Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Rader Love: “The Cruel Touch”

Part of a month-long celebration of artist Paul Rader’s work.

The Cruel Touch, credited to “Alan Marshall,” but possibly written by Donald E. Westlake (Midwood, 1963). Before he became famous as a crime-fiction author, Westlake produced at least part of his income by penning sleaze novels. In fact, his first book, All My Lovers (1959), was a Midwood release, published under the Marshall pseudonym. (Westlake’s debut novel carrying his own moniker was 1960’s The Mercenaries, also issued as The Cutie.) Wikipedia explains: “Westlake acknowledged writing as many as 28 paperback soft-porn titles from 1959-64 under [the names Alan Marshall or Alan Marsh]; titles include All My Lovers, Man Hungry, All About Annette, Sally, Virgin’s Summer, Call Me Sinner, Off Limits, and three featuring the character of Phil Crawford: Apprentice Virgin, All the Girls Were Willing, and Sin Prowl. Westlake was not the only author to work under Marshall’s name, claiming that: ‘The publishers would either pay more for the names they already knew or would only buy from (those) names … so it became common practice for several of us to loan our names to friends. … Before … the end of 1961 … six other people, friends of mine, published books as Alan Marshall, with my permission but without the publishers’ knowledge.’ Two novels published in 1960 were co-authored by Westlake and Lawrence Block (who used the pen-name ‘Sheldon Lord’) and were credited to ‘Sheldon Lord and Alan Marshall’: A Girl Called Honey, dedicated to Westlake and Block, and So Willing, dedicated to ‘Nedra and Loretta,’ who were (at that time) Westlake and Block’s