Archive for September, 2009

Lonley Flesh aka Lola (New Chariot Library, 1963)

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 29, 2009 by orriehittfan

Hitt - Lonely Flesh

This one had two editions with different titles: Lonely Flesh and Lola, both with interesting photo model covers.  And it is also,  by far, one of Hitt’s best obscure titles, possibly a Beacon and Kozy reject.  Seems many of his Chariot titles fall short, like Twin Beds…

Also, I’m not sure if Chariot Books and New Chariot Library were the same or connected.  Sin-a-Rama has them listed as separate, Chariot was located in New York and New Chariot Library in Hollywood.  Both were short-lived and probably short-changed Hitt on money, as many did.

Lonely Flesh aka Lola has the common Hitt elements: small NY town called Ficnhville, a hero juggling three women, a young bombshell married to an older guy…but this one, Lola, isn’t married to a rich man but to an average joe who sold his restaurant in New York to buy a grocery store in the sticks. Lola had been a waitress in the restaurant, a failed model in Manhattan, and figured marrying the boss was a way out of the struggle.  The marriage is only six-months old when the story opens.

The narrator: Jerry Card, mid-20s, has taken over his father’s frozen food distribution business, as his father is in the hospital dying.  The business is struggling, stores aren’t paying their accounts, and then there is the office secretary

Dora: she has worked for his father for a while, and her own mother is dying.  One day she disappears and Jerry figures out she has embezzled nearly $4K when checks start to bounce and the company account and safe have been cleared out.  Meanwhile, he deals with

Jane: an old school friend, now turned lover, who expects him to marry her now; but he is in love with

Lola Bridge: meets her while on a route delivering frozen foods, fall hard, takes her out when the husband is in New York, starts sleeping with her, starts scheming how to get out of his entanglement with Jane and steal Lola from her hubby.

Lola Bridge?  Lolabridgeda?  Was Hitt pulling our leg?  But Lola is the bridge to Jerry’s new, if not fantasy ideal life, and he is only only a Card, but a cad.  He is also gambling with his future by juggling three women and trying to keep a failing business afloat.

Here is a fine example of a good piece of writing lost to obscurity, packaged by a schlock publisher who was trying to sell wank books.  This is Kilgore Trout material here:  literature packaged as sleaze.

Truly, this is one of Hitt’s finest, in my opinion.  It doesn’t have any crime or fast-paced action; it is a somber character study and a look at small town life in America in the early 60s. It does have sex scenes, but they seem to come in where the publisher requires them, every 20 pages or so, so Hitt was following a formula here.

In many ways, like Hitt’s union boss and workers books, this is  political and social commentary.  It deals with the struggle of small business people — from distributors, to store and bar owners.  People out to make a buck by working for themselves.

And it ain’t easy, as Jerry finds out — when stores don’t pay their accounts, he can’t pay his bills; if he gives credit, he gets into the hole more, but if the stores don’t have product on their shelves, they can’t make money and go under.  It’s an ugly cycle of commerce and economics — in fact, I can see this novel used in an economics course on the realities of small biz when it comes to wholesaler – middleman – store – consumer, and the cycle back of revenue: consumer buys – store makes money – store pays middleman – middleman pays wholesaler – wholesaler pays employees – employees pay rent and bills – and back.  One link in this chain fails, they all fail, as we have seen happen in the recent economic crash in the U.S.

Unfortunately, only a select Hitt fans and fans of vintage literature will ever read this book, if they can find a copy. This is one of Hitt’s more rare and hard-to-find titles.

This one also has some clever one liners and way to describe things — references to Jerry’s size, not just his body but his penis.  When he beds both Lola and Jane, the women mention how “big” he is, and they’re not talking about his physique.  When he penetrates them, he “hurts” these women.  Hitt wants us to know that Jerry is well-endowed.  Lola wants to screw all night, he says: “I had to quit. I’m only human” (111).

He’s also a pushover.  When he tracks Dora down to find out why she stole the money, he feels for her knowing he would have done the same. Instead of turning her over to the cops, he has sex with her, then he has sex with Jane, then he has sex with Lola — no wonder this cad can’t keep it up all night.

But Jane wants a baby.  Lola wants out.  Dora wants to vanish.  And Jerry wants out too — his father dies and he looks to sell the business and the house and start a new life, maybe with Lola.

