Archive for January, 2010

Leather – Andrew Shaw (?) (Ember Library #338, 1966)

Posted in Andrew Shaw, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on January 31, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

One thing for sure, this lesbian BDSM prison romp is not Lawrnece Block! Not sure who penned this — maybe William Coons, or some other nameless hack that Cornith used to put “Shaw” on the cover, later in the 1960s when the sex got more graphic and the quality of writing and story-telling took a nose dive in favor of a perceived market demand.

I wonder if some people thought John Dexter, J.X. Williams and Andrew Shaw went shcizo, as their styles and themes radically changed over a decade.

Clyde Allison — Who Was He?

Posted in Barry N. Malzberg, Nightstand Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , on January 29, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

“Clyde Allison” was one of the many pen names used by prolific author William Knoles often misspelled as “Knowles” by booksellers), who committed suicide in 1972. He was 46.

Other pen names: Max Williams for men’s magazines, Cylde Ames for Lancer Books, Carter Allen for the Reed Nightstand reprints, and Wilson Craddock, Jr., which is widow, Lily Knoles, said:

He came up with that one at a party to test his theory about people at parties. He made up this name and went around saying, “Have you read Wilson Craddock, Jr.’s latest novel? I just finished it and I think he’s going to be big.” An hour later this woman walks up to me and says, “I just finished the great new Wilson Craddock novel. Have you read it yet? He’s going to be big!”

At Earl Kemp’s zine el, Lynn Munroe writes:

William Knoles came of age in Greenwich Village in the late 50’s. “He loved people and he loved parties,” one friend told me. With his friends, all of them aspiring artists, poets, writers, and beats, Bill worked all day and partied most nights, often at a bar called the White Horse Tavern, a place Dylan Thomas had made famous. Sometimes the parties were at artists’ lofts. At one such party Bill met Lily Pendleton. Lily was attracted by his intelligence and his sense of humor. They started going out together.

Bill used to entertain Lily with stories about his life at the Meredith Agency. Like many other aspiring writers, he was put to work reading manuscripts in the fee room. People from all over the country would mail unsolicited manuscripts to Scott Meredith, hoping to join his stable of famous writers like Norman Mailer and Evan Hunter. The aspiring writer would get a form letter advising them to send a fee (usually $50) for the agent’s analysis. The gullible and the hopeful would send the $50 and get back a one-page letter signed by Scott Meredith encouraging them to keep trying, and making vague suggestions on how to improve their story or novel. Meredith had a roomful of people turning out these letters and signing his name. It was, depending on who you ask, either a valuable literary service or a profitable scam. Would-be writers who weren’t very bright, or just desperate, would send in another $50 and a rewritten manuscript, only to get a second letter encouraging them to keep trying.

Bill told Lily that one unpublished writer had been yanked on by the Meredith agency for weeks, sending in several readers fees, only to get yet another form letter. Finally the poor guy realized he was being bilked and he came into Manhattan, burst into the offices of Scott Meredith and his brother Sidney, threatening them. Bill claimed from that day on the brothers went to the men’s room together in case any more “clients” came in looking for them.

Reading through hundreds of unpublishable stories, Bill was sure he could writer better than any of them. He began selling stories to men’s magazines like Escapade and Gent, usually using the pseudonym Max Williams. He would save his real name for something important, something he could be proud of. Like most of the young writers Meredith represented, many of whom also got started working at the agency, Bill was offered a job providing adult potboilers for publisher William Hamling.

And contends:

As “Clyde Allison,” Bill Knoles wrote a series of surprisingly well-written and frequently hilarious comic crime novels. His protagonist was usually a con man, a rake, a coward, or a bon vivant. These antiheroes narrate their stories in a fresh, funny personable style. They are usually lovable rogues and their wild stories, while obviously the work of a highly intelligent, well-read writer, are rather unlike nothing else coming out at the time. Several of the agents and writers at Meredith suggested to me that Knoles influenced the work of a whole generation of comic crime writers who followed him at Nightstand. Donald E. Westlake, who worked at Meredith after Knoles, remembered the name. “He was a legend at the office,” Westlake said, “because he was so funny and so fast.” The prolific author Barry N. Malzberg told me he met Knoles once in the elevator at the Meredith Agency. Knoles was with Richard Curtis, who had written porno novels for Hamling as Curt Aldrich and Burt Alden. Curtis introduced them and then said to Knoles, “You know I learned everything I know about writing these books from you.” And Knoles replied, “That’s funny, so did I.”

