Gutter Road by Don Elliott aka Robert Silverberg (Sundown Reader 514, 1964)

This one is structurally a little different than Silverberg’s otrher softcore titles, or even his work in general — generally, Silverberg keeps to the point of view of one character, either in the first or third person. Gutter Road is a multi-character multi-POV story that seems like the kind Lawrence Block did — and we might have thought this was a Block if it had Andrew Shaw’s byline, but there are too many tell-tale signs of Silverberg’s typerwriter.

The little novel concerns a variety of mid life and sexual crises. Fred baumann is a CPA who, one night, picks up a young female hitchhiker, Joanne.  They park.  She seduces him.  In the middle of it all, she tells him no and fights him off but his blood is boiling too much. When all is said and gone, Joanne tells Fred she will go to the cops and claim rape if he does not pay her $20,000. He realizes he’s just been had, and under blackmail. A rape charge would ruin his career and cause him to lose his wife and teenage daughter.

He doesn’t have that kind of money so they agree on a $5,000 down payment and $100 a week until the end of the year.  Joanne knows she is getting more than she expected; she usually gets a few grand for each sucker; she has been a stripper and a streetwalker since she was nineteen and blackmailing men is lucrative for her, and keeps her and her hood boyfriend in money. She freely gives him her money and lets him have other women as long as he comes by each night and loves her up a few times.

Meanwhile, Fred Baumann’s wife, having no idea that their savings has just been hijacked, is getting hot and bothered in her middle-years.  She is not getting attention from Fred, so she starts offering herself to delivery men and repairmen and anyone else who shows up at the door.

Their 15-year-old daughter, Karen, wants to be bad, wants to be ravished, but she only dates nice boys who won’t take her when she offers. She masturbates in her bed to common rape fantasies: of hooded men breaking into the house, crawling into her window and taking her by force.  One night, in the wrong neighborhood, she is grabbed by a street gang guy, a knife held to her, and taken to a clubhouse where she is gang raped by a group of boys. They are flabbergasted when she drinks beer and undresses and tells them to do it.  This is her fantasy come true, right? But reality is too much, and although in terror, she falls into lust, the gang bang goes on for hours with men from all over the neighborhood libing up, broken up by the cops who investigate what is going on. The scene pays homage to the intense, surreal gang rape scene in Last Exit to Briooklyn.

And then Fred decides to murder Joanne because he can’t keep paying her,

Another good vintage read from Robert Silverberg.

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