Archive for Anything Goes

Lust Queen by Don Elliott (Robert Silverberg), Midnight Reader #401, 1961

Posted in Don Elliott, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

LQ

LQ

Another Hollywood novel with a writer as a narrator…but this wrter is not a screenwriter but a pulp hack.

Silverberg had the first Nightstand (1501) with Love Addict, reviewed here, and had the first Midnight Reader (401) with Lust Queen.

I love the “waterbaby” Robert Bonfils cover, a companion to Robert Carney’s Anything Goes.

Anything GoesJoey Baldwin writes detective and science-fiction books and makes an average living. Then his agent gets him a lucrative gig: ghostwrite the autobiography of a 50s star, Mona Thorne, who is making a come-back.  He stands to get $15,000 for the initial job, with a possible $50K more with foreign, film, and other rights.  Big money for 1961!

He’s about done with a sticky divorce and wants to marry his girlfriend, Lisa.  He has to leave her for a few months to go to L.A. and write the book. He assumes he will be put up in a hotel but Mona Thorne wants him to live at her Pacific Palasides estate…and, he finds out the first night, be her sex toy.

This is no Norma Desmond/Sunset Boulevard gigolo situation.  Mona is in her mid-30s, well-fit, well-endowed, tanned, sexy, and likes kinky things in bed.  Joey likes doing kinky stuff he’d never ask Lisa to do.

So begins their business arrangement: breakfast early, work on the book, pool and marinis by four, dinner, Hollywood parties, sex all night, and so on…

L.A. people find Joey fascinating since he’s not a screenwriter. When people ask, “What studio are you with?” they cannot get their minds wrapped around the fact that Joey is not in the game.

The book opens like it’s Silverberg’s autobio:

I was busy making the typewriter move. My fingers were writing as if they had their own private case of St. Vitus Dance, and every time they twitched more nice black marks appeared on the white paper in the machine. I was 40,000 words into the new detective novel… (p. 5)

Writers who have never worked on a manual typewriter do not understand what a physical task it was to use the machine, pressing down on keys, putting paper and carbons in, changing ribbons, matching one’s typing skills to the keyboard of any given typer…some old writers, like Harlan Ellison, still write on manual machines, never having graduated to an electric one (Ellison didn’t like how they hummed) or computer…Silverberg is on a computer now, and online, having embraced the 21st Century…I understand that T.C Boyle still writes on the old Sears typewriter he had when he was first writing.

Joey meets a lot of typical Hollywood characters — the miscle boy models, the shady producers, the jealous actresses…at one party, Joey meets a down to earth TV announcer on a kid’s network and has a quickie outside with her. She also has “small breasts,” unusual in sleaze where all women are at least 37-42 D cups.

Mona gets outrageously jealous over his sex fling…but gets over it…but when Lisa comes to visit him, she loses her mind…

Mona is petty, insecure, clingy, cannot take rejection for a big famous rich star…Silverberg does a good job showing how the famous lived isolated, lonely lives for the most part, outside their films and publicity shots.  I have seen the same with well known actors I have met in Malibu (staying at the home of a certain big produce once and getting to know the neighbors like Bruce Willis, etc.)…one thing Silverberg did’t mention that I find funny is how so many film/tv stars are short…they’re all so damn short..

This is one of the better Don Elliots, I think, up there with Sin Servant, Love Addict, and Convention Girl.  It’s also a dark story of greed and petty jealousy, with quite the violent outcome with a nice Hollywood iroic twist about commercial marketing of tragedy.

Anything Goes by Robert Carney (Newsstand Library, 1961) and Lust Farm by J.X. Williams (Harry Whittington) (Ember Books, 1964)

Posted in Nightstand Books, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Anything GoesI got this one because Feral House used the Robert Bonfils art for the cover of Sin-A-Rama, so I was curious about the book — as in, was the story as good as the “water baby” theme art (that Bonfils also uses for Don Elliott’s Lust Queen, soon on my reading list).

Elliott - Lust Queensinarama

Boy was I pleasantly surprised.  This is a great little novel, a lost gem in the blackhole of sleaze paperback publishing….take out sleaze, I would not call this novel “sleaze” per se…it is a hardboiled tale of a guy who has gotten himself into a few tangles in Los Angeles and is trying to wiggle out.

I have no idea who Robert Carney is — Sin-A-Rama calls him “Robert H. Carney” who used a pen name, Herbert Roberts, from what I can tell one novel, Mardi (on my list). The only other Robert H. Carney books I can find is a non-fiction title about the Atlanta Times.  There is a Robert H. Carney in Atlanta on Facebook who seems the right age to have written this 1961 novel…maybe it is him and this is not a another pen name who Whomever.

