Archive for April, 2011

Would-Be Sinner by Don Elliott aka Robert Silverberg (Evening Reader #1215, 1965)

Posted in Don Elliott, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , on April 24, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This is, perhaps, the best of all the Silverberg Don Elliotts we have read so far, perhaps because its subject matter is of great interest, and close to home (or fantasy) of the author.

Michael Storm is a whirlwind success of a first novelist, stuck in the second novel hell — can he produce a wonderful follow-up or is he but a one-hit-wonder?

In his late 20s, he was working a PR man who had a way with words, a copy wizard, and while he was capable of making a good living doing that, he yearned for more, and two women in his life knew it; they in fact urged him to write a novel, one a girl at the office, Eileen, whose gives her virginity to him, and one a wanton but wealthy bi-sexual lawyer, who offers to be his patron, or sugar momma, giving him what money he needs so he can quit working and focus on writing his novel. (As for the reality of that, these women are really out there, we here have experienced that first-hand.)

He writes an enormous, 323,000-word tome on Madison Avenue and the American Dream, accepted based on a partial.  The publisher knows this will be heralded as an American classic of modern times, and it is: great reviews, great sales, movie rights to Hollywood, all kinds of foreign rights sales — Storm makes $200,000 in the first year, quite a chunk of change for the early 1960s, and if invested right, he could live comfortably foe the rest of his life…he need not ever write another word again…but he wants to, he wants a second, third, more novels…but does he have them inside him?  Can he acquire, as the cover copy states, “a sin career”?

He finds many women are eager to sleep with a famous author…and when he goes out to Los Angeles to work on the treatment for a film to his book, working on a studio lot, he finds an endless supply of would be actresses and secretaries and PAs to have sex with, so much that h soon becomes bored for th lack of the chase and challenge.

Back in New York, he befriends Harris Merrill, an author ten years his senior who had one smash-hit novel, a classic, and never wrote again (like a female version of Harper Lee); instead, in his 10-room Park Avenue abode, he dives into LSD, peyote, shrooms, and having wild sex orgies on the drugs.  Storm tries it and fears becoming just like Merrill. We cannot help but wonder if Merrill is loosely based on Philip K. Dick…(Note here, Silverberg has people waiting 3-4 hours at a psiocybin party to take effect, when the effect of that drug really takes 30-60 minutes to start…and he has Storm throw up after taking them, when vomitting is more a part of peyote, not psiolocybin.)

After Merrill’s OD and death, the darkness inspired Storm to writ his second novel, also a masterpiece.

But what of love? A wife? Can a man have the whole world and be alone?  Storm finds out no, that it all is meaningless until he has someone to share it with.

The ins ans outs of the publishing business makes for an interesting read, the giant blockbuster of a novel with fortune and fame a fantasy for the young Silverberg, unlike the hustling life of a paperback hack found in Thirst for Love as David Challon.

This one should get a reprint.

Lust for Love by Harry Whittington (Bedside Book 408, 1959)

Posted in crime noir, Harry Whittington, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags on April 4, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Here we have Harry Whittington putting his own name on the cover of a “softcore” novel, one of the early titles from Bedside. Despite its title, this reads less like sleaze and more like a book he targeted for Gold Medal or Dell or Popular Library and was unable to sell it there, so sold it for $500 to the sketchy Bedside, a company that put out sloppily produced paperbacks, albeit some really interesting ones.

The novel opens with 17-year-old Lola and 22-year-old David parked in his car and getting hot and heavy with the kissing and petting; they almost do the deed and decide at the last moment they will be moral and “right” by waiting until they are married.

Then three thugs approach the car and tell David to not be a hero or they will kill him; they tell him they plan to rape Lola and make him watch. David manages to start the car and get the hell out of there, dragging the leader for half a mile at high speed, the leader’s hand stuck in the window as he pointed a gun at David’s head. A great Gold Medal set-up… but it later becomes more soft-corey, often Beaconish/Midwoodish.

The experience, and knowing she could have been sexually violated by three dangerous men, oddly excites Lola. She starts looking at life and herself differently; she realizes she has always ated conforming to what society and people think she should be, how she acts, the way she dresses, the way she talks.

Her rebellion against the norm does not sit well with David. When she tells him she has befriended the “office slut” and the two are enrolling in “charm school” together, he blows his lid and gives her an ultimatium: either she quits this crazy stuff or she loses him.

Lola does not want to lose him; she loves David, but she is determined to explore her new self and not give in to the conservative world. Case in point: she poses nude for a photographer just to see what it would be like (a sort of Betty Paige naiveness to her modus operandi) and winds up having sex with the photographer, losing her virginity and loving in.

David, of course, does not know she gave her maidenhead away to a stranger, but Lola is now ready to get down with him. He is not. He dumps her again.

A shady talent manager, Vixen, sees Lola in a small town beauty contest and recognizes the spark of great possibilites. He takes her under his wing, and in his bed, and promotes the hell out of her to Holywood producers. Hr first film role is a two minute walk-on that gets more praise than the stars and the film as a whole-

And so watch Lola-s rise from poverty to riches and fame…the Marilyn Monroe story refashioned, a common theme in sleaze books, like Loren Beauchamp-Robert Silverberg´s Meg.

In Whittington´s´hands, the story has enough film producing knowledge that it reads authentic.

A horrible title, Lust for Love was one of the first titles to come out from Bedside. It is doubtful he wrote this for that publisher, since Bedside paid $500 a book and Whitgtington was used to Gold Medal at $2500 and Ace at $1000…he may have tried to sell it to Beacon or Midwood first.

He put his name on it, though, not using a pen name, so we will assume he was proud of it. It is a good fun read but not Whittington at his best.