|Vol. 3 No. 2||
(Vol. 3 No. 2) April 2004, is published and © 2004 by Earl Kemp. All rights reserved.
|Contents -- eI13 - April
2004 Corflu Blackjack, by Earl Kemp
J.G. Ballard and the New Wave, by Bruce Gillespie
Lady in Waiting, by Victor J. Banis
My Visit With the McCauleys, by Robert Weinberg
Bad Timing, by Earl Kemp
A Letter to Martha Beck, by Earl Kemp
"Nobody Can Write This Shit Forever," by Earl Kemp
"The Westlake Twenty-Eight," by Earl Kemp
"Come on let me see you shake your tail feathers .," by Earl Kemp
Tiptoe Through the Twilltone With Me, by Earl Kemp
Partying at the Economous, by Earl Kemp
The Man Who Stayed for Dinner, by P.H. Economou
By Earl Kemp
[Corflu Blackjack 21, March 18-21, 2004, Plaza Hotel, Las Vegas, NV. Hosts: Ken and Aileen Forman and Ben and Cathy Wilson. Backup: Arnie and Joyce Katz, and Tracy Benton at www.corflu.org who brought all the pieces together.]
This is not a conreport. It is my impressionistic view of having been to Las Vegas and seen for myself, first hand, what all the self-satisfied, personal-egoed, in-group chortling and hinting has been all about leading up to it.
Besides that, it was my first opportunity to meet my eI cohort, Bill Burns, and to spend some quality time with him. But that was the added extra thrown in for nothing 25% additional for free part. All the rest of those reprobates congregated in Sin City could have made me want to be with them even without Bill.
They say the cliché is "You can't go home again," and they are certainly right about that. Even where I grew up as a child, in the boonies of Arkansas, there were wonderful things that grabbed my imagination and allowed me to run free with it. Most of those were nature related, I'd have to admit, because I felt I shared absolutely nothing in common with my contemporaries. They were the happy ones; I was constantly mourning the loss of the things I had never had but knew somehow were exclusively mine wherever and whenever they were.
I was the wiseass who felt he knew a good bit more about everything than any one of them. No way could I fit in, did I belong I was lost and adrift in nowhere land with not the faintest prospect for any improvement in any direction. This is not to say that I had no friends, because that is certainly not true. Some of those early-on playmates are still with me today, in my heart, my memory, and sneaking a peek now and then at eI and wondering what the hell I'm talking about because not a word of it makes sense about anything.
And I still love them and they still love me.
When Dr. C.L. Barrett, "Doc" to everyone, took me out of the hands of my science fiction mentor, Ed Wood, and forced me to attend his special party at Beatley's on the Lake in somewhere Ohio that summer of 1952, he showed me the world. All those things I had never had and desperately wanted but couldn't even begin to identify those were the things Docs Barrett and Smith loaded onto me. With people like Don Ford, Howard DeVore, Lou Tabakow, Fred Prophet, Robert Bloch, and a handful of authentic BNFs figuratively carrying me around from their shoulders on a sedan chair leading me through the portals of active fandom there is no way I could ever go backward.
I was hooked, through and through, forever.
I was home.
A bit later, wheeling and dealing and assembling a group of local Chicago actifans, I went for what was the biggest prize at that point in time, the (shudder and quake) World Science Fiction Convention. It took a few years of politicking and nonstop party hosting and favor trading and most of the usual, and all along the trail I thought of it as working toward a (two caps) Grand Homecoming. As a matter of fact, from time to time we even used "Homecoming" as a slogan for bringing the convention "home" to Chicago where, for me, WSFSing first began in 1952.
Many times during the course of my life, I have attempted to go home again, to defy that cliché and make a myth of it. And each time the cliché has won out and proved true I really couldn't go home again. It simply wasn't there any more. Often I couldn't even recognize the street it once was on, much less find any residue leftover from it. Whole forests of my youth wiped out and replaced with tacky houses. The pond that my pals and I went skinny-dipping in was way out in the woods from where I lived, and is now the central focus of the city park, of course.
Glorious cities from the past, Guadalajara coming instantly to mind, of relaxed grandeur and idyllic laziness crumbling into filthy ruin and overrun by countless millions of population and crime and all the big city things most people abhor. Deserted beaches now sporting high-rise luxury hotels, condos, and timeshares.
You can't go home again .
Corflu did it for me. It certainly wasn't Las Vegas. In fact, it didn't even need a name or a place, really, besides Corflu. For all practical purposes, it could have happened anywhere in the whole world not an identifiable city, a recognizable hotel chain name anywhere. I would have not even walked outside the hotel were it not for the lure of special food just there within easy walking distance. I could have been in any hotel anywhere; the city didn't even exist for me.
Corflu '04 was the closest thing I have ever seen since Doc Barrett's little invitational party known as the Midwestcon in Lorraine (?), Ohio at a bat-infested, run-down, wood-frame fishing resort hotel. Where they infected me with the disease that unashamedly keeps one yearning to belong, to participate, to be a part of home.
It had been mas o menos 25 years since I attended my last science fiction related convention. Much too long a time to go without a fix of the good stuff. Not only that, I felt as if I knew everyone who was going to be there anyway, or of them at least, and even with fore knowledge like that I still subconsciously knew they were all family as well.
My original plans had me arriving in Las Vegas on Friday morning just in time to go on Ken Forman's nature walk. That meant I would miss Joyce and Arnie Katz' Thursday night blowout party, and I really wanted to be there. All day Thursday I kept reprimanding myself for not taking that into consideration and being there where I knew I belonged. Steadfastly adhering to my schedule, I took the beating I was giving myself like a true fan and suffered partylessness and egoboo withdrawal instead.
I made it to the Plaza Hotel in time to register, meet Ken Forman and reserve a spot on the walk, and to finally get together with HE WHO DESERVES A HUGO, Bill THE MAN Burns.
And instantly into the vans and off to the nature walk. It was a delightful trip through the Las Vegas wetlands area, where all the sewage, once filtered, drains away, trailing out across the Mojave Desert [Aside: The Mojave Indians, for whom the desert is named, occupied a large area of homeland. The Colorado River ran right through it, furnishing many delicacies. The odd thing is, those living on the east side of the river are Mohave Indians and those living on the west side are Mojave Indians.] and leaving life behind in the form of native plants and trees, and a refuge for birds and other wildlife. Some 20 odd (that's science fiction for you) people, definitely including Ken, had a grand time leisurely strolling along and sucking on water bottles as if they were the last hookah left in the trufen hashish den. All the while, Ken narrated the views and answered questions as they were asked of him.
Much to my surprise, several of the people who came to Corflu also came bearing gifts for me, hand-carrying them from the distant corners of the fanzine galaxy. I need to thank them here, again, for their kindnesses. Sandra Bond, all the way from the UK, Bill Burns from NY, Marty Cantor and Dwain Kaiser from LA, Richard Brandt from Tejas, and most especially Pat Virzi, also from Texas. All of you make me proud to know you. I can never thank you enough for your thoughts and your efforts on my behalf and for eI. Please don't stop.
There was food and drink aplenty always in the con suite, and most of this was prepared and cooked by Aileen Forman and Cathi Wilson, with some help from the fantabulous Joyce Katz. You could have attended Corflu without buying a single meal or drink in any one of the Plaza Hotel's several restaurants or bars. Only that is so difficult to do in Las Vegas, where the food is not only obscenely present buy cheap and good as well. That's the main reason I ate outside the hotel, that and being able to spend more quiet, personal time with very special people who mean a great deal to me. Had the convention lasted a month I still could not have had enough of those more quiet, personal times with the special people who were there all around me and shining their light right on me.
Bill Burns, of course, and I ate together frequently. We have much to say to each other and much to do for for I'm not quite sure yet but it's one damned good cause. Ranks somewhere right up there with getting A HUGO FOR BILL BURNS WHO REALLY DESERVES IT. Then there is Dwain Kaiser because he and I started a tradition of buffet raiding a few years ago and continue it at every opportunity.
Perhaps the culinary highlight of the trip, for me, was Saturday night's dinner with dear old friends Ted White, Robert Lichtman, and new old friend Bill Burns. At the urging of some local people, we chose a Mexican restaurant some few long blocks away from the Plaza. The recommendation was right on; the restaurant served excellent Mexican cuisine and was rated the best of the category in all of Las Vegas by several polls and standards. The structure and ambience was something entirely different the building being what looks like a small neighborhood café circa 1940, surrounded by bails bondsmen and impound lots.
The four of us had a great meal, coming for me as it did atop the elaborate lunch buffet I had shared just a few hours earlier with Dwain Kaiser. It compared favorably with the food served in my favorite Mexican Mexican restaurants. Besides the category of seafood, Mexican is perhaps my favorite of all cuisines. I can remember nightmare stories about trying to find even one Mexican restaurant in all of Madrid. I so like Mexican food that my daughter Eydie, who is arranging a special 75th Birthday Roast for me (see www.earlkemp75.com for details) has arranged for an authentic Mexican caterer, in Mexico, to prepare and serve all the dishes for my party.
All of my friends and family are invited. You know who you are. All you have to do is check in with Eydie.
Ted White, who always does it to me, did it again. He was casually telling me that he and I were in Las Vegas together the first time either of us was ever there. Naturally, as I usually do, I instantly discredited everything he said, and followed that up with protests, "No, we weren't." Only we were. He is invariably right and, where it concerns me, I am wrong. In no time at all Ted had me remembering that wonderful trip we took with Nick and Noreen Falasca in a caravan to Southgate in '58. We talked about how very much Las Vegas had changed over the y ears, and Ted and me as well, and a number of other old friends, some of whom are still alive and living different lives.
Robert Lichtman, like Ted, has been a steady influence upon me and upon eI, both of them furnishing data and memories to run the mill that turns out the endless pages of run-on words signifying a brief passage of time for me, and for them, and for the rest of the family.
Joyce Katz asked me how it felt being at Corflu and I instantly responded, "I'm home. This is it. This is where I belong, where I live."
The Katzes, by the way, were fantastic hosts. They made it just that much more difficult for me by telling me how much I had missed by not being at their Thursday evening party. They made up for my absence, for me at least, with the traditional Cherokee [Joyce and I both have documented heritage there] peace pipe. The fragrance of remembered fantasies.
How could it not be home ?
That's why, way up there, I said I did. I finally managed to go home again, and it was all worth the trip, Homeland Security (one extra hour negotiating a 10-mile roadblock backup at Hoover Dam damn) and all.
The eating of the juicy parts began Sunday morning at 11 a.m.
Ken Foreman, Ben Wilson, and all the gang gathered in the Turf Club for brunch, the official Corflu Blackjack awards banquet. Ken said that during the set-up phase one of the hotel staff had asked him, "What kind of wedding is this?"
"It's not a wedding," Ken said, "it's a family reunion."
It was my pleasure to share a table with the fabled Art Widner, as well as Murray Moore, Pat Virzi, Bill Burns (WHO ETC.), and Billy Pettit. The food, lots of breakfast and lunch dishes, was served buffet style and the seating cabaret fashion. The food was also quite good and plentiful for those capable of making additional raids on the buffet.
Ken Forman announced the Faan Achievement Awards.
Best Fanzine was Trapdoor by Robert Lichtman
For me, the biggest thrill came with:
The highlight of the banquet was the Guest of Honor speech. Ted White, who certainly deserved the recognition, had his name pulled from inside a propeller beanie the evening before, so he would have time, between tokes, to prepare his speech.
He did a fantastic, amazing job of it, too, talking on the subject of "The Graying of Fandom" which included almost everyone listening to him. I believe the youngest was 35 and the upper limit unknown just a bunch of kids .
Ahead of time, Bill and I decided to take a lot of really good pictures and post them here. As is usually the case, my camera froze, displayed "An Error Has Occurred," and promptly shut down. I couldn't revive it at all .meaning we were, from the beginning, short one camera. To fill in some of the blanks, we prevailed upon Murray Moore and Eric Lindsay to help out. We owe them many thanks for their generous cooperation.
THIS ISSUE OF eI is dedicated to Corflu the institution and all those who have supported and cherished it through the years. It is also dedicated to two old friends from Nightstand Books, Donald E. Westlake and Alan Marshall. It is in memory of Samuel Edward Konkin III, Julius Schwartz, and Jon White.
In the mundane world, in a different lifetime, I was obsessed by the actions of the charismatic young Acapulco matador Antonio Lomelin. I wrote of this obsession in "Death in the Afternoon" in eI2. I was caught by surprise by Lomelin's suicide in Mexico on March 8, therefore part of the memory of this issue is just for Antonio. Rest in peace, old hero friend.
As always, everything in this issue of eI beneath my byline is part of my in-progress rough-draft memoirs. As such, I would appreciate any corrections, revisions, extensions, anecdotes, photographs, jpegs, or what have you sent to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and thank you in advance for all your help.
