Meet Marilyn by Sloane Britain (Midwood #52)
I thought the 1960 first edition was a Paul Rader cover, but Al Wagner did that one, as well as the 1963 second edition.
Sloane Britian was Midwood editor Elaine Williams, whom I will discuss in the next post.
Meet Marilyn might be the weakest of the Britain Midwoods; it’s not a novel as much as it is a collection of stories, set around a party thrown for the residents of a posh Manhattan Park Avenue apartment building. In each apartment, the people we meet have their colorful, sexually kinky pasts, hetero, bi, and lesbian.
The best chapter is #2, about Gabe and Myra, who meet in college and fall in love. Problem: Myra comes from a rich Jewish family and Gabe comes from humble suburbia, with dreams if being a writer. Myra believes Gabe will one day be a great writer and against her parents’ wishes, she marries him but she gets cut off from the family money.
They live in sqaulor as Gabe writes short stories, gathering rejection slips. One day, Myra picks up a pulp detective novel and the two spend the evening readng absurd passages to one another, making fun of the genre, which is hardly literature in their eyes — the violence, the witty dialogue, the dolls and dames, etc. They start making up their own passages and Gabe writes them down…he keeps writing…then he finishes it. He thinks the detective novel is a lark but he sends it in to a paperback publisher.
Meanwhile, Myra gets pregnant. Scared, she crawls back to her parents’ for help; they give her access to money and hekp her rent out a nice apartment on Park Avenue.
Gabe doesn’t want their help for having rejected him, and they still disappriove of him for being a gentile and not from money. Then, to his surprise, his detective novel sells for a $1200 advance and the publisher wants another one, maybe more, a series if possible. Gabe is now a published writer!
He moves into the Park Ave address with Myra, mainly because it’s a better home for their baby. He works on his next detectibve tyarn, doing with the idea that one day he will take the time for a serious literary novel…the plight of many pulp writers.
The baby is born with defects — a cleft palate and a slow intelligence. They are devestated but vow to love the mongloid child. Gabe pours himself into a world of private eyes and dangerous dames…
A few years pass. Gabe is on his 27th detective novel and hating it; he can’t stand to sit down and write any more of the same thing, but he has contracts and needs money. Magazines ask him for stories but they want the same crime and sex sleaze. Britain/Williams is making a funny comment on what happens to many writeres she knew, from Midwood and elsewhere, who got trapped in the genre slump.
Other characters pop in chapters all culminating at the party, events surrounding the mysterious and sexy Marilyn, but all in all, this reds like Britain/Williams gathered a handful of unpublished siort stories she had lying around and added in connecting transitions.
A better book would have been an expanion of the Gabe and Myra story.