Peeping Tom (Wisdom House, 1961)

Hitt - Peeping Tom

One of Hitt’s many peeper/voyeur novels and similar, somewhat, in approach to his first, The Peeper, that I talked about eariler — the peeper in that one was a small town newspaper reporter; in this one, he, Jimmy Stone, is a drifter, doing odd jobs, now working as a painter.

The publisher, Wisdom House,  was a short-lived imprint of Kozy Books, dubbed “the timely books.”  The catalogue in back indicates books on current events of the time: Those Fabulous Kennedy Women, God in Hollywood, etc.  Perhaps peeping toms were timely in 1961  — certainly the sub-genre in sleaze was handled by just about every writer in the sleazecore field (Jack Woodford, Don Elliott, Andrew Shaw all had their passion peeper titles).

We’re all peepers in one way or another, Hitt contends. Jimmy muses:

A lot of men are. They see a pretty girl at a party and they hope the top of her dress will slip.  Or the girl crosses her legs carelessly and they get a thrill. (p. 4)

Hitt delves into the psychology of Jimmy’s peeper urges, just as he did in the other.  Jimmy grew up in foster home all his childhood. In one home, with a woman and her teen daughter, he could see the woman in a mirror at night in her bedroom and got a thrill at viewing the forbidden…then he started spying on the daughter, who catches him and takes his virginity…since then she has associated sex with the visual element of peeking into windows.

Jimmy knows he has a problem…every time the cops close in, he moves to a new town and starts over again.  This time, in Clarkswville, population 12,000, he has started to place roots. He thinks if he has a lot of sex or gets married, his lusty desire to prowl and peep will subside, but it doesn’t.

Like all Hitt books, there are many women in the narrator’s orbit:

Rose Gordon: a widow and sexy blonde. The book opens with him on a ladder, watcinbg her at nght, and the ladder slips nd falls and she hears it…she owns a big house that Jimmy has been painting.  No affair develops, but he is obsessed with her throughout the book; when she rejects him, he becomes angry and even more obsessed.

Anna: daughter of the man whom Jimmy works for.  The father wants Jimmy to take over the painting company so he can retire.  He beleives Jimmy will marry Anna.  Jimmy just spends time with her. She’s a virgin. He doesn’t love her but to take over the company he can move up in the world.  Eventually he does deflower her like many Hitt heroes take the virginity of some young woman.

Lily: a girl “from the hills” with a loose reputation, works as a secretary for the old man, Anna’s father.  At 60, he is chasuing the 22-year-old gilr but she wants nothing of it.  She does want Jimmy, because she knows his interest in Anna is bogus.

Sandra: a bartendress who is known as a “tease” because she doesn’t “put out.”  She falls for Jimmy at some point, and even knows he has been looking in her window.  She gives him a show but when the cops start closing in, she gets worried Jimmy will go to jail. Plus, she feels dirty givinbg him shows and tries to understand Jimmy’s need, even stripping for him in his room and asking if it is better than looking in a window.  But it’s not.  Jimmy can  only get excited if the watching is clandestine; the window like a TV of sin.

Jimmy gets caught peeping on Rose, but she doesn’t pres charges. Jimmy seeks psychoanalysis and Sandra stands by her pervert.

A well-written novel and kept my inetrest but terriory already covered in the other book.

As for the three or four other peeping tom novels Hitt wrote, we’ll have to see…

2 Responses to “Peeping Tom (Wisdom House, 1961)”

  1. […] Peeping Tom by Orrie HittRe Peep it here. […]

  2. […] The Peeper, the narrator is a reporter, reporting on his own prowls and peeps; in Peeping Tom, the narrator is a painter; in Unnatural Urge, he’s a business man. In this one, the […]

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