I need to call your attention to two pieces of my in-progress memoirs included in my FAPAzine, SaFari 3.2, February 2004. They are "Dem bones dem dry bones .," and "Flyin' Down to Rio." And both are incorporated herein by reference.
Bill Burns continues to be The Man around here. If it wasn't for him, nothing would get done. He inspires activity. He deserves some really great rewards. It is a privilege and a pleasure to have him working with me to make eI whatever it is. And also, Dave Locke continues as eI Grand Quote Master. You will find his assembled words of wisdom separating the articles throughout this issue of eI.
Other than Bill Burns and Dave Locke, these are the people who made this issue of eI possible: Dirce Archer, Victor J. Banis, H.C. Beck, Martha Beck, Robert Bonfils, Bruce Brenner, Howard DeVore, P.H. (Phyllis) Economou, Richard Eney, Bruce Gillespie, Pat Hawk, Joyce Worley Katz, William Levy, Eric Lindsay, Murray Moore, Lynn Munroe, George Scithers, Robert Speray, Donald E. Westlake, and Ted White.
ARTWORK: This issue of eI features new artwork by Charlie Williams and recycled artwork by William Rotsler and Ralph Rayburn Phillips.
Return to sender, address unknown
By Earl Kemp
We get letters. Some parts of some of them are printable. Your letter of comment is most wanted via email to email@example.com or by snail mail to P.O. Box 6642, Kingman, AZ 86402-6642 and thank you.
Just to prove it, this is the official Letter Column of eI, and following are a few quotes from a few of those letters concerning the last issue of eI. All this in an effort to get you to write letters of comment to eI so you can look for them when they appear here.
Sunday February 8, 2004:
In the 60s Earl Kemp was a science-fiction fan and
porn editor. The latter eventually got him a federal prison sentence for
his part in an illustrated version of the President's Commission report
on pornography. He has returned with an online zine called eI,
mostly devoted to his memories of those days
I particularly direct
your attention to the article from a reader's point of view, entitled
It's too fucking good (and yes, that includes your article).
I haven't seen a reason to vote for a Hugo for a zine (either pro or fan) in ages, but this changes that (keeping in mind that I love your stuff, been reading it for years, but I got tired of you not winning, and walling you up to play for the sympathy vote was never REALLY an option).
--"Max Bialystock," Neil Belsky, LiveJournal
I love your fanzine
Monday February 9, 2004:
Your writing in eI never ceases to amaze me. Here I am with a
hundred things to do before the trip to Hawaii and I have elected to read eI12.
Tuesday February 10, 2004:
I've long told myself it's easier to read stuff if it comes in electronically. Still, I usually don't read it, and even more rarely do I loc. I'm short-circuiting things now, writing a loc as I read eI. Wish me luck.
Stopa only begins to describe the surreal events of Bush's presidency. He lists some unlikely policy resulting, but doesn't go into the right-wing ideologue control of the Republicans, the willing relinquishment of civil liberties by the American people, and the most fantastic of all, that Bush still has 50% approval.
I would like to think that Canada is moving toward a police state more slowly than the US is, but recent collusion between the RCMP and FBI (Maher Arar) makes it clear that we're all in it together.
Did you buy your plot directly from Crystal Collins? Your descriptions online of your water and power adaptations are quire interesting... I've long had an interest in the desert areas, even before I spent a summer at Canyon de Chelly (1959). We're going to tour a small bit of it after Corflu.
I second Jack Calvert's observation that the reward of fanzines, or almost anything else, is in the doing rather than anything else. I am reminded of a quotation, "The object of the game is to win. That is not necessarily the object of playing the game." (The author? Here I'm having one of those moments where I can remember a lot about someone, but not his name. It came from sailing.)
Hlavaty describes the 1960s porn from the consumer viewpoint. I remember, as consumer, the 1950s, when just the idea that people went to bed together was titillating. I guess we are aroused by shaking us out of our matrix, from whatever degree of explicitness that might be.
The 1960s were followed by the 1970s, when mainstream literature had to catch up to what it was unable to present before. Suddenly anything was doable, and writers did it! In fact, it was too much, and it settled down to today's "sex is okay but don't be too obvious."
And by making sex acceptable in the mainstream, porn lost some of its market, and retreated back to the ghetto, as Hlavaty notes. I thought that freedom to publish would dry up the market for pornography totally; society wouldn't need things you looked at guiltily and put away. I was wrong, as the porn on the Internet shows. I guess that teenagers of any age need to look at something forbidden.
Thanks, Earl, for having such a rich experience and sharing it with
Tuesday February 11, 2004:
Earl, your latest posting is great. I love the material on Linda
DuBreuil. Ditto on the Guadalajara porno mill. I did not know Don Gilmore except for his
fascinating and valuable 2-vol. study of porn.
Wednesday February 11, 2004:
I belatedly acknowledge getting your eI12. Have only had time
to read the section about the porno queens, which I greatly enjoyed, in part for the great
memories about Johnny's pig party and tales I've heard about his Momma, and partly because
of your coolly classic style of writing.
Thursday February 12, 2004:
Just scanned parts of this issue (el12), Earl. Such fascinating stuff. Saw my Passion Pit blurb. Thanks for the plug.
Again, I marvel at your workaholic ways.
Was so good to see the skyview of your spread. Must be something-all that green in the middle of that eternity of desert. But still can't understand why a swinging fool/cosmopolite (sp?) like you would ever settle so far from "civilization."
Will venture deeper into the issue when time permits. Stocks never
Wednesday February 18, 2004:
Last eI was excellent--I recommended it to a lot of folk,
mostly non- or lapsed fans. But then the same could be said for the previous issues.
Friday February 20, 2004:
See? I didn't wait for the PDF file to arrive after all. Here's a loc even before Bill could process it. Time for some comments on the enormous eI12.
Jon Stopa brings up one of my favourite SF tropes, the alternate universe/timeline idea. I think one universe is more than enough, but if there are an infinite number of me out there somewhere, I hope they're doing a little better than this particular me is. Should I feel guilty because I'm pulling down the bell curve of all possible mes? This universe is too tough...I'd like to switch to one where there's justice for all, and it's not so difficult to make a living. (Maybe we're now living in the Star Trek mirror universe. It's as good an explanation as any for the insane headlines I've been reading over the past three years or so.)
As you bask in the sunshine and heat of Arizona, I'm sure you've turned on your radio or television to find that the Maritime provinces of Canada have been dealt what's called a weather bomb, where a drastic drop in the barometric pressure brings on a huge storm. The weather bomb in this case was especially powerful, and dropped a full yard of snow on Halifax, which bore the brunt of the whole mess. Most of the Maritime provinces have been entirely shut down until the storm passes on its way to Newfoundland, and they can have a look to see where they can shovel all that snow.
I just checked out www.earlkemp.com and www.earlkemp75.com. The first one shows me where you've been, and the second where you're going. You're going to a helluva party in October, and I wish I could be there to party with you. Yvonne lived in the San Diego area (Chula Vista, National City, San Ysidro) for a couple of years back in the early 70s. She showed me all her favourite haunts when we were in LA and SD for the 1984 Worldcon.
Jack Calvert's letter makes me wonder if the truly ephemeral part of a fanzine is the paper it's printed on. I prefer paper zines, but the writing can survive the paper if it's preserved some way, on a website or CD-R. I don't know how long a website can last, or how long Bill Burns will want to keep eFanzines.com going, but saving those PDF files onto a CD might preserve them until another printing method comes along, or there's a more permanent electronic storage method. Or do we go with the true meaning of ephemera, and let it all go into the memories of a dwindling few?
I'm not sure if Hannes Bok ever got the recognition he deserved from science fiction and from fandom. Seeing what kind of character he was, he should have fit in with fandom just right. That photo of Linda DuBreuil reminds me somehow of Bjo Trimble...tiny but tough, and full of energy. Did any of Don Gilmore's porn writers ever break into science fiction writing, and would we recognize their names.
As I'm doing a little proofreading for a music publishing company these days (just a temp assignment, but it's keeping the rent paid), it's always good to have a style guide to refer to. In fact, this guide would be good for just about any writer, even the part about the vocabulary.
Anyway, time to go and get this off to you. Take care, and as
always, I look forward to the next issue, lucky 13. See you then.
Frankly, Earl, eI is about the most difficult fanzine I've ever come across to write an LoC on. Maybe it's just me, but I figure that a good LoC should be at least of comparable quality with the fanzine to which it's written (which eliminates me right there), and that it should actually contribute something to the readers of the next issue. So far, I haven't come across anything in eI that gives me a base from which to do that, and for some reason I detest the idea of writing an LoC that's practically nothing but generalized and lavish Egoboo. Sorry, but that's the way things stand, and have stood for twelve issues.
I'm not suggesting that you should publish an inferior fanzine just
so people like me could criticize it, or a different and less-polished one just so we can
add to it.
I'm in Norfolk, using the terminal at my son's library. He and I are flying to Prague tomorrow for a one-week visit. Will be back in USA on March 2nd, will be here a few days and then back to LA--unfortunately. I truly hate LA. I brought a large hunk of your memoir with me to read on the plane and I did it! Truly amazing stuff there. Would make a great edited-down book for media junkies.
I had forgotten about Bruce Elliott and The Dark Place. Hundreds of memories came reeling out of the past. The joy of knowing Frankie Robinson and Tom Scoria--the pain of so many lost friends. But you're still here and maybe I'll see you [at the Los Angeles Paperback Show] in April.
I was unaware you were on Terminal Island. I would have visited you.
I thought you were in New Mexico of somewhere. Leave it to Harlan to come through for a
friend. He has to be the most loyal and truthful person on the planet. I know absolutely
that if I'm in trouble I need only to pick up the phone. Harlan is always there for you. I
guess all current trufan news is online. If I had the time, money and energy, I might get
a Dell. But when would I use it? I'm still working two part-times jobs to pay for the
earthquake damage. Believe me, the trip to Prague was charged. I wanted to go before my
vision left completely. love to all
Saturday February 28, 2004:
Below is the text from a recent loc I wrote Marty Cantor, of course it is an loc on back issues, so I don't expect him to print it. Therefore I am forwarding those two paragraphs to you.
"Heinlein Happens" --- very informative reading. I suppose this is why you sent me the issue. Or to rephrase, I may have asked you to send me this because of this material. When I read the readers' response to this in the subsequent issue, my feeling was, "Oh boo hoo, did Earl Kemp poke some holes into the Great God Heinlein?" Being a fantasy fan and faanish fan, I have read little, if any at all, of Heinlein's fiction (or his non-fiction, if such exists). I have, however, recently (well, since 2000, and that's recent to a middle-aged flatulence such as myself) read fine, wonderful, candid, revelatory excerpts from Earl Kemp about his past. So it can truthfully be said that I'm more of an Earl Kemp fan than a Heinlein fan.
Nevertheless, when I first started reading it, it seemed merely as
though he was someone with an axe to grind. Indeed, he seemed unnecessarily, even
gratuitously insulting. The further one read, however, the further one came to understand
just how much and why he resented Heinlein. He described egomaniacal behavior that ran
roughshod over him and the rest of fandom. If all this, along with the excerpts from a
mysterious volume on fandom in the 1960s by Richard Lynch, are true, one wonders how the
MidAmeriCon committee fared with his antics during 1976? Or were there horror stories
there too, about which I either never read or have mercifully forgotten?
[Timothy Marion is making reference to my article "Heinlein Happens" that also appeared in www.enter.net/~trove/critics/Happens/happens.html and is part of my on-going, in-progress memoirs. -Earl Kemp]
Saturday March 6, 2004:
Great Work, Earl. I have just discovered your e-fanzines and they
look WONDERFUL and I
Sunday March 7, 2004:
I had to go back to eI10 more than once; at 81 pages, it's a
large read for someone who often has problems seeing straight. But I did read nearly all
of it, and wanted to write and thank you for making it available to others.
J.G. Ballard and the New Wave:
By Bruce Gillespie
James Graham Ballard was born in 1930, so he will be 74 this year. He was born in Shanghai and interned in a Japanese civilian POW camp during World War II. This became the background of his novel Empire of the Sun (1984), his bestseller, filmed by Steven Spielberg.
His first stories were 'Escapement' and 'Prima Belladonna' in Ted Carnell's New Worlds and Science Fantasy in 1956, which was eight years before Michael Moorcock took over New Worlds and changed Science Fantasy into Impulse.
Ballard always said his main influences were Surrealist painters and early Pop Art artists. The main themes and images of his stories were of deserted landscapes and wrecked technology, that is, near-future decadence and disaster. The imagery was not that much different from what we find in the early works of Jack Vance. Ballard's early successes included 'The Waiting Grounds', 'The Sound-Sweep' and 'Chronopolis'. 'The Sound Sweep', about a chap who goes about sweeping up sounds in a vacuum cleaner, still reads well.
