Archive for December, 2009

Crossroads of Lust by Andrew Shaw (Lawrence Block), Midnight Reader, 1962

Posted in Andrew Shaw, crime noir, Lawrence Block, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This Shaw is definitely penned by Lawrence Block — his style is all over it.  It’s essentially a heist crime yarn, in tune with the other crime fiction he was penning for Gold Medal and Beacon at the time.

Interestingly, Crossroads of Lust, another Shaw called Lust Campus, and John Dexter’s Passion Bride, were considered obscene for sado-masochistic imagery, as found in People v. Sikora, 32 Ill. 2d 260, 267-268, 204 N. E. 2d 768, 772-773 (1965), footnoted in a 1977 Supreme Court Case, Ward v. Illinois, appealing a conviction for selling obscene materials.  Justice Brennan noted in footnote 3 of his dissent:

The Illinois Supreme Court described the materials as follows, 32 Ill. 2d, at 267-268, 204 N. E. 2d, at 772-773: “`Lust Campus’ by Andrew Shaw is a story of sexual adventures on a [431 U.S. 767, 772] college campus `where even members of the faculty taught sin and evil.’ The book describes homosexuals `necking’ on a public beach; mutual masturbation; self fondling; a circle of persons engaged in oral-genital contact; rape; intercourse; lesbian intercourse; cunnilingus and flagellation; flagellation with barbed wire; an abortion with red-hot barbed wire; masturbation with a mirror reflection, and a transvestite episode. “`Passion Bride’ by John Dexter described curricular and extracurricular sexual episodes that take place during a honeymoon on the French Riviera. The book describes masturbation; intercourse; a party between an old man and three prostitutes; attempted intercourse in a bath; lesbian foreplay; flagellation; rape ending in the death of the female from a broken back and intercourse ending in the broken back of the male participant. “`Crossroads of Lust’ by Andrew Shaw describes the sexual adventures of various persons in a small town. There are numerous descriptions of intercourse; lesbian intercourse; oral-genital contact; and rape. A woman stabs a man in the course of intercourse, completing the act after he is dead. There are also three voyeurism scenes, two of which involve watching lesbian love play. The third is characterized by sadism and masochism.”

Did/does Lawrence Block know that his pen-named smut became a part of legal history, as a number of Cornith/Nightstand/Greenleaf books did?

Lynn Munroe notes that Crossroads of Lust is

a violent crime novel about an armored truck robbery. The Western movie The Sound of Far-off Tom-toms is on page 27 and, the John Dexter book No Longer a Virgin (NB1513) is mentioned by name on page 72.

Munroe has suggested that No Longer a Virgin, the first John Dexter novel, was penned by Block, or by Block and Westlake…I’ll get to that one soon…

Continue reading

The House of Seven Sins by Andrew Shaw (Lawrence Block or William Coons?), Nightstand Books #1575

Posted in Andrew Shaw, Lawrence Block, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Another good early Andrew Shaw about a neophyte writer in the big city of big sin and lust…

Lou Packer, 25, has come from upper NY state Clarksonsville to chase his dream of being a writer — he rents a two room apartment in a building in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan, to sit down and write his first novel, with hopes of selling it to one of the Manhattan publishers.  Not an hour after he arrives, does the super, a sexy woman named Ameila, have sex with him — several times.

Well, this is a sleaze novel…or, in the case of Nightstand Books, a sleaze periodical, that has all the characteristics of early Larry Block….or does it?  According to Lynn Munroe’s Reed Nightstand checklist, this Shaw was penned by William Coons, reprinted in 1973 as The Obsessed.

Coons started ghosting for Block in 1961, the first Passion Slaves (NB 1563), and if he did ghost this one (1961 seemed to be a busy year for Block as he began to publish under his own name at Gold Medal, first with Mona), he did a good job imitating Block’s style — the clipped paragropaghs and the long chapters — there are only nine chapters here, and Block’s usually has nine or ten chapters. (This is easy to see why — each chapter is 5,000 words, and 10 makes a 50,000 word book.  Craftsmanship.)

At least, I thought this was entirely Block after Chapter One, but reading on it is evident this is not entirely Block.  I’m thinking Block wrote Chapter One (and maybe a few others) and Coons took over. This seemed to be the modus operandi for Block back then with his ghosters like Donald Westlake and Bill Coons and whoever else…

Continue reading

Did Lawrence Block Plagarize Robert Silverberg in 1960?

Posted in Andrew Shaw, Don Elliott, Lawrence Block, Loren Beauchamp, Midwood Books, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , on December 29, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

I sat down to enjoy one of Lawrence Block’s Andrew Shaw softcore titles from Nightstand, College for Sinners (1960)—as most of the Shaws are enjoyable—and was surprised, perhaps disappointed to discover that the little novel is a direct rip off of one of Robert Silverberg’s titles for Bedstand books, Campus Love Club by David Challon (1959), reprinted in 1962 by Midwood as Campus Sex Club by Loren Beauchamp.

Both books are set in a thinly disguised upper Manhattan institute, Metropolitan College in Silverberg’s novel, unnamed in Block’s, but obviously Columbia University.  Both are about a sexually awkward young man who gets the chance to join an exclusive sex club of undergraduates, called The Libertines(the book was reprinted in 1973 by Greenleaf’s Reed Nightstand as The Libertines).