But as any Hitt reader knows, things never quite work out as the hero hopes…and later we start to realize that Jerry is quite the sucker…not only did Dora rip him blind, he’s fool enough to fall into a con that Lola has been setting up all along.

Such as it is.

But the usual happy ending: marriage and babies,  but not with Lola.

Twin Beds (Chariot Books, 1962)

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2009 by orriehittfan

Hitt - Twin Beds

This is a somber one, and ultimately disappointing, as it began with good promise and then sank into predictability.

Jay Carver, the narrator, is a bit different than your usual Hitt hero — he’s 30 and has a 12 year old son, a teenage high school mistake: he got his 16-year-old girlfriend Nan pregnant and they both had to drop out of school, get married, and become what they are now: two miserable people in a sexless, loveless marriage.

They sleep in twin beds, hence the title.

Jay makes his living as a traveling salesman. He sells anything there is to sell.  He also has a small store that sells various things, a store that barely breaks even and is more a place for Jay to hang out rather than be at home, where it’s depressing and stressful .  He’s sleeping with his one employee, Fern, but it’s a huge mistake — he feels nothing for Fern, she’s there as a release from when his wife doesn’t give him love, and Fern wants him to leave Nan and marry her.

Nan constantly accuses Jay of having other women and he denies it, and she suspects he is sleeping with Fern. She doesn’t care really, she just likes to give Jay a hard time.

Sometimes he sleeps with this woman, Helen, a welfare Mom with three kids, all with different, unknown fathers.

Jay and Nan stay together for the sake of their son, Robert. While Nan resents Jay for having knocked her up and getting her into this terrible marriage, her son is all she has and she dotes on him too much, in Jay’s opinion…his son has become a “mama’s boy” but also, the kid is small, weakly, nerdy, an introvert and that worries Jay.  Jay is a man’s man: “I’m six-two and a hundred and ninety pounds” (p. 13) — Hitt’s typical fantasy alter-ego size and weight. He is disappointed that his son is not athletic, doesn’t rough house or pick fights or chase young tail.

To boost start some sort of masculinity, Jay enrolls Robert into an Indian Guide summer camp, which is where the book opens, where he goes to see his son.  Leaving the camp, his junk car can’t make it up a hill and he gets rescured by one of the mom’s, Cleo, a 22-year-old blonde bombshell, stepmom to a kid there, married to the richest man in their town (called Clinton, NY), a 60-year-old fellow, Brink, who handles all the real estate, insurance,  and other odds and ends…the point is, he is wealthy and has a young wife.

Soon enough, Jay and Cleo are having an affair and figurring out how to get her out of the marriage with the old, fat man and abscond with th wealth — although that aspect takes a side spot. Twin Beds is less about any affair or plot and more about people caught up in lives they hate and seeing no way out of it — from the loveless marriage to futile affairs to Helene with a fourth baby on the way.

Turnabout is fair play?  Nan gets a job in Brinks office and soon Brink is after her — Jay catches them talking, Nan refuses to sleep with him and Brink blackmails her, says he will fire her and use his influence to get her son taken away by the state.  Jay catches them half-way thru the act and he punches Brink out.

Now Jay and Cleo have excuses to divorce their spouses. Cleo isn’t willing to just leave her rich husband for a poor man, she’s too used to having cash.  She says Brink goes on walks several nights a week and has been mugged once, maybe they culd set up a fake mugging/murder?  But Brink is on to her plan, and Jay finds out she’s been seducing various men for a year to kill Brink.

It has a happy ending, though — the message seems to be “be happy with what you have” and “money is the root of all evil” and other sleze morality.

I have a feeling that the manuscripts Beacon or Kozy may have rejected (since no prolific writer always hits the mark), Hitt offered to lesser houses like Chariot and Saber, given the lesser quality in nature.  This isn’t a bad book, but it’s also a bit slow, trotting, and covers a lot of issues previously covered in Hitt books.

Interesting to read when looking at Hitt’s ouvre and career evolution.

Hitt Revival?

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, vintage sleaze books on September 25, 2009 by orriehittfan

Is there an Orrie Hitt revival happening?  Gary Lovisi told me he has an article on Hitt to run in a fuiture Paperback Parade, and I may write one as well for the same issue…plus a certain publisher is thinking of reprinting some books as ebooks and Print on Demand paperbacks.  Perhaps this has been long overdue.

