Wild Bride by George Simon (Chariot Books #190, 1960)
As noted, George Simon was the pen name of one Carlson Wade, whoever he was, or perhaps Keith Ayling, attributed to Arthur Adlon.
And he wasn’t a bad writer. Wild Bride is a nifty surpise: a pretty good novel with some depth and layers.
Not to forget that this is a “sex” novel, but it’s a cut above, in the same quality category as Robert Silverberg, Lawrence Block, Orrie Hitt, or March Hastings.
The cover is classic, as I have seen it re-used a number of times on posters, cups, and albums.
It opens with a forlorn fellow named Larry getting drunk in a bar and trying to forget that the woman he loves, Gracie, is about to get married to another man.
But — she doesn’t. She phones him at the bar and says the groom never showed, he got cold feet, and she needs to see Larry right away. he knows he shouldn’t, but her lure is too great. They get together and she finally gives him what she’d denied him for years: her virginity.
But she can’t stay there in their small North Dakota town. When she went to get a marriage license, she discovered she had no birth certificate. And then the woman she’s known as her mother all her life, an ex-Broadway actress named Marta, tells Gracie she’s not her real mother, that her real mother was a friend and former lover of her boyfriend, and she raised Gracie as her own.
So Gracie tells Larry she has to go to New York to find her real parents, to find out what happened, to find out who she really is. She meets up with a number of colorful characters — an old actress who runs a house for artists; a gay painter; a talent agent who knew her folks, and two men who want to rape her — one she winds up killing in self-defene and gets into some trouble over.
Meanwhile, Larry is left behind and he begins a relationship with a loose woman whose always had it bad for him, and she vows to never sleep with a number man but him, if he’ll have her.
The narrative jumps back and forth between the two but leans more toward Gracie’s story. In an odd way, this reminded me of early Don DeLillo, like Players or Maus II, how DeLillo tells stories of an event between a man and a woman, and how they drift off onto sepearate paths after the event.
Not to say that Simon/Wade is on par with DeLillo, but the narrative technique is similar and I wonder where it comes from…did not Candide and Cunegone drift apart after a grand event and have their own adventures before returning together?
DeLillo-esque is now a term in the OED.
Not a bad little novel, this Wild Bride. A B-.