Love Drive by Adam Snavely (Kozy #181, 1963)

The curious thing about this Snavely novel is that the interior title page lists Orrie Hitt as the author, causing some to wonder if Snavely was a Hitt pen name:

At first, I thought this could be a Hitt book — the protagonist is a con man with a number of female lovers, but as I read more, I realized this was not Hitt, but the same author of Wine, Women and Love and The Big Flick.

So what happened here?  In the Kozy catalogue of books in the back of some of these volumes, Kozy #169 is listed as Love Drive by Orrie Hitt, yet this Love Drive is #181, with #180 listed on the back cover: Hitt’s Strip Alley (the Kozys usually had the proceeding or next title in the series on the back).

Kozy #169 is actually Hitt’s Love Slave, so seems it was all a bit of confusion on the editorial production side.  This happened often in quickie sleaze publishing — but usually the real author’s name would be on the title page, with a pen name on the cover, as Nightstand did with some John Dexters.  Bedstand Books put Harry Whittington’s name on a Shep Sheppard novel, but it seems Whittington was not Shepard.

It still happens. Blue Moon Books once ran 5,000 copies of Michael Perkin’s Burn with my name on the cover, and had to pulp the entire run and re-do it.

No other writer’s name ever appeared on my books, though, maybe because I always checked the galleys and covers for mistakes (such as misspelling my name).

Onto Love Drive

The protagonist is a hack screenwriter in L.A., just finishing up a SF monster lizard movie — perhaps the same guy from The Big Flick?  That one ended with his getting an assignment to write such a script.  Now done, he looks to pull a survival con in another city, because it’s too damn hard hustling it in Hollywood…

He looks around several small southern California communities where the idle rich live — or rich women, married or widowed or single, reside, since women with money and literary ambitions are his target marks.  There’s San Marino, Santa Barbara, and Palm Springs.  he picks the fictitious Portsmouth which seems like Oxnard or Morro Bay…\

[He] had selected Portsmouth with care…a good logical choice… when he realized that the competition wouldn’t be as rough. (p. 9)

In L.A., there are too many damn writers with credits to compete for the attention of rich women…hell, even I know this, true in the 60s as true as it is today.

There, he gets a library card and lets the librarian know he is a published writer, Jeff Kenyon (for The Kenyon Review?), coming to Portsmouth to research/have time for his next novel.  He secures an apartment and

the librarian had done her part by spreading the word.  A quick browse through Books in Print and the Reader’s Guide and his identity had been established.

A new writer in town. Three years of honorable mentions in the O. Henry short story awards.  Just enough additional science fiction and detective stories to seal it on tight.  Would Mr. Kenyon be kind enough to give a talk — nothing too formal or pretentious, mind you — before the library’s city-wide culture commerce?

Would be ever.

It was a golden opportunity. (p. 9)

An opportunity to dig for gold, because Kenyon knows the kind of women that will be drawn to such a “talk”: women with their own literary ambitions, women who like to be “patrons of the arts,” rich and lonely women who find writers sexy…

Jeez, this was coming too close to home here, ha ha.

And he meets them — the first, Janice, shows him a short story he wrote, and “things” happen (there is a Janice Kenyon in Snavely’s Pool Side Pushover, but that book was published two years before this one).  A waitress also writes stories, and while she’s good in bed, she does not have the wealth Kenyon requires for survival.

Is Kenyon an art whore?  A gigolo who beds wealthy women to fund time for his books and stories?  Seems so…and why not…there are many forms of prostitutional art.

The novel is a little confusing to follow, though, much like Wine, Women and Love — Snavely doesn’t provide enough obvious information about what’s really going on, shedding light on it later in the book.  This worked with Wine because it has tension and undercover blacmail going on.  Not so here, and it makes the narrative a bit dull at time, yet seems to keep the reader hanging on as Kenyon goes from one bed to the other.

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