The Shaw book is not an exact word-for-word replica of the Silverberg Challon book—College for Sinners is told in the third person while Campus Love Club is told in the first, the former a bit more humorous in the narration than the later.  In both books, the protagonists, eager to lose their virginity, employ the services of a Harlem streetwalker; in Silverberg’s, the prostitute does not speak any English and in Block’s, the woman talks in street slang, calling her john “baby” every other sentence.  However, both protagonists are so nervous they are incapable of an erection, thus they do not lose their virginity. Later, both young men in each book take out a campus tramp, a girl who never says no, and are deflowered in that manner.

Note the peculiar similarities when membership of both clubs is explained

“Membership is limited to fifteen—five sophs, five juniors, and five seniors. Each September the juniors and entitled to sponsor five new men for membership…Membership is limited to undergraduates, and you can’t remain a member for more than three years” (Campus Love Club, p. 68-70).

“We have twelve members, no more, no less.,  Four each from the sophomore, junior, and senior classes. Two men and two women.  Each year four members graduate and four new sophomores are invited to join the society.” (College for Sinners, p. 64)

While the group in College has six men and six women, the group of fifteen men in Campus has a sister group of women comprised of fifteen from Chelsey College, an all-girl’s school that is connected to Metropolitan (like one of New England’s Seven Sisters, Vassar or Smith — the sister college for Columbia is Barnard).

Both sex clubs have an apartment in Greenwich Village for orgies—dues are $20 a month in Campus, $50 a year in College.  Sexual arrangements are the same: no female member may deny sex for a male member, and vice versa. No one spends a night alone.

Both books have similar consequences and wrap-ups. Not exact, mind you — in Campus, the NYPD raids the group’s orgy house after the kidnap and drug a girl and forced her into sex acts, and when a guy comes to rescue her, a fight breaks out…in College, the protagonist finds true love and becomes disgusted with the immoral ways of his collegiate colleagues, so sends an anonymous letter to the Chief of Police,  outlining what happens, what night they can be found, and who these people are.

In Silverberg’s, there is tragedy at the end, the narrator’s life ruined as he goes on without a college degree, the other members disgraced and one committing suicuide.  This is usual for Silverberg whose work — sleaze, SF, or fantasy — has a dark bent.  Campus ends on a more happy note as the protagonist has found love.

But these books are too damn similar to not take note.

So what happened here?

I asked Silverberg if anyone knew he was David Challon back then and he said no – in fact, seems only the past 10-15 years that many of Silverberg’s pen names in sleaze have come to light (there is no mention in a 1978 bibliography, which only lists a handful of Don Elliott books).

Did Lawrence Block pick up the Challon novel and like it so much that he did his version – seemingly plagiarized – and figured no one would ever notice?

No one ever has, until now.

Did he see the Challon manuscript while at Scott Meredith in 1959 and think, Wow, what a story

Did he forget reading it and wrote this one as the concept lingered in the back of his mind?  The books are only a year apart. One might say, well, maybe there was an item in the news about such a club at Columbia or NYU, or a rumor going around — that’s reasonable, but the fact that both protagonists try to lose their virginity the same way, and botjh have erectile challenges while with a hooker, and the rules of the sex clubs are quite similar, are evidence that this is not a coincidence or shared idea in the creative either.

Read both for yourself, if you wish, and you be the judge.

But what the hell, eh…does it matter?

No, it doesn’t. I don’t wat it to seem like I am out to say, “Ha, I caught you in a youthful folly, Mr. Block!”  My interest is academic.

This will be a curious footnote in the history of paperback publishing,

As Bad As They Come by Orrie Hitt

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on December 28, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Reviewed here.

Nude Doll by Orrie Hitt

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on December 28, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Reviewed here.

Recommended: Hellcat Hellions on Sin Campus by Dawn Elliott

Posted in Don Elliott with tags , , on December 26, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Olympia Press has recently published as an e-book, Hellcat Hellions on Sin Campus by Dawn Elliott (pen name of Sandra Boise, it seems) and is a wild romp like, or so it claims, like Terry Southern’s  Candy.

The novel also seems to be a core element in an SF time travle yarn called Time Lust.

Is “Dawn Elliott” a take on Silverberg’s sleaze nom de plume, Don Elliott?

Vice Town by Ennis Willie (Vega Books, 1962)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , on December 24, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

I wasn’t blown away by the two Sand Shocker novels I read of Willie’s, but I did like the writing style; Vice Town is more to my liking.  Willie creates an ultra-violent reality, an alternate universe of the real, comic-book like in many ways — I’m thinking Frank Miller read Willie in the ’60s and there’s some influence Willie had over Sin City, or that whole genre of dark crime fiction.

Gator is like Sand in some ways — the single name, the cryptic past of being “in the war,” and a sense of loyalty to avenge the murder of old friends.  Gator, 29, has returned to a mythic southern city on the edges of the swamp, called Labanion, to find out who murdered an old girlfriend, Castine.  The town has grown, is a “wet county” (booze served all the time), and gambling is legal, “a town that made its living in a darkness that hid its promiscuities, and decent people put up with it as the price of prosperity” (p. 56).  He is not welcome back in Labanion but he doesn’t care — he’s on a mission to find a killer, and exact vengeance, and come to terms with his past.  “All a man has is home,” he says, “and when he has nowhere else to go, he goes home.”

He also has a missing leg, and moves around on a crutch –but he uses the crutch as a weapon, and can take on multiple big thugs in dark bac alleys sans a leg…

Continue reading