Archive for March, 2011

Slum Sinners by Andrew Shaw aka Lawrence Block (Midnight Reader #499, 1962); rpt as Pity the Damned (Reed Nightstand, 1973)

Posted in Andrew Shaw, crime noir, Lawrence Block, lesbian pulp fiction, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , on March 15, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Two characters from other books appear in this one:  Kyros the Greek pimp from The Twisted Ones, and Joan McKay from Girls on the Prowl (with a footnote).

Slum Sinners opens with ffifteen-year-old Monita Ruiz, a Puerta Rican girl who lives in a slum neighborhood up towards 100 Street and Columbia, is bed with a boy in a ratty room.  She can’t go through with it.

Then we see Ruth Lansing who lives on the upper West Side; she’s married, has a six month old baby, and is miserable. She really has deep secret lesbian wanton desires and has no idea what to do.

Then we meet Al Carter, newly released from a five-year prison stint for armed robbery. he has ten bucks to his name and needs to find some sort of quick con game to earn quick cash.

We tend to prefer Block’s Shaw and Sheldon Lord books that center on one character, or are first-person, rather than these multi–character stories where everyone’s lives mesh together at a cross in the road; still, this one is pretty darn  entertaining and smoothly written as both a softcore and crime novel. Like The Twisted Ones, he gets a little postmodernly reflexive at the beginning when giving a historical account of New York neighborhoods and how they changed racially and economically over time.

Monita decides she needs to lose her virginity and she doesn’t care who does it, so she randomly picks the first good-looking guy she sees on the street, who happens to be Al.  She also has another plan: she will blackmail him for statutory rape so he will give her money and she can get out of the slums and start a new life.  She loses her virginity quite painfully and she tries her blackmail on Al, he laughs and tells her he doesn’t have a dime, and tells her she’s bad at the con. However, he suggests they could work a “badger” game together….

Ruth goes to a lesbian bar and gets picked yup by Joan McKay…

The first mark Al and Monita get is a Manhattan businessman, who happens to be Ruth’s husband, Glenn.  He pays up on the blackmail: $500.

Monita is amazed at the easy money and wants to blackmail more unsuspecting men she picks up in hotel bars.

Glenn, although robbed, has gotten a taste of young girl and wants more. He connects with Kyros, the Greek pimp in The Twisted Ones who specializes in underage prostitutes. He provides Glenn with a number of them, from Canada to Europe to the south, girls 12-14…he so much desires this that he leaves his wife…

Ruth has a short fling with Joan, and some other women, but decides she would rather have men, and begins to let men, any men, pick her up in bars and have their way…

Monita has $3,000 in her bank account and she decides to start life over, changing her name to Mona, leabing Al and going to San Francisco.

Al needs a new girl, but young girls won’t be easy to find. He does find Ruth in a bar, and he talks her into a business deal: he’ll find the men and take them to her, she’ll wait at home, they’ll both make money…

Definitely a fun read. The Twisted Ones, Girls on the Prowl, and Slum Sinners would make an excellent reprint omnibus edition.

Reed Nightstand reprinted it as Pity the Damned.

Girls on the Prowl/The Wantons by Andrew Shaw aka Lawrence Block (Nightstand Book 1548, 1961/Reed Nightstand, 1974)

Posted in Andrew Shaw, Lawrence Block, lesbian pulp fiction, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on March 13, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Girls on the Prowl (later, The Wantons) opens with a bang– pun intended. A cab driver picks up a sultry-looking blonde; he’s in 40s, married, and it pains him he could never have a woman likes this.  She tells him to drive into Central Park and starts to undress in back; she tells him to stop and asks if he likes her breasts; then she invites him to join her in back for sex. He obliges.

The woman is Saundra Stone, hailing from Ohio where she went to Clifton College.nd works at a pretentious literary quarterly, Agony Magazine (pergaos a take on The Paris Review?)  She lives on West 73rd Street in a four-bedroom apartment that goes for a pricey $210/month (this is the early 60s). She has two roommates: Marilyn and Joan.  Marilyn is waiting for her, asks her how the fast anonymous sex was. Seems it was Marilyn’s idea, something she likes to do, picking up strangers for quickies and one-nighters.  Saundra says it was exciting and fun.

Marilyn is an on-the-rise young assistant editor at a Phulcorte Press, which publishes a variety of magazines and books.

The other roommates, Joan McKay, is a lesbian, but they don’t know that; they would appalled to know that while Joan is just as promiscuous as they are, she sleeps around with women she finds in the Greenwich Village gay bars.

