Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Anyone recognize these two sleaze paperbacks by Ralph Hayes?

 As you probably remember, I'm doing a book American adult/sleaze/sex paperbacks that were published in Finnish in the 1960s and 1970s. There's quite a bit information on these books and their writers in the web nowadays, but there are still some books I can't find any info on. 

I'm willing to look elsewhere when the books are not interesting, but these two books as by Ralph Hayes are too good not to try find out who published them originally and when. 

Hayes is an interesting character in his own right, having published lots of genre fiction from the sixties onwards. He might still be alive, since Paperback Warrior interviewed him almost two years ago (read the interview here), and I've asked the gentlemen at Paperback Warrior to find out if that is indeed so and if Hayes himself can shed any light on this. 

So, anyone know anything about these two? The other one is called "Smiling Lips" or some such in Finnish, and it's about a young doctor in a hospital, and there's a farmers' demonstration (!) which ends up in violence and the hospital has take lots of wounded farmers in. There are lots of gay and lesbian sex scenes, and there's also lots of romance, so this is not just another jerk-off book. 

The other one is called "Unvirtuous Wife" in Finnish, and it's a very good book in its own genre: a mix of hardboiled thriller and porn book. It also boasts a contemporary Western feel, since it's located in Texas on a horse ranch, and the book's climax (sic!) is a big shoot-out at the ranch. The head character is a young and beautiful woman, who has to tend to the farm almost all by herself, since her husband is in Vietnam. The bank keeps asking about mortgages, and the woman has sex with the bank manager to fend him off. She also gets help from a mysterious stranger, who seduces her to give him blowjobs. Then the husband comes suddenly back from the war. The sex scenes are all motivated and move the plot forward, which is amazing, since in many of the sex paperbacks I've read they exist almost in a vacuum. 

Both books were published in Finnish as by Ralph Hayes (the name is in the title page, hence it doesn't show on the cover), but I can't locate their original American publisher, nor the publishing year. No original titles are given in the books, so I can't check with those either. They can of course be by any other writer, and Hayes's name is in them by mistake. The covers are not American.  

I'd appreciate any comments. 

EDIT: Ralph Hayes commented later saying these are not his books. So whose books are they? 

Monday, November 16, 2020

Sixties' sleaze twofer: Mark Clements's The Boss's Daughter & Ken Kane's Racket Babe

Hello again, it's been a while, huh? I got back to doing my book on American sleaze paperbacks translated in Finnish and read these two old paperbacks, both written in the mid-sixties and published in Finland in the early seventies. Neither one was very good, and not much is known about the authors, but here goes nevertheless. I realize both of the translations are possibly abridged, but I have no reasonable way to check it.  

Mark Clements's The Boss's Daughter (Midwood, 1965) is about Brad Kirby, a well-to-do newspaper man, whose wife is beautiful, but frigid at times. The wife also happens to be Kirby's employer, a wealthy and influential business tycoon. Kirby finds out his wife might possibly have an affair, and in a jealous rage he has sex with the neighbor's wife. After this his wife's good-looking bombshell of a little sister is coming to visit. She is a nymphomaniac and has decided to have sex with as many men as possible, so he starts immediately to hit on Kirby. The kid sister's own escapades are also described. The climax should be a thrilling foursome, but for some reason it all boils down to a short ending chapter, where it's just stated some of the folks were arrested. Brad Kirby's marriage also didn't cease. It's all somewhat interesting, but not very intriguing. The crime element of many other sleaze novels is missing completely. The description of class differences between Brad Kirby and his wife and father-in-law are dealt with, but not in detail. The scene between Kirby and his employer seems to be missing, so the book leaves much to be desired. 

Ken Kane's Racket Babe (Bell-Ringer 1965) is a less interesting book, though it has some merit as a lesbian prison novel. The episode which is mentioned in the original cover (see below) is very short, though. Racket Babe is like two different authors wrote it: the beginning and the ending are intolerably sweet and romantic, while the middle part is dark and relentless, with all its violent depictions  of swindles, the chaste system of the women's prison and the difficulties to get work while in parole. 

The racket babe of the title is Connie, who falls in love with a young soldier named Derek. They are separated (because of a stupid scheme to meet in three weeks' time) and Connie is running on empty. He falls in with a guy called Duke, who plays poker for money and sets up Connie with married men to strongarm them. Connie and Duke get arrested, and Connie is sent to prison, where she keeps company to a butch called Timmy and gets protection in return. After the prison, she's on parole, but the only job she gets is a lousy diner where she doesn't get enough pay and is told to lie about the money to the parole officer. Then she gets the proposition to become the diner's owner's paid lover. Connie flees, but notices soon she can't hold up on her own and is ready to become the lover, but - then she suddenly meets Derek again! Derek is now handsome and wealthy and bears absolutely no grudges. Happy end. You hear what I'm saying? No way this is a one-man job! 

