Sunday, 29 April 2012
Author: Robert H. Rimmer
Year of publication: 1966, New English Library edition 1969
Back cover blurb: What is happening at Harrad?
A computer picked them as partners for free love. 400 young men and women who live, learn and love together at Harrad University - the college of sexual freedom.
Quick flick reveals: Not strictly a lost book - too many people remember it and Kevin's sister in The Wonder Years was once spotted reading it - but it's interesting to see that a novel that sold, as the front cover says, 'nearly' 2,000,000 copies, helped define an era, and was adapted as a big Hollywood film featuring one of the relatively few post-Marnie appearances of Tippi Hedren after Hitchcock sabotaged her career following her laughing at his old man's shrivelled willy (or something), is now only available as an ebook. If The Harrad Experiment was an album, it would be remastered and reissued every five years, most lately as a three-disk deluxe edition in an ornate box made of reinforced velvet. Book publishing, however, recycles its old stock with a lot less vigour. Writing a novel, even one people actually buy, is not a good way to secure immortality.
The book pretty much seems to consist of some students discussing foreign policy and orgasms, which is exactly what university life should consist of.
Random paragraph: '"Let's stop kidding," Stanley said. "I spent an impotent evening. The title of the play I saw was: Who's Afraid of Vapid Vulvas?... and the answer is me: Stanley Cole."'
Thursday, 26 April 2012
Author: Barry Norman
Year of publication: 1981, Arrow edition 1982
Back cover blurb: 'Due to the untimely death of the bishop scheduled for the 'Great Men of Our Time' series, the Nat-Met TV crew was sent to Hollywood to do a programmed onteh British actor Willard Kaines - whose suitability for the honour seemed to rest on the fact that he was old, rich and so obscure that no one could quickly think of any reasons against him. But, as the unhappy crew soon discovered, there were more than one or two.
Barry Norman, who knows the worlds of film and television better than most, now takes Hollywood apart in a novel of coruscating hilarity.'
Quick flick reveals: I grew up with Barry Norman and his even-tempered reviews of mediocre eighties Bond films, and once went to see him give a talk in a village hall somewhere. It consisted mostly of anecdotes about hanging out with Richard Burton in various stages of intoxication and what a terrible person Peter Sellers was, plus a question and answer session which Middle England took as an opportunity to vent its rage at Norman's replacement on the BBC Film programme with Jonathan Ross. (Look, he's a very different type of presenter,' he answered, diplomatically). Barry doesn't have a favourite film but 'he liked Gladiator'.
Anyway, I find it very hard to imagine Barry Norman sitting down at a typewriter and hammering out the word 'fuckin'', but that's exactly what he did when writing this comic tale of movie folk doing something or other. I see absolutely no reason to believe that it's not hilarious.
Random paragraph: '"Shut up," said Mark. The commercials had finally ended and the newscaster was on screen. She was a Eurasian girl in her late twenties who, despite being quite as green as everybody else, was undeniably beautiful. The name caption flashed across her apparently green bosom said "Tina Ling".'
Sunday, 22 April 2012
Author: Hester Mundis
Year of publication: 1975, Magnum edition 1979
Back cover blurb: 'A wild and witty novel of a young woman's search for the perfect modern marriage
Jessica has an almost ideal life - an attentive, virile husband, a charming young son, a trendy home and an interesting part-time job. But suddenly she realises with a blinding flash that in order to expand her human and sexual potential what she really needs in life is a wife!
And so the search is on, with Jessica's quest for the perfect third mate setting her adrift in an alien sea of uproariously inventive seductions. Employing every ruse from lavish dinners and little white lies ot blatant propositions, she runs the whole gamut from a nymphomaniac college friend who can't boil an egg to a frigid young artist who is the best cook in the world. Finally she finds her own Mrs Right - and settles back to enjoy marriage à trois...'
Quick flick reveals: Bawdy picaresque bisexual romp from Joan Rivers's writing partner. Quotes 'Lady Love Your Cunt' by Germaine Greer.
Random paragraph: 'He reached out and caught them without looking. His eyes didn't leave Abby. She stood with her legs apart, her hands on her boyishly slim hips and her long black hair trailing down over her shoulders and breasts. "Well?" she said, and thrust her diminutive dark triangle forward with the sassiness of a schoolgirl's tongue.
Wednesday, 18 April 2012
Author: Mark McShane
Year of publication: 1977
Back cover blurb: 'A YEAR OF BOOZE, BROADS AND BACCHANALIA - ALL EXPENSES PAID'
John Martin is hired by an eccentric old millionaire to fulfill the man's youthful fantasy to experience every exotic and erotic pleasure the world has to offer. Something goes wrong. Can it be he is unequipped to handle a life solely devoted to pleasure, one in which he is forbidden to rest, work or think?
The joyride becomes a kind of prison, complete with "watchdogs" to insure that he continues to enjoy himself - their way. The stint becomes a test of his mind and his endurance, and when he unexpectedly falls in love, John realizes how much he has come to fear them... What if they found out... If they found out... What would his punishment be?
Quick flick reveals: Lost Book Library stock character the randy young chap has lots of sex, then stops liking it after a while, but of course that doesn't stop the author from writing about it in detail. Couldn't lose the feeling that this book was written by Martin Amis under a pseudonym, although actually author McShane was oft-published, with a claim to fame of having written the book on which the film Seance on a Wet Afternoon was based. Can't really argue with that.