Lynne Munroe has a good summation from his article in el:

Sandy from Clifton College and her two roommates in Greenwich Village. Schwerner. A Sound of Distant Drums. Some great jokes, like a publisher named Phulcorte Press, a night club called Open d’Or, a Chinese restaurant called Haow Naow, a Spanish restaurant called Dolor de Estomago. Harvey Chase’s Agony Magazine is introduced. As Wayne Mullins showed us on one of his excellent Block checklists, two of the characters are anagrams for the author: Cornwall Becke and Lance Brecklow (“Phoney sounding name,” a character says.)

Saundra/Sandy may also be Sandy from The Twisted Ones. Joan, however, does make an appearance in Slum Sinners, which we will discuss next.

Girls on the Prowl is less than a novel than a character study of three sexually free and open women. They do evolve and change: Marilyn finds true love and leaves her career and New York to be with the man of her dreams, and Joan, at the end, fully embraces her llesbian desires, instead of being ashamed of herself and her feelings for the third street.

Again, this Block/Shaw is a bit more sexually explicit than the softcores of the day; the erotic elements are not as subtle and evasive as, say, Silverberg, Westlake and Harry Whittington’s Corniths. It’s not a matter of exact description, but the lewd nature. For instance, Sandy goes to an underground live sex show, which opens with “a Negro and a Puerto Rican girl” going at it n stage, and then they are joined by a young blonde girl that Sandy realizes cannot be older than fourteen, and the man and woman on stage rabish the young lady is a mock rape act.  So, here we have not only an illegal public sex act, but a sex show with an underage female…another is the final sex scene, with Joan and a pale woman meeting in the Village, never asking each other’s name, and having intense, kinky lesbian lovin’.

But we understand this pales in comparison with the Jill Emerson 70s novels, The Trouble with Eden, I Am Curious (Thirty) and Sensuous., which we have yet to get to, but will at some nifty point in the future…

Three Cool Steve Fisher Covers

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on March 11, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Forthcoming: Jill Emerson’s Getting Off (Hard Case Crime, 2011)

Posted in Lawrence Block, pulp fiction with tags , , on March 11, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This September, Hard Case Crime will publish a new, original Jill Emerson novel, Getting Off.   The cover, for maximum marketing, reads Lawrence Block writing as Jill Emerson, who in the 1960s-70s wrote lesbian novels for Midwood, erotic and mainstream stuff for Putnam and Arbor House.

This will also be the imprint’s first hardcover.  Other titles have switched from mass market to trade paper.

We love Hard Case, but we wonder if this shift will work. The whole novelty and charm of the line was emulating vintage mass markets with the cover art, delivering books in the 40-60K word range like the old days, not these padded 80-120K word paperbacks that are now the market norm.

The market norm is also pushing the mass market trim size into memory.  We have been seeing paperbacks in a size somewhere between the mass and the trade.

We wonder if readers may be annoyed that they have to fork out more money rather than the under ten bucks price you can get a mass market for. Trade paper and hardcovers will make Hard Case like every other line out there, and not unique, kind of the way Random House took away the uniqueness of Black Lizard by re-issuing everything in trade paper with covers that look like everyone else’s covers, and not the uniqueness that the Creative Arts Black Lizard editions have.

Is this not typical of all conglomerates? They buy out a company that is small and cool and has its own style and slowly make it generic. And we’re not talking just publishing — films, music, art, it happens across the board when a big company’s board thinks people want the same thing rather than something original, and grumble when sales diminish because the fans get bored.

Anyway, we are looking forward to Getting Off.

Read an excerpt.

A Hell of a Woman by Jim Thompson (Lion Books, 1954)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on March 10, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Yawdry and sordid from the get go — door to door salesman Frank “Dolly” Dillon knocks on a door not only looking to sell some wares, but find a fellow who owes the company bucks. He encounters a 70 year old lady who is willing to let her young niece have sex with him in exchange for a set of silverware.  The set-up is the cover art on te original Lion Books edition, only the girl, Mona (was Lawrence Block influenced here, with his many Mona characters? Harry Whittington too?) does not have long flowing curly blond hair like the babe depicted, but messily chopped off hair.

When Frank, our narrator, takes Mona in a backroom, she immediately gets naked and he notices a bleeding welt on her.  Mona is very submissive and he knows her old aunt has been whoring the girl out to salesmen and other men in exchange for material goods.