Apparently, Knoles got the pen name from a Presbyterian minister in Chicago named Clyde Allison who write a book, A Christian Understanding of Sex.

One wonders if members of the real Allisn’s church picked up these sleaze books thinking it was penned by none other than the man at the podium?

Knowles suffered from manic depression and the usual pulp writer’s dismay that he knew he had great literary work inside him, but he had to write smut to pay the bills.  What used to be fun became a tedious hack job.  Says Lilly:

Bill had a hard time writing the books because he didn’t really like them. He wrote them for the money. Then he’d buy a new boat and need money again. Bill kept himself tied up owing money. He’d write another adult novel just to pay his debts. Just like his Dad, sometimes he was loaded, sometimes he was broke. When he was able to do a lot of tongue in cheek stuff, he enjoyed that. He’d be typing away, laughing, wondering if anyone out there got the jokes. Some were so clever – I remember a character called Eva de Struction.

Around December 20, 1972, in Provincetown, RI, Knoles opened his jugular vein and bled to death.

Dirt Farm – Orrie Hitt (Beacon, 1961)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction with tags , , on January 29, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This has all the usual Hitt themes and motifs: the hired hand on a farm, the slave-driving farmer, the young vixen who wants the farmer dead so she can get his land and money, the patsy protagonist who falls into her trap…

Butch Hagen is another typical Hitt hero:

He was a massive man, six inches over six feet, and weighing in at an even two hundred.  In his twenty-five years he had been in any number of brawls but nobody ever licked him. (pp. 7-8)

We’ve seen the set-up in various books, like Violent Sinners, Two of a Kind, The Widow, Pleasure Ground, etc.  This time, however, the vixen, 19 year old Candy Roberts, is not the younger wife of the farmer, but the niece of Clay Billings, the owner of Friendly Farms, and she wants her evil mean uncle done in with — she has tried to talk various hired hands into it, using her body and charms, and here comes big ol’ Butch, ready to fall for the scam and do the deed, owing much in homage to James M. Cain.

While this novel covers no new ground for Hitt, it is quite well-written — excellent prose with re-used material gives this a B-minus on the itt Scale.

Tramp by Andrew Shaw/Lawrence Block (Nightstand #1541, 1961)

Posted in Andrew Shaw, Lawrence Block, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , on January 28, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

In many ways, Tramp is a lot like No Longer a Virgin — a young woman comes to New York and is unprepared for the men of the big city, their only interest in making her.  Then again, the set-up is a common one, as in Don Elliott’s Party Girl or Loren Beauchamp’s Meg.

Julie Marsten is 22, recently graduated from Clifton College, the fictional but disguised Ohio campus similar to Antioch College, where Block went before heading to New York to become a writer and work at Scott Meredith, where he met fellow fee readers Evan Hunter, Richard Curtis, and Donald Westlake, among others.

She’s a virgin, and daydreams of the perfect moment when she will lose her maidenhead.  She gets a modeling agent and starts into “fashion” and nude photography, a la an Orrie Hitt novel.  When she does lose her virginity to a rich man who likes to take pictures of naked women, it is less than romantic as she dreamed.  But once she’s had sex, she gets the wild itch and can’t stop…and from there, she picks up men in bars, has a lesbian experience with a model named Lou, Lou who drags her into a New York party world or orgies and yacht trips to the Caribbean.

Like Terry Southern’s Candy, this is a funny romp about a innocent girl turning wild tramp.  I have a feeling Block had fun with this one, as there are numerous funny scenes with witty dialogue, my favorite: “The hell with Oedipus, as long as he loved his mother, what did it matter?

