Archive for Laura Duchamp

The Drifter by March Hastings (Midwood)

Posted in Midbook Books, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Drufter

I plan to write a bit of a lengthy discussion of March Hastings as I read more of her books.  My first was Duet by Laura Duchamp, that I have discussed here.  Hastings and Duchamp were the pen names of a writer named Sally M. Singer, who was a bonafide lesbian writing about bi-sexuality and lesbians, rather than a man writing them. Under her own name and as Amelia Jamison, she seems to have written some gothics, romances, and others, seen here.

At Lynn Munroe’s site, he tried to reach her for an interview but seems she had disappeared in obscurity, not wishing to discuss her days as a softcore writer.

In lesbian pulp lore, her most famous novel is Three Women, which has been reprinted by both Niad Press and Cleis Press as lesbian classics. In 2000, the Quality Paperback Bookclub issued Three Women back-to-nack with another lesbian classic, Women’s Barracks.Women's Barracks

private hellFor collectors, Hastings’ Her Private Hell is always priced around $100 of more, mainly for the Paul Rader cover, but Rader did many of her books, such as the first edition of The Drifter (above). The second edition has a photo-cover of a woman next to a piano player, with a jazzy slum feel — I prefer the Rader cover (beats me why Midwood would change a great cover to a not-so-great cover).

Glancing through the Hastings novels I have — Fear of Incest, A Rage Within, Obsession, Crack-Up, Barbie — and the Laura Duchamp books (I’m not sure if she had other pen names, probably, as she wrote for a number of companies), Sally Singer focused on the world of the wealthy and rich and their psyco-sexual probelms.  The women are often married to men who are sadists, impotent, or just “wrong” — and they often find solace in the arms of another woman, an oft-use set-up for vintage lesbian stories.

Her writing is amazingly good, far too good for “sleaze.”  I previously stated that Joan Ellis wrote elegant dirty books; March Hastings ups the ante, and is on par with Joyce Carol Oates’s 1960s work.  Her prose is smooth, her dialogue top notch, her charcters and their situations believable, if we want to believe the angsts of the upper crust of society.

In The Drifter, a woman named Dina has made an error in marriage —  her husband, Emil, is impotent, and only likes to watch her masturbate while he looks at a photo of his sister, whom Dina resembles.  He is also mentally cruel.  After a month of marriage, she leaves him and runs to Jeff, a rich ex-boyfriend on Long Island whom she has had an on-and-off relationship with for many years.

At Jeff’s house (or mansion, with servants),  she meets Lauren, a lesbian, and has an encounter, and becomes confused, thinking she loves Lauren and has always been gay, while Jeff wants to marry her when her marriage is annulled and Emil is hunting her down, revenge on his agenda.

She hides in a sleazy Harlem boarding house (hence the cover) and drinks her pain away,  where an old family friend, a “cousin,” rapes her, and she realzies he had been raping her alcoholic mother in the past.  Dina doe snot come from money, she came from the slums, and only mingles wth the idle rich via Jeff.

She also gets raped by a bull-dyke lez.

For all her sexual sins, she feels she deserves this.

There is a happy ending, of course: as she has a talk with Lauren and realizes she is not a lesbian, really, and she makes plans to marry Jeff, after Jeff pays off Emil a million dollars to agree to an annullment.

Recommended for a good, language-rich read.

I look forward to reading and discussing other Hasings and Duchamp novels as I get to them…

Hastings - 3rd Theme Hastings - Abnormal Wife

Hasings - Twilight Sex Hastings - fear of incest

Hastings - Circle of SinHastings - ShameHastings - Jealous and Free

Hastings - Savage Surrender

Hastings - veil of torment Hastings - Unashamed

Hastings - Three Women Hastings - Enraptured

Hastings - Chico Women Hastings - Whip of Desire

Duet by Laura Duchamp

Posted in Midbook Books, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on May 27, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Duet

Laura Duchamp is often incorrectly credited to Robert Silverberg as one of his pen names, because it sounds close to Loren Beauchamp and both published Midwood titles.

Duchamp was a pen name of Sally Singer, according to Lynn Munroe’s site, who also wrote lesbian novels as March Hastings.  Most of Duchamp’s books are, from what I can tell so far, bi-curious novels, about unfulfilled wives turning to women for love, or women, such as Phyllis Campbell in Duet, trapped between their desire for men and their comfort with women.

Phyllis Campbell is 22 and works at a publishing company; she has a strange affair with one of the company’s male authors in his 40s, who writes teenage romances under a woman’s name, books Phyllis grew up on.  This is a stab at men writing women’s fiction, as many men wrote lesbian books, and Laura Duchamp (Sally Singer) is one of the rare actual lesbian writrs.

The sex with this male writer is cold and crude, emotionless, but Phyllis thinks this is the way of the world — her only sexual encounter was in college and it was quick and meaningless in a car.

Her second affair is with another writer, a rich older woman, Naomi Bannister, who writes high brow literature and has won every award and is taught in college; she is one of the elite class with two NY homes and a villa in France.  She soothes Phyllis after a brutal sexual enocunter with the other writer where the wroter lets another man have her for money.

The intimacy between the two women is tender and thrilling for Phyllis…but in the end she chooses a man she has loved and wants to marry, brushing off the year-old lesbian affair as a time of confusion.  Crushed, Naomi crashes her car — it looks like an accident but Phyliss knows it was suicide and she’s to blame.

A well-written, sometimes meldodramtic urban tale of bi-sexuality.