Archive for writers

Judge Not My Sins by Stuart James (Midwood, 1961)

Posted in Midwood Books, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

One goal of this blog is to discover lost works of American literature that were curiously and unjustly packaged cheaply as tawdry paperbacks for one reason or another — something Kurt Vonnegut once referenced to as literary art slapped between two covers that promised “WIDE OPEN BEAVER INSIDE.” It was the fate of his alter ego Kilgore Trout, whose fantastic works of science-fiction and social commentary could only find homes in the sex paperback market, and the only person who knew it was millionaire Eliot Rosewater.

Stuart James’ Judge Not My Sins fits the bill, to use a hackey’d phrase.

James was an editor at Midwood, as were other writers who doubled as editors for Harry Shorten: Elaine Williams (Sloane Britain) and John Pluckett (Jason Hytes) and probably others.  From what I can tell, James only published two titles with Midwood, at last under his real name: this one and Bucks County Report, both in 1961.

It’s a short novel, maybe 40,000 words. It starts with a 20-page “prologue” in the third person, and then moves into six chapters in the first-person about a 34-year-old hack writer on a one-night stand with a gorgeous young blonde lass, Leslie, who is afraid he will fall in love with her, as  most men do, after one night…and he does…

Stranger in a large, soft bed, brought together by city loneliness and the hunger for human touch. A cheap one-night grappling of sweaty bodies, the casual debauch, the dregs of immorality. But then there was something different, something new. As our bodies met in passion, there was an awakening, the birthing of something strange and unknown […] I had achieved a new dimension that bordered on the metaphysical, a sharp delineation of love — not the meaning of the word, the feeling. (p. 33)

Can one night of casual sex really do this to a man, or is he just so lonely and needing magic to spark the fire for a life that has gone to ennui?

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Adios, Scheherazade by Donald E. Westlake (Simon and Schuster, 1970)

Posted in Midwood Books, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Westlake - AdiosDonald Westlake, RIP, wrote this funny book around the same time that Hal Dresner wrote his funny book, The Man Who Wrote Dirty Books, both novels about the sleaze publishing racket, both published by Simon and Schuster.  Both wrote for Midwood and Nightstand as young writers needing money experience, both were contracted out by Scott Meredith, both went on to bigger and better careers, both got a funny book out of the experience.

The narrator of Adios is a writer, 25, with a wife and kid and dreams of graduate school someday, knocking out a book a month for a New Orleans paperback house as Dirk Smuff.  The pen name used to belong to his friend Rod, who now has a spy series with a better house at $3,000 advances, publishes articles in Playboy, and has a movie deal in Hollywood.  The smut publisher still thinks they are getting Dirk Smuff novels from him, not knowing he has “a ghost” as they call it.


His cadre of writing friends all have ghosts, collecting part of the $1,200 per book minus the agent’s commisson; they all have better careers and magazine or mainstream book writers. All except the lonly narrator, who is having a hard time getting his monthly books in on time…first two days late, then three, then four, then nine…the agency tells him if he’s late one more time, they will replace him with an eager writer who can do the work.

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