One other thing that bothered me: there's a mention of the Korean war like it happened just some years ago. And yet this
was published in 1965, 12 years after the war! Is this really a reprint of a fifties' book that no one edited for its second edition? 

One thing that keeps me from blogging is how lousy Blogger's photo editor is nowadays! It was perfectly okay, but then they messed it up this Fall. I've uploaded some of the photos in this post for four or five times already, and now I just can't do it anymore, so let the chips fall where they may. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Sex writer Peter Keyes's real name solved?

Collins in the cover of a pulp mag
I'm after a long, long hiatus getting back to my book on American sleaze paperbacks translated in Finnish (received a small grant for it).  It will be called "Pulpografia Erotica", and I believe it could be out sometime next year. Will probably self-publish it through Helmivyö, my own print-on-demand publishing house.

I have an entry for Peter Keyes, who wrote erotica mainly for Brandon House, titles like  The Love Odds (1967), Soft Savage Cat (1967), Love Formula (1967) ja Between Two Women (1968). He has three translations in Finnish, all from Brandon House.

I started digging out who he might have been. I had a note of him being really one A. V. Connors (don't know where this came from, possibly from Pat Hawk's pseudonyms catalog), but then I noticed the Catalog of Copyright Entries listed one of the sleaze novels by Peter Keyes for one Andrew J. Collins. I decided to check further and opened up the  Fictionmags Index. And bingo, there he was, having written a dozen crime stories for some pulp and early digest magazines in 1949-1950 and then one in 1960 for the Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine. No info on Collins, though. In WorldCat I noticed that a book (possibly a Western) called The Land Grabbers (Major 1975) was also released as by Peter Keyes. I couldn't find even a cover for the book, sadly. I googled once more with the book's and the writer's name, and came upon another copyright entry saying that the writer of The Land Grabbers was indeed Andrew J. Collins.

I should say it's safe to assume that sex writer Peter Keyes was pulp writer Andrew J. Collins. Any info on him would be of interest, alongside with the cover scan of The Land Grabbers.

I put a bibliographic entry for Collins up in my bibliography blog here.

PS. Here's an interesting article about Brandon House in New York Times in 1970.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Dorothy M. Johnson: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and A Man Called Horse

I've been going through some American Western classics that have never been translated in Finnish, for some reason or another (someone might remember I read Thomas Berger's Little Big Man over a year ago; this has to do with the same project). First I tackled Michael Ondaatje's pretty cryptic The Collected Works of Billy the Kid. I can't say I understood all of it, but nevertheless managed through (and even wrote an essay on it!).

Secondly, I read two short stories by Dorothy M. Johnson, in the collection called Indian Country. Now, she seems to be a bona fide American classic, but she's never been translated in Finnish, and I can't see why not. She's a very good writer, with a somewhat hardboiled and even modernist understated style to her writing ("less is more", one might say), and her stories are actually closer to the later cycle of revisionist Westerns than the classic Westerns.

"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance", possibly her best known short story, differs greatly from John Ford's film, and to its advantage, I might say. I for one am more interested in the seedy characters of Johnson than the pleasantries of James Stewart or the macho posturing of John Wayne. Johnson's Ranse Foster (Stoddard in the film) is an unpleasant and uppity young man who almost deserves to get whipped by Liberty Valance, and Bert Barricune - the film's Tom Doniphon (I don't know why they changed the names) - isn't the brave and courageous man of Ford's film. He even ends up in jail in Johnson's story. The ending is also different, and better than in the film, in my mind, but you'll have to read the story to find out.

John Ford's film is deservedly a classic, though it has its setbacks, but "A Man Called Horse" is definitely better than the sensational film. Here Johnson produces a dignified narrative of a man captured by the Crows (in the film they are Sioux). Johnson's story doesn't have the exploitative self-torture scenes of the film, and it's more mundane, which makes it seem more realistic. The ending is touching.

I didn't have the time to read more Johnson, though I definitely intend to. Her "The Hanging Tree" was also made into a film, and here's an interesting essay on the troubled history of the short story or novellette (or novella). The writer doesn't really seem to like Johnson's writing, and I think she's mistaken when she says Johnson relies on stereotypes, but the story behind "The Hanging Tree" is intriguing. Feels like Johnson stopped writing Westerns after the frustrating experience.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: Dennis Hopper: Out of the Blue

Dennis Hopper made only a few films as a director. His third directorial effort was Out of the Blue (1980) that has largely almost duplicated his earlier film's, The Last Movie's fate: the film hasn't really been available to audiences for many years. I've heard there has been a dismal DVD release, but I hadn't seen the film myself before this week's Monday when I had a chance to see it on big screen, on 35 mm film. The film was made in Canada and shot in British Columbia and Vancouver. Hopper clearly couldn't have made this in Hollywood.

