In many ways, Tramp is a lot like No Longer a Virgin — a young woman comes to New York and is unprepared for the men of the big city, their only interest in making her. Then again, the set-up is a common one, as in Don Elliott’s Party Girl or Loren Beauchamp’s Meg.
Julie Marsten is 22, recently graduated from Clifton College, the fictional but disguised Ohio campus similar to Antioch College, where Block went before heading to New York to become a writer and work at Scott Meredith, where he met fellow fee readers Evan Hunter, Richard Curtis, and Donald Westlake, among others.
She’s a virgin, and daydreams of the perfect moment when she will lose her maidenhead. She gets a modeling agent and starts into “fashion” and nude photography, a la an Orrie Hitt novel. When she does lose her virginity to a rich man who likes to take pictures of naked women, it is less than romantic as she dreamed. But once she’s had sex, she gets the wild itch and can’t stop…and from there, she picks up men in bars, has a lesbian experience with a model named Lou, Lou who drags her into a New York party world or orgies and yacht trips to the Caribbean.
Like Terry Southern’s Candy, this is a funny romp about a innocent girl turning wild tramp. I have a feeling Block had fun with this one, as there are numerous funny scenes with witty dialogue, my favorite: “The hell with Oedipus, as long as he loved his mother, what did it matter?
In the 1973 edition, some updates are included, like using “tits” and “cunt” and one “fuck,” and the movie she sees in the original, The Sound of Distant Drums, which appears in many Shaw/Sheldon Lord books, is changed to Blume in Love.
As with many tales of wayward girls in the big city of sin, Julie does fnally meet Mr. Right and repents her ways of shame and embraces love and marriage — her eventual knight to the rescue is Ben Christopher, a Block pen name.
Far from any work of art, this is a fun romp of a read, and I give it a B-minus.