In 1962, Ballard began to use the phrase 'inner space' about his work: his famous quote about his own work was: 'the only truly alien planet is Earth . . . "The Voices of Time" (1960) is his most important early story, an apocalyptic view of a terrible new evolution faced by the human race' (SF Encyclopedia, p. 84).
In 1966, John Foyster expressed a slightly different view:
I cannot really comprehend what all the 'inner space' is about. Doubtless some kind soul will be able to take up six or ten pages of a future issue of this magazine explaining it to me in simple terms and then I too shall be able to grovel at the feet of the master . . . If 'inner space' as opposed to 'outer space' is simply an investigation of the character's psyche then why not say so, and admit that it is only an attempt to join the mainstream, and not sf. (Australian Science Fiction Review (first series), No. 5, December 1966, p. 16)
Ballard began a series of stories set in a decaying resort called Vermilion Sands, where, as David Pringle puts it, 'poets, artists and actresses pursue perverse whims', which was another way of saying that the motives and actions are often just a little incomprehensible.
His first novel, in 1962, was The Wind from Nowhere, based very much on the British disaster novel model made so popular in the 1950s by John Wyndham. In fact, each of the three early novels fits that category - British disaster novel - except that the source of the worldwide disaster is not particularly well explained, and the explanation doesn't matter much. In The Drowned World (1962), the world heats up and the seas rise, but the explanation for the physical action is not what interests Ballard. What is really different about this book is that the main character, Kerans, welcomes the disaster. Instead of heading north, as the rest of the humanity has done, he travels south towards the equator, into a region of steadily increasing heat and wateriness.
What's different about Ballard? The language, first and foremost. Quiet, steadily advancing sentences, almost no overt climaxes or melodrama until late in the book, with the emphasis on the thoughts of the main characters. Ballard is not concerned about what is happening, but about how the characters react to what is happening. What is different about Ballard's characters, though, is that they experience everything as intensely as possible, and make that experience into a work of art. Ballard put himself directly counter to everything that had happened in science fiction until then, and especially against the very dull landscape of SF during the early 1960s. The point of life, the Golden Age writers seemed to say, was to solve problems and overcome adversity. Ballard's characters, by contrast, take to adversity like a duck to water, and try to make things more difficult, not less difficult, for themselves.
The extraordinary thing about Ballard's career is that he sold his short stories at all. Ted Carnell, by then the only English science fiction magazine editor and Britain's most powerful SF agent, was, from all descriptions, not a man who cared much about art. He was an old-time fan who liked a good old-fashioned story, yet he published every Ballard story that, as Ballard's agent, he couldn't sell to an overseas magazine. In his magazines New Worlds, Science Fiction Adventures and Science Fantasy, he continued to publish Ballard stories regularly. He was also publishing some very intense and literary stories by Brian Aldiss. Between the two of them, Ballard and Aldiss showed up most of the other British SF authors of the time as being just a bit pallid.
By the early sixties Ballard began to acquire not just readers in Britain but disciples. Those disciples overturned the old moneychanger and took over the temple. At about that time Ballard's 'The Terminal Beach', an almost completely surrealistic mood piece, appeared. More than anything, it signalled that Ballard was writing stories quite different from anything that had ever appeared as science fiction. Coincidentally, Nova Publications sold Carnell's magazines- or rather, they proposed to drop them altogether, but a group centred around Michael Moorcock bought them. In 1964, Moorcock, in a series of editorials for New Worlds, proclaimed the magazine was setting out in a bold new direction. Ballard was the prophet of the new direction, and Moorcock was his disciple.
As Australia's John Foyster noted sarcastically some years later, 'Who will believe that he is Gabriel when he has already been assured by a close friend that he is Ghod?' Ballard seems to have taken Mike Moorcock's crusading editorials more and more to heart, and decided to boldly go where no science fiction writer had gone before. Fortunately he had already published, for Ted Carnell, most of the stories for which we best remember him.
The rest of Ballard's career is the story of moving away from SF, then returning to it. He rode with New Worlds during its most experimental period, that is, from the end of 1967 - when it was the first SF magazine to change to quarto size and feature a wide range of pop and surrealistic artwork and photography - to 1969, when Ballard began to be adopted by British literary people. He published in the little magazines, such as ambit, and stopped appearing in New Worlds. In the meantime, he began writing what he called 'condensed novels', that is, stories in short segments with odd, emphatic little episodes that, for most readers, did not add up to much.
Such pieces included 'The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered as a Downhill Motor Race' from 1967, and 'Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan' from 1968. At the same time, however, he was still writing Vermilion Sands stories, such as the superb 'The Cloud Sculptors of Coral D', by now for a newly opened-up American market. During the sixties Frederik Pohl published some of the dullest fiction ever produced by the human mind, but he also published Cordwainer Smith, and he introduced J.G. Ballard to America.
Ballard's later directions included very successful dips into straight realism, such as his wonderful Empire of the Sun, in which his prose becomes very readable and he tells convincing stories.
Ballard and the New Wave
Every age has its New Wave. Since the New Wave that we're talking about, there seem to have been several in the arts in general - especially in pop music in the mid 1970s, and in SF in the 1980s (the cyberpunk movement). All new waves share the same characteristic - they kick against the former practitioners of the genre, the golden oldies, the old farts, the fuddy-duddies - no matter how good or bad their work actually is or was. The new kids on the block must fire shots at the older guys.
The term New Wave ('nouvelle vague') comes from French cinema in the early 1960s, and was led not by film-makers but by film critics. Francois Truffaut, Jean Luc Godard and the other main film-makers of the French New Wave began as critics writing for the French magazine Cahiers du Cinema. The old farts against which they were reacting were rather unlucky, for they included film-makers such as Jean Cocteau and Jean Renoir, who are now seen to be much more interesting and adventurous film-makers than most of the New Wave directors.
In science fiction, the real push for a new wave came from the writers who gathered at the Ladbroke Grove home of Michael Moorcock. They were the people who took over New Worlds in 1964. They hated not only most of the writers that Ted Carnell had been publishing, but also all the Golden Age writers the Americans held up as models for good SF. Clarke, Asimov and Heinlein were particularly denigrated, as were most of the writers of their generation. The only exception that Moorcock mentioned was Alfred Bester. The writer he really liked was British surrealist Mervyn Peake (the Gormenghast trilogy).
The English New Wave was stridently anti-American, but paradoxically it depended for most of its vigour on a whole group of Americans who had moved over to Britain in the 1960s to take advantage of a strong dollar. Pamela Zoline, John Sladek, Tom Disch, James Sallis and Judy Merril were all living in London at the time. Judy Merril, the only one of them who already had a reputation as an SF writer, was promoting what she called the 'new thing' in her review columns in F&SF and in the stories she selected for her annual Year's Best Science Fiction collections.
So what was the New Wave all about? More than anything it was a feeling, an itch to scratch, an acute need for good writing and new, non-technological ideas about the future. The New Wave writers also had the feeling that the new university-educated group of young people in Britain would form an audience for a new SF that was at least as well written as the literary fiction of the period. They would flock to New Worlds and make it a best-selling magazine. For thirty years the older generation of American SF writers had been saying: why won't the literary establishment recognise how good SF is? The New Wavers said in reply: because you old guys, publishing for the pulp magazines, didn't write very well - the writers for New Worlds are as good as any of the authors reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement.
There were many peculiar results of this debate. One was that the only New Wave writers who delivered the goods were people such as Ballard and Aldiss, whose careers were well established before Moorcock took over New Worlds, or writers like Tom Disch, Roger Zelazny and Samuel Delany, who were already making a splash in America before they began to publish in New Worlds. All their first stories had appeared in Amazing and Fantastic when they were edited by Cele Goldsmith, so she should be known as the founder of the New Wave. The best pieces of fiction during the heyday of New Worlds were Tom Disch's serialised novel Camp Concentration and several of his best short stories, such as 'Casablanca'; Brian Aldiss's serialised novel An Age (later released as Cryptozoic!) and many of his best short stories and novellas, especially the Barefoot in the Head stories; and some of J.G. Ballard's weirder stories, including those that were incorporated into the novel Crash.
How successful were the masthead New Wave writers, the writers whose works were praised beyond belief by Moorcock? When I looked at Langdon Jones's website, I discovered that he has settled down to a quiet rural existence somewhere in England, and has written little since the early 1970s. All his stories are collected in one collection, The Eye of the Lens, which is very good and probably now unobtainable. James Sallis disappeared, then turned up back in America as a mystery writer. John Sladek went his own merry way, with hardly any financial success during the rest of his life, but at least he kept being published. He had a belly-laugh sense of humour, a welcome and rare quality in the pages of New Worlds. M. John Harrison, the only writer of the time who was really influenced by J.G. Ballard, has had some successful mainstream novels and collections and short stories, but has only recently received universal acclaim for his new novel Light. Harrison is the last New Waver: a very arty and artful writer, sometimes compelling and sometimes impossible to read. Giles Gordon, another New Wave writer I liked very much, stopped writing, became Britain's most successful literary agent, and died last year.
Meanwhile, the New Wave writers who had real careers were the same people who were publishing before the New Wave was proclaimed. They include Aldiss, Ballard, Disch, Zelazny and Delany. Christopher Priest, as a young fan, is credited as having labelled the New Wave as such in Peter Weston's fanzine Zenith (later Speculation). Priest did not really start his writing career until the New Wave was almost over, yet today he is one of the few writers who demonstrates the qualities the New Wavers claimed for themselves: a genuine love of words and fine writing, and an eye for brain-twisting plots that are intriguing and memorable. His new novel, The Separation, has just won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the BSFA Award in Britain.
Whatever happened to the New Wave? In America, it was quite extraordinarily hated. Isaac Asimov preached a mighty thunderous sermon against the Old Wave some time in the 1969 or 1970, but I've never actually come across the piece he wrote. It must have been in the SFWA Bulletin. Brian Aldiss never forgave him for what he took as a personal attack on himself, whereas Asimov was obviously just covering his own back, and probably didn't know an Aldiss from a Disch. After all, if the New Wave actually caught on, who would read old fuddy-duddies like him?
The situation could have been very bad for writers like Asimov if readers had started buying New Wave novels in large quantities, but that didn't happen. Within a year or three, the Old Wave writers had arisen like mighty phoenixes. In 1973, Asimov's The Gods Themselves became the first SF novel to make to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Shortly after, Heinlein's Time Enough for Love also made it to the top, followed by Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama. For the first time, science fiction writers could make real money from writing SF. That one fact alone changed SF more than all the sermons from New or Old Wavers.
All the battle about New Wave versus New Wave took place in the letter columns of the great fanzines of the time, especially in Dick Geis's Science Fiction Review. Harlan Ellison appointed himself as the guru of the American New Wave, and published in 1967 the collection Dangerous Visions, following it with Again Dangerous Visions. The problem with both anthologies is that many of the stories were not nearly as adventurous as Ellison claimed, and most of them were pretty badly written. You can see this for yourself by buying the recently re-released Dangerous Visions. Since then, Ellison has made himself a laughing stock by failing to produce The Last Dangerous Visions, some of whose stories were first bought nearly thirty years ago, and many of whose authors have died since selling stories to the collection. Nothing that was dangerous in 1970 would be thought of as dangerous now.
The real hero of the American New Wave was a quiet, unassuming man with a dry wit, who was in 1969 best known as America's best writer for fanzines. Terry Carr was then working as an editor and dogsbody at Ace Books, under the mighty thumb of Donald A. Wollheim. Wollheim didn't like New Wave, and said so in letters to fanzines, but he allowed Terry Carr to begin publishing the first series of Ace Specials. These little paperbacks, with their fabulous Leo and Diane Dillon covers, featured the most experimental and daring manuscripts that Carr could find. R. A. Lafferty was one of his first discoveries, and Past Master quite a success. So was Ursula K. Le Guin's The Hand of Darkness, a novel that was very literary without owing anything to the British New Wave. That one novel made the Ace Specials essential buying. Joanna Russ's novel of the time was And Chaos Died. One of the last of the first series of Ace Specials was Brian Aldiss' Barefoot in the Head, filled with Joycean puns and surrealistic landscapes.
The New Wave and me
I bought the first of the issues of New Worlds to be issued in the larger, more pictorial format, and I stayed with the magazine as long as possible. Every time Merv Binns sold me a copy at McGill's Newsagency, he complained about the magazine: 'I don't what they're doing these days. I don't know why people are reading this rubbish. But if you really want a copy, I can get it for you.' New Worlds was a shared secret among the Australian SF fans who thought of themselves as really in the know.
Suddenly one day Merv said: 'I can't get New Worlds this month. It's banned.' Horror! I had just begun publishing SF Commentary. The same week as New Worlds was banned from entering Australia I received a letter of comment and a subscription from an Italian reader called Gian Paolo Cossato, who was living in London. I must have mentioned the New Worlds ban in my letter to him, because by airmail a couple of weeks later Gian Paolo sent me the banned issues of New Worlds in a plain brown paper envelope.
