Archive for the Beacon Books Category

Community of Women – Sheldon Lord aka Lawrence Block (Beacon, 1963)

Posted in Beacon Books, Lawrence Block, lesbian pulp fiction, pulp fiction, Sheldon Lord, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on January 11, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Was this one a “major bestseller” Beacon claims on the cover of the 1964 second edition, third printing? Who knows what is truth or hyperbole. Community of Women is Block fo’shure (BFS) and he has recently made it available as an ebook reprint.

The terse novel, told in 22 short chapters, is one of Block’s multi-character soap operas, like the many Andrew Shaws that take that form, a form Block still employs now and then, most recently with his 9/11 mainstream novel, Small Town. (I tend to prefer Block keeping to one POV, usually first-person.)  The caharcters here are residents of suburba, Cheshire Point, a commuter train’s ride outside Manhattan where many of the men work and their wives stay at home and have their own secret lives, such as Maggie, a secret lesbian married to a gay man for appearaces, who sets her seductive third sex sites of Elly Carr, a woman who sleeps with any man who comes around when her hubby is away — she has been a nympho since her days at Clifton College (a BFS giveaway). But when Maggie does get Elly into bed, Maggie convinces her the nymphomania has been misdirected, that no man has ever been able to satisfy her because she needs a woman’s lusty tongue and touch.

One fun character is Linc, a hack novelist having writer’s block; a new novel is overdue and he cannot seem to get any words on paper so he drinks to a stupor.  He and his wife, Roz, moved to Cheshire Point when he sold a novel to Warner Books for $35K…now, with books ovedue, no sales of stories, no advances, he and Roz are nearly in the poor house among the upper middleclass suburbanites. Not to fear, he gets his writer’s wings back, making love to Roz in between writing marathon hours.

One thing surprising here, for these books at that time, is the lesbian awkening is a positive thing; Elly does not discover despair in dykedom but seeks a happy new life in the arms of Maggie.

Another fun read!

Husband Chaser by Shelden Lord (Lawrence Block, Hal Dresner?) – Beacon Books, 1962

Posted in Beacon Books, Lawrence Block, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Sheldon Lord, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on January 3, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Fairly certain this one is Lawrence Block. Block did moist if not all Sheldon Lords for Beacon from 1960-63. It reads pretty much like early Block. Someone told me it might be Hal Dresner, and I am thinking maybe they collobarorated, or Block wrote this with someone, because there is a marked tone and style shift mid-way through the novel — and the second half is most defintely Block (aka M.D.B.).

Either way, either how, this is a pretty good one.

Stephanie has learned how to make money by marrying and divorcing men., She married at seveneteen to get away from her abusive moither, divorcing the guy two years later before he heads off to Korea and getting $15,000 as a settlement, one -tird to her shady Las Vegas lawyer.  $10,000 is better money than she has ever had to herself, and she lives high on the hog for a but.  She thinks: if dicorce is profitable, why not find men with money and do the same?

So she does.

The novel opens and she is 25 and on her fourth divorce, going the six -week Las Vegas route. In Vegas, she finds men to spend money on her in the casinos but she doesn’t let them sleep with her. Or some she does, especially when she wants to get rvenge on their fat obnoxious wives.

With twenty grand from her new divorce, she moves back to New York and takes a three room suite in a nice hotel at $425 a month (a fortune in 1962 money).  She starts pondering on a fifth husband. She notices the man living nextdoor to her is quite handsome and possibly well-off, his name is Jim Holloway (Don Holliday, Dresner’s pen name at Nightstand?).  She starts to see him, and surprisingly she falls in love with him and spends her money on him for a change.

Her money low, she knows she needs cash flow for her and Jim so she goes to get a job as a stripper, and then a call girl…Jim seems to know but does not care. This baffles her.

Her recent ex-husband does care. He wants her back. He has had a private detective on her and knows she’s hooking her sweet ass to any man with $100.

Things get violent in classic Block manner…

Everything is fine and noirsih dandy until the hokey happy ending, implausible in all ways. I was hoping for an ending like Sheldon Lord’s Candy…

…but genre needs at Beacon were different than Midwood.

Despite the sappy ending, this is an excellent little blast from the vintage sleaze past.

Sidney’s Wife by Sheldon Lord aka Milo Perichitich (Beacon, 1964)

Posted in Beacon Books, Lawrence Block, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags on December 30, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Boy had I hoped this would be a keen Lawrence Block Sheldon Lord in the vein of The Sex Shuffle or April North…but no, this one is not Block, it is Milo Perichitich, the lesser of the Sheldon Lords.  Possible, as was the case with Nighttstand, Block stopped being Lord and Andrew Shaw after 1963 as he persued his crime fiction career and was being Jill Emerson. (Being Jill Emerson would be a great title for something.)

