Archive for Softcover Library

Cindy by Orrie Hitt (Softcover Library UK, 1969)

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on September 2, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Cindy is the UK arm of Softcover Library’s edition of The Sex Pros, published back-to-back with Barry Malzberg’s (as Mel Johnson) Love Doll. It is the second-to-last book Hitt published at the end of his writing career, Naked Model (McFadden, 1970) being the last.

As we have noted over at the Orrie Hitt blog, the work ol’ Orrie did after 1964 isn’t his best, when his output was low and his health bad.  Did he burn himself out? Probably. Was his heath issues causing his writer’s mind to wander? Most likely.  Much of his latter work is either slow and boring, or scattered.

That’s the case with Cindy, alas.  It’s a carnival stripper novel and very similar to his other carney books; in fact, it takes a storyline B from the little Vest-Pocket Carnival Sin: Cindy is in the stripper show and her ex-boyfriend, Eddie, has followed her, becoming the boxer guy that on-lookers pay to fight in the ring.  Eddie hadbeen drafted, and that ended their love affair, marriage plans and hopes, and Cindy took off with a carney as a way out of small time life; when Eddie comes hom and finds out, he goes searching for her.

Like Carnival Girl, another female character has inherited the carney business from her dead father.

Like all of them, the carney is having money issues and must beef up the stripper act to bring in men and money.

The problem with Cindy is that it’s just dull, with a lot of banter, and the sex scenes are explicit and obviously not Hitt writing them (in fact, read similar to the sweaty flesh slapping scenes in Love Doll).

We will soon look at Hitt’s last book, Naked Model, and compare it to one of his early ones, She Got What She Wanted (1954) or maybe Too Hot to Handle (1958), and compare the differences.

Of all his carney books, Carnival Girl is the best of the lot.

Orrie Hitt — Who Was He?

Posted in Midbook Books, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Hitt - Torrid WenchThe name Orrie Hitt has come up several times the past week that I thought I’d address the topic briefky.

Like Max Collier, Mike Avallone, Carter Brown, Don Elliott, J.X. Williams, and John Dexter, Orrie Hitt published hundreds of sleazecore novels in the mid 1950s to the early 1970s.

In an email, Barry Malzberg wrote to me:

Orrie Hitt was a real guy in Mississippi, big jolly fat guy GilHitt - Rotten to the Core Orlovitz told me who wrote this stuff to put his daughters through college.  They got through college and he quit.  Later he died (in his 50’s).  I don’t know if that’s true but it sounds reasonable.

(A curious side note: a fellow Malzberg fan told me that a bookseller we shall not name once had a Mel Johnson/Orrie Hitt Softcover Library double novel set at a high price and would not slash the price down, claiming that Malzberg penned the Hitt book, that Malzberg was (1) either Orrie Hitt or (2) borrowed the pen name.  “You’re getting two Malzbrgs in one book!” said vintage bookseller who apparently did not know his vintage writers. Malzberg has confirmed to me that he did not pen any Hitt book, like others penned Carter Browns or John Dexters.)

Doing the nifty Google search, one hit on Hitt from a blog has this to pontificate:

Hitt - prowl by nightOrrie Hitt Wrote the Great American Novel– Over & Over/ Why “Confidential” Continues to Thrill/ The Sweet Ride of Mail Art/And Which Mayors Are Married to the Mob?

Who the Hell was Orrie Hitt? Orrie Hitt wrote “racy” pulp fiction in the 50’s and 60’s. Most of it published in PBO’s (paperback originals). Skipping the hardback route, premiering in ephemera that sported covers alive with totally killer babes and guys in various states of mayhem. Married with children, Hitt wrote from a trailer in upstate New York, tossing back iced coffee and tapping out classics of sleaze on a battered manual in a matter of days. Meanwhile, angst ridden authors in cultural Meccas sweated bullets to produce a novel every seven years or so. God made the world in six days but Hitt made his in less. Again and again.

Hitt - Summer RomanceHere’s a Hitt bio in less than 100 words:

Hitt had a grinding regimen, twelve-hour days in front of an aged Remington Royal perched on the kitchen table, surrounded by iced coffee, noisy children and Winston cigarettes, pausing only for supper or to watch wrestling or Sergeant Bilkoon the television.