What was all the fuss about? I never could work that out. Our censors were very peculiar in those days. A serial called Bug Jack Barron, by Norman Spinrad, featured, according to the Chief Censor, one scene of horribly reprehensible explicit sex, so the censor banned the five issues of New Worlds in which the book was serialised. Within two or three years, the paperback version of the book was imported and was sitting on the front counter at Space Age Books.
In reading Australian Science Fiction Review, I had already discovered that its main critics, John Foyster, John Bangsund and Lee Harding, were as fascinated by the peculiarities of New Worlds as I was. John Foyster was so incensed by New Worlds and Mike Moorcock overpraising Ballard that he wrote a series of long articles about Ballard's work, sometimes praising him and sometimes exposing him as an emperor without clothes. It was the constant santimoniousness of New Worlds that got under Foyster's skin. As he asked a number of times: what is there in the prose to demonstrate that an average New Wave story is better than a good story by Henry Kuttner or Robert Sheckley from the 1940s or 1950s?
By 1975 the New Wave was dead. Those hotshot British literary types proved not to be interested in a literary SF magazine. Arts Council grants kept New Worlds going until the beginning of 1971. When the grant was withdrawn, the magazine disappeared. It was revived as a paperback quarterly for three or four years, and David Garnett kept trying to revive it yet again in the 1990s. The puff had gone out of the soufflé. The only real achievements of the early years of the seventies were a series of stunning stories by Keith Roberts, some brilliant pieces by Josephine Saxton and M. John Harrison, and a regular column of startling, word-drunk critical essays by a new bloke called John Clute. He exuded literary flash, and he seemed like a New Waver, but in the end he proved to be interested in the whole field of science fiction, and has outlasted the New Wave
In America, the Ace Specials died in the early seventies, Harlan Ellison turned to writing film scripts instead of promoting the New Wave, Judy Merril moved to Canada and never published another word of science fiction or about science fiction, Roger Zelazny stopped writing experimental fiction and churned out the abysmal Amber series, and Samuel Delany turned out a book called Dhalgren, the first page of whose quarter million words I nearly managed to read. American Old Wavers triumphantly preached the coming of the Permanent Wave, and we all went back to sleep again. Well, not quite. Up in Canada, William Gibson was quietly working away at a novel called Neuromancer while publishing articles in other people's fanzines. In terms of unreadability, Neuromancer was for me the ultimate New Wave novel, but it was called cyberpunk. A new New Wave had started. We're probably about due for another one.
- - -
By Victor J. Banis
Lady Agatha flushes the john and stands, pulling his shorts up over his hips. He pauses, examining himself in the mirror. Why can't I be hung? He thinks, instinctively clasping his inadequate genitals in his hand. He leaves his shorts down about his hips and pirouettes, peering over his shoulder. Nice fanny, something to be thankful for. Getting a little plumb, however. (This is a sugar pill much relied-on. He has always been plump, never unpleasantly so.) Lots of men, she is well aware, prefer a little meat on the bone. Not the crewcut all-American ones, as a rule, but the Latin types, now they go for a girl with flesh.
She sighs, remembering a group of Spanish sailors-that was in Long Beach, and more years past than she wants to remember. Oh, they were sweethearts, with their oily, garlic-scented bodies and their inexhaustible passion. How many of them had there been? She makes as though to remember, although in fact she has since cherished the night in its every detail. Four of them - no, five - and just her and one other queen. God, how they burned up that beach, flinging themselves about in the sand-sand in her hair, sand in her shoes, sand in her drawers - sand, sand, sand. That had been a time.
Satisfied now that her derriere is still reasonably in shape, she pulls the skimpy Jockey shorts up and washes her hands. Must be sanitary, after all, she tells herself. Silly, the things a girl will have in her mouth in one night, and then worry about washing her hands after going to the bathroom but then, convention she sighs at the burden of convention, although in truth it is a burden she rarely deigns to recognize.
Finally, finished with the bathroom for the moment, she picks up the telephone from the floor where it is sitting, its long cord trailing after it, and carries it with her to the bedroom. Twenty minutes she sat in there, and not one phone call. Damn queens, too lazy to pick up the phone and dial a number.
She sits on the edge of the bed, scratching in the vicinity of her crotch, and tries to think of someone to call. Larry, that bitch, will be in bed, no doubt. Him and his chicken. One of these days, Lady Agatha assures herself, he'll get caught with some chicken, and they'll haul that one away for a long rest. Do her good, too.
She frowns as she remembers a party at which Larry-who was with a perfectly nice boy himself-literally snatched a sweet young trick away from her. He could still see Larry smiling that bitchy smile of his afterward.
She makes a mental note to call Larry, but not now-tomorrow morning, nine o'clock or so. That will burn her, getting her out of bed before the Pope on Sunday. This decision, however, leaves her still in doubt as to whom to call.
Well, it's not as though she's the only queen in the city. She flips open an address book on the table beside her and thumbs through it. Jackie - the Sister-of-us-all? No, that one wouldn't be up either, not after working all night at that stinking bar. She thumbs on, smiling finally, then replaces the book and dials the phone, waiting impatiently for an answer.
Sweet little Ralph, always such a ball of fun-until he got married, anyway. Not that Joe wasn't a sweetheart-sexy thing, and all that. I could have had him myself, she remembers, which is not at all true, since she made a pass at him one night in the restroom of the Why Not and he offered only a polite response before discouraging the matter. But Lady Agatha remembers that he begged her, right there with people swishing in and out of that stinking place. Sweet little Ralph needn't think he got himself a virgin.
Not that they aren't a lovely couple. They go together rather nicely, as a matter of fact, blond and dark, tall and short. But so dull, now that they're settled down. Silly why people have to give up fun, just because they're not cruising.
She giggles at that-not cruising! Give either of them a sailor in tight pants with a bulge showing and they'd go out of their fruit minds. Dizzy queen, trying to act so pure why the hell don't they answer their phone? She wonders, as she half listens to the ring of the phone, what it would be like if she were married, but this is only the lingering ghost of an almost forgotten and long since abandoned dream.
"Hello?" Ralph. Had to be, with that question in his voice.
"How are you, sweets?" Lady Agatha croons, giving her crotch a gentle pat. Almost without waiting for the polite answer, she begins to talk again. "Oh, I've had such a bitchy day. You know that Clara had a party last night, the sow, and didn't invite oh, you were invited?" A pause, waiting to see if information will be volunteered. "Did you go?" Well, I don't blame you. I wouldn't have gone if I had been invited; Clara's parties are always deadly. Anyway, she called me-let's see, it must have been nine o'clock, because I had just finished washing the dishes, and I remember the news coming on as I drained the sink. Of course, I didn't tell her what I thought, never let on I knew anything about her stinking party. Up her ass, that's what I say. She wanted to know if I could go shopping with her this afternoon, so I said yes, and she'll be by in about an hour. And wouldn't you know, I saw the most gorgeous hunk of man standing outside, on the sidewalk-standing there the whole time I talked to her, and could I get that faggot off the telephone long enough to run outside and cruise it? Not on your life! Oh, God, basket to his knees, I swear it, and so obviously wanting someone to take him on."
Never once, as her monologue continues, does it occur to Lady Agatha that her listener might not be interested. After all, doesn't she call every day and recite, in great detail, everything, which is usually nothing, that has befallen her? And if it is of interest to her, it certainly should be of interest to her friends.
"Are you two coming out tonight?" she asks finally, interrupting herself in the middle of a sentence the idea of which she has forgotten.
"Umm, I don't know. I'll have to check with Joe."
She's hedging. Agatha glowers viciously at the telephone. "Now don't go giving me a stall," she warns, playful in tone. "This is the fifth time I've called to invite you two for a drink, and I'll take no excuses." It is, in reality, the third time, but she remains certain that they won't remember. As though they even care, she thinks bitterly. And me their very best friend.
"The Why Not?" Ralph asks after a pause.
"Why not?" Agatha quips in return. "About the witching hour?"
Returning the receiver to its cradle, she contemplates whom else to call. Discovering that it is later than she thought, she jumps up and begins rummaging through the closets for something to wear. Clara will be here any second, and her not even dressed.
Dressing does not, after all, take more than a few minutes. The make-up takes longer, standing until her legs ache before the mirror over the dresser. Finally, satisfied with the result, she gives a final upward brush of her hand to her lashes, darker and more delicately curved than before, and leans intently toward the mirror. Oh, how did fairies get on without make-up? Of course, her eyes are outstanding without anything on them, but how much more glamorous they are now. A good figure is one thing, and big meat is definitely an asset, but a pair of eyes-one could say anything with one's eyes.
The chime of the doorbell interrupts her self-contemplation. The clock near the bed tells her it is three-thirty, time for Clara-Clarence, if one must be butch-to be here. A final perusal of her make-up, and Agatha leaves the bedroom, swooping down upon the waiting door and her visiting "sister."
"Clara, you old bitch, you look lovely," she screams, flinging the door open and stretching out her arms for an embrace.
"Agatha, you never looked better!" As though they had not met in years, although in fact it has been only a few days, not even a week. Like two old hens, they pick and fluff at one another, Agatha leading Clara into the parlor (so she calls it).
"Where were you last night?" Clara demands, and Agatha widens her already too large eyes and says, "The Why Not. Why?"
"I thought you'd be at my party," Clara says, and Agatha, the epitome now of innocence, exclaims, "Party? Did you have a party last night?"
"You know perfectly well I did-not two days ago I asked you to come. On the phone, don't you remember?"
"Of course, of course! You know, it completely slipped my mind," Agatha declares, although in truth she remembers no such invitation. It is possible that she has forgotten.
On the other hand, Clara, being the bitch she is might be simply trying to make up. "Well, what a pity I didn't make it. I suppose that awful Ralph and his new husband-what is that one's name, Joe?-I suppose they were there. Such a drag, those two. Calling me all the time, talking my ear off, Ralph does, and never anything to say. I let him talk me into meeting them tonight, of all things, for a drink. Can you imagine anything duller?"
Still fluttering, Clara admits that she can imagine nothing duller than meeting Ralph and Joe for a drink,, and the two prepare for their shopping expedition, already arguing over which stores they should visit.
- - -
[The following article has a bit of history behind it. In eI11 I included a piece called "Is McCauley Burning?" In response to that, Robert Weinberg wrote a letter that appeared in " .Return to sender, address unknown .4" in eI12 that, eventually, resulted in this piece. -Earl Kemp]
My Visit with the McCauleys
By Robert Weinberg
I've collected original science fiction art for somewhat over thirty years, since my late 20s. During that time, I've been lucky enough to meet and interview several hundred artists in the science fiction and fantasy field. The vast majority of those interviews appeared in my book, A Biographical Dictionary of SF/Fantasy Artists, published by Greenwood Press back in 1988. But, a collector and fan's work is never done. I still keep on running into artists or their families and I still keeping interviewing them. And, if I'm lucky, I still keep on buying art from them.
That's what happened a few years ago when one day my wife stumbled across an article in a local newspaper about an art exhibit only a few miles from our house. The subject of the exhibit was "Harold's World," and featured more than a dozen paintings by a forgotten artist--Harold William McCauley. I was astonished because I knew that McCauley had moved many years ago with his family to Florida after a long career working in the advertising and science fiction fields in Chicago. He had died there in 1977, and I had never been able to contact any of his relatives. Now, I discovered reading the article, they lived about twenty blocks from my house!
After a round of phone calls, my wife and I went to the McCauley exhibit where we met Kim McCauley, one of McCauley's daughters. The McCauleys had moved back to Chicago just a few years before, and were planning to return to Florida soon after the exhibit. So, I was in luck to catch them during their brief sojourn in Illinois. I interviewed Kim about her father several times. I also spoke to a second sister (whose name I must admit I've forgotten). A third sibling, a son, no longer lived with the family. McCauley's wife, Grace, his most famous model, appearing on numerous pin-up covers done for Imagination. I never got to meet. She refused to come out and talk whenever I came by for an interview because she no longer looked liked the model in the paintings.
Harold W. McCauley was born in 1904 in Chicago and attended both the Art Institute of Chicago and the American Academy of Art. He studied under the famed artist, Haddon Sundblom, and he remained a close friend of Sundblom (the artist who created the Coca-Cola Santa Claus) for many years afterward. A large Sundblom painting, a gift from the artist, hung in the McCauley parlor. It was through Sundblom that McCauley got his first work, doing illustration art, which caught the attention of the art director at Ziff-Davis who hired McCauley soon afterward.
After working as a staff artist for Ziff-Davis for many years, McCauley followed William Hamling to Imagination, where, free of the restraints of illustrating specific stories, he painted some of the finest science fiction pinup artwork ever to appear in the field. When Hamling left for California, McCauley moved his family to Florida, where he did business illustrations and portraits until his death from a heart attack in 1977.