This one is your typical corporate suit types who lust after each other’s wives and use one another’s wife to advance or get revenge. Been there done that in pulp sleazeland. Sidney’s Wife is almost unreadable.

Four Women by Orrie Hitt (Beacon Books, 1960)

Posted in Beacon Books, crime noir, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on December 6, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Examined here.

Got Book? We Like Book

Posted in Beacon Books, crime noir, lesbian pulp fiction, Midwood Books, Nightstand Books, noir fiction, Paul Rader, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on November 29, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Is there a vintage book or author you think we should discuss/review on this website?  Are you a publisher or have you had published a novel that has a vintage feel, pays homage to the style and subetmatter of the 1940s-70s?  Feel free to send them along. We will mention your name and thank you in the post if you like.

Send to:

Those Sexy Vintage Sleaze Books

C/o M. Hemmingson

PO Box 1284

Lemon Grove, CA 91946

Trailer Tramp – Orrie Hitt (Beacon Books #158, 1957)

Posted in Beacon Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on July 3, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Examined here.

Untamed Lust by Orrie Hitt (Beacon Book 336, 1960)

Posted in Beacon Books, crime noir, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on March 16, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This one, like many other Hitt books (Dirt Farm, Two of a Kind, Violent Sinners, Naked Flesh) is set on a big farm run by a sadistic old man married to a younger woman.

The usual Hitt motifs are present — a big and tall hero jumbling three women and a plot to murder the owner of the farm to get his wife and daughter.  Eddie, the hero, works mostly as a trapper, getting all the pests that run rampant on the land: snapping turtles, foxes, badgers, racoons…he actually feels bad for killing these creatures, but he needs the job.

The three women are:

Joan, the domestic, who is an old girlfriend and he’s still sleeping with her. She is in the process of divorcing her husband whose in prison and then wants to marry Eddie.

Kitty, or Mrs. Jennings, married to an old man in a wheelchair and hot to trot.

Carole, Kitty’s teenage daughter, who likes to hang out at nudist camps.

Carole seduces Eddie into seducing her mom so Eddie will testify in court that Kitty was unfaithful, on grounds for divorce; Carole will pay Eddie $5K for this.

Kitty wants Eddie to set a trap that her husband will accidentally stumble into and die. She promises a good chunk of the land and bank accounts, worth millions.

He only agrees because both women say they will claim he raped them and he’ll lose his job.

Despite these repeats material from other books, and the James Cain territory, Untamed Lust is well-written and a speedy, good read.

Suburban Wife by Orrie Hitt (Beacon #162, 1958)

Posted in Beacon Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on January 29, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

All of the prolific softcore writers have a “suburban sins” type book, probably at the direction of the publisher since the dirty infidelities of those suburbanites, ever since Payton Place,  was (and still is, look at Desperate Housewives) a hot topic.

Orrie Hitt wrote half  a dozen with suburban in the title, and has a few others that are suburban-esque, like his Kay Addams’  novel, Lucy, and Twisted Sinners.

The first in line: Suburban Wife, and early 1958 title with a nifty Beacon template cover. This tale tells the yarn of Millicent Ford, a young desperate housewife whose husband, Andy, works in Manhattan long hours, sometimes weekends, and there are business trips.  A neighbor, Bill Ramsey, is married to Grace, a career woman who is also away a lot.  Bill and Millicent often take the same train and get to talking. They are both drinkers. They get together and drink. They start having an affair.

Millicent feels quite a bit of guilt until she discovers that Andy and Grace are often on business trips in the same cities, in the same motels…Bill has known all along that Grace has been unfaithful. So what they are doing ins’t so “sinful” after all. When Andy catches them, doing the hypocritical yelling, he’s cut down when Millicent informs him that she knows about Grace–so where the hell does he get off?

The story is also about alcoholism, as Millicent sinks deeper and deepers into needing a bottle of rye or whuskey for comfort, drinking recklessly all day and going into bars, which often leads to trysts, like one she has with an insurance agent who gets possessive of her after a one-nighter.

To stave off suburban boredom, Millicent often heads charity drives; she just did a successful one for the Red Cross, “borrowing” some of the collected money when she needs to, always putting it back though. She is approached by a local wealthy philanthropist who asks her to exec man a drive to build a rec center for the local youth, a place to keep them from joining gangs, doing robberies and rapes and other juvie crimes.  It’ll be a lot of money to handle, plus she will be paid a salary, rather than this being a volunteer effort.

The first problem is that money, mixed with her drinking, mixed with the impending divorce and the end of Andy’s money for her lax time, like drinking,  It is inevitable that she will embezzle or misuse the funds, a common set-up in Hitt’s books.

