While the City Sins – Ember Library #363, 1967

After 1964, Orrie Hitt stopped publishing the the ambitious fervor he did from 1957-1963.  By 1965-1968, he only published a few titles per year. Whether this had to do with his ill health and the cancer that took his life several years later is unknown.

At first I wondered if ol’ Orrie actually penned this book, as there were some style changes — mainly, a lot of long convoluted sentences,  something not found in his earlier work.  But the characters and dialogue are pure Hitt, so something was going on — the same long sentences can be found in the much flawed Male Lover.

And like Hitt’s only gay novel, While the City Sins is also confusing and hard to follow.  It opens like your usual Hitt, with a young lady, Candy, winning a beauty contest and then contacted by a modeling agent who gets her into doing nude photos; Candy, who was sent to private finishing school by her wealthy attorney father, has done this to rebel against said father’s expectations.

And like many Hitt heroines, she has a boyfriend who wants to marry her but she’s not ready for marriage; and her father wants her to marry someone like him: a lawyer from a good family.  Meanwhile, CAndy slums in the sex racket.

After that, it’s impossible to follow what the hell is going on — the endless banter and run on sentences makes this for a hard read.  Why Cornith bought this book is a mystery.

I asked Earl Kemp, former editor-in-chief at Greenleaf, if he remembered this one Hitt book they did, but he didn not recall it.

I suspect Beacon rejected many of Hitt’s late 60s manuscripts because of poor quality, and why he sold them as one-shots to Gaslight, Ember, PEC, and McFadden (though Softcover, as Beacon later became, did do The Sex Pros in 1968).

This title is a hard find, though, so it’s more a disappointment.  The cover by Robert Bonfils in excellent at least, making this a good collector’s book to look at.

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