Hitt produced a novel every two weeks, for which he was paid as little as $250.

Lee Server in Over My Dead Body: The Sensational Age of the American Paperback: 1945-1955

Hitt - Shabby Street

Another blogger writes:

…How many young men in the 1950s and 1960s poured over the Orrie Hitt novels published by Beacon and Midwood with titles like Hitt The SuckerDORMITORY GIRLS? I went on line and found a Orrie Hitt novel titled THE SUCKER. The back cover blurb had the headline “One Damn Girl After Another.” In this day of explicit sexual content on television, it is hard to imagine the time when this sort of thing was borderline legal. On that back cover there is the wonderful rundown of the women the hero knew including one with whom he “…conspired by day and perspired by night.” My goodness, the writer who came up with that should have been carried out of the room on the shoulder of his or her peers.

For years I assumed that Orrie Hitt was a “house name” as it seemed unlikely that any writer could be that prolific. Few writers put their real names on Beacon or Midwood paperbacks. Michael Avallone was one exception. Mike came up with the best soft porn title THE CUNNING LINGUIST but he did use his Troy Conway name for that one.

So years ago I was surprised to learn that Orrie Hitt was a real personHitt - Affair with Lucy

Other stuff on Hitt here and especially here by a blogger who says he is a “Hitt man.”

You get the pic, dig on the Hitt.

Hitt - DollsandDuesI’ve heard mixed things about Orrie Hitt.  Gil Fox, talking to Lynn Munroe, said: “Orrie Hitt wrote absolute drivel! Have you ever tried to read an Orrie Hitt book?”  Hmm…Gil Fox wrote as Paul Russo, Kimberly Kemp, and Dallas Mayo, and some of them aren’t all that good, and some are pretty good.  Any prolific writer is bound to be a mixed bag of the good, the bad, and the ugly — true for Earl Stanely Gardner, Issac Asimov, Robert Silverberg, Barry Malzberg, and Lawrence Block.

Hitt wrote for just about every sleaze paperback publisher — Beacon, Softcover, Newsstand, Kozy, Midwood, Boudoir, Saber, Novel, Chafriot, Oracle, and I think he did a couple for Nightstand.  Most seem to be for Beacon and Kozy. He used the pennames Kay Addams an Nicky Weaver, yet preferred his own name on the covers, without an agent, typing away at home and sending his stuff out, starting out at $250 a book in the mid-50s (about $2000 in then-time money).  I guess he didn’t have any fear of the FBI coming after him — “Orrie Hitt” sounds like a pen name, like Saber Books’ “A. Bunch” or Cornith’s “A. Schole.”

Hitt - Promoter

The Promoter came in the mail today.I have a few others (see below).   Glancing through them, Hitt has a hardboiled voice wth snappy dialogue and shame dames in trouble.  The men tend to be blue collar workers, sleaze masters, cheating husbands, with come cheating wives, hookers, and lesbians.  Hitt write three or four peeping tom books, perhaps a passion of his?  I will be reading him and adding him to this blog soon.

I got The Cheaters for the Rader cover alone.  Seems to be about a hardboiled bartender and this married woman…

Hitt - Cheaters

And how could books with these titles and covers be ignored?

Hitt - Diploma Dolls

Hitt - Hot Cargo

Hitt - twisted Lovers

hitt - tramp wife

hitt - the peeperHitt - never Cheat Alone

Mardi by Herbert Roberts (Robert Carney), Softcover Library, 1966

Posted in Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 6, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Mardi

Mardi is written  by Herbert Roberts, pen name for Robert Carney, who wrote the wonderful Anyting Goes (1961), that I raved about and recommended to Black Mask Books to reprint.

I was expecting too much.  Mardi is hard-boiled and fast-paced, but essentually the same story as Anything Goes…instead set in the sleazy world of used car sales, it’s set in the sleazy world of television production. Both are set in Los Angeles.