In the 1973 edition, some updates are included, like using “tits” and “cunt” and one “fuck,” and the movie she sees in the original, The Sound of Distant Drums, which appears in many Shaw/Sheldon Lord books, is changed to Blume in Love.

As with many tales of wayward girls in the big city of sin, Julie does fnally meet Mr. Right and repents her ways of shame and embraces love and marriage — her eventual knight to the rescue is Ben Christopher, a Block pen name.

Far from any work of art, this is a fun romp of a read, and I give it a  B-minus.

Mr. Hot Rod by Charles Verne/aka Orrie Hitt and (?), (Key Publications, 1957)

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Hitt - Mr. Hot Rod

I’ve mentioned before, 1957 was one busy year for ol’ Orrie — a bunch of Beacon titles, four as Roger Normandie, and two as Charles Verne.

This art is not really the dust jacket to Mr. Hot Rod — the copy I found did not come with a jacket,  just have the plain light gray boards of a hardcover.  It seems this one, along with the other Charles Verne, The Wheel of Passion, never found a home as a paperback — that I know of thus far…

hitt - mr. hot rod 2

When I read three of the Roger Normandie-penned books, it was apparent that Hitt did not compose them alone; the change in styles from one section to the next (they were all split up into four parts, like Mr. Hot Rod is) were erratic and different in tone and pace as well as use of dialogue; there was a lot of S/M stuff, and the story lines were uneven.

Who did Hitt co-pen these books with?  My guess is Jack Woodford or one of Woodford’s students, like Joe Weiss, who also published a number of books with Key Publishers. In fact, all the writers listed on the jacket flap for Key seem to have a connection with the School of Woodford style of smut writing, so I now wonder if Key was connected to The Woodford Press (that also published Hitt’s Teaser).

It looks like Orrie didn’t pen this novel as Charles Verne alone, either, but there also seems to be more of Hitt’s presence.  I detected small sections that seemed un-Hitt like, as well as one an out-of-the-blue spanking scene similar to those in The Lion’s Den, where a spontaneous spanking scene turns nasty…

His right hand was poised in the air.

“You’ll pay for this!” she breathed. “Damn you, Eric Goddard, you’ll pay for this!”

His right hand descended and there was a loud smack as his palm flattened itself against her right buttock.  He felt pain stab upwards to his elbow, sensed the incredible depth to which his fingers violated her body. She let out a long, low moan and hurled herself forward […]

“Eric!”

He hit her again and again, first one buttock and then the other, and his hand became numb.  Sweat poured down off his forehead, blinding him, and dripped onto the red, naked flesh beneath […] Her hands found the halter, ripped it loose, and then she made him put his hands on her other breast. The nipple was hard and pointed and every time he hit her it seemed to swell up even larger.

“Eric! Oh, Eric — use both hands!” (pp. 32-33)

Eric Goddard (a wink to Jean-Luc?) owns a gas station and repair garage; he’s a race car enthusiast who works on hot rods and started a club, the Fender Benders, in the small NY town, Millsville, pop. 7400.

The story opens with spoiled little rich girl Jayne Barton driving Eric’s hot rod, because he’s working on her Caddy to soup it up.  She’s driving with Ruthie, a cute girl, who professes her love to Jayne.  Jayne is cool about it, but likes the fact that Ruthie has come out with her lesbian desires.

Jayne drag races local hot rodder Freddie because Freddie thinks Eric is in the car; Freddie loses control, crashes and dies.  The cops aren’t happy and start coming down hard on the local hot rod kids, writing tickets and forcing them to get rid of their Hollywood mufflers.

Eric is about to disband the Fender Benders but Jayne, full of money, offers to pay off all member debts to Eric for repairs, as well as fund a clubhouse.  She also has designs on Eric, along with Ruthie — she’s bisexual, spoiled, devious…

Next comes Ann, the widow of a famous car driver who, before dying, was putting together a “one hundred eighty degree crank” for a stock car.  Like The Sucker, race cars and crank engines play a pivotal role, and ol’ Orrie uses his background as a race car magazine writer and enthusiast to put in a lot of details.