McCauley, a confirmed bachelor most of his life, met his wife, Grace, when she came to his house on a modeling assignment. She is the stunning subject of many of his best cover paintings. Oddly enough, McCauley is even more recognizable than his wife. McCauley had a wide face, with sparkling eyes and an engaging smile, and Haddon Sundblom often used him as a model for his advertising art. McCauley stares back at people eating cereal every day, as his is the face beneath a powdered wig that Sundblom used for the smiling Quaker on the Quaker Oats box.
Despite repeated requests from the author, the McCauleys were not interested in selling any of Harold McCauley's paintings they still owned. While much of his science fiction artwork was donated to science fiction conventions, the family has about a dozen of his paintings in their possession, including his pin-up covers from Imagination. As a collector of science fiction artwork, I was disappointed not to be able to persuade the McCauley's to sell me one of those fabulous covers (I do own several other McCauley paintings, so I shouldn't complain). As a fan of science fiction and fantasy art, I was thrilled to learn they still exist. I've included some photos I took of the paintings for this article.
By Earl Kemp
A few things have surfaced a bit late that should have been included in material already covered in eI. Because these are so significant, I am including them here and now with reference to where they should have appeared but didn't.
Clear? Not by me.
The first one of these inserts should appear as a sidebar inside "The Ballad of Killer Kemp" that appeared in eI1, January 2002. It follows "Who has a copy ?" and is as follows:
Aw shux, Earl, "The Ballad of Killer Kemp"
isn't really much - the meter is feeble, the rhymes are incredibly far-fetched
Bloody good thing I like far-fetched rhymes, huh? But My Roscoe, rhyming
'sasphilly' with 'silly'
my poetic license should be revoked.
The second of these inserts should appear as a sidebar inside "The Apotheosis," by Stephen Gertz, that appeared in eI8, June 2003. It follows [Mimosa 27, December 2001] and is as follows:
I showed Maurice [Girodias] a book I had brought with me. For those who remember, [President Johnson] had appointed a four-star commission to investigate pornography. Finding it not difficult to find fact to support the obvious, they concluded that sexually explicit material was at best-like all art-a divine intrusion into human affairs and at worst innocuous clichés and kitsch, solitary masturbation being its predominant effect. Nixon, of curse, denounced [Johnson's] commission. But since, by law, the text of U.S. government printed mater is uncopyrightable, an enterprising soul had made a lavish full-color Illustrated Presidential Report of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography (1970). It was published by Greenleaf Classics, Inc. of San Diego., Maurice's sworn enemy. Photos of sperm squirting on faces? Yes. Sucking? Yes. Fucking? Yes. Hetero and homo? Yes. Groups? Yes. S&M, B&D? Yes. Whips and chains? Yes. Animals? Yes. Children? Yes. Etc.? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Even underground cartoon strips salaciously ridiculing authority. The mind boggled. All the juice that-is-the-case was there ornamenting a dry summary written by civil servants, academics, clergymen, and judges. Maurice looked through it. Humphed. Humphed again. Finally he had to concede: "It's a brilliant job. Whoever did this is going to jail."
And indeed a voice foretold. A short time later I
picked up an American magazine and saw a photo of Earl Kemp, the book's
editor, under arrest. He was handcuffed, each arm held by burly federal
marshals who were shoving him into the back seat of a car.
For many years, as I resisted or ignored her urgings, Martha Beck was my muse. She inherited that position from her sister-in-law Sally Rand. Before that, Josephine Baker had held that honor. It was Martha who, over the many years of my gafiation, continuously tried to get me to write my story.
I didn't think I had one. I kept protesting that I was the most nothing person I had ever met, a prototype Casper Milktoast, only Martha insisted otherwise.
"If you write it," she said, "they will come."
The third of these inserts has only recently been discovered among the documents in the late Henry and Martha Beck collection and returned to me. It is particularly appropriate to my memoirs because it reflects my mind-set and mental anguish at a critical point in time. It was written as a letter to Martha Beck after I had been convicted of "conspiracy to mail obscene matter" and before my sentencing. It should appear as a sidebar inside "A Stranger, and Afraid ." that appeared in eI9, August 2003 LINK. It follows the "#" time break following the paragraph beginning "Our trial began in San Diego ." and is as follows:
By Earl Kemp
I know I promised you a letter The main problem is that I have been, and am, terribly confused about the whole matter. It would be totally impossible to convey my confusion to you, short of during hours of conversation. All wound up in that confusion is a great deal of pain and mental hurt, and disappointment (in many people/things for many different reasons).
Needless to say it is my considered opinion that, now, absolutely nothing is the way I thought it was. All of my concepts of justice, of law, of legality have been proved totally untrue. What has emerged in their place is a carefully contrived charade, a farce, a piece of well-choreographed theatre bearing absolutely no relationship to anything real, or anything within the real world. If I did not know that such things were impossible, I would feel that some force far greater than any of us (something on the order of a very dictatorial government machine, or something on the order of a dictator) has preordained and spelled out exactly what should happen to who at what point in time.
We walked into the courtroom guilty and were treated accordingly by prosecution, by judge, and by jury at every single step of the proceedings (and it had always been my understanding that any person charged with any crime was always innocent until proved guilty). At no single time was any fact kind to any defendant allowed to be brought before the court. No testimony no displays no facts that could confuse the prejudged case. Absolutely no evidence or absolutely no testimony as to the guilt of any defendant was presented before the jury. In the end, we were all found guilty of 12 of the original 21 counts. A few were dropped, the balance "hung" (i.e. no decision possible by the jury).
It is very ironic indeed that those counts were for preparing and mailing an advertising brochure that was offensive to some. It is further ironic that during the time period, for several weeks before and after, that that brochure was prepared for mailing, I was in Europe. I never heard of it, never saw it (until much later, when some dead letters were returned to the office), had absolutely nothing to do with it in any fashion. Further ironic than that, when I did see it, I blew my top, it so disgusted me in an aesthetic sense (it was so boorishly, cloddishly done) that after a few screaming-shouting matches with WLH [about this and some other things], I resigned my job and quit the company.
Yet, without any evidence linking me to the thing, the jury of 12 true persons has found me guilty of preparing and mailing that very same brochure. Were it not so serious I would find it quite laughable. As it stands right now, on next Monday the 7th I go in for sentencing on the crime I have been judged guilty of but never had the opportunity to commit. At that time, on eleven counts, the maximum I can receive is 5 years and/or $5,000 each of the eleven; the twelfth maximum is 10 years and/or $10,000 fine. God only knows what the judge's decision is, or has been all along, or was dictated to him quite some long time ago.
The facts of my noninvolvement have been made well known to the judge, who refused (actually declined is the proper word) to allow them to be entered into the record or to become a part of any persons' (presumably including his own) deliberations as to my sentence.
So there you have it all in a nutshell. I am totally, irrevocably innocent of the charges as put forth before me, and of the conviction 12 true jurors have awarded me.
Therefore I am confused and injured. I have watched a long parade of incredibly plastic nonpeople appear on the witness stand mouthing meaningless words from carefully rehearsed scripts. I have seen government employees, under oath, on the witness stand, testify to outright lies to my certain knowledge.
For all of this I was totally unprepared. I have an extremely highly developed sense of truth and honesty and justice. I had made the fatal assumption that the courts of this land were the final outposts of defense to protest the innocent citizens. I was fatally wrong. Not so. There is no protection and/or defense for any citizen of this country any more. They have defeated us all, probably many long years ago. Angela is right. Ellensberg is right. The Berrigans are right. Only the individual, on the firing line, can be his defense.
And only a total, abrupt change can save any of us.
I am saddened by my experience and my discoveries. I thought better of the powers to be. I have been fucked. I also feel that there is no out for me. I have opened my mouth one time too may, consequently I shall not be allowed justice (i.e. released to go on my private way). I shall not be allowed to escape into any other world of existence (i.e. another country). I am marked and numbered. I have known for years that my every word on the telephone is of major concern to some persons.
Yet, my love, I am no one. I am not a violent revolutionary. I am not a speechmaker, a campus agitator, a troublemaker. I am just plain quiet little simple old me. Not even Joe Citizen, something infinitely less. I shudder to think what that means in terms of a powerful person. I shudder to think what any powerful person must be going through, judged on the scale of what has happened, what is happening to me.
I have lost a great deal of sleep. My entire system is shot, but it does not yet show on me. I am irritable and really (as opposed to just normally) impossible to get along with. To all practical purposes, I am a dead man.
DO NOT make the mistake of assuming that I am despondent or that I am feeling sorry for myself. No way because in the only place where it matters at all, within my personal conscience, I am secure in the knowledge that I only do things that are right. It is not possible for me to do any authentic wrong, as it is equally impossible for me to lie about anything with any measurable significance.
My head is on right. I see very clearly. I think very clearly. I am right. I only wish this could have been something important, so I could have at least felt the martyr, rather than the confused.
Whatever the outcome, short of physical and/or mental torture (and I do not put either above Them for a moment), I shall triumph ultimately. My conviction that truth is the most important thing on this earth can't possibly be that far wrong.
And, of course, I have the comforting knowledge that one tenth of me is more man than several of Them all rolled up together.
I do hope They discover the error of Their ways while there is still time for Them, individually, to try to save Their heads, Their selves.
Martha, Henry, all do take care. Watch yourselves at all times, They really are everywhere. Be ready to do whatever is necessary to protect yourself, when They come for you. They are such little people.
I love you.
- - -
OF ALL THE WRITERS creating sleaze during the golden years of paperback pornography, there were many standout regulars. Of that entire group, three of the better quality, high-frequency output top producers went on to write of their experiences in books about that time and that phenomenon. They are:
Hal Dresner, The Man Who Wrote Dirty Books, covered in "Futting With the F.B.I. Futter" in eI4 October 2002.
Linda DuBrieul, The Woman Who Wrote Dirty Books, covered in "H.R.H. The Queen of Pornography" in eI12 February 2004.
Donald E. Westlake, Adios, Scheherazade, as follows. -Earl Kemp
"Nobody Can Write This Shit Forever"*
By Earl Kemp
In "On Being Richard Stark," Donald E. Westlake wrote, "There are three reasons to write under a pen name, and at one time or another all three of those reasons have applied to me. As a result, I have been a longtime multiple personality, though lately showing signs of a more fully integrated character."
Then, a bit later in the same piece, Westlake wrote, "I've never been published by anybody who didn't know Richard Stark or James Blue or Tucker Coe was actually Donald Westlake (pay no attention to the man behind that curtain!); we just all maintain a fiction together to move more fiction."
Then, Dick Lochte, in an article named "Westlake and Company" in Written By (Summer 2002), wrote, "Donald Westlake is a writer blessed with both prolificacy and talent . Westlake has written about 80 books, half under his own name and the rest under pseudonyms employed for a variety of reasons from legal to capricious. Of the official Westlakes, 10 feature the travails of a monumentally hapless gang of thieves and their brilliant but snake-bitten leader, John Dortmunder. Of the non-Westlakes, 24 lean-and-mean novels about a relentless thief named Parker are attributed to Richard Stark. The rest carry bogus bylines that range from the unremarkable (Tucker Coe, Curt Clark) to the somewhat W.C. Fieldsian (Timothy J. Culver, J. Morgan Cunningham, Judson Jack Carmichael)."
And neither Westlake nor Lochte even bothered to mention the name of Alan Marshall.
Such a pity.
By his own admission, Westlake wrote 28 Alan Marshall novels in the 1960s, but I would put that number closer to three times that amount.
Why is Alan Marshall relegated to the register of unmentionables? Why does his own creator deny him?
Writing in Author! Author! in an article named "When Richard Stark Came Back," Westlake had this to say: "Then, in 1988, I took the job of adapting Jim Thompson's The Grifters to the screen, and the director, Stephen Frears, thought he was hiring Richard Stark. Well, hiring me and getting Richard Stark. He even wanted me to sign the screenplay Richard Stark, until I pointed out that Stark wasn't a member of the Writers Guild, and I wasn't ready to permit him to scab."
I find it impossible to believe that Westlake did not know that Jim Thompson's The Grifters was published in 1963 by the very same publisher who was publishing Westlake's Alan Marshall sleaze books. And, more importantly, that they were published from the same office and at the very same time as Westlake's Marshall books, and that the same editors (and the same art department and the same distributor) worked on both of them simultaneously.
Whatever could have happened to cause Westlake to be so blind to what was going on with his own manuscripts? How could it be possible to deny so much going on right before his very eyes?
The Black Box crew who answered to Scott Meredith in those wonderfully sinful 1960 years was a motley crew at best. Some of them were occasional staffers of Scott Meredith Literary Agency, and others were writer new-hires, signed on with great expectations as Future Great Writers To Be.
