Archive for the Beacon Books Category

Four Women (Beacon, 1960)

Posted in Beacon Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books on December 6, 2011 by orriehittfan

A very fine one from ol’ Orrie, so much so that it read like the pilot episode of a TV show.

It is a multi-character piece, mainly centering on two men, Joe and Rube. Joe is a big handsome lug who wants to live an honest life but gets sucked into the syndicate world on Prince Street in New City…Prince Street is where all the prostitution, drug pushing and small time crime goes on. Rube is a guy with short man’s complex, hating big guys like Joe and the girls who like him. Rube has been pimping out Millie and robs other hookers at knifepoint. The local syndicate guy, Mike, wants Joe to find the guy robbing his ladies.

Then there is Ellie, who loves Joe, who won’t give Rube the time of day, who dodges the advances of the lesbian lady she works for at a dress shop, turning down Mike to be his main lady andgetting kidnapped for it.

Things wrap up too fast and easy but this is still a damn good vintage read. On the Hitt scale: 9.

Cabin Fever – Uni-Books, 1954

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

 

 

Ol’ Orrie’s third published novel, after I’ll Call Every Monday and Love in the Arctic, and a hard volume to find, as many Uni-Book titles are.  Unis were Universal Publishing’s pulp digests before the Beacon imprint, which lead with two Hitt books: Shabby Street and She Got What She Wanted.  The UniBooks format were large, magazine digest sized, 35 cents.

Cabin Fever is a seriously flawed narrative, but also a blueprint for many future Hitt hits: we see the seeds of The Cheaters, Dirt Farm, Two of a Kind, Violent Sinners, Sins of the Flesh, and others.

Danny O’Connor is your usual Hitt hero: a WW II vet, six foot three, broad-shouldered, womanzing. He’s less a heel than he is a chump for women. Yes, he jumbles three women: Tawny, the wife of an older man named Stone; Randi, a waitress; Sue, his ex-girlfriend wgho has been saving herself for their marriage, something Danny doesn’t want to wait for.  There is a cast of charcaters page:

 

Danny is on vacation from his warehouse job…and he is also getting away from Sue so he can cat around. He runs out of money fast so takes on a seasonal job of storekepper at the cabin resort place in the mountains, a job that Hitt had and a locale and job that pops up now and again in other Hitt books.

Within hours, he beds the owner’s younger wife, Tawny. She tosses himself at her, so what can he do when a hot bonde bombsehll does so? Of course, she has a plan: seduce Danny, get him to murder her husband, get half of the property and money…and her…but then her husband appraoches him to kill her and get a $10,000 payday.

Cain territory.

And of course he is being set up as a patsy by both, along with Tawny’s old boyfriend from her burlesque show days.

An interesting foundation for better books, but a disappointment in bad writing, bantering dialogue, and characters one could care less about.

Damn nice cover, though.

 

Trailer Tramp (Beacon, 1957)

Posted in Beacon Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books on July 3, 2011 by orriehittfan


Most of ol’ Orrie’s 1957 Beacons are pretty damn good, in some cases his best (The Promoter, Sheba, Pushover, The Sucker, etc) but this not the case with Trailer Tramp.  Such a great cover! Probably a reused UniBook cover like many were…and there is a stamp “Beacon First Award Novel” that seems to mean nothing, this is not Hitt’s first book and many late 1950s Beacons had this on the covers, probably a marketing ploy.

Also, I am not convinced Hitt wrote this one by himself; like his Roger Normandie and Charles Vern books and Beacons like Hiot Cargo, the style is uneven that telltales two writers going back and forth.

Basically, this is a plotless book, a soap opera about truly low class, row rent white trash losers and users in a trailer camp. Hitt, on his own, always had some driving if not cliched plotline — the murder scheme, the con game.  A woman named Nora starts using her trailer as a brothel and a legal battle occurs over the lease, and there is a knife fight between the handyman and the camp owner’s brother over a girl, but that is about it.

A boring book but the cover makes it collectable.

Untamed Lust (Beacon Books, 1960)

Posted in Beacon Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books on March 15, 2011 by orriehittfan

This one, like many other Hitt books (Dirt Farm, Two of a Kind, Violent Sinners, Naked Flesh) is set on a big farm run by a sadistic old man married to a younger woman.

The usual Hitt motifs are present — a big and tall hero jumbling three women and a plot to murder the owner of the farm to get his wife and daughter.  Eddie, the hero, works mostly as a trapper, getting all the pests that run rampant on the land: snapping turtles, foxes, badgers, racoons…he actually feels bad for killing these creatures, but he needs the job.

The three women are:

Joan, the domestic, who is an old girlfriend and he’s still sleeping with her. She is in the process of divorcing her husband whose in prison and then wants to marry Eddie.

Kitty, or Mrs. Jennings, married to an old man in a wheelchair and hot to trot.

Carole, Kitty’s teenage daughter, who likes to hang out at nudist camps.

Carole seduces Eddie into seducing her mom so Eddie will testify in court that Kitty was unfaithful, on grounds for divorce; Carole will pay Eddie $5K for this.

