Abnormal Norma – Novel Books, 1962

A somewhat rare and hard-to-find Novel title from Hitt, Abnormal Norma is one of Orrie’s salesman yarns and it’s pretty good.  It is his “version” of Death of a Salesman — the narrator’s name, Willie Lander, is too close to Willie Lohman for comfort.

We open with Willie getting canned as a debit insurance agent — the job many Hitt heroes have, from I’ll Call Every Monday to Shabby Street to Tramp Wife — because he is $500 short and he can’t make it up.  If his bond is used, he will never be able to get another sales job; if he quits, he can cash his profit sharing of three years and cover what he owes.

He’s the hole because his trophy wife, Star, demands the material things — a good house in a good neighborhood, clothes, two cars.  Now she wants a Cadillac, and a new mink on sale, and he can’t do it.  She freaks when she learns he no longer has a job.  We saw a similar situation in The Cheat.

A couple moves in next door, Fred and Norma Stearms.  He’s older than her, drives a Caddy, seems to be a successful businessman.  Willie is immediately taken with Norma:

My hair is blonde but hers was almost the silver kind, long and hanging down to her bare shoulders, sweeping back from a face that belonged on the front of THE MEN’S DIGEST magazine, promising more of the best inside.  Her eyes were blue, her eyebrows two neat arching lines, her lashes curled.  She had a small nose but below that her lips were rich and full, parting a smile over white, even teeth.  But what I noticed about her most was the red halter that strained against tilted, thrusting breasts.  I’m n ot accurate on measurements but if she was an inch at that point she was in excess of forty. (pp. 33-34)

Well, from that description, we know the cover model certainly isn’t this Norma.  The quip about The Men’s Digest is a bit meta.  On the back cover is a note from ol’ Orrie his own self:

“ABNORMAL NORMA is my most provocative book — and Norma Stearns is the most shocking woman I’ve ever put down on paper — shocking to know and to look at.  She’s a woman and a half, and I mean that literally.  Read the book and you’ll see exactly what I mean!”

What exactly is “a woman and a half?”  Seems Norma has what may be a third breast, and while that is abnormal, for a tit man like Willie (or Orrie) it’s just more funbags than he knows what to do with.

It is inevitable that Willie will have an affair with Norma, while working with Fred on his new mutual funds business. And because Fred hires Star to be his receptionist, it is inevitable Star will cheat too, so we have one of those tidy suburban swapper tales here.

It is also quite detailed in matters of mutual funds, so much that you get confused with all the lingo, which was a problem with I’ll Call Every Monday: the deep detail made it authentic, but unless you know the terminology, you’ll get lost.  We see the same detail in Bed Crazy about surgery, so Novel let Orrie go off on tangents.

But it’s all doom for Willie, as he does well selling mutual funds and bedding his boss’ abnormal young wife.

On the Hitt Scale, an 8.

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