Hal Dresner was one of the gang, and Donald "Ed" Westlake. David Case, Evan Hunter, John Jakes, Arthur Plotnik, and Milo Perichitch. Also Lawrence Block, Dave Foley, William Coons, and . William Knoles, my personal favorite, was a latecomer to this group.
And they were right, they were certainly Future Great Writers To Be. Only if you could have looked on, watching them without their knowledge, you would have picked them as a bunch of high school jocks or college frat brothers, always joking, pulling gags on each other, trying to set each other up with sure things, the more unattractive the better. Stealing from each other in a good-natured way. Stealing pseudonyms, characters, plots, chunks of manuscripts loose items. Like good buddies sharing a great big locker room together and drinking each other's drinks and smoking each other's cigarettes.
The early years crowd did quite a bit of socializing together, as well. They held regular meetings every Friday night allegedly to play poker, but in reality they just liked being around each other, joking about the agency, talking shop, and psyching themselves up to starting that big ominous thing lurking over them all known as Next Month's Manuscript. It would take at least that much to keep Henry Morrison happy and to keep Scott Meredith at bay. [There were women writers as well, like Marion Zimmer Bradley, but most of them were kept rather well hidden. It was essentially a male thing to write those books, or so people assumed. In reality, the women wrote much better quality pornography than the men.]
The yokels at Midwood and Nightstand Books would just have to wait their turn, nothing could interrupt "The Happy Pornographers" at play. That was the group name they gave to themselves in those halcyon days.
In "The Men Who Wrote Dirty Books" in Books Are Everything, Lynn Munroe asked Hal Dresner, "Were some of your Don Holliday books written by committee? Block says he collaborated with you and with Westlake. And didn't you all meet for a weekly poker game?"
Dresner answered: Circle Of Sinners (Bedside Books 1220) "was an example of a collaboration that appeared under the Holliday name. Other collabs rotated among existing pen names. The weekly poker game produced one book written mostly in a ten-hour stretch: one writer at the machine while six others played cards. The purpose was to provide some funds for the widow of [Dave Foley who had recently died. Ed had a special interest in this project; Foley's widow, Sandy, became the second Mrs. Westlake.] . The final manuscript needed some reworking as speed was a higher priority than consistency. I recall that the lead character was, at various times, called by different names; his military history was, depending upon the writer, a stint in the Marines, Air Force and Navy; and during one 24-hour period there were two sunsets and three sunrises. Still the final product was salable and, legend has it, Scott Meredith even waived his commission. If true, that is the most remarkable aspect of all."
Everyone who worked near Scott would second that in a heartbeat.
Two of those writers provided many headaches for a number of editors. They were Evan Hunter and Donald E. Westlake. They provided many headaches because they were conglomerates. Both of them, it seemed, had capable writer-type wives or lovers, and lots of verbal friends and unwilling students and every one of them eager to get in on that easy money that just seemed to flow effortlessly out of Meredith's black boxes. They had no shame at all about who wrote what.
Every month, without fail, one to three manuscripts would arrive at the Porno Factory in Evanston, Illinois as having been written by those two writers. That happened for many months for a number of years. The only problem is, the contents of those black boxes might very well have not been written by either of them.
Many people have attempted to sort out the realities of the writing of "Dean Hudson's" and "Alan Marshall's" extensive output. None of them have succeeded. Even though they are otherwise reasonably accomplished bibliophiles, archivist, and researchers they can't seem to do it.
So why do I think I can straighten them out just because I edited a whole bunch of them? In actuality, I was always the last person to know any truths about anything concerning any of the manuscripts or their origins. Scott Meredith kept all that data from me, out of fear and paranoia of being labeled America's Biggest Pornographer.
When I began working on my memoirs, I contacted every writer I could locate who was still alive from the beginning of that whole sleazy time. I asked each of them to help identify their output and to furnish amusing anecdotes for me to use as filler throughout my memories. Most of them cooperated, in spades, even to the extent of rereading numerous old books looking for personal identity clues just to make sure they had written them in the first place.
Donald Westlake was one of the original prime movers in the early days of sleaze. He originated the pseudonym of Alan Marshall and used it well. From time to time he has been quoted as saying he wrote 28 sleaze novels as Alan Marshall (or his twin Alan Marsh) during those years. All efforts toward identifying those 28 books have proved to be completely futile. Westlake is of little help in this area, professing to have long since forgotten everything he ever knew about any of it in the first place.
Donald Westlake is an exceptionally good writer. He was head to head with the best of the genre writers in those days, if not the best himself. His heritage is broad and probes deeply into many relevant areas of the period. He should be proud of every one of the sleaze books he wrote, and help work to reclaim them.
I asked Westlake for his anecdotes, his help, and his good wishes.
On April 4, 2002, I received this message from Donald Westlake:
"In 1968 I published a novel, under my name, called Adios, Scheherazade, in which I said everything I could possibly ever say about that genre. If you can find it and want to quote from it, you have my permission, with accreditation. If that's a proper use of that word. [Signed] Don W"
Lynn Munroe gave me a copy of Adios, Scheherazade. It is a Signet paperback edition published in 1971. The original edition of the book, from Simon and Schuster (1970), went through two editions. The copy I have is inscribed "To the Reverend Harry Bush, Donald E. Westlake."
And how appropriate is that, I ask? Just about fantastically perfect. It is nice to know that Westlake possesses such a wit for books with his name on them. His neglected Alan Marshall offspring must all be bastards to him, they certainly are his unreasonably ignored illegitimate progeny.
I approached Adios, Scheherazade cautiously and with excitement, wondering what significant meanings I would find within it, carefully hidden there by a master prankster just for me ?
p. 5: "What the heck am I doing? I put the paper in the typewriter, I typed the number 1 midway down the left margin. I quadruple-spaced, I indented five, and then I was supposed to write the first sentence of this month's dirty book. So what do I think I'm doing? I'm sitting here typing nonsense, I'm supposed to be typing sex."
p. 6: "Rod warned me. 'Nobody can do this shit forever,' he said. 'You gotta remember it's only temporary.'"
p. 9: "You don't have to be a writer to write sex novels I know half a dozen guys doing this, they aren't writers, they never will be writers, they're making ten grand a year doing it."
p. 10-12: "He explained what I was supposed to
do. There was a formula and a system. There was practically a blueprint.
It was the closest thing to carpentry you can imagine. As a matter of
fact, I don't see at all why I couldn't write up the formula and sell
it to Popular Mechanics.
See also p. 91.
This entire quotation (and the one at p. 91) is exactly right on to the letter. It could not have been better explained.
But they both serve a far more significant purpose here. Westlake (or let us call this fictional writer by his pseudonym) Alan Marshal was not only explaining how one stretched out manuscripts in the good old days, he was actively stretching out this manuscript as well.
Fortunately, Marshal didn't go into the editor's ultimate worst dream Threesies!
Threesies go like this: Chapter 1; studhunk hero "Lance" is getting ready to go pick up his date "Easy." As he does so, he fantasizes in great detail exactly what he is going to do as soon as he gets to Easy. Chapter 2; Lance arrives at Easy's and immediately, in great detail, does exactly what he thought he would do when he got there. Chapter 3; Lance returns home from his date with Easy. He relives in great detail exactly what he did with her as soon as he got to her. Chapter 4; Lance is getting ready to go pick up his date Easy again. As he does so, he fantasizes in great detail .
In the case of Threesies, the writer has used, word for word, the romantic encounter first described in Chapter 1 for Chapter 2 and again for Chapter 3. This forces the editor, already rather busy and facing pressing deadlines, to take the time to rewrite, at least enough to disguise the writer's trick, each of two sex scenes.
p. 12: "This typewriter uses the smaller size type, elite type, and five thousand words in elite type runs fifteen pages. My manuscripts are exactly one hundred fifty pages long, my chapters exactly fifteen pages long. I do one chapter a day for ten consecutive days, and there's another book. I was a pretty fast typist before I started doing these books, and I'm a faster typist now, and after the first few books the formula made things very easy for me, so I work an average of four hours a day when I'm doing a book, for a total of forty hours. My pay is nine hundred dollars, and that's twenty-two dollars and fifty cents an hour."
See also p. 41.
This, again referenced at page 41, is the biggest flaw of all and the final fingerprint.
Any editor who works on a certain number of words written by any writer becomes intimate with that writer in a fashion unknown to most people. If that interrelation continues over a period of months, or years, and a large number of manuscripts say just a few hundred thousand words - being constantly renewed - that editor knows that writer.
The manuscripts received from Scott Meredith's Black Box operation under the byline of Alan Marshall and sold as the writing of Donald E. Westlake were pretty much all identical. From the first to the last, they bore an indelible trademark. They were mostly all written by the same person.
Alan Marshall did not like to write these books. This becomes very clear from the mental state of Westlake's fictional porno writer Alan Marshall in Adios, Scheherazade.
Alan Marshall attacked his Smith-Corona brutally each time he approached it with one of his sleaze projects. The paper he used he approached in the same fashion, with contempt and with revulsion, as he inserted it into that Smith-Corona so it could be hammered at with anger and disgust. So those so disliked sheets of paper could be ripped hastily out of that machine and tossed aside with real contempt. They could be stepped upon, smeared, folded and creased, coffee stained, worse stained all before being casually picked up and jammed, complete with stray hair and carpet lint, into the outgoing mail envelope.
Not even jogged. Not one single moment allowed for a fleeting second thought. The manuscripts consistently rose just to almost the absolute minimum required input level.
First draft right off the top of the head meaningless drivel presold. The contempt was very hard to handle the attitude that Marshall knew we were stuck with whatever came inside that black box and had to lump it or like it.
Or spend long hours reworking parts of it, stretching it out to actually fill the minimum required wordage that Marshall somehow almost never quite ever managed to achieve.
Numerous annoyed strikeovers whole lines marked through crazy restarts that don't quite fit the narrative .
The elite type, almost with no borders anywhere on the page, was an awesome sight to behold so formidable so demanding so terribly much work. This small little stack of Alan Marshall manuscript pages would hit my desk-every editor's desk, let's be clear about that-with a mournful groan. Oh, God another Marshall!
Now the work begins for real. It is very slow, tedious work, plowing through all those tiny little tight crammed words on the page sometimes the line spacing appears to be line and one half instead of double spacing. The eyes fall out of your head trying to hold onto those words long enough to figure out if they were at least used correctly in the sentence that was broken up into seven separate words one paragraph each for special effect and page filling quicker than the mind can come up with the words to put down there in the first place.
Working any Marshall manuscript was a drag mostly because the editor never seemed to be getting anywhere. That thin little stack of fully-typed and pre crunched paper never seemed to go down any.
And, after you write sleaze novels 28 times, or ten, or 200, you really don't ever want to write any of that shit any more.
Now let's take another writer's manuscripts: Lawrence Block. He had his own individual style of typing, his own fingerprints all over his manuscripts. To begin with, he used a better grade of typing paper than most of the other writers did; his manuscripts were very easy to spot because of it. He had nice wide margins all around each page with lots of room for the editor's eyes to read the words and his pencil to write in whatever is needed there. He was a pretty good typist too, and made relatively few strikeovers. And, especially important, he took the time, now and then, to correct some of his typos. The only negative I can recall is that occasionally Block would stretch his typewriter ribbons a bit beyond endurance.
Working a Block manuscript, for an editor, was relatively easy. The big stack of reasonably typed pages seemed to dwindle before the editor's very eyes.
One more example: Robert Silverberg was Scott Meredith's original number one black box writer. Without his input there would have been no black boxes to begin with, for anyone. I have said elsewhere that Silverberg's manuscripts were consistently the most perfect, the most beautiful, that I have ever seen in my entire life. And he frequently wrote three of them a month. He swears that all that flawless, perfectly even typing was his, and that it was all first draft. He was the editor's choice of the easiest writer of all to edit. And, Robert Silverberg was the single largest contributor to the genre itself and his manuscripts consistently rated right up there at the top of the list of best-selling sleaze titles.
p. 13: "Nobody can do this shit forever.
p. 16: " all those calls to New York, to Rod and Pete and Dick, to Lance ." [And Reverend Harry Bush from the inscription.]
This, also, is perfect. Everyone, constantly, worked toward newer and greater euphemisms for penis. It was almost like a challenge match to see who could come up with the most variations on the always popular theme.
p. 18: "I've been sitting here all afternoon
typing away and I don't have a goddam thing done. This isn't a sex novel,
this isn't anything. This is a piece of shit.
p, 19: " when you've got writer's block the only thing you can do to break it is write something. It doesn't matter what. Sit down at the typewriter and type out names of cheeses, a political speech, anything that comes into your heat. It sort of primes the pump, and pretty soon you can go and write the thing you're supposed to be writing, which in my case is a filthy book."
