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.