So Wild the Flesh by Mel Corbin (Saber Books, 1969)

I picked this one up for he cover. Saber/Fabian books always had slightly odd-looling people on their covers — maybe more odd than Novel/Merit Books art and photis.

But what is the story behind this almost-naked woman pointing a heater at this fellow’s noggin?

You never know what you’d get with a Saber or Fabian from Sanford Aday’s company — sometimes good stuff, sometimes awful shit.

The book — short, at 35K words or so — starts off with Eddie, a newpaper reporter, getting a vist by a girl named Sharon who says he has to help her, her life is in danger, someone is out to kill her.  He suggests that she hire a private eye but she thinks having a reporter writing about her plight would protect her, if the public knew.

He goes along, as he thinks about her pussy and his “shaft gets hard looking at her.”  Thats the thing with this one, publihsed in 1969:  the indency laws had become lax and the books started to get hardcore. So there’s plenty of sex here — straight and lesbian, and lots of talk about vaginas and dicks.

Hardcore has its place, I have certainly written my share of it, but here it seems to only cheapen the novel than add to it, almost as if the sexual asides and thoughts were added in to an existing manuscript.

Plus, it’s hard to follow what the hell is going on. I was lost. I couldn’t get past page 50.  What was this all about, or was the set-up just an excuse to write explicit sex scenes?  Sharon takes Eddie to her big home — she’s rich — where her mother and a servant live, and all kinds of sex follows.

This is porn, but I ca’t say it’s good porn.

Others might like it.

Have no idea who “Mel Corbin” is.  Seems the name is only on this one book.  Could have been Aday writing under a pen name.

It’s interesting to consider that had Saber published this novel ten years earlier, a lot of people would have been behind bars, and indeed, by 1963, Aday did wind up doing time for Sex Life of a Cop, which was far less explicit than So Wild the Flesh.  But the cops and local authorities in Fresno, California, had been after Saber for a while, losing several court cases on obscenity. With J. Edgar Hoover watching quietly, gioing after all sleaze publishers, they were bound to get Aday on something, just as they got William Hamling and Earl Kemp later on.

We must keep in mind that it was not long ago, in America, that people were illegally spied on and harassed by the government and went to jail for practicing first amendment rights.  And while things are different now, as George Orwell warned us in 1984, things could easily revert back to 1950s suppression and repression.

In that light, the fact that Saber published a book like this as an act of free speech is not only comendable, but noteworthy in the history of publishing and the First Amendment.

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