Friday 2 November 2012

Westlake Sleaze Scores: Man Hungry, Sally and Backstage Love by Alan Marshall (Midwood, 1959/1962)

NB: Featured as part of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books. A version of this post also appears on The Violent World of Parker. 

Let's get stuck into those promised Westlake Scores from the 2012 London Paperback & Pulp Bookfair, with a book which featured only very recently over on The Violent World of Parker – where I am, as you well know by now, co-blogger – as part of VWoP proprietor Trent's series of posts on Donald E. Westlake's now confirmed (by Westlake's son, Paul) pseudonymous 1950s/60s sleaze works. Although the cover on this particular printing differs from the one Trent featured:

Man Hungry, Westlake's fourth novel under the Alan Marshall pen name, and therefore Westlake's fourth (published) novel overall, published in the US by Midwood. The edition Trent spotlighted – as showcased in more depth on the official Donald E. Westlake website – was the 1959 first printing, i.e. Midwood #20, with cover art by Paul Rader, but the edition I found at the fair is the 1962 second printing, renumbered by Midwood as #147 and boasting completely different, magnificent, but sadly uncredited (and with no identifying signature) "good girl" cover art. Indeed, for its third printing, the novel would gain yet another new cover (and presumably a new number, too), although of the three, I think my favourite is the appropriately scarlet second printing.

But Man Hungry isn't the only Alan Marshall novel I've acquired of late; because, suitably inspired by Trent's posts, I went online looking for others of Westlake's early sleaze efforts, and from a British bookseller came across (so to speak) this:

A first printing of Sally – a title which, with its attendant sapphic plot, never fails to tickle me, as Sally is the name of my ex-girlfriend; don't worry, we're still friends (and she's still straight, which is more than can be said for another of my exes), and I know it tickles her too – published by Midwood in 1959. Westlake's third published novel, the cover art on this one is by the aforementioned Paul Rader (about whom you can read – and see – much more on this dedicated website, including an essay by Lynn Munroe), and a gorgeous piece (again, so to speak) it is too. The book isn't in quite so pristine condition as the copy of Man Hungry, but then again it didn't cost as much – not that Man Hungry was that expensive anyway.

Here in the UK it's unusual to come across (one last time: so to speak) American sleaze paperbacks, and especially pseudonymous Westlake ones; the only other time I have in the last few years, other than at the London Paperback & Pulp Bookfair, was when I found this in a secondhand bookshop in Essex:

Backstage Love, Westlake's second Alan Marshall novel, again published by Midwood in 1959 – cover art in this instance by the appositely named Rudy Nappi – and blogged about as a Westlake Score back in 2010. So now I own three Westlake sleaze efforts, which, given that these novels aren't exactly prime Westlake, I think is probably quite enough for any sane Westlake collector. Mind you, when has anyone ever accused me of being sane...?


  1. BACKSTAGE LOVE could be quite the randy book knowing what I know of horny actors in summer stock companies - bedhopping, pansexual, free-for-alls in some of the places I worked. Interesting that Westlake would later revisit the world of summer stock and amateur theater when he created Grofield, one of Parker's gang, who gets his own solo caper in LEMONS NEVER LIE.

  2. The summer stock theatre thing is what tipped me off Backstage Love was by Westlake when I found that copy in 2010, John (follow the link to the original Westlake Score post for more). I'm intrigued, however, that you seem to have first hand experience of these backstage shenanigans. Tell us more (he said with a lascivious leer)...

  3. I have the same edition of Man Hungry as you do. That and a new reprint of Young and Innocent by Edwin West.

    Man Hungry makes an appearance in the third Mitch Tobin book, Wax Apple. Tobin is searching the rooms of the residents of the halfway house the book is set in and discovers a copy of Man Hungry tucked away in the bottom drawer of a dresser. He also finds a copy of Passion Doll - but as far as I can tell, that is not a real book.

    And congratulations of getting your own domain name. Also - I really miss your old blog roll. You had a bunch of interesting people listed and I often checked in just to get their updates.

  4. I didn't know that Man Hungry pops up in Wax Apple. Yet another instance of Westlake's self-referencing.

    Can you recall any blogs in particular you're missing from the blogroll, BG? I'm slowly reconstituting it – I've just added you and Olman again – but I'm struggling to remember who else I had in it!

  5. Ed Gorman
    Deighton Dossier
    Bond Report?
    Mystery File Blog
    Tipping My Fedora
    Everyday is Wednesday?
    the Spandex guy
    High Heels and Book Deals
    Book Cunt
    Dave's Comics in Brighton

    These are some that I remembered.

    You might like this guy - I read him all the time:

  6. You also had 'Songs from under the Floorboards' and, best of all, 'Book Cunt', which is fabulous.

    PS I comically double-posted last night after repeatedly having problems with the code thing you have to do.

  7. Thanks for that, BG and Chris (and Chris, don't worry, I've only published your first attempt). I'll add those back in... except at the moment the blogroll doesn't appear to be updating at all. Don't know if that's an issue with EE or with the widget, but I may have to strip it all out (again) and start over. I'll make a note of who I've already put back in if I do though.