Carney is influenced by Nathaniel West, but there’s also some James Cain and Jim Thompson tossed in there.  The prose is lean, mean, and to the point.

Joey Allen is a used car salesman whose former partner destroyed their business by gambling, then killing himself.  Joey wants to be rich.  He is sleeping with three women and trying to keep them from each other — a former fiance he has dumped, a new fiance whose father owns used car lots all over California, and the bosses new, young, hot wife, who hates her fat rich husband and his spoiled daughter, and has a plan for getting Joey to committ murder, promising him the car business, money, and her sleek slender body.

Like any good hardboiled Los Angeles story, there’s plenty of drinking, sex, violence, colorful characters, Malibu, and Hollywood smog.

Finding these great lost novels is fun — it’s also depressing to think they are lost, and a book like this was not re-discovered by, say, Black Lizard, the way Harry Whittington’s noirs were.

Williams - Lust Farm

Harry Whittington was a pulp writer who penned in many genres, but is best known for hardboiled crime and nurse romances (I will talk about his The Young Nurses at some point, as well as more of his Greenleafs).  Lynn Munroe recently put together a catalogue and narraitive of his search for Whittington’s softcore:

In 1986, the prolific “king of the paperbacks” Harry Whittington (1915-1989) wrote an essay about his writing career entitled “I Remember It Well” for Black Lizard Books. Black Lizard used it as an introduction to the 1987-88 reprints of six classic hardboiled crime stories, originally published by Gold Medal and others. In that piece, Whittington revealed this:

“ I signed, in 1964, to do a 60,000-word novel a month for a publisher under his house names. I was paid $1000. On the first of each month. I wrote one of these novels a month for 39 months.”

These 39 unknown books became “the missing 39” for Whittington collectors.

These “missing” books were published under house names J.X. Williams and the ever-prolific John Dexter, and Curt Colman later on, ranging from crime, romance, office, and hardboiled themes.  Lynn Munroe notes:

John Dexter and J.X. Williams are well-known house names used by many different authors, but Curt Colman is a more obscure name. No one I’ve talked to, including Colman’s editor Earl Kemp, knew who Curt Colman was. Only eleven of this publisher’s books are credited to Curt Colman, and seven of those were in the box in Whittington’s house. It was a safe bet to look at the remaining four Curt Colman titles, and all four of them proved to be written by Harry Whittington.

Kemp did not know who Colman was since the manuscripts were coming from the Scott Meredith Agency, true identitfies hidden. Plus it seems Whittington’s wife did not approve of these books by her prolific husband, and Whittington kept them secret until after his passing.

The first was Lust Farm, as J.X. Williams, with (again) a Robert Bonfils cover; it is another James Cain/Jim Thompson infuenced story set in the Detroit farmlands.  Cora has escaped her brutal criminal thug boyfriend from Chicago, but he finds her in a small town working as a waitress.  She “accidentally” kills him and goes on the run.  In another town, as a waitress, dodging men, she meets a 50-year-old farmer, Aaron, and marries him.  She’s 22.  She figures she can lead a safe, quiet life as a farmer’s wife.

Here is Lynn Munroe’s review:

We tend to think of “backwoods” stories taking place in some hillbilly hollow or in the deep South, but LUST FARM takes place in Michigan. Not in any city, but out in a rural setting near a little town called Cold River, down the highway from Lansing. There is no such town in Michigan, but there is a real town on that highway called Coldwater, and LUST FARM is certainly set there. Small town waitress Cora Barnes has a secret. She has fled her previous life, killing the Jack Daniels-guzzling sadist Tony and stealing a package of his money. A kind farmer named Aaron Barr marries her and takes her out to the country to live on his farm. When his college-age foster son Caleb comes home from University up the highway at East Lansing, it’s lust at first sight for Cora and Caleb. Then someone disappears and the local sheriff comes out to the farm and starts asking questions. With names like Aaron and Caleb, LUST FARM reminds us of an Old Testament tale like EAST OF EDEN.

The three on the farm are reminiscent of the trio in Jim Thompson’s CROPPER’S CABIN. Even though it is set in Michigan, the farmers behave more like sharecroppers in Whittington’s DESIRE IN THE DUST than like Yankees. This is Whittington country, not Steinbeck’s or Thompson’s.

I will be reading more books by Whittington…

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