Tuesday 16 September 2014

Westlake Sleaze Score: All the Girls Were Willing by Alan Marshall (Midwood Tower #28, 1960)

NB: A version of this post also appears at The Violent World of Parker.

I might not have written about Donald E. Westlake much of late – just one post in the last five months, an outrageous state of affairs for which I can only apologise, especially to Violent World of Parker readers (still, at least Trent's back now) – but Westlake is never too far from my thoughts. For instance, a few months back I reread the first three Parker novels – The Hunter, The Man with the Getaway Face and The Outfit – gaining a new appreciation of the stripped-back, stylized brilliance of the second book in particular (The Man with the Getaway Face was already one of my favourite Parkers but I'm now of the opinion that it's the best Parker full stop), and I've recently read a couple of later Parkers too; I may write something about some or all of that at some point. And I'm still picking up the odd Westlake Score when I come across something interesting. Like this:

All the Girls Were Willing by Alan Marshall, published in paperback by Midwood/Tower in 1960. Westlake's fifth novel under the "Alan Marshall" alias, it's also the second of three books starring ladies man/wannabe actor Phil Crawford, the other two being Backstage Love (Monarch, 1959; reissued in 1962 as Apprentice Virgin) and Sin Prowl (Corinth). I scored a copy of Backstage Love four years ago but noted at the time that I had no intention of collecting any others of the sleaze efforts Westlake wrote under a variety of pseudonyms in the late 1950s/early 1960s; while their scarcity – especially in the UK – does make them attractive to the Westlake collector (i.e., me), they're of decidedly dubious literary merit. Since then, including All the Girls Were Willing (and one other sleaze title I've yet to blog about), I've acquired another four of the buggers, which only goes to show (yet again) what a hopeless case I am.

All the Girls Were Willing was an eBay win, so in my defence I suppose I could say that I was swept up in the excitement of the auction; plus I didn't end up paying very much for it, and the cover art on this first printing – the novel was reissued in 1962 with different cover art under the title What Girls Will Do (Midwood #166) – by an uncredited Paul Rader, is rather nice. Question is, inveterate collector that I am, now that I own the first two instalments in the Phil Crawford trilogy, do I try and collect the third one, Sin Prowl, which is the scarcest one of all? The inevitable answer being, with a weary sigh of resignation: probably, if I ever come across it. Er, so to speak.


  1. I've been collecting these softcore novels myself, even though I acquired only 3 or 4 of them so far. The problem with them is that they are (mostly) not listed on ABE etc and only appear from time to time on ebay and Amazon Marketplace. Even if you have enough money, you just won't find them on sale. I got all mine off ebay, for reasonable prices.
    That happens not often: I noticed that they are sold for relatively high prices. That leads to the question: are these early DW books bought by Westlake collectors or it's sleaze collectors buying all books in the sleaze category?
    If Chris happens to appear in comments, he will say that he read some of these softcore novels in digital form. I wish all of them were available as ebooks, yet I want them on paper, with lurid covers and musty smell.

  2. Yeah, I can't see the point in owning books like these as ebooks. They're not exactly compelling reads. To answer your question, it's both, and there's crossover between them. Part of the appeal of these sleaze paperbacks is many of them were written by well known writers under pseudonyms, like Westlake; but there's also the cover art, and the scarcity of some of them, which is always appealing to collectors. At the last paperback and pulp bookfair in London a couple of years ago there was a total bun fight around the table of one dealer who had loads of sleaze paperbacks.