Diane – Max Collier (Midwood #F319, 1963)
A horrible photo cover from Midwood, but a great gem of a little novel tucked away in the bad packaging, akin to Max Collier’s The Mark of a Man.
The sexuality of young girls with older men is a strong staple in erotic fiction, especially after the court case with Lolita, which was quite tame and more suggestion than actuality. In the 50s-60s sleaze books, the youngest female characters got were 17, though sometimes — such as Don Elliott’s/Silverberg’s Sexteen — they were 16. In the 1970s, however, with publishers like London Fog and Surree House got into downright pedophilia.
The young girl in Diane, named Diane, is a precocious fifteen-year-old sex kitten that the protagonist, Adam Behr, meets in a bar while his wife is away on vacation. Since the girl is in a bar and the bartender knows her, he assumes she’s at least 21, though a but young-looking. After some beers and talk, they leave and have sex twice, and later he goes to see her at her house and her mother catches them, informing him that he’s a dirty old man with jailbait.
Adam is stymied.
Then the mother tries to blackmail him, he says forget it, and she calls the cops. He’s arrested, arraigned, gets bail, gets a lawyer, and waits for his wife to come home.
Meanwhile, despite the statutory rape charge, Adam’s street cred is boosted. He’s a quiet office manager at a paper distributor (The Office?) in Los Angeles and his make co-workers see him in a new light, as do the women…and women find him more sexually interesting — he winds up getting laid out of it, though he may go to jail for one-to-three years for catching some underage action.
Seems Diane has quite a few former lovers and lover, older men and boys alike. And her mother was investigated for child abandonment. Diane’s mother is a drunken floozy who goes from one man to another, and sometimes Diane sleeps with her boyfriends. How long the girl has been doing this is unknown.
But Diane says she is in love with Adam — she says no man has ever “turned her on” the way he does. He finds her giving and better in bed than his wife — which he tells his wife when she kicks him out.
He gets a new apartment and nextdoor is a sexy school teacher and they get to know each other…
Throughout the ordeal and shake-up of his life, Adam takes a sarcastic attitude, as if he were living in absurdism…and a way he is, and finds he needed this disruption of his life and to get out of a marriage that was dull and a job that was killing his soul.
Diane frees him, and he owes her, and even goes back to her for more sex and innocent comfort.
The writing is excellent and the ending sardonic. Again, a literary novel packaged as sleaze.
This one gets an A-minus and a high recommendation.