Kitty wants Eddie to set a trap that her husband will accidentally stumble into and die. She promises a good chunk of the land and bank accounts, worth millions.

He only agrees because both women say they will claim he raped them and he’ll lose his job.

Despite these repeats material from other books, and the James Cain territory, Untamed Lust is well-written and a speedy, good read.

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.

She Got What She Wanted (Beacon 101, 1954)

Posted in Beacon Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books on December 31, 2010 by orriehittfan

She Got What She Wanted was Hitt’s fourth novel (I’ll Call Every Monday, Love in the Arctic and Cabin Fever the first three) and, more significantly, the very first Beacon Book (although Universal Publishing had previous imprints, like Uni Books). Like Shabby Street (Beacon #104), it is 90,000 words, longer than your usual 50-60K word paperback of the era. Unlike Shabby Street, the extra words makes for unneeded padding and banter.

The novel opens the way a good number of Hitt tales do (Sheba, Carnival Girl, Ellie’s Shack, etc.), with a finance company collector coming by the house looking for money, or for things to take to satisfy an account.  Della Banners, a buxom blonde 20 year old, has good-for-nothing parents who leach off her meager earnings, a mother who is lazy and a father who is a fast talker and owes a lot of people and companies money.  The collector wants to take the car but Della owns the car and she is not a debtor. She is sick and tired of her home life — the back cover states “Della was white trash” and promises to be a sordid yarn about a girl from the wrong side of the streets who uses her body and sex to manipulate men to get ahead.

Well, right and wrong. Della does learn how to use her womanly charms to get ahead in life, but this is no sleaze novel, not in the genre sense and not like the books Hitt did in the 1960s. This is as close to a literary or morality novel as Hitt ever got…this is a work of actual literature, with a couple of snide remarks about boobs and some sex scenes tossed in to make it a classifiable sleaze book.

Like in his 1958 book, Sheba, Della quickly learns the art of sales for her lack of years and experience. While Sheba was about selling used cars, She Got What She Wanted centers around door-to-door sales of roofing shingles, a job Hitt actually had (and like his other books that give intricate details of insurance sales and food distribution and hotel management, Hitt made good use of personal experience).

Della leaves home and goes to another city, sells her car and looks for work. She forgets to sign her pink slip right and a man comes by her room to get her right signature, a man named Jack who is a smooth operator and roof shingles salesman.  He tries to make some moves and she resits; he tells her he could hire her as a “canvasser,” someone who does feeling around for potential customers, and then Jack goes in later to close the deal. Jack says women are best used as canvassers, for their looks, of course.

Della proves to be good at it, and a month later she finds that Jack is not the smooth and confident salesman he made her believe — he has his moments, but at times he sinks into despair and drinks too much and vanishes and messes up sales. She soon realizes that she has her shit together better than him, and the manager makes her a closer, and later recommends the home office that she manage a new office in another city.

Now, she is barely 21, and they have never had a female manager before. She meets the boss, Roger, at a party, and he takes her back to his room, drunk.  She encourages Roger to drink more whiskey, and she lets him paw her and make suggestions before he passes out.

Here is where Della gets shifty and uses her good looks to manipulate herself into a better job. She undresses and gets into bed with Roger. When he wakes up, Roger does not remember a thing and here is this naked female employee…she acts like he forced himself on her and she is shocked…and he is married…and he secures her the manager job as long as she “forgets” about his drunken fuck up…

So Della runs an office, and Jack is now her underling, and they do well. Like the narrator of Shabby Street, she becomes a hard-ass boss, firing people without a thought to their personal issues and need for work. And then she and Jack come up with a plan to swindle some side money from the company, by having their own little company supply materials for jobs; the swindle is a little complicated, like the case with Hitt’s wonderful novel Pushover.

Della is obsessed with money and the gaining of it, of buying things, of the material things in the world, typical of a person who comes from a poor childhood.  Even Jack thinks she has become too superficial:

“You’re always pricing things,” he said. “No matter what it is.”

“And why not?” she demanded. “The price on anything, no matter what it is, is never right.  It’s either too high or too low, depending on what you’re getting.  You have to make up your own mind if a thing you want is worth the price you’ve got to give.” (p. 205)

Unlike 1960s Hitts, and Beacon titles, there is no romantic wrap up, no happy ending…we were expecting it, that perhaps Jack and Della would wed in bliss, but that doe snot happen — in fact, the ending is quite tragc, almost like a Russian novel, where Della’s obsession with monetary gain, and her treatment and manipulation of others, would make She Got What She Wanted to She Got What She Deserved

We won’t spoil it for you, other than to say what happens to Della is just terrible — but did she deserve it?  Perhaps.

On the Hitt Scale, a 9.5. This is a fine novel, sleaze paperback or literary. A good number of Hitt motifs or thematic set-ups are in this book (thankfully not nude photos) and foreshadow his pet obsessions, mainly how difficult it was for a woman not to have to resort to using her body and sexuality to get ahead in life…