 and he was 22, he was going to marry her, then two days before the wedding he got cold feet and called it off, and enlisted in th Army to escape ever confronting her.  He has felt guilty about this all these years and is surprised Carol is not mad — in fact, she had forgiven him, she tells him over lunch, and the old spark seems to still be there as they immediately check into a hotel room and have nostalgic sex.

Over the next two weeks, he meets Carol at the hotel room during lunch, and after work, them goes home.  She had two bad marriages and ha always been in love with Ted, she says, and he finds he still loves her. They make plans: he will divorce his frigid wife and marry Carol, and make up for the past 10 years.

She was a virgin with him; ten years of sexual experience and she has become a dynamo.

He takes her to the Caribbean on a free trip from one of his clients, an airline.  All is story-book perfect, until his divorce lawyer puts a private eye on Carol and finds out she’s a hooker.

Ted has never been to her apartment in Queens — she says it’s too shabby and she is embarrassed and prefers the hotel rooms.  Seems she really uses the place to meet 8-10 tricks a night; on slow nights, she goes to the local bar and picks men up.  She picks up the private eye who has sex with her and describes her body marks to make Ted think it’s true…then he spies on her and watches men come and go…

Finally he goes to her apartment to confront her. She admits it’s true: she’s a whore.  She blames him.  When he left her at the alter, rumors spread about her and she ran away. She had no money and had to sell her body.  She liked the money.  She was making $100 a day.

She tells him their chance meeting was not chance. She had planned it.  She had been wanting revenge all these years.  She figured the best revenge would be to seduce him with her expert bedroom talents, get him to marry her, and then systematically ruin his life be sleeping with all his friends and colleagues, and then abandon him.

Now that she can’t, she gets her pimp to beat him up…

Ted comes home, a bloody mess, and tells his wife the whole story…

A cautionary, moral story?  A dark story indeed — and is revenge a dish best served cold, as pondered in the previous book I reviewed here, Brutal Passions?

Brutal Passions by S.N. Burton (Bellringer Books, 1964)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Burton - brutal passions

A reader of this blog recommended I check out sleaze pulpist S.N. Burton. I’m glad he did, and I am glad I did.

Wow. Here is another one of those travestities of the slewazecore — a gem of a well-written novel packaged as softcore and forgotten ten minutes after it hit the newsstsands.

Brutal Passions was published by Bellringer Books, an imprint of L.S. Publications, that also published Gaslight Books. The company was very short lived.  I have no idea who “S.N. Burton” may have been and it seems like he (has to be a he) published only 3 books with the company, all in 1964. If he published elsewhere under another name, I don’t know yet, but would love to track him down.

This is  a portrait of an emotionally and spiritually tormented young man, Kirk Wade, age 27, a blue collar construction worker who moves from town to town where the work takes him, living in boarding houses, whooping it up on weekends, sleeping with whatever floozies and bored wives hang around the local watering holes.  He works on a pipe-laying crew for new housing projects, driving a Caterpiller tractor, a but of a specialized job whereas the other guys just dig ditched and put pipes into the ground.

Burton writes like a combination of Cain, Thompson, Hitt and Brewer, getting the voice of the working class schmoe down pat with terse, tough guy prose that is sleek and tight.  Continue reading

$20 Lust by Andrew Shaw (Lawrence Block)

Posted in crime noir, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , on October 11, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Shaws - $20 Lust

Nightstand #1546 (1960) is an early Lawrence Block, as he started to explore crime fiction in his softcores with Cornith and Beacon.  It’s a flawed novel, but fun, and has the usual Block clues: a book called The Sound of Distant Drums and a casino called West of Lake.

The narrator is a young man in a bad place: an out-of-work journalist living in a rented room and working at a diner for $40 a week.  His life fell apart when his wife, Mona, left him for his friend, and then the two got into a car accident and died (same situation in Orrie Hitt’s Diploma Dolls).

He has noticed this beautiful blonde around, and follows her to find out where she lives. Her name is “Cinderella Sims.”  She knows he is wacthing her and pulls a gun on him.  She thinks he is working for her ex-lover, a criminal she absconded $50,000 of counterfeit $20 bills from.  She is on the run, not knowing what to do with the cash.

She makes a deal with the narrator, to escape somewhere and launder the funny money.  They have sex, too.

This one has a lot of problems — structure and logic, obviously a good young writer still ironing out his chops, which may be why Block was so reluctant to have Subterranean Press re-publish it a few years ago (I hear among the grapes that Sub will also reprint some Sheldon Lord Beacon titles in the future).

What I liked is that the hero/unwilling criminal gets away with the loot in the end, and gets the girl, and it’s all a happy ending.  Even the narrator wonders about that, how his life doe snot have a cliched moral ending. “Life is stranger than fiction,” he muses, rich, with Cinderella Sims pregnant with their child.

Reed Nightstand reprinted it with the title Block intended in 1973.

Shaw- Cinderella Sims

The 2002 Subterreanean edition is in hardback, a fine edition with a preface by Ed Gorman about the sleaze era and paperbacks, and nudging Block to reprint, and an afterword by Block himself talking about his hack days and reconnecting with an old work he barely recalls writing.

Block - Sims