Couldn't have said it better myself. The advice is the right solution as well.
p. 21: " mostly this stuff is one draft. I mean, it's bad enough to write it, I couldn't possibly read it. So I go along, fifteen pages a day, ten days a book, all of it first draft, all of it pushing along as fast as I can go, whatever comes into my head next, which is almost invariably something very stock and banal and expected and ordinary and imitative of a thousand books before me, and it all pours like a runny nose onto the paper, sheet after sheet, one hundred fifty sheets of paper when I'm done ."
p. 23: " I'm sort of a pornographic Kukla, activated by the hand of the masturbating high school boy, piping rotund obscenities into his waxy ear."
p. 27: "Because Spack is the publisher, down in New Orleans, and he's paying the twelve hundred dollars every month because he thinks these Dirk Smuff books he's getting in are still being written by Rod Cox."
p. 29: "I finally opened up old books of mine and copied out sex scenes word for word, but the stuff between the sex scenes I couldn't copy ."
This was a commonplace practice. We did it in the office regularly, mostly because of Westlake. At least it started with him. We eventually came up with something we called the "All Purpose Scott Meredith Screw Up Kit" that was pre-written sex scenes devoid of any form of identification that could be inserted anywhere into any manuscript. We began the creation of that kit to pad out Westlake manuscripts.
It started out simple enough the printer, who was making up the book pages at the time, came to a screeching halt. Our output was so huge, and our scheduling so tight, there was absolutely no leeway for major screwups, like press downtime. The book was too short what to do?
What to do? Naturally, it was up to me. I jumped the next plane I could get on to Sandusky, Ohio where the printer was located and took a taxi straight to the plant. I stayed there, in the composing room, overnight, writing out stretching bridges and chapter ends to fill out that book to the necessary number of pages for the press form. And that press was rolling again first thing in the morning and I was on my way back to Chicago completely exhausted again. Thanks, Don. I'm not even sure Scott Meredith passed along the bitch; he certainly wasn't interested in hearing any of it.
Marshall books invariably ran short at the ends of chapters for at least six chapters. That meant the editor had to stop everything and write six new chapter ends of meaningless nothing that did nothing but fill out the blank pages.
After we did this a couple of months in a row, we decided to write those manuscript stretchers ahead of time so we wouldn't have so much down time each time Westlake appeared in the rotation schedule. And to be honest, these filler plugs weren't used only on his manuscripts. There were times, because of legal dictates, etc. when we would have to pull as many as a thousand words out of a manuscript and replace them instantly so as to not loose too much time in the production of that title.
p. 41: " I have this (typewriter) because he had that one. I had to have elite size type because my manuscripts had to look like his ."
See also p. 12.
p. 63: "She used to be in show business in New
Orleans until the pony's platform broke.
This is another of the porno book standard ploys. When you have nothing to say, you begin your chapter pretending that it is something else a chapter from a different book perhaps? Several of the section beginnings in Adios, Scheherezade started out as examples of unrelated porno book manuscripts in progress. You could even think of it as a form of manuscript stretching for the big boys. I wonder if the editors at Simon and Schuster ever sat around bitching about "word fat" and the horrible habits of the porno writers about repeating verbatim verbiage until they started reading like Stephen King.
p. 64: " That bastard did seven of these books, seven of them, and I've done twenty-eight, and he still gets two hundred bucks every time I write a book."
This is a constant theme throughout Adios, Scheherezade the complaint about having to pay out $200 front money every time Marshall sold a manuscript.
It is clearly a pressing obligation on Marshall/Westlake and one he had much rather avoid.
At the time in question, Westlake was no longer a client of the Scott Meredith Agency. He was a Henry Morrison client. He paid his buddy ___ at Meredith's that $200 a month to pretend he was writing Westlake's books, and then running those manuscripts through Meredith's black boxes almost exactly as if Westlake had never left home in the first place.
Except for that damned $200 per book payoff.
When you write a whole bunch of them, $200 a pop really starts to ad up and grate on the craw a bit.
p. 66: " I was never a writer, and never thought I was a writer, and never even wished I was a writer until I was already neck deep in this shit."
p. 72: " So the book is the autobiography . Except there's more to it than that . He doesn't want the (reader) to know one true thing about him, not even his name, so he weaves all these falsehoods, lies inside lies, then sticking the truth away in one little corner, or other times putting part of the truth right out in the open where it looks like a lie, or telling a lie the (reader) will be sure to catch but doing it in order to lead the (reader) to believe a different lie, doing all these things chapter by chapter ."
Is this Marshall's description of Westlake?
p. 72-73: "
he wants to call the book Adios,
Motherfucker. But his editor told him there was one big trouble with
calling a book Adios, Motherfucker, and that is, he won't get any
p. 91: "
How do we manage to stretch that
for fifteen pages.
See also p. 10-12.
p. 110: " I have never risen above the material any more than my readers have, and if you can't rise above the material you ain't no artist. And it's tough to rise above quicksand."
p. 125: "Rod uses all of this stuff of course. What he writes isn't books, it's carnivals. He writes well-lit night entertainments, constructed out of muslin and paint and the Sears Roebuck catalog."
p. 141: "What we do in the sex books in order to indicate the passage of time within a chapter, we put an asterisk in the middle of the next line like this:
I got mine from the same place and the same time, only I use the # instead of the *.
p. 161: "Except I don't have anything to write about. When I started this, nine days ago, I was full of things to say, absolutely full, the things I had to say kept crowding out the book I was supposed to write. So now I've given up entirely the book I was supposed to write, and I no longer have anything to say."
p. 164: "Well, it was driving me crazy, it was like an evil spirit in an old fairytale, forcing me to write write write, fifteen pages at a time, five thousand words at a time, it wouldn't let me stop, it kept getting me in trouble and making me say things I didn't particularly want to hear, so I finally decided, Let somebody else inherit the curse."
p. 175: " I will forever treasure the memory of our association."
So will I, Alan. You have no idea how much I wish you'd just stop it and come out from hiding behind Westlake. Perhaps you're the only one left who knows who wrote you to begin with.
I'll say this for you though, Alan Marshall, you were worth all the extra work involved in bringing you alive. We tried to help you all we could, giving you a bit of a sense of humor now and then, and commiserating with you because your heritage, your very lineage, was denied to you.
I'll say this for you, old buddy I'm your expert witness.
When they get me up there on the witness stand, testifying, I'm going to look right at Westlake (pointing to the defendant, both identifying him as the offending culprit and noting his presence in the court room) when I say, "Yes, it is my considered opinion, after working many of his first draft manuscripts, that the majority of the books carrying the byline of Alan Marshall were written by Donald E. Westlake."
"Mr. Foreman, has the jury reached a verdict?"
"Yes, your honor. The jury has unanimously voted Donald E. Westlake guilty as charged."
_ _ _
By Earl Kemp
Donald Westlake says he wrote 28 sleaze paperback books prior to 1962, mostly under the pseudonym of Alan Marshall (Alan Marsh). Following, by year, is a list of published Alan Marshall novels. This list is made in an effort to identify those 28 acknowledged Alan Marshall Donald E. Westlake novels and a few other confirmed writings. This list is limited to Marshall books published prior to 1965 and has every possibility of being wrong as well as missing some titles that should be included.
1959 All My Lovers, Midwood 015 <
1960 All About Annette, Midwood 051 <
1961 Call Me Sinner, Nightstand Book 1581
1962 Apprentice Virgin, Midwood 149 [2nd printing
of Backstage Love Midwood 017] <
[Written by committee to benefit Dave Foley's widow: Lawrence Block,
Hal Dresner, Donald E. Westlake, and four other unnamed writers.]
1963 Cruel Touch, The, Midwood 259 >N
1963 Flesh Den (by Alan Marsh), Evening Reader 703 <
1963 Legacy of Lust (by Alan Marsh), Leisure Book 604 <
1963 Lust Hop (by Alan Marsh) Pillar Book 815 <
1963 Lust Kicks (by Alan Marsh), Pillar Book 808 <
1963 Lust Prowl, Midnight Reader 470 [written by Marilyn Goldin]+<
1963 Passion Class (by Alan Marsh), Leisure Book 606 <
1963 Shame Seeker (by Alan Marsh), Pillar Book 818 <
1963 Sin Prowl, Evening Reader 708 [Vol. III Phil Crawford trilogy] +<
1963 Plus 5 non-genre books; 14 titles, 15 books
1964 Bed of Shame, Idle Hour 405 <
In the six-year period bracketed by this article, Donald Westlake wrote 54 books that saw 64 editions. This is an impressive record for any writer of any category of fiction and one that anyone should be justifiably proud of.
That makes (in bold face) a total of 39 titles confirmed by more than one source to have been written by Donald E. Westlake by himself or with help, under two or more bylines.
HOW CAN WE IDENTIFY THE REST OF THEM?
KEY: +=Lynn Munroe confirmation; <=Pat Hawk confirmation; Bold=confirmed
By Earl Kemp
In a Memoryhole posting dated June 2001, Joyce Worley Katz answered a provocative question: "Who was Direc Archer?" complete with typo. She went on to explain:
"When I met her, Dirce Archer was a rather neat and trim gray-haired slip of a woman who was active in Pittsburgh fandom. She acted as representative/agent for artist Kelly Freas. I met her in connection with the 1969 Worldcon in St. Louis, and she handled all the arrangements for the convention to display and auction Freas artworks.
"She was quite strong-willed, requiring more assurances, security and higher commission rates than most other artists who graced us with their wares. On the other hand, it was probably worth it, because the Freas works were enormously popular and sold for higher amounts than any other displaying artist.
"I got along with her very well, by the simple expedient of giving her everything she wanted. But I didn't mind, because the Freas work was so terrific.
"She was a real pro in how efficiently and expertly she handled the art. She demanded a great deal of security for the works, which if I remember correctly didn't stop thieves from taking one painting right off the walls of the art show.
"I rather liked her because she was so strong willed. I was always a rather compliant person with backbone as yet undeveloped. She was a lesson in how to be more forceful."
In my customary callous manner ("Yes. Go!" or, in the long form, "I told you I love you, now get out."), I batted out a quick reply to the effect that I remember Dirce well from the 1950s and '60s, and thought of her very positively. That she helped me personally in many ways, especially science fiction politically. A quick, no-thought message.
The instant I hit the "send" button, I looked up and there was the image of Dirce Archer standing over me "when she's ten feet tall" and she was really pissed off.
"Is that the best you can do?" she asked me. "After all the things I did for you. The things I gave you, and taught you that's what you have to say?"
"No, Dirce," I said. "You're absolutely right. It was an insulting message and I owe you a great deal more than that."
And, the first response to my message came in from Ted White on June 25, 2001:
",,,a return of favors after you/Chicago initially supported the DC in '60 bid (at Detroit in 1959), only to make a dramatic thing at Detention of withdrawing your support from DC and throwing it to Pittsburgh in what struck me at the time as some of the dirtiest Worldcon politics I'd yet seen. (But I learned a lot about Worldcon bidding strategies from watching the Pittsburgh bid, all of it making me far more cynical than someone of my few year  should have been.)"
Damn! Ted's right. I had even forgotten that part. It's so frustrating to think you've just about figured out something about yourself only to have Ted come along and point out your errors. He knows more of the truth about me than I know about the truth about myself. He is a remarkable, helpful asset.
Only his comments made me speculate that he thought Dirce Archer had "an irregular life" and, if that is true, then I must be somewhere beyond the realm of mankind in a galaxy far, far away.
In fact, I began immediately reevaluating all my memories of Dirce Archer.
When I first emerged in fandom, Ed Wood mentored me along a devious route that reflected some of his personal goals and ambitions a bit more than they did mine, as I knew them to be. He walked me through Worldcon business meetings explaining everything, pointing out who the movers and shakers were and what they were doing and how. He targeted the people I was to identify myself with and emulate. In a manner of speaking, Ed Wood led me patiently through science fiction high school. Then he turned me over to Dirce Archer, who worked out the bachelors in science fiction politics.
These lessons were not necessarily "dirty," but were much more like Republican/Democrat routine machinations. Actually, Dirce's lessons prepared me for the real world as well.
Dirce had some good company. Her retinue ordinarily contained people like P. Schuyler Miller, Jim Blish, Kelly Freas and their ilk. Not bad for that day and time.
to me is a gratifying hobby, which can-if not carefully watched-gobble
up its victims. It can be petty and backbiting, yet warm and friendly
when help is needed. In fact, fandom is human-even superhuman in a way,
for it will knock itself out to assist its own, which non-fans cannot
and probably never will understand
In my memory, Dirce was a short person who proved again the cliché about short people over-achieving and accomplishing things in a world of tall people. She was very trim and worked at keeping herself that way and projected the pride with which she viewed herself and the things she did. Her major flaw, that bothered her considerably, was her vision. Dirce wore thick-lensed glasses.