Orrie Hitt As Bad as They Come

I’ll Call Every Monday (Red Lantern Books and Avon #55, 1953)

Posted in Beacon Books, Kozy Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2009 by orriehittfan

Hitt - I'll Call Every Monday

Orrie Hitt’s first novel, published in hardback by Red Lantern Books (an imprnt of Vanguard Press) in 1953, the same year the same publisher also put out Love in the Arctic.

Apparently, according to Brian Ritt’s biographic article, Orrie Hitt had to hit the pavement on his own in Manhattan and find a publisher when his agent didn’t have any luck selling it, or didn’t feel it would attract a commercial publisher because of the sexual content, the breasts, etc.

On the back cover of Love in the Arctic is promo —

Hitt - Call Monday back Arctic

I’ll Call Every Monday has all the elements we find in future books by Hitt, as if this novel acted as a primer for the Hitt universe:

1. A big tall hero.

2. A man juggling several women at the same time.

3. A gorgeous young woman married to an older man.

4. An insurance con.

5. A murder plot.

6. Women sucked into the the dirty photograph racket

7. A small town in upper NY state setting

8. The scandalous  goings-ons of summer resort hotels

Nicky Weaver, the narrator, 31-years-old, is your average insurance salesman doing his best to earn an honest living.  He’s moral, he’s lonely, he likes women and booze.  He’s big and can throw a good punch.

At first, Hitt doesn’t provide enough information on the insurace biz and all the terminology is confusing, but you get the gyst of it all 1/3 into the book. Back then, or at least in small towns, insurance companies did not mail out invoices for weekly/monthly premiums, but the salesman went door-to-door to collect, and they didn’t always collect those quarters and dollars, so had to push people to keep their policies up.

It’s a strange biz, but seems people and companies made money.  One scam a salesman can do is make out a fake policy, fork over the first payment from his pocket (just a dollar or two) but collect on the entire commission, then claim the policy holder went bust.  Another salesman, Dell, has done this with nearly 400 policies, using names on gravestones. When he’s caught, unable to pay the company back, he hangs himself.

Nicky jumbles two women — there’s 19-year-old Sally from the rooming house, whose virginity he takes (many Hitt heroes often deflower some girl, as seen in The Lady is a Lush, Hired Lover, Violent Sinners, etc.). She hails from Port Jervis, NY (Hitt’s home town) to sing at a jazz club, but seems they want her to wear risque clothes or no clothes at all; so Nicky helps her get a job at a summer resort hotel, where he rents out a cabin until Labor Day (cost: $500 plus a job for Sally), preferring it to the rooming house, plus he can hit up the summer crowd to sell policies to.

The other woman is Irene, 22, married to a much older man who is a painter.  On the outside, it appears the man makes good money selling his paintings, but Nicky finds out he doesn’t — their posh house was inherted from his dead brother, and the guy makes money selling nudie photos of his gorgeous wife.  Every Monday he goes into New York City to sell sets of photos @ $5 a set. Nicky starts up an affair with Irene, going to see her each Monday (hence the title) after his collection rounds.

When he learns of the photo racket, he’s disgusted.  Irene tells him she’s disgusted too, she thought her husband was taking the photos to use to paint from — or so she claims.  Seems her husband also has cancer and maybe a year left to live, so the two cook up an insurance scam to collect on him.

Alas, as in many Hitt books — and noir stories in general — the scam does not go off as planned, there are double crosses and surprises.

This isn’t Hitt’s best, but for a first novel it’s damn good.  I found it better to have read some of his other work in the late 50s and early 60s, hen go back to 1953, to get a feel and taste for the evolution of his style and progress, as well as the similarity of pet themes.

This one also seems to be somewhat more autobiographical than the others, as any first novel tends to be — Nicky makes references to being in the army and working in Iceland, both elements from Hitt’s life, and Nicky is originally from Port Jervis.

It’s never stated how tall Nicky is, but the women make a few references to his being “big and tall.”  This fantasy alter-ego continues in many Hitt books, and is interesting to consider when Hitt himself was short (5’5″) and, according to Barry Malzberg in an email he sent me, “a jolly old fat guy.”

The typical Hitt hero is between 6’2″ and 6’6″, between the ages of 20-35, single, and always lucky with the ladies (and the typical Hitt female always has a bust size between 38-40 inches).