Jayne is evil with her wealth, sucking Eric in, and drugging his fiancee, Mae, into a lesbianic situation with Ruthie to take photos and smear Mae’s name, so Jayne can have Eric for herself…

Eric gets brutal down the line, anally raping Ruth to get her to tell the truth and then beating Jayne for it, but Jayne gets turned on by the physical attack and asks for more.  This sort of rough sex isn’t really characteristic of Orrie Hitt, but was all over the Roger Normandie books. Likewise, a scene where Eric finds Mae doing eight guys in a gangbang because she’s lost all self-respect — she doesn’t remember how she wound up having se with Ruthie, but she thinks she may be a lesbian and is trying to counter-attack that by being sexually loose and free with any guy.

Everything winds up violent, as suspected.

Yet, this one seems to have more of Hitt’s writing in it than the Normandie ones.  Not a bad book, but not Hitt’s best.  A B-minus for an engaging tale, and for being a rare, lost title in sleazecoreville.

Good finding  a copy, however.

Silverberg Speaks of His Pulp Days

Posted in pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on January 26, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

from this site:

Mistress of the Tentacled Oblivion: Please tell my Octopulps readers a bit about your work as a staff writer for Amazing Stories.

Robert Silverberg: I was a staff writer for Amazing, turning in two or three space operas a month. The editor of Amazing at that time was either Howard Browne or Paul Fairman—Browne quit somewhere in early 1957 to return to freelance writing, and turned the magazine over to his assistant editor, Fairman. I was taken onto the staff in the summer of 1955, when I was still in college, and proceeded to sell Browne a lot of stories that he had previously rejected from me as a freelancer (he never read unsolicited stories; everything was staff written and the outside stories went back instantly with nice rejection slips) as well as a lot of stuff written to order. I was just a kid and delighted to be part of it: you brought your week’s work in on Monday morning and your agent had the check the next day. In any case when Cele Goldsmith replaced Fairman around 1959 she did away with the staff system entirely.

MOTTO: So, what did that Amazing office look like?

RS: Ziff-Davis, the publisher of Amz, published a lot of big slick mags like Modern Bride, and their office was in a midtown Manhattan skyscraper, very large and glossy, frosted glass door, receptionist, the whole deal. The editorial staff was four or five people, editor, assistant editor, art director, couple of others, and they worked daily, and the huge Ziff-Davis organization processed and sent out the checks like clockwork.

MOTTO: How did you first encounter the pulps in all their glory? What made you decide you wanted to write for the pulps?

RS: They were sold on every corner newsstand. I hope you know what those were. I began buying them when I was in the eighth grade—Weird Tales, Amazing, etc.—and immediately figured I could write stories for them and get them published and make a lot of money and get famous. I was 13 at the time. It turned out I was right about all that, but it took another few years before those checks came rolling in.

MOTTO: Do you happen to have any sense of how art was selected for Amazing and other pulp magazines? Were there staff artists? Or just starving people they accosted on the street and forced to paint nightmarish visions?

RS: Big office, professional publishing company, very corporate. The art director had artists coming in all the time with portfolios. Not my department and I didn’t watch what went on, but, yes, there were staff artists. All the SF mags had them.

MOTTO: Give us a sense of a day (or week) in the life of Robert Silverberg in the pulp era. How did pulp writing fit into your everyday routine?

RS: Back in my pulp-mag days I worked from about 8:30 to noon, took an hour off for lunch, and worked again from one to three, for a work day of five and a half hours or so. I wrote 20 to 30 pages of copy in that time, doing it all first draft, so that I was able to produce a short story of 5000-7500 words in a single day. If I had 3000-worders to do, I usually wrote one before lunch and one after lunch. At three o’clock I poured myself a shot of rum or mixed a martini, put a record on, and sat down to relax until dinnertime, reading and perhaps sketching out the next day’s work on a scrap of paper. This was the Tuesday-to-Friday routine. I never worked on Saturday or Sunday.
On Monday I made the rounds of the editorial offices to visit some mix of John Campbell, Howard Browne, Larry Shaw, W.W. Scott, and Bob Lowndes—editors of Astounding, Amazing, Infinity/Science Fiction Adventures, Super Science Fiction, and the various Lowndes titles—to deliver the previous week’s work. Sometimes I stopped off at my agent’s Fifth Avenue office to pick up checks, also. (I took the subway downtown from my apartment on West End Avenue in Manhattan.)
In weeks when I was writing a novel, I followed a five-day schedule, doing about thirty pages a day, so a typical Ace novel would take me six or seven days to write. I produced a lot of copy that way—a million words a year, or more—and since nearly all of it was contracted in advance, I didn’t have to worry about rejections very much. (Now and then I would aim a story at Campbell or Gold or Boucher, where nothing was guaranteed in advance, and if they turned it down I delivered it to one of the lesser magazines, which bought it. Nothing went unsold for long.)