Random paragraph: 'Look. There are two kinds of female. There are fucking women and marrying women. Divsion depends solely on the man: the woman has nothing to do with it. What to one man is a piece of cunt, is to another his possible mate; what to one is the mother of his future children, is to his brother a fast lay he'd hate to see again. Her seuxual past is not applicable. She may have been the fucking kind for a thousand lovers, that makes no difference to the thousand and first - won't at least, alter his plans. A man will gladly fuck his marrying kind, but never marry his fucking. Nor, unless he's a moron, will he talk about his sex with the first, hardly even to himself.'
Sunday, 15 April 2012
Author: Leo Madigan
Year of publication: 1972, Quartet edition 1973
Back cover blurb: 'Miraculously surviving an explosion in the South China Sea, Merchant Seaman Keiron Dorrity comes to London to take things easy for a while.
While convalescing, he writes an account of a bizarre incident he heard about at sea. When this is snapped up by the editor of a homophile magazine, Keiron finds himself drawn into the murky, lucrative world of the professional homosexual. He enters it for kicks, for giggles, for the attentions which fans his ego; and in return, it brings him money and an easy life. Then he falls in love with a young American called Rufus; and with subsequent events comes the realization that the world he lightheartedly entered cannot be so easily discarded.'
Quick flick reveals: Written in the form of a journal, this is sort of like The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, only with cottaging instead of nature studies, and no one falls into the Thames and drowns at the end. Yet more bawdy picaresque by the looks of it, this time in the gay subsection of the genre. Not sure how the Library of Congress cataloging system handles that. Comes with a recommendation from Christopher Isherwood. But where is real-life merchant seaman Madigan now?
Random paragraph: 'All he wants to do is go down on me which he does like it's his birthday, grovelling down there (ecstatic about my tattoo) and whelping with hands frantic up and down my body inside the silk but I don't mind, I just sit there deep in my chair with legs stretched and eyes closed sipping champagne...'
Wednesday, 11 April 2012
Author: Marilyn Lynch
Year of publication: 1974, Pan edition 1975
Back cover blurb: 'These are THE SKY GIRLS dedicated to serving passengers - and playmates...
Determined, self-sufficient and terribly scared of the tragic flaw in her body...
Neurotically attached to her father's image, she was unable to be a real woman...
Sex, booze, drugs - a web of vice controlled her until it was too late for escape...
Trusting and vulnerable, she let the wrong man become her Mr Right...
And these are the men who send the girls spinning in orbit: Brewster, the two-timer; Jimmy, the male chauvinist; Cal, the eternal optimist; Daniel, the ageing Texas tycoon.'
Quick flick reveals: This is a sexy book, with sexy airline hostesses doing sexy things with men who are also sexy. Contains sex.
Random paragraph: 'You're a little bit drunk, Gaylene told herself, then amended her appraisal. Quite a bit drunk, she thought. Deliciously drunk. She was feeling warm and sexy, wearing nothing except bikini panties.'
Saturday, 7 April 2012
Author: Eric Linklater
Year of publication: 1931, Panther edition 1965
Back cover blurb: 'Juan Motley is, according to Mr. Linklater's extravagant imagination, a lineal descendant of Don Juan. Suavely European to his fingertips, a wicked, witty philanderer who firmly believes "everything is made for love". In this outrageous tale, the author lets him loose on the American scene - with devastating results.'
Quick flick reveals: This is technically not a lost book, as it was recently republished by Capuchin Classics, a company that specializes bringing back to life semi-forgotten books of interest. Not many people seem to have noticed, however, and so I don't have too much of a problem with including it here.
Another bawdy picaresque (a genre that raises its engorged purple head quite often in the Lost Book Library) about a horny European shagging his way around the US in satirical fashion, this actually might just be a proper, good book that people forgot to read for a bit. The type is certainly small enough to suggest that, anyway. Or, to quote J.B. Priestley's review, it looks like it is 'magnificent frolic'.
Random paragraph: 'Olympia stirred, opened her eyes, yawned, and stretched herself. As if it were a lagoon shaken by some vast submarine catastrophe the bed moved with her. The counterpane heaved like billows, the mattress rocked, and as a quire of harps the bedsprings jangled. During these turbulent seconds Juan remembered that morning does not always approve what night has done, and it occured to him that Olympia might be less willing to find him in her bed than she had been to invite him to it. One acted on impulse and sometimes one was sorry for it. There was such a thing as regret. And though Olympia seemed too noble a creature ever to entertain that snivelling emotion one could never be quite sure. Juan waited anxiously.'
Wednesday, 4 April 2012
Author: Reg Kray
Year of publication: 1993, Arrow edition 1996
Back cover blurb: 'A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM REG KRAY
"I would like to mention that the people I have written about would not rape, hurt or harm, in any way, women or children or mug the elderly, they were mainly professional people of their chosen way of life.
During the Fifties and Sixties these people were of a minority, and had strong moral codes and ethics of their own standard, and violence was kept within their own jungle, but today criminal boundaries have spilled out to national proportions, hence the lack of morals we see today, because many of the crimes committed cannot even be considered in a professional capacity."'
Quick flick reveals: Prolific author Kray reminisces about various wrong'uns he and his brother Ron used to know in their 'not in prison' days. None of them did anything that bad, apparently, as in those days criminals existed in an entirely closed system, hitting seven shades of shit out of each other for absolutely no reason, and had nothing to do with extorting money out of honest businesspeople with the threat of extreme violence or anything like that. Except, they did, (see below) but that's ok, apparently. Sadly, Kray's sometime writing partner, gangland legend and longtime Coast-to-Coaster Fred 'the Tie' Dinenage did not have a hand in this one.
Random paragraph: 'Another story reveals how he approached the owner of a fish shop for money but was refused payment. Wassle hastened away, but returned minutes later holding a cat by its throat. Without hesitation, Wassle threw the crying feline into the fry-pan, ensuring once again, that in future, regular payments would come his way from this particular establishment.'