Are there any Hitt heroes who are under six feet, overweight, not good in a fight, non-drinkers, and any women who are flat chested, aside from the occasional wallflower, barfly, or hooker that pops up now and then?  Or any woman who is over the age of 22? (They’re often 18-19, many virgins until they are popped by the  big Hitt hero.)

Nicky Weaver returns in Ladies’ Man, which I will get to soon.  As for the private eye books “Weaver” writes for Kozy, I’m not sure yet if Nicky goes from insurance man to gumshoe, or just from insurance man to pulp author, but I will get to those too.

And will get to the novel Red Lantern published the same year as this one, Love in the Arctic, that was never issued in paperback.  Glancing through it, it seems to be a tad “different,” set in Iceland.  In his third published novel, Teaser (Woodford Press, 1954) he only lists I’ll Call Every Monday as a previous book.  After that, he collaborates (like others did, such as John B. Thompson) with Jack Woodford on a novel called Lease (Signature Books, 1954) and then started his long relationship with Beacon Books with She Got What She Wanted and Shabby Street (both 1954).

Hitt - She Got What She Wanfted Hitt - Shabby Street

In 1956-57, he started writing as Roger Normandie and Charles Verne for Key Publications, doing a handful hardbacks, none under his name — not sure why, but he may have had an exclusive deal or non-compete agreement with Beacon, as he only published with Beacon as Orrie Hitt until 1959, when he started selling manuscripts to Midwood, Kozy, and Chariot Books, with many titles to each from 1960-63. He did one as Fred Martin for Midwood (Hired Lover), probably because it was Midwood #13 and he already had two under his own name — Affair with Lucy (Midwood #10) and Summer Romance (Midwood #16), all three published in 1959.  For Kozy, the publisher reprinted a few of the Roger Normandies and  two by Nicky Weaver.

In 1959, Hitt also published two hardbacks with Valentine Books, Hotel Woman and Devil in the Flesh. In 1960, there was one from Wisdm House, Peeping Tom.

Hitt - Peeping Tom

It’s possible he may have used some other pen names not yet known.  He was apparently infuenced by Joe Weiss, and Joe Weiss’ style and themes are close to Hitt’s.  Accoring to Ritt’s article and Hitt’s children, some of his manuscripts were absconded with by shady publishers, never paid for, and appeared under a pen name and not the title he chose (would love to find out which books those are).

The Lady is a Lush (Beacon #342, 1960)

Posted in Beacon Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2009 by orriehittfan

Hitt - Lady is a Lush

This is  a dark one, a very good one…no happy endings here…this is Orrie Hitt at his bleakest noir.

Andersonville, NY, another small upper NY state town, aother masked version of Port Jurvis.  A town of hopeless, dreamless people, blue collar workers, drunks, whores, tramps, lushes, heels and cads.

The narrator: Chip Collins, mid-20s, six foot something, a truck driver.  His wife, Amy, is a boozer who sleeps with other men she meets in bars, bringing them home when he is away driving.  He doesn’t care. He met her when she was 17, married her at 18.  She’s now 20 — two years of a worthless marriage When she turns 21, she gets an inheritance of $25,000.  He keeps with her for the money; she has agreed to invest in his own trucking company.

He picks up a hitchhiker in the rain while on a route: 19-year-old Joy, a blonde bombshell, a hopeless, failed actress.  Her summer stiock experience was a bust and she is trying to get back to New York City but every man who offers her a ride tries to make her.  She feels okay with Chip.  Chip wants to make her but acts like a gentlemen.  He takes her to a truck stop/motel and helps her get a job as a waitress, because she has no money.

Later he goes back, they go on a picnic, they have sex, he keeps seeing her, they fall in love, and then she’s pregnant.

She doesn’t know about the wife.  She doesn’t know Chip is also sleeping with Gloria, the daughter of the boss of the trucking company.  The old guy has a heart attack and Gloria is left to run things, asking Chip to help manage things.  She’s only 19 — why are the women in Hitt’s books, and many of these “sleaze” novels, always teenage girls, or barely 21?  Anyway, he starts up a thing with her.

Chip is no heel, he’s actually an honest hard-working man, abandioned by his tramp mother when he was young, having lived on the streets and hand-to-mouth.  He’s a cad.