We met in numerous places, many times, for those lessons hands-on and moving around the convention floor as if we knew what we were doing and what we were going to get out of it, which was a ridiculous assumption to begin with.
After Chicago finally won the bid for the 1962 Worldcon, Dirce Archer came through again with shining colors. She somehow had managed to retain, from Pittsburgh in 1960, a large amount of salable auction material and some real cash that she quietly shipped on to us in Chicago. They helped out our cause greatly even if I, at the time, thought it was perhaps illegal, at least morally illegal, to have withheld that parcel and those funds from the Seattle Worldcon committee in 1961.
That didn't stop us from accepting, and using, the material and the money.
IN THE LATE 1950s, my husband Henry Beck and I got
involved in fandom. We had both read science fiction since we were very
young children. Somehow we went through our courtship and the first three
weeks of our marriage without telling each other that we read "that
crazy Buck Rogers stuff." Henry was in college at the time and studying
Hamlet, which I loved also. Immediately we put down strong roots that
have kept us together for fifty-two years.
To double-check my personal feelings about Dirce, I asked Joyce Katz for some of her additional memories.
In an e-mail message dated June 25, 2001, Joyce wrote:
"I got along with Dirce Archer well enough. I had been warned about her by the New York crew, but I didn't fall into any of those traps.
"I think I had rather more sympathy with her than the New Yorkers had. I have spent a great deal of time with artists, and am used to catering to their whims. As I said, I just gave her what she wanted and needed, and the relationship worked well to our mutual benefit. We made good money for and from her on the Freas auctions.
"I never did get involved in any of the 'politics' with her, and that was another factor that made it easier for Dirce and me to get along."
In an e-mail message dated June 27, 2001, George Scithers wrote:
"My memory of Dirce Archer is that she was indeed very helpful. But then, I wasn't in Pittsburgh, so things might have escaped me. An example of her helpfulness: Discon I (1963) planned to give a Special Hugo to P. Schuyler Miller for his book review column. We hoped to do so as a surprise to him. When he told us that work was getting in the way of his attending Discon I, we (the Discon committee) got in touch with Dirce, and she got Schy Miller to attend."
Dick Eney e-mailed "I remember her doing a lot to see that various cons ran smoothly."
No matter how I looked at it, it just wasn't enough. I asked Dirce to excuse me for a minute and ran down to the Cyberflorist on the street corner. I clicked on two extra long-stem Bird of Paradise blossoms at the peak of their perfection. I entered the credit numbers, picked up my purchase, and ran back to Dirce.
On the way, I timeslipped backward, becoming the naïve, malleable youth Dirce had known before. After all, it had worked once. I handed her the flowers and, head down, said, "I'm sorry " Foot shuffling, forcing a blush. Shucks ! "Could you possible forgive me?"
"Well " she said, stretching the word out really long. "Maybe " She clutched the giant orange and purple Bird of Paradise blooms possessively, as if she had never seen anything so exotic before. The flowers were almost as big as she was.
Oh my God! I'm trying to manipulate her !
"I really need your help, Dirce," I said, calmly. She had taught me well.
"Oh ?" she asked, softening noticeably, trying to keep a smile off her face. She leaned forward until the stems of the Bird of Paradise stopped her, leaving here posed like a phantom tripod, anticipating.
"I've been working on my memoirs, Dirce," I said.
"I was wondering, do you suppose you could teach
me how to politic the Pulitzer?"
By Earl Kemp
Recently, in MemoryHole, Robert Lichtman replied to a question from me trying to identify an issue of my fanzine SaFari. Among other things, Lichtman wrote, "The issue is dated February 1965. The whole thing is mimeographed on yellow Twiltone, making me think that the Coulsons might've run it off for you."
Of course he was right, damn him; he's getting to be as bad about being right as Ted White.
I thanked him for his data and moved on, unintentionally ignoring his correct identification not only about the yellow Twiltone but about the Coulsons as well.
But I couldn't get it out of my mind. I kept smelling the odor of Buck's funny cigarettes floating around. I kept hearing Juanita making noises in her kitchen, then picking up her guitar and strumming the strings almost idly, unconsciously, maybe even prehensilly. And singing. Just letting those glorious words, tones, and phrases roll out of her soul as they were meant to flow.
She's pissed off at me, I thought. She's right.
I knew I wouldn't find any peace until I made myself right with her and with Buck.
When I lived in Chicago and was sort of a free-roaming member of the mobile
Midwest Nomads, the Coulsons turned out to be one of my very favorite couples. Buck and Juanita were my kind of people. They lived out in the middle of nowhere with lots of open space and trees, nothing at all like the things I knew in Chicago.
Because I was a country boy myself, from the worst sort of backwoods background, I felt comfortable there, outside Wabash, Indiana, and thought I was relating to them both on numbers of different levels.
It was not at all unusual for the Coulsons, at least once a year, to have an open-house science fiction fan party that would pull in people from miles away. Gene and Beverly DeWeese, from close at hand, were fixtures in the Coulson repertoire. Ray Beam would come down from Indianapolis and perhaps fans from as far away as Ohio and Michigan would turn up for the family reunion festivities.
They were all-day and until too many passed out after dark affairs. They were populated by dozens and dozens of fans and their children all over the place inside the house and outside and rambling around nearby just feeling the countryfiedness, the ruralness of it all.
There were hours of gossiping intermixed with hours of food preparation, eating, and clean up. There were hours of guitar playing and group singing. So many hours in fact that you couldn't possibly have done as much in any one of those days as you did.
Between all the hosting and the cooking and the children tending and the routine easy housewife stuff, Juanita, years before she became the famous writer, sat down and cut those stencils by hand with everything just going on naturally around her. None of it seemed to phase her in the least.
I did the easy part, the typing, filling in the gaps between Juanita's good stuff. Some of the pages were actually run off then, during that hectic, science fiction funday, only I couldn't type as fast as Juanita could cut stencils. I had to take some of them away and finish them at home, sending them back so Buck could finish running the issue off for me and for SAPS.
The moral of the story is: You can't hardly find things like that any more the Twiltone's too difficult to come by.
There are many more Coulsons stories, of course, from other times and other places, but all of them are the same. Each is filled with fun and good humor, with genuine warmth and affection, with Hallelujah Chorus type music filling the background completely and forming the sound track behind fandom's very best.
- - -
By Earl Kemp
I first knew of P.H. Economou as a fanzine writer during the 1950s and into the '60s. I thought he was rather good, especially at satirizing mundane activities. He did some writing for some of my fanzines, all before confessing that he was a she. I remember being surprised at that and then, after finally meeting her, of being delighted with Phyllis Economou.
She was a rather attractive woman and in rather good shape for someone of her denied age. Also a bit on the pretentious side but I didn't think anything was unusual about that at all. I had already spent years with Phyllis' almost neighbors, my in-laws, in Milwaukee, and they expended all of their time and four times their available income in trying to appear to be things they never were and never could have been. I just thought it was a Milwaukee thing or maybe a Midwest thing, and that I'd have to get used to it. In later years I would grow to realize that Phyllis Economou could have easily given "hostess" lessons to Terry Pinckard.
Don't get me wrong, I genuinely liked Phyllis, and especially so Terry for that matter.
I remember visiting with Arthur and Phyllis in Milwaukee in at least two different houses, one in town and a much larger house in one of the more upscale suburbs. That house was the property of a major-league baseball player of some significance, though his name escapes my memory. He played for the Milwaukee Braves and occupied the house in season. The rest of the time he lived some where nice and rented out his local house.
It suited the Economous to a "T" because it was so big and so noticeable. The only thing wrong with it was the decoration motif throughout baseball. There were actual baseball bats used all through the house as door handles, towel racks, pull levers, stairway banisters, stairway balustrades even altogether rather sickening and hardly the ideal location for a science fiction fan party, but living there sure seemed to impress some people.
Phyllis was quite a hostess and gave many parties, but only a few of them were fan related.
I remember one of the Economous' private jokes. They repeated it many times in my presence. "We're going to move to Oconomoc (a nearby Wisconsin town) so we can call ourselves the Economous from Oconomoc." It usually got a chuckle locally.
Shortly after I had actually met them, they began inviting me to some of their parties. Finally they arrived at the point when Phyllis wanted to have an A-list science fiction party and she began inviting her A-list people.
She asked me to invite some of the Chicago fans for her because she did not personally know them. And she went out of her way to emphasize something to the affect that I take care to make sure I bring only the right people to her party.
On occasions like this I had already made it a practice to make sure the inviter tells me exactly how many and what type people to include. I could overfill an entire theater privately screening an upcoming science fiction movie in three minutes with two phone calls in those days. My four closest friends, plus their companions, were frequently too many.
Finally the appointed time arrived and we all began showing up at the Economous for their A-list party and I found out something about Phyllis that I had rather not ever have known. I have never told this story to any one and I have never written of it before now. I tried to suppress it and to deny to myself that it ever happened.
Very early on at this party Phyllis pulled me aside and was she ever pissed off. She immediately started ripping into me about violating her request about bringing the "wrong" kind of people to her party. I didn't know what she was talking about and asked her to explain it to me.
"You brought a black couple into my house," Phyllis said, in agitated indignation. "You know, George and Rosemary."
Slowly Phyllis seemed to accept my explanation and reassurance that both of them were certifiably acceptable at a party in the "right" social setting. At least Phyllis' invitations continued for years after that, and they continued to include the "black" couple as well.
By P.H. Economou
Joe Bascom shifted his sample case from one sweaty palm to the other as he walked up the flagstone path to the neat, prim door. "This is the last," he decided. "Might as well knock off. Hot day like this, people won't even talk to a guy. You get nothing but holes burned in your shoes."
He rang the bell and wiped his streaming brow with a sodden handkerchief. Heat enveloped him; a tangible force, draining.
Steps approached the door through a dim hall. Languidly, Joe held out a clothes brush, trying to remember his sales talk, grown meaningless from futile repetition. To his surprise, the door opened wide. The woman who stood there looked cool, friendly.
Sunlight glinted on white teeth as she smiled, "Do come in. You look positively wilted standing there in the sun!"
Joe followed her through the grateful coolness of the dim hall and into a bright stereotyped living room where three small children rolled on the floor with a black kitten. He sat in one corner of the small sofa and opened his brush case.
"Wait," the woman said. Her voice was deep with an odd huskiness. "First, let me get you a lemonade while you cool off. It's all made and on ice." Nodding pleasantly at his thanks, she left for the kitchen. Joe heard the welcome tinkle of ice cubes.
While he waited, Joe became aware of the scrutiny of the children. He was fond of kids, but these three made him vaguely uncomfortable. They looked amazingly alike, graduated steps, with straight black hair and their mother's black eyes, like raisins pushed into cookies. The oldest was about four; the youngest a plump crawler. They were watching him intently; with an odd expectancy. The only sound was the wailing meow of the kitten, gripped too tightly in chubby fists.
Their mother returned and Joe took a long draught of the delicious lemonade. Refreshed, and not wishing to impose on her kindness, he said, "That was the nicest thing that's happened to me today. Now, madame, would you like to see a fine line of brushes, or were you simply being kind to a hot and tired salesman?"
She answered without hesitation, "Oh, please! I do want to see them. We've just bought the house and I need so many things."
Joe knelt on the floor and spread out his brushes. The baby crawled over and started playing with his shoe. Joe grinned at the little fellow and went into his sales talk.
The woman listened with attention and carefully examined this brush and that. Occasionally she indicated one which he jotted down in his order book. She took plenty of time which was all right with Joe. The small room was pleasant in comparison with the baking outdoors.
Joe felt a languor creep over him as the effect of the icy drink dissipated. He felt hot again. With surprise, he noted that his voice had dropped to a low mumble. He fought hard to shake off the feeling, to force briskness into his voice. The baby tugged at his feet. His leg muscles were too numbed to pull away.
"Ma," the oldest child whined, "I'm hungry."
Joe blinked at the wavering image of the woman. "Hush, dear," she said to the child. "Daddy will be home soon now, and we'll eat." The child whimpered and stopped.
"Something is terribly wrong with me," Joe thought. "This heat-" He was no longer even mumbling. He still knelt on the floor, supported on stiffened arms he couldn't feel. His head hung limp, chin on chest, damp hair covering his forehead. Suddenly his arms gave way. With a jarring thud, his body struck, full length on the floor.
"Ma," the child repeated, "I'm hungry."
A door opened and closed. Through waning waves of consciousness, Joe heard the woman call a greeting. "Daddy's home, children," she said. "Run and wash your hands now."
Joe was dimly aware of his clothes being pulled off; fingers pinched and prodded his arms and thighs.
A far-away echo of the woman's husky voice reached his numbed brain, "Come, children, dinner's ready."
As the impenetrable fog obliterated his mind, Joe was aware of one final sensation. Needle sharp teeth stung his ankle; he felt blood welling.
"Baby's hungry too," the woman tittered.
- - -
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