Naked Holiday by Don Elliott/Robert Silverberg (Nightstand Books #1512)

Orrie Hitt wasn’t the only soft/sleazecore writer taking on the nudist camp as a setting.  This Elliott was Robert Silverberg’s fifth title for Hamling’s Nightstand, the first written from an “I” protagonist (most the the Elliotts are third person).

Naked Holiday is told by Al Fieldston, a 34-year-old bachelor and Chicago ad man who has decided to take a “creative leave of absence” for three summermonths from his job to finally write that Great American Novel nagging at the back of his head — a novel about, well, the ad agency biz.

His buddy Jack, who makes a living writing articles for magazines, has gotten an assignment for a piece, as well as a book, on the nudist camp craze, and suggests Al join him out in the fresh country and write his novel among the naked people.

One of the big magazines wanted him to do a feature on Nudism. The idea was an unsensational piece, stressing the individualistic character of the nudists, pegging them as staunch rugged spirits  in the middle of a society of conformists. (p. 15)

There isn’t any actual sex until 50 pages in, unusual for a Nightstand, but there are plenty of naked people, from page one, to have given this book enough flip appeal, since the very notion of “naked” or “there was a naked girl walking outside” (p. 5) was enough to get the puritans writing letters to the D.A.

There was about a dozen people in the building, and they were square dancing. Men and women, and their ages seemed to range from age ten to seventy, with a heavy concentration in the thirties. [They] were as naked as the day they came into the world. (p.29)

He is, at first, shocked to see pre-teen girls and boys frolicing around like nymphs and satyrys, but learns that they have grown up with this, and there is no Americanized shame.

And these nudist kids […] They wouldn’t grow into teenage sex addicts. They wouldn’t hover around trying to peep into the girls’ washroom.  They wouldn’t be customers for sleazy unshaven characters who hang around high schools trying to sell kids packets of little glossy prints of naked men and women. They wouldn’t have any interest in burlesque shows, strippers, nightclub comics. They wouldn’t turn into rapists of peeping Toms. (p. 88)

A good point — what society deems taboo and forbidden becomes a nasty vice. Take that sordidness out of something, it no longer has a torrid or criminal aspect.

There are a few rules, like no public displays of affection, no hints of sexuality, but b ehind closed doors, with consenting adults, that’s okay, and Al winds up having sex with two women who give him trouble — one is wildly possessive, and one is sixteen, the daughter of the camp’s leader, who sneaks into his bed at night and he thinks it is someone else.  A third woman is a masochist and cannot reach climax until she gets beaten and feels pain.  Soon, Al finds he cannot write with all these naked women in his life.

I had women on my mind.

Too many women.

Harriet. Bonnie.

Joanie.

Sandra.

Harriet with the freckled breasts and the ping pong paddle. Bonnie with the bug eyes and the pathetic desire to be loved. Sandra with her devil’s lust, her hotbox insistence that could not be brooked. And oanie with the flawless body and all the amorous fervor of a Greek model statue. (p. 122)

Trouble in paradise comes when the possessive girl, wanting revenge for being rejected, accuses him of rape.

A breezy, fun little novel.  I have yet to put down a Silverberg book — sleaze of SF or any — and not finish.  In fact, they tend to be the kind you can’t put down.  Silverberg was, and is, a consumate professional storyteller.  Some of them are great, some okay, but never bad.

Interesting to see that the 1973 Reed Nightstand reprint has a similar cover, but the woman is wearing a swimsuit, and the two are not kissing directly on the lips — maybe because these books were on the trade bookstore shelves instead of the lurid newsstands and adult bookshops?

She’s a redhead here, a blonde in the original, and tgheir hairstyles are updated for the 1970s.

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