Frank is disgusted and he can’t even get himself to fuck her. He promises Mona that he will come back and save her from this life of sexual slavery. He has no idea how. He first has to deal with his boss, Staples, who is breathing down his neck, and his alcoholic wife, a former cigarette girl in a club he used to frequent in Chicago. Her name is Joyce. They get in a fight and she runs off; he goes to work the next day and Staples has discovered that he’s done some creative bookeeping and taken the company for more than $300.  He’s arrested, and all he can think about is: what will poor Mona think when he doesn’t show uo?

Then get gets sprung by Mona, she pays his debt and he’s released. She has money — or, her aunt’s money, she stole it from a stash of money her aunt has. How much? One hundred grand.

Frank must have the money and the girl, and the only way to get both is to murder the old lady and frame someone for it — frame a dead beat immigrant handyman who owed Frank money on a a suit he didn’t make full payments on.

Of course, as in all noir tales like this, the murder doesn’t go exactly as planned, and things pop up, people get suspicious, like his wife who has seen the money and his boss who knows something is fishy…

Frank acts like he is smooth and knows what he is doing, but he’s actually a dupe, a fool, and a heel — or a fuck-up, and his fuck-ups lead to his evntualy downfall.

Any Jim Thompson is worth reading, and while this one has a few plot and logic flaws, who cares, it didn’t matter in 1954 and does not matter in 2011…A Hell of a Woman is a hell a read.  (The same year, Thompson and Lion Books published A Swell-Looking Babe, which we will get to soon.)

Black Lizard revived the book in the 1980s with a nifty cover.

Then this one…

The Vintage trade ppbk edition isn’t that nifty…trying too hard to be b%w noir, another corny generic cover by uninspired art directors.

I’m Cannon — For Hire by Curt Cannon aka Evan Hunter/Ed McBain (Gold Medal, 1958)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , on March 6, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Before Block’s Matthew Scudder, there was Curt Cannon, a private eye with a severe drinking problem.  His name later changed to … with the Ed McBain byline, published The Gutter and the Grave by Ed McBain (aka Evan Hunter of Blackboard Jungle fame) by Hard Case Crime — Cannon’s  name changed to Matt Cordel. Seems Hunter was reluctant to have this old book reprinted, similar to Lawrence Block was with Grifter’s Game, but, like Block’s, critical and fan reception was positive. This is tough Manhunt-style, two-fisted hardboiled noir.

In fact, Cannon appeared in the first issue of Manhunt; there were four other stories, later collected in I Like ‘Em Tough.

In this nifty little hardboiled novel, Cordell lives on the streets in the Bowery, drinking his pain away until he passes out.  An old friend, Johnny Bridges, tracks him down, needing Cordell’s help in the detective realm. Cordell has no interest, and reminds his buddy that his license was yanked after an unfortunate incident that occurred when he found his wife cheating on him.

Johnny talks Cordell into it anyway — seems simple: Johnny operates a tailor shop and he believes his partner is reaching into the till. Cordell goes to the shop with Johnny and they find the partners dead body there.

The last thing Cordell wants or needs is to get involved in a homicide. But he is. Johnny is arrested for the murder and Cordell has to clear his buddy’s name and find the real killer. But first he must shave, shower, get a new suit, and look presentable. He doesn’t stop drinking, though.  And along the way there are women who throw their bodies at him, more dead bodies, and two-fisted moments in the noir fiction vein.

A fun read, whether you read the Gold Medal or Hard Case version.

Pool Side Pushover by Adam Snavely (Kozy Books, 1961)

Posted in pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on March 6, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

The other Adam Snavely’s we read last year were a mixture of good and blah. Wine, Women and Love and Love Drive were published by Kozy Books, like this one

Pool Side Pushover opens like great comic slapstick.  A young piano moves into an apartment building and is greeted by his new neighbors, most who are sexy single girls who make it known they are interested in some action then or later.  He just wants to move into his new pad quietly and play his piano alone, but the women and men,, too, keep coming. The mailman informs him that the complex is one big swinger scene with a plethora of wild loose women, woman the mailman has had sex with.

The following chapters, and the whole book, do not live up to promise of this openin; it suffers from jumping around too many characters and all their sexual trysts. Then again, as a newstand one hand book, perhaps this sort of  plotless hodgepodge of sex scenes worked.

On Call Wife — An Andrew Shaw We Would Like to Find

Posted in Andrew Shaw, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on March 3, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Two Don Elliotts We Would Like to Find

Posted in Don Elliott, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on March 3, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks


Tijuana Tramp by J.X. Williams

Posted in Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on March 2, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

A hard book to find…we sure would like to find it.