Lonley Flesh aka Lola (New Chariot Library, 1963)

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.

2 Responses to “Lonley Flesh aka Lola (New Chariot Library, 1963)”

  1. M,

    One of your best Orrie analyses yet.

    B.R.

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