He’s jumbling three women and none of them know of each other. He spends his weeks going from three beds and back…even though Amy is a whore and a drunk, and he doesn’t care about the other men, he has a hard time pushing her away, and sleeps with her…and Amy…and Gloria…and some woman at a rooming house too…

Chip gets a lot of tail, but in the end, as we know it will happen, it all blows up in his face.

Joy, pregnant and trusting, thinks she will be his wife soon, and they will have a happy family…Gloria thinks Chip will divorce Amy and marry her and they will run the company together…Amy tries to sober up and re-kindle the marriage, confessing she only drinks and sleeps with other men because he is away so much and she’s lonely and needs him…

And then Amy follows him to the rooming house he has Joy holed up in and catches them…

Hurt and angry, she takes off in their car and goes to get drunk…

And now Joy knows the man she loves and whose baby she carries has been lying to him all the time, and she does’t really know who he is or what she wants to do.

Amy gets drunk, crashes the car, and dies.  Sorry for the spoiler.

Chip feels guilty — he has now inherited her inheritance, but at what cost?  “I grew up that night,” he writes.

He thinks about the child, what if it is a girl and 20 years from now some bum does to his kid what he did to Amy?

Joy, taking is hand, assures him that will never happen. “Maybe I still love you,” she says.

Maybe.

Probably not.

Love does not exist in an Orrie Hitt universe. People pretend at love, through the haze of booze and fornication and poverty.”Poverty and sex went hand in hand on the South Side” is one line, and that seems to sum it all up in this bleak but great little lost novel of a lost American literature.

Violent Sinners (Kozy Books #164)

Posted in Kozy Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by orriehittfan

Hitt - Violent Sinners

The cover for this one is a tad deceiving — looks like one of Hitt’s suburban affairs books, but it’s actually set on a black dirt farm outside a small, upper NY state town, Mechanicsville (pop. 20K), that produces mainly onions.  The owner, Hart, is in his 50s, rich, and a widower who has recently re-married a 21-year-old blonde bombshell, Lucy (why are so many Hitt women named Lucy? or Wilma?).

Art Lord is a little different than other Hitt heroes — he’s 20 (Hitt’s men tend to be 26-35) and six foot six (many Hitt men seem to always clock in at six-two, probably Hitt’s fantasy size from his five-five).  The book opens with him getting fired from his factory job and going to the rooming house where he lives with 19-year-old Marie, who works in a bikini factory and sometimes models the product, getting groped at.

Art hears about a handyman job on the Hart Farm residence, where three previous men were either hired or quit fast.  He soon realizes it’s because of Lucy and her wanton ways, teasing the men around her.

The set-up is much like Hired Lover, or any Cain/Thompson-like noir: rich older husband, young wife, employee/lover and a plot to murder the old man and abscond with the wealth.

Mr. Hart is also a slave driver — Hitt makes some social commentary on land owners and migrant workers. Hart likes to beat them up for his own amusement, fearing little repercussion because he’s rich and the workers are illegal aliens who won’t bring charges, or have any right to in the eyes of the cops.

One day the migrant workers turn against Hart and beat him up, breaking ribs and his macho ego.

Lucy says this is the perfect opportunity — kill Hart and make it look like the workers did it.  Art is about to go through with it when he overhears Lucy talking to one of senior Mexican workers, whom she is also sleeping with, and her plan to double cross Art so he will do time for the murder.

He turns the table on them both.

Another good Hitt novel, well-paced and with a happy, moral ending, as he returns to Marie, marries her, and they start a family.

Having babies seems to be important to Hitt, as his women, at the end of many books, wind up knocked up and everyone is happy about it.

How 1950s.

Hitt’s Nicky Weaver

Posted in Kozy Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags , on September 20, 2009 by orriehittfan

Nicky Weaver is the narrator of Hitt’s first novel, I’ll Call Every Monday, told in first person narrative,  and the protagonist of the third-person novel Ladies’ Man.

HITT - LADIES MAN

Hitt - I'll Call Every Monday

He is also the pen name for two Hitt private eye books from Kozy. He’s done the same with Kay Addams, but a character and a pen name, but don’t think he has done the same with Roger Normandie and Charles Verne, and certainly not Fred Martin.

Weaver Hitt - Blood Tears

Hitt - Love Them