Frustrated Females! (Novel Books, 1962)
At first, I didn’t know what to make of this short novel (128 pp, but small type, probably clocking in @ 40K words). It opens with a wealthy playboy, Al Ward, spotting a blonde bombshell hitch-hiking (shades of The Lady is a Lush), and crashing his car, then taking the girl into town in a cab and renting a hotel room where he gets her drunk and has his way with her. He refuses to use a condom and when she says she’s worried about getting pregnant, he says he doesn’t care, and he doesn’t.
Al Ward is one of the richest men in the nation, age 31, tall, having inherited Ward Labs, a major pharmacuetical company that processes a birth control pill (all female employees get it for free), pain killers, etc. — think Phizer of the 60s. His parents died in an accident and he became head of a company, with little experience. He also owns a lot of small companies with international interest.
This is so unlike your typical Hitt setting and (anti)hero — Hitt’s characters are broke, in debt, poor, blue collar workers, not a version of Bruce Wayne. But as I read more, I realized Hitt is using Ward as a contrast to the everyday people around him — such as the girl he pciks up, Amy, basically a hillbilly who has left her horrid shack home where her father pimped her and her sister out for money, and keeps her mother….
Ward likes to drink in dinky dirty bars; he likes to talk to and be around working class men who don’t know who he is. He is sick of people hitting him up for money. He likes to bed bar girls.
He also likes to bed the wives of men who work for him, threatening the women that he will fire their husbands if they don’t give in. His own wife, Betty, is frigid and distant, depressed from a miscarriage a year back, a baby he didn’t even want.
He’s been having an extended affair with Lena Carter, the wife of his top exec, Jim Cater. He has gotten Lena pregnant and gives her $5K to take a vacation, get an abortion, stay away for a while. She dies from the botched abortion (this happens a lot in 60s sleaze books, these illegal abortions by shady doctors).
The issue of pregnancy is a strong element — the birth control pills Ward Labs makes, the loss of a baby, abortion, Amy’s mother, Ward’s never taking precautions when he beds women.
Hitt uses dialogue and Ward’s musings to make political statements on socialism, taxes, medical insurance, and wages — a sub-plot is a union boss threatening a strike if Ward doesn’t initiate a profit sharing plan for employees.
On the cover, it says this is a sequel to Abnormal Norma. I have not read that one. Also, the image on the cover shows a man peeping in on two women, but there is no peeper in this book, like there was the peeper sub-plot in Taboo Thrills/Warped Woman/Wilma’s Wants.
This has also been reprinted as I Need a Man! Have not seen that one — there are also some obscure Hitts from Novel I seek: Perverted Doctors, American Sodom, and Cherry.
Jeff Ellis reviewed Frustrated Females! on his blog earlier this year. I will quote him in full, as he points out similar issues:
When I wasn’t watching movies, I made the time to read a book today. The book in question was by Orrie Hitt and was entitled Frustrated Females. The book was originally published in 1962 by Novel Books, Inc. According to the front cover, Frustrated Females is a sequal to Abnormal Norma and Orrie Hitt is “the one and only who has sold over 10 million paperbacks.”
The cover says that this was a “50cent Novel Book.” When I bought it earlier today, it cost me twenty dollars. That may seem like a lot to pay for a 128-page paperback by an obscure author. However, to me, an author like Orrie Hitt is not obscure. To me, an author like Orrie Hitt is a hero and an inspiration.
It features a black-and-white photograph of a man staring through a window. On the other side of that window are two women. The one in the foreground wear a sheer nightie while the one in the background is in the process of pulling her blouse over her head and exposing her pristinely white bra. There are two notable things about this image. First off, the woman in the background appears to have been clipped out of another picture and then pasted into the current scene. Secondly, there is no scene in Frustrated Females that corresponds with this image. Instead, the image appears to correspond with the plot of Unnatural Urge, another Hitt novel, also from 1962, that deals with a peeping tom in upstate New York.
The cover tells us that Frustrated Females is “For Adults.” And, indeed, by the standards of 1962, it probably was. Now, there is something rather admirable about the lengths that Hitt goes to describe sexual activity without actually describing sexual activity. There is also something rather touching about the fact that this “adult” paperback contains only one instance of profanity (“Godammit!” someone exclaims at one point) and, when attempting to convey that are certain setting is sleazy, tells us that someone had written “four-letter words” on the walls but refuses to go so far as to specify what any of those words might actually be,
The cover tells us that Frustrated Females is the “story of Lena — whose husband wasn’t enough for her — and Amy — who nothing was ever enough for!” It is not surprising to note that the only thing accurate about that blurb is that the novel features a character named Lena and a character named Amy. This is not meant to be a criticism, however. That blurb — and the fact that, ultimately, it has next to nothing to do with the actual content of the book — neatly represents everything that makes true pulp fiction such a joy to experience.
The book’s plot actually centers around Al Ward, a ruthless, sociopathic millionaire who owns a company that manufactures and sells birth control pills. As his wife refuses to sleep with him, Al responds by sleeping with apparently every other woman on the planet, including Lena and Amy. Lena ends up dying as the result of a botched abortion, Amy eventually leaves Al for a good and honest cop named Bert (perhaps he was named for the cop Ward Bond played in It’s a Wonderful Life), and Al ends up allowing a horrifically disfigured union boss to take advantage of his drunken wife. Along the way, Al also flirts with communism before coming to his senses and seeking redemption by confessing to a murder that he did not commit. The feeling one gets from reading the book is that Hitt pretty much made it up as he went along. This makes it all the more remarkable that it’s actually a rather well-written, entertaining book. The characters are surprisingly memorable (Al Ward is so incredibly amoral that it’s hard not to like him just a little), the hard-boiled dialogue suggests that Hitt was a bit more self-aware and witty than most mainstream readers would allow themselves to believe, and the plot is just absurd enough to hold your interest. Plus, I’m usually wary of mixing ideology and fiction but Hitt makes about as persuasive a case for the Libertarian political philosophy as I’ve ever read. In many ways, Frustrated Females is almost a readable version of The Fountainhead. Forget Ayn Rand. Give me Orrie Hitt!
Is Frusrated Females! a good read? It is. Like the amoral Joy in Love Princess, amoral Al Ward gets his in the end, for all his sins and crimes, so this works as both political and moral tale.
Indeed — fuck Ayn Rand, Orrie rulez, even for the lulz.
This entry was posted on October 4, 2009 at 9:36 am and is filed under Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags abortion, Al Ward, Ayn Rand, birth control, blonde bombshell, forced sex, frigid wife, millionare, Novel Books, playboy, political fiction, pregnancy, sexual fiction, sleaze fiction, social fiction, socialism, union boss, unions, Ward Labs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.