She tries asking for money from guys she sleeps with but that doesn’t pan out the way she hoped.

Enter the crime element and a murder, makes for a good read.

Unfaithful Wives by Orrie Hitt (Beacon Books #126, 1958)

Posted in Beacon Books, crime noir, noir fiction, Orrie Hitt, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on January 21, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

An excellent Hitt novel from early in his career — in 1958, he published, with Beacon,a number of sleazecore gams: Pushover, Sucker, Sheba, The Promoters, Wayward Girl, and this one. (Others, like Hot Cargo, which seemed to be composed with a co-writer, were not as good.)

Unfaithful Wives is a multi-character story. At first, we wondered if this was an actual Hitt-penned book, perhaps a collaboration, because it has 26 short chapters rather than Hitt’s usual 13-14 5,000-word chapters. The writing style is pure Hitt, however.

The tone reminded us of a famous book about the same era and problems, Revolution Road — the failure of the American Dream in the 1950s, the ruse that marriage leads to happiness, that mundane work trumps chasing your dream. All the characters in this dark novel are sour, depressed, lost and in pain for dreams never realized.

Fred is a regional grocery sales rep who hates the woman he’s married to, Rita. He has affairs. One woman, Sharon, that he just left is later murdered and the police finger him for it.  Rita wants to run away with the man she is having an affair with, Norman, a penniless jazz musician. Rita takes out the $8,000 from the bank her husband was saving and talks Norman into running away with her, but he dupes her and takes the eight grand to run away with the woman he’s in love with, June, and June has her own agenda. An angry young man, pissed that the world never works in his favor, killed Sharon, because he sees her as a worthless slut.  Two other women come into Fred’s sphere: Della, a sexy act singer in a hotel bar that gets duped by a man who claims he can take her to Hollywood and be on TV, and June, the widow of an old army friend of Fred’s…meanwhile, Rita finds a way to get him pinned for the murder and get back at Norman for deserting her, only to meet her own karmic end…

The back cover states: “One slut deserves another.” A bit misleading, or all the characters sluts? There’s only one unfaithful wife here.

Like all multi-character narratives, we never spend enough time with any one character to get to know them or care for them, or hate them, so the story relies on choices made by one that can affect all.

A bit different from Hitt’s usual type of books, this makes for a refreshing read of the dead pulp author.

Honey Gal by Charles Willeford (Beacon Books #160, 1955)

Posted in Beacon Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on January 8, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

In the mid-1950s, just about every title from Beacon was listed as “First Award Winner” whatever that was.  Here, again, we have a cover that has little to do with the text — from this cover, and the title, we’re lead to believe this may be a steamy farm or backwoods tale, when the novel is far, far from that.  It is another quirky offering from Willeford about identity, fraud, and lost dreams.

The narrator is a middle-aged man in Columbus, Ohio, who works as an accountant at a milk company and is married to a dull wife.  In quiet secret, he wrote a novel called No Bed Too High and sold it to the second publisher he mailed it to.  He got a $250 advance and publication in hardcover, but the novel did not do too well or make him famous.

Still, it’s a way out of this droll life, and the novel encourages him to dream of a new life, and against his wife’s desire, they move to Florida where he tries to write a second novel but nothing is there.

He wants out of this life of failure too. he feels like a hel for letting his wife down.  He sees an small item in the morning paper about a monestary in Orangeville that will close down due to money matters. he thinks there might be a magazine article in this, so he takes the train, only buying a one way ticket, already knowing in his heart he won’t return to his wife and their life.

He discovers that the monestary is run by a con man who has re-defined his life, much like Jay Gatsby.  The narrator sees that he can do, so he joins the outfit and becomes a monk, and later a Reverend, going ouit top do God’s work.

He, a white man of the cloth, is sent to Harlem. Looking at the cover art again, is the dark-skinned woman not tanned or Mexican but supposed to be black?

Like Willeford’s other first-person sociopaths that feel no remorse in their deceptions and lies, , this one plays at being righteous, leads prayers when he does not believe in God, and marries teenagers whom he has made feel guilty for their sinful sex out of wedlock.  He has eschewed his two previous failures of a life, and now has this…but his past, and the life he abandoned, have a way of finding him.

In some ways, this novel is akin to the absurdity of Albert Camus, and the narrator likes to reflect on Kafka and Russian tragedies in comparison to his life.  Here, again, is a book that could have been categorized as awork of literary merit, at the time, rather than a cheap paperback with a cover and title that does not fit the  fine words on the pages.

Honey Gal isn’t as good as Pick-Up or The Woman Chaser, no, but we highly recommend it and if you have never read Willeford, now is a good time.