Archive for $20 Lust

Mona by Lawrence Block (Gold Medal, 1961)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Block - Mona2An early Block with quite a history. It’s been reprinted twice since its Gold Medal debut in 1961 — as Sweet Slow Death in 1986 from Jove, Mona in 1994 from Carroll & Graf,  and as Grifter’s Game as the the first offering from Hard Case Crime in 2005.  A lot of mileage for an old title that has now become somewhat a classic in 60s noir.

block-791579I read somewhere that Block had started this one as a Nightstand title, and $20 Lust as something for Gold Medal or Beacon, but things got switched around, and when his agent Henry Morrison at Scott Meredith read the manuscript, he concluded it was good enough for Gold Medal and under Block’s own name.  Thus, Mona became the first paperback Block had his name on the cover, instead of Lesley Evans, Sheldon Lord, or Andrew Shaw.

There’s a Mona, a dead ex-wife, in $20 Lust (aka Cinderella Sims), talked about earlier, and a number of Monas show up in Block’s Andrew Shaw books.  She’s like Harry Whittington’s Cora, popping up often in different, same soul.

Block’s many Monas are just no good…tramps, cheats, and liars all…

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$20 Lust by Andrew Shaw (Lawrence Block)

Posted in crime noir, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , on October 11, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Shaws - $20 Lust

Nightstand #1546 (1960) is an early Lawrence Block, as he started to explore crime fiction in his softcores with Cornith and Beacon.  It’s a flawed novel, but fun, and has the usual Block clues: a book called The Sound of Distant Drums and a casino called West of Lake.

The narrator is a young man in a bad place: an out-of-work journalist living in a rented room and working at a diner for $40 a week.  His life fell apart when his wife, Mona, left him for his friend, and then the two got into a car accident and died (same situation in Orrie Hitt’s Diploma Dolls).

He has noticed this beautiful blonde around, and follows her to find out where she lives. Her name is “Cinderella Sims.”  She knows he is wacthing her and pulls a gun on him.  She thinks he is working for her ex-lover, a criminal she absconded $50,000 of counterfeit $20 bills from.  She is on the run, not knowing what to do with the cash.

She makes a deal with the narrator, to escape somewhere and launder the funny money.  They have sex, too.

This one has a lot of problems — structure and logic, obviously a good young writer still ironing out his chops, which may be why Block was so reluctant to have Subterranean Press re-publish it a few years ago (I hear among the grapes that Sub will also reprint some Sheldon Lord Beacon titles in the future).

What I liked is that the hero/unwilling criminal gets away with the loot in the end, and gets the girl, and it’s all a happy ending.  Even the narrator wonders about that, how his life doe snot have a cliched moral ending. “Life is stranger than fiction,” he muses, rich, with Cinderella Sims pregnant with their child.

Reed Nightstand reprinted it with the title Block intended in 1973.

Shaw- Cinderella Sims

The 2002 Subterreanean edition is in hardback, a fine edition with a preface by Ed Gorman about the sleaze era and paperbacks, and nudging Block to reprint, and an afterword by Block himself talking about his hack days and reconnecting with an old work he barely recalls writing.

Block - Sims