Donald Westlake, RIP, wrote this funny book around the same time that Hal Dresner wrote his funny book, The Man Who Wrote Dirty Books, both novels about the sleaze publishing racket, both published by Simon and Schuster. Both wrote for Midwood and Nightstand as young writers needing money experience, both were contracted out by Scott Meredith, both went on to bigger and better careers, both got a funny book out of the experience.
The narrator of Adios is a writer, 25, with a wife and kid and dreams of graduate school someday, knocking out a book a month for a New Orleans paperback house as Dirk Smuff. The pen name used to belong to his friend Rod, who now has a spy series with a better house at $3,000 advances, publishes articles in Playboy, and has a movie deal in Hollywood. The smut publisher still thinks they are getting Dirk Smuff novels from him, not knowing he has “a ghost” as they call it.
His cadre of writing friends all have ghosts, collecting part of the $1,200 per book minus the agent’s commisson; they all have better careers and magazine or mainstream book writers. All except the lonly narrator, who is having a hard time getting his monthly books in on time…first two days late, then three, then four, then nine…the agency tells him if he’s late one more time, they will replace him with an eager writer who can do the work.