Jungle Street by Don Elliott aka Robert Silverberg (Nightstand Books,1960; 1973)

This is the third juvenile delinquent softcore Robert Silverberg published; the other two were in 1959, Streets of Sin as Mark Ryan and Gang Girl as Don Elliott. All three have similar plot lines: about teenage hoodlums moving to a new town and having to join a new gang, and then meeting their doom when their ambitions get too…ambitious.  In Streets of Sin, a young Brooklyn thug moves to Ohio and tries to muscle his way into being gang leader; in Gang Girl, a teenage girl moves to a new part of New York City and joins a gang as a deb, with her eye on the Prez and being Top Girl; in Jungle Street, Danny Flahetry has to prove himself in the new gang area to join the Golden Dragons: he headsup the robbery of a store, smashing a bottle on the head of the old store owner, putting him in a coma, later dying. Another initiation is similar to the initiation in Campus Sex Club: Danny has to get it up three times and have sex with three different girls in one hour.

His sister joins the gang too, and he watches, with an arousal that makes him feel odd, “Sis” strip for everyone, and have sex with the guys in the gang as spectator sport.

There’s a snobby 16-year-old girl in his apartment complex that he has a thing for but she won’t give him the time of say, so he rapes her in the basement laundry. she runs away, into the street, and gets hit by a truck and dies. Now Danny has two deaths on his hands…when he tries for a third,  attempting to kill the cop who is investigating him, things go to shit.

Jungle Street is the better of Silverberg’s juvie gang books; it goes beyond the point of genre literature as a page-turning crime novel, better than some of Hal Ellson’s tomes in the genre.  It also has a bit of Camus-esque existential noir to it, the story of a young criminal without a conscience, yet knows when karma comes to get him, he deserves it for his sins.

The 1973 Reed Nightstand reprint has the same cover art that the 1960 small paperback had.

2 Responses to “Jungle Street by Don Elliott aka Robert Silverberg (Nightstand Books,1960; 1973)”

  1. I like this:
    “It also has a bit of Camus-esque existential noir to it, the story of a young criminal without a conscience, yet knows when karma comes to get him, he deserves it for his sins.”

    Sounds a little Hemingway-esque too. Like “The Killers.”

  2. Looks quite risque for the 70s.

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