MOTTO: Thanks so much for taking the time to help us visualize this world. And one goofy question to close: Did you notice the prevalence of tentacle-ish covers at the time? Any feeling about the use/misuse of octopuses and other marine monsters in the pulps?

RS: There were plenty of tentacles. Tentacles were very important. We were always kind to squiggly creatures and never abused them.

All My Lovers – Alan Marshall/Donald E. Westlake (Midwood #15, 1959)

Posted in Midwood Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Most Donald E. Westlake fans believe his first novel was The Mercenaries in 1960, when in fact his true first published novel was Midwood #15, All My Lovers, as Alan Marshall, in 1959.

This Midwood concerns the tawdry lives of Manhattan’s uppercrust and the art scene. Martin is a 35-year-old successful stockbroker whose only intimacies is paid sex from his many immigrant maids, cleaning and servicing in his Park Avenue digs.  His wife, Eloise, has her lovers, and calls herself Lou outside their home — she pays for a Greenwich Village pad to house her lovers, who all have to be artists.

The current lover if Jeffrey, 23, whose been a professional gigolo since he was 18 and discovered that lonely widows, divorcees, and married women were willing to support him in exchange of sex.  On the gigolo grape vine, he heard about Lou and that she only wanted artistic lovers, so he pretends to be a would-be writer working on his first novel.  Living in the Village pad and getting money, clothes, and food from Lou, he sits behind a typewriter now and then, acting like he’s hard at work on this grand novel.

The marriage between Martin and Lou is for show; they seem to still love each other, or are pathetically co-dependent, and while he allows her lovers, he’s not very happy about it.  We later learn that they have never slept together once, so it’s a wonder why they are together.  It’s not just the money and status for Lou, because she does at times seem to be genuinely concerned for Martin; she’s just not interested in him sexually.

The reason why Lou demands her lovers to be artists is an attempt to replace the absence of a painter she was madly in love with, a man called “Bastard.”  He left for Europe and asked her to come, but she couldn’t leave Martin.

Martin hires call girls to beat and whip and be mean to, as surrogates for Lou, to express his anger and pain, just as he likes his maids to be submissive to his wants.  He’s a manipulative man; he sets up a weekend jaunt to “the Wood,” up in the Catskills, with Lou and her lover, Jeff, and a  mutual friend, Paula.  There, Martin tries to make Paula, she denies him, and she makes the move on Lou, confessing she’s admired Lou all through high school and college, and that she’s a lesbian.  She tries to convince Lou that men cannot love women the right way, only women can satisfy women.  Lou doesn’t go for it.

Jeff and Martin get in a physical fight and all fall apart but this is what Martin wanted — to get Lou to drop Jeff and to have Paula make the moves on his wife.

Then Bastard shows up, back from Europe, thwarting Martin’s plans.  While Martin takes it in stride about Lou’s various lovers, Bastard is a threat, because he knows Lou still loves him.

It’s a complicated story of a lot of hurt and lost people, people who don’t understand their own drives, needs, and emotions; people who last out at one another when hurt.  They are miserable and unhappy Manhattanites.

For a first novel, it’s not bad. It’s slow at times, then builds up tension, then gets slow again, but the writing is pretty good, and shows how the early Westlake was honing the craft of narrative.

It’s  a rare and pricey book — in fact, since Westlake’s passing in Dec. 2008, many of his early pen name works have shot up in price.  I’ve seen All My Lovers run between $50-70.