Archive for January, 2011

Strange Longing (Chariot Books #1626, 1961)

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, vintage sleaze books with tags , , on January 29, 2011 by orriehittfan

 

A not-so-easy-to-find Hitt, reprinted as Female Doctor when Chariot Books moved to Los Angeles and became New Chariot Library.  Tells the story of a female vet who’s being blackmailed, she has to pay or else her lesbian secret life will be revealed and ruin her career and reputation.

Suburban Wife (Beacon #162, 1958)

Posted in Beacon Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags , on January 29, 2011 by orriehittfan

All of the prolific softcore writers have a “suburban sins” type book, probably at the direction of the publisher since the dirty infidelities of those suburbanites, ever since Payton Place,  was (and still is, look at Desperate Housewives) a hot topic.

Orrie Hitt wrote half  a dozen with suburban in the title, and has a few others that are suburban-esque, like his Kay Addams’  novel, Lucy, and Twisted Sinners.

The first in line: Suburban Wife, and early 1958 title with a nifty Beacon template cover. This tale tells the yarn of Millicent Ford, a young desperate housewife whose husband, Andy, works in Manhattan long hours, sometimes weekends, and there are business trips.  A neighbor, Bill Ramsey, is married to Grace, a career woman who is also away a lot.  Bill and Millicent often take the same train and get to talking. They are both drinkers. They get together and drink. They start having an affair.

Millicent feels quite a bit of guilt until she discovers that Andy and Grace are often on business trips in the same cities, in the same motels…Bill has known all along that Grace has been unfaithful. So what they are doing ins’t so “sinful” after all. When Andy catches them, doing the hypocritical yelling, he’s cut down when Millicent informs him that she knows about Grace–so where the hell does he get off?

The story is also about alcoholism, as Millicent sinks deeper and deepers into needing a bottle of rye or whuskey for comfort, drinking recklessly all day and going into bars, which often leads to trysts, like one she has with an insurance agent who gets possessive of her after a one-nighter.

To stave off suburban boredom, Millicent often heads charity drives; she just did a successful one for the Red Cross, “borrowing” some of the collected money when she needs to, always putting it back though. She is approached by a local wealthy philanthropist who asks her to exec man a drive to build a rec center for the local youth, a place to keep them from joining gangs, doing robberies and rapes and other juvie crimes.  It’ll be a lot of money to handle, plus she will be paid a salary, rather than this being a volunteer effort.

The first problem is that money, mixed with her drinking, mixed with the impending divorce and the end of Andy’s money for her lax time, like drinking,  It is inevitable that she will embezzle or misuse the funds, a common set-up in Hitt’s books.

She tries asking for money from guys she sleeps with but that doesn’t pan out the way she hoped.

Enter the crime element and a murder, makes for a good read.

 

Unfaithful Wives (Becon, 1958)

Posted in Beacon Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books on January 22, 2011 by orriehittfan

An excellent Hitt novel from early in his career — in 1958, he published, with Beacon,a number of sleazecore gams: Pushover, Sucker, Sheba, The Promoters, Wayward Girl, and this one. (Others, like Hot Cargo, which seemed to be composed with a co-writer, were not as good.)

Unfaithful Wives is a multi-character story. At first, we wondered if this was an actual Hitt-penned book, perhaps a collaboration, because it has 26 short chapters rather than Hitt’s usual 13-14 5,000-word chapters. The writing style is pure Hitt, however.

The tone reminded us of a famous book about the same era and problems, Revolution Road — the failure of the American Dream in the 1950s, the ruse that marriage leads to happiness, that mundane work trumps chasing your dream. All the characters in this dark novel are sour, depressed, lost and in pain for dreams never realized.

Fred is a regional grocery sales rep who hates the woman he’s married to, Rita. He has affairs. One woman, Sharon, that he just left is later murdered and the police finger him for it.  Rita wants to run away with the man she is having an affair with, Norman, a penniless jazz musician. Rita takes out the $8,000 from the bank her husband was saving and talks Norman into running away with her, but he dupes her and takes the eight grand to run away with the woman he’s in love with, June, and June has her own agenda. An angry young man, pissed that the world never works in his favor, killed Sharon, because he sees her as a worthless slut.  Two other women come into Fred’s sphere: Della, a sexy act singer in a hotel bar that gets duped by a man who claims he can take her to Hollywood and be on TV, and June, the widow of an old army friend of Fred’s…meanwhile, Rita finds a way to get him pinned for the murder and get back at Norman for deserting her, only to meet her own karmic end…

The back cover states: “One slut deserves another.” A bit misleading, or all the characters sluts? There’s only one unfaithful wife here.

Like all multi-character narratives, we never spend enough time with any one character to get to know them or care for them, or hate them, so the story relies on choices made by one that can affect all.

A bit different from Hitt’s usual type of books, this makes for a refreshing read of the dead pulp author.

Nude Model (McFadden-Bartel, 1970)

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags , on January 8, 2011 by orriehittfan

This is the last original novel Orrie Hitt published before he passed away.  He once again goes to the pet theme of an attractive, uneducated young woman who can only earn money with her good looks. Meg, the model, is a bit of a dupe — she was making good money as a fashion model but she has gained a few pounds in the wrong places, she is not rail thin as the agencies need. So she turns to modeling for magazines and doing stag films, all the while supporting her heel boyfriend who is supposedly going to college and constantly needs money, she thinks for school but he has a gambling problem and debts to settle.

Hitt doesn’t explore anything new or unique here, repeating a number of past books, but, unlike his later 1960s titles, it is cohesive and straight forward — books he published after 1964 all seemed to be uneven and sloppy.

So, with this last book, we reflect on the career of Mr. Hitt: starting off with a handful of well-written novels in 1953-54, a good number of excellent novels from 1958-1960, tapering off into repetition and sloppiness from 1951-64, and a handful of badly written books from 1965-1967.

Failing health could have attributed to the decline of quality, as well as being burnt out and the demands of his publishers for trash, rather the political commentary his books from Novel and a few from Beacon had.

We wonder if there were any unpublished books left around when he died, and which books out there were stolen manuscripts published by fly-by-night companies that he got duped into, for the need of a check.