Archive for social commentary

Horizontal Woman/The Social Worker by Barry Malzberg (Leisure Books, 1972; 197

Posted in Barry N. Malzberg, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , on November 22, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This dark and comic “sex” novel was published in 1972 by Leisure as Horizontal Woman and reissued in 1977 as The Social Worker, probably the more absurd of the two titles.

After grauating college and working on selling his writing, Barry N. Malzberg worked for about a year as a social worker in the New York City Welfare Department, covering Brooklyn.  Most likely he hated it, caught in the dull insanity of the government system.  He did get a few books and stories out of it, notably The Day of the Burning, a novel that seems to be about alien invasion and world destruction but is about the collapse of one man’s mind and perhaps the welfare system itself.

In Horizontal Woman/The Social Worker, we meet Elizabeth Moore, who decides to use her body to soothe and comfort her clients, as she goes from door to door, updating her caseload.  What?  you say: This is a porn novel?  Softcore?  Sex? Sleaze?

Yes and no. It’s a Barry Malzberg sex novel, which means the sex is not, well, erotic, but it is dirty and slimey.  This is not exactly a left-hander; it’s a combination of the absurd rompings of a female a la Terry Southern’s Candy and the existential angst of Kafka and Camus…

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The Spread by Barry Malzberg (Belmont Tower, 1971)

Posted in Barry N. Malzberg, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

The Spread

One of Malzberg’s least known books, it has had three editions: this 1971 Belmont Tower edition, a 1977 edition with an art cover, and a 1980 “price breaker” plain cover edtion from Leisure Books.

Malzberg - Spread 77

Malzberg - Spread 80 Leisure

A note on publisher history: Belmont was once an independent paperback house that specialized in faux sexology studies and popular culture, as well as second rate science-fiction and mysteries. They merged what was left of Midwood (Tower Publications) and became Belmont Tower, then later merged with Lancer Books and formed an inprint, leisure Books — not the same Leisure imprint from Greenleaf/Cornith.  Lesiure still exists today as Dorchester Publishing (which published a number of curious books by Linda DuBrieul), which supposedly still has the rights to all these old books, Lesire mainly publishers a popular horror line, romances, thrillers and westerns now.

The Spread is pure black comedy, and a nasty criticism of the sleaze rag era of the 60s-70s, the other half of the biz that went along with the books: nudie mags and newspapers under the guise of adults news and entertainment…

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