Torrid Cheat (Chariot Books #212, 1962)

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags on February 27, 2011 by orriehittfan

 

This a fairly rare, hard-to-locate Hitt. Like Panda Bear Passion and Cabin Fever, we have looked high and low for this title; the unstoppable kind Lynn Munroe found one for us, and we were delighted with the tawdry cover.

Torrid Cheat is a curiously uneven novel from Hitt, and obviously there were deep editorial cuts: the book is a slender 128 pages, maybe 40,000 words.  It has 11 chapters, unlike Hitt’s usual 13-14 chapters and 50-60,000 words. About 3/4th into the story, we can tell there was a 10-15K word chunk sliced out by the red pen, making the jump uneven.

Rare, but alas not a remarkable story from Hitt, with a lot of his usual tropes: the younger woman marrying an older man with some money and property, and her scheme to kill him and get her hands on it. Usually, these Hitt femme fatales find a guy to be the patsy; in this case, she’s the killer and the guy figures out her murder plot.

The protagonist is Frenchie, a 19-year-old regular guy who works in a bottle factory during the work week and on the weekends, a p/t job at a gas station owned by a 50-year-old ,man, Pops.  He dates Pop’s 18-year-old daughter, Betty. Betty gets pregnant and they marry.

Pop’s recently re-married to a sultry redhead who is 28 named Bertha. On his wedding day, Frenchie gets seduced by Bertha and they carry on the affair for months.

One day Bertha and Pops go to the lake for a swim and he drowns. The whole thing seems suspicious. Yeah, his wife killed him, that much is obvious.

An okay read.

A good book for any collection as a rare item and a cool GGA cover.

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.

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…

Tramp Wife (Chariot Books, 1960)

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags , , on December 19, 2010 by orriehittfan

This one is basically a re-telling of Hitt’s first novel, I’ll Call Every Monday.  It’s first person, about an insurance guy who gets involved with a married woman whose husband (not older this time) is in the nudie photo racket, and the woman, Sheba, wants to pull an insurance scam and murder.  The narrator jumbles two other women, as all Hitt heroes do, and there are some illegal shnanegins going on within the office and insurance salesman cons.

Had I not read Hitt’s first book, I would have gotten into Tramp Wife more. Despite the horribly tiny type, it’s a solemn, well-paced book, and as usual, Hitt’s deatils of how insurance companies worked back then are fascinating.  Being a rewrite, it is predictable.