Archive for welfare fiction

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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