Man Hungry by Alan Marshall aka Donald E. Westlake (Midwood #20, 1959)

Donald Westlake wrote the first ten Alan Marshalls for Midwood (and one Sheldon Lord and a couple Lord/Marshalls); this is the first one that Paul Rader did a cover for.

Man Hungry is an unfortunate trite title for what happens to be a rather excellent, quasi-literary novel.  It opens with 23-year-old Daniel Blake finishing his first novel, frantic behind the typewriter, and now that he is done, his girlfriend  realizes he no longer needs her, she acted as muse and he’s done with her like he’s done with the novel.

Five years later, Blake has yet to publish a second novel to follow-up his successful first.  He’s written four, but his agent and publisher have all turned them away, and have dropped him. Broke, he takes a teaching job at a small college in upper New York state. He immediately gets involved with Ann, a fellow teacher in physical education for girls…they live near each other in faculty housing. At first she is afraid to be intimate with Blake, she just wants to be friends, but she finally gives in and seems glad she did. Blake has no idea why she fears sex so much.

Next we meet 18-year-old Janice, highly intelligent, once a geeky awkward girl until around age 16 her body changed and she became a beauty to behold.  She has tried boys her age, older men, men from all strata, and she’s easily bored with them all.  She has an unknown need to be filled.  She is currently trying a lesbian affair with a woman who makes money by having her taxi cab driving uncle being her men for sex-for-money. When she hears about this new young professor who is a published novelist, she enrolls in his creative writing course and decided he could be the man who will fit her need: not too young, not too old, handsome, accomplished. Little does she know about his failures.  But Ann is in the way, and she seduces Blake, and Blake finds she is a lot like the girlfriend he had while writing his first novel, and Janice could be the muse he needs. But Janice gets bored once she has conquered him, and he has sacrificed his relationship with Ann and possibly his job, but at least he has fuel for that second novel…

A remarkably good read from a young Westlake.

4 Responses to “Man Hungry by Alan Marshall aka Donald E. Westlake (Midwood #20, 1959)”

  1. “Donald Westlake wrote the first ten Alan Marshalls for Midwood (and one Sheldon Lord and a couple Lord/Marshalls)”

    I’ve been trying to compile a complete Westlake bibliography over at The Violent World of Parker, and the most difficult part is the sleaze books. I don’t want to list any that aren’t 100% confirmed Westlake, but I’ve only found a handful that meet that standard so far (the ones Lawrence Block has copped to co-writing and the ones Westlake acknowledged on his personal site).

    Is there enough evidence on those first ten to confirm them, without question, as Westlake? If so, what’s the source? I’d love to nail down ten more!

    • vintagesleazepaperbacks Says:

      The source is Lynn Munroe, who was told such by Westlake himself.

      If you know Westlake’s writing style, it’s easy to figure out, just as you can tell where Westlake leaves off and Block writes in the co-authored books (eg, Westlake always uses “said X” and Block uses “X said.”)

      Any Marshalls prior to 1964 are Westlake.

      Westlake also wrote KEPT by Sheldon Lord (Midwood).

      Do you have his Edwin West books listed?

      • Here’s the page: It’s pretty new, so this marks one of my first attempts to research the sleaze books.

        I’ve got the three being republished by Subterranean in Hellcats and Honeygirls, and four Edwin West titles from Westlake’s site, and that’s it.

        Is there a list out there of others which are 100% confirmed Westlake? I’d love to add them.

      • vintagesleazepaperbacks Says:

        We’ll be reading and talking about more Westlake’s Alan Marshall and Edwin West books soon…

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