Larry is a twenty-something exec assistant to fat, old rich Dave, the TV exec — Larry has had a past fling, now renewed, with Dave’s daughter, and is sleeping with Mardi, the new 19 year old wife of 50 year old Dave.  Carney seems to be obsessed with disgusting old rich men marrying young women.  Like Anything Goes, Mardi wants Larry to kill Dave so she will inherit the fortune and they can be together.

The cover says: “The fascinating story of a Lolita — several years later.”  She’s like the teenage sex slut in David Rabe’s Hurlyburly, with a little more finesse, but the same: using her body for older men in the entertianment biz.

I’m still not sure if Carney write any other novels under his name or Roberts. Sin-a-Rama lists him in the back with pen names, mainly because it reprinted the Anything cover for its cover.  I am keeping my eye out for any Carney/Roberts books — if anyone knows of any other books, do tell.

Snappy dialogue and depraved couplings but lacking the same character depth as Anything Goes — we don’t really know what makes Larry trick, and doesn’t go on a jorueny of self doscovery via his sexual antics.  Then again, this is a novel about the television content makers of the 1960s, so can there be depth to these soulless, disaffected people who live only for money and power?

This novel was published the year I was born…that is something to cook my noodle alone.

April North by Sheldon Lord (Lawrence Block) Softcover Library, 1961

Posted in Loren Beauchamp, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , on August 6, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Lord - April North

Like “Andrew Shaw,” Sheldon Lord was an early pen name shared by mystery/crime authors Lawrence Block and Donald Westlake, later used by others, for Beacon, Softcover Lib., and a couple Midwoods.

April North is Lawrence Block — his early style is easily identfiable, it’s set in midwest Antrim, Ohio, not far from his alma mater, Antioch College (featured in many Shaw Nightstands).  There’s also the mention of a film, The Sound of Distant Drums, some sort of in-joke connection found in all Shaw novels and others.

April North is 17, a senior in high school, and a good girl from a good, Christain family.  She has been “going steady” with a football/baseball jock, Duncan, and believes he loves her and intends to marry her — thus, one night, she “goes all the the way” and loses her virginity to the boy.  Like many a naive girl in these books, she thinks this is a contract for marriage.

Now that she has “done the dirty,” Duncan wants nothing to do with her.  She is not wife material and tells all his buddies she’s a tramp.  Within a week, all the boys in her class are calling up for dates, and Duncan breaks up with her.  She has sex with another boy in a field — as shown in the nifty splendor in the grass cover art — because she is dazed at her new reputation, and word gets “around” in the small town that se’s easy.

Knowing her rep is ruined forever, she withdraws her savings ($500) and decides to run away to New York City.

I thought this was going to be like Loren Beauchamp’s Connie — she would become a call girl in NY as a revenge against the men who hurt her.  April seems a lot like Silverberg’s Connie.  But before April can catch the NYC-bound bus, she crosses paths with Craig, a 27-year-old ladies man in a Mercedies 300-SL, who has inherited a fortune from his dead parents.  Craig convinces her to stay, to shun those who mock her, and he will teach her to be a sexually wise, wordly woman.

She falls in love, of course, and has visions of wedding bells with this lover-man, until she attends one of his orgies.  She ignores the rumors she has heard that he seduces young girls and degrades them — she believes she is different and that he loves her.  She discovers that all his rich, literary, and “world weary” friends are all alcoholics, drug addicts, and lost as anyone — and that Craig, despite his wealth and car and looks, is at heart empty and a loser.  To keep her from going home and to stay with him, Craig has mailed secret photos of her having sex with him, an a drunken lesbain encounter, so her parents will disown her.

Trying to escape Craig, she is picked up by her ex-, Duncan, in the rain.  She thinks he will help her get her to NY but leads her to a barn where he has arranged for 20 boys in town to come and have sex with her in a gang bang, $5 a piece.  “Work for the money you need for New York,” he tells her.

The second boy she had sex with, Bill, comes to her rescue and they run away and live happily ever after.

The book fell apart about 75% the way in, and rushed to a sappy romantic ending, as if Block was closing in on his reqyured 50K words and he needed to wrap up.  Otherwise, a fast-paced novel with good characters, and an interesting early-era Block novel.

Here is the cover for the UK editi0n:

Lord - April North UK