Out of the Blue is a restless film about a young girl called Cebe who lives in a dysfunctional family (well, he has Dennis Hopper as her father, right?) and is interested only in Elvis and punk rock. She keeps saying things like "subvert normality" and "disco sucks" and "kill all hippies!" Her father is released from jail, and the family pretends everything's normal. There's even some criminal stuff, but the story doesn't focus on it.

The film is very non-dramatic. Nothing much happens, and seems like Hopper has allowed his actors to improvise. This could be fatal, but it works here, since the acting reflects the free-flowing narration. The film has quite an experimental soundtrack, since there are scenes with two different pieces of music playing at the same time, and the actors also speak over each other almost all the time. This all makes the film a bit jarring, but it's also quite effective and even funny at times, with Hopper pouring liquor all over his face and shouting and stuff like that.  The shots are quite long and there are elaborate camera drives and pans, which makes clear the film wasn't made sloppily and on a whim.

Out of the Blue is a very depressing film and it ends with a very tragic climax. Hopper refuses to give an explanation to the tragedy, which makes it even more depressing. There are some scenes with punk bands of the era, mainly the Canadian Pointed Sticks playing two songs, and they are great, energetic powerpop anthems! Check them out!

Here's a pretty good essay on the film. There's a Kickstarter project to restore the film and release it in 4K Blu-ray.

More Overlooked Films at Todd Mason's blog (later, it seems).

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood (spoilers!)

Lots has been said about Tarantino's newest film, and I don't pretend I have something entirely new to say about it. I enjoyed the film, but two weeks after seeing it I notice I don't really remember much about it. This is a totally different reaction from Reservoir Dogs (which, admittedly, I saw three times in a row) or Pulp Fiction or even Django, which I enjoyed a great deal, though I had given up on Tarantino after being bored watching Kill Bill (which I haven't rewatched).

But I keep thinking about the new film. There's something I can't quite put my finger on. The narrative is very loose, there really is no plot (I think this is something people who didn't like the film are complaining about) and there are scenes that don't usher the story on. The ending has also been criticized, a friend of mine said it was an adolescent fantasy. To me it was possibly the point of the whole film. As everyone probably knows already, the Sharon Tate murders don't take place in the world of Tarantino's film. This is because Brad Pitt kills Charles Manson's cronies in a frenzied battle after they've gone to a wrong house! Shortly before we've witnessed Sharon Tate watching her film (the Matt Helm vehicle The Wrecking Crew) in a state of happiness and joy. The magic of cinema is so strong that it can even give you the world where Sharon Tate was not killed! This is pure poetry to me, and a proof that Tarantino really loves cinema and is not simply a movie buff showing off.

Or then the ending scene could be fiction, imagination. Just before Manson's killers enter the house, Pitt drops some acid. I think it's entirely plausible to say that Pitt just imagined the whole thing. It might also explain the weird scene with Bruce Lee.

I was also thinking about the films that are being watched or are visible in other ways, i.e. as posters on the wall. Almost none of them seem to be very good  (for example, The Wrecking Crew), but it seems to me Tarantino has affinity towards all of them. See these links: Ten films you need to see to appreciate Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood and Tarantino's curated list of the films to go with OUATIH. This is a work of true love.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Tana French: The Witch Elm

As almost everyone who's ever read my blog (that sadly seems defunct most of the time nowadays) knows I love American crime fiction. But when I read this interview with Irish writer (okay, she was born in the US) Tana French, I knew immediately I'd have to read something by her. I settled on her newest novel and read it during the holidays.

The Witch Elm is a devilishly brilliant novel, with a unreliable narrator who has a reason for his unreliability: he has been knocked out and beaten by some burglars, and due to the concussion he can't remember everything he's said or done. He's not your everyday sociopath that now people almost every crime novel, and he's not a devious criminal. He's just a guy with bad luck - or is he..? 

The Witch Elm is pitch-perfect satire on art world, and furthermore it's full of true notions of the middle-aged lives and the interactions between brothers and sisters. Violence is very scarce, but this is no cozy.

It took me almost a week to read The Witch Elm, but it was very rewarding. It's not usual to read a crime novel that is so well executed, even though the book is quite long (over 600 pages). Yet there's nothing in it in vain. I wouldn't take anything out of the book. It hooks you almost like nothing else. There aren't any of your usual narrative tricks, but the book still grabs you and holds you down. It's truly a wonder Tana French hasn't been translated in Finnish, though seems like they are publishing only books that are sure to sell, namely Scandinavian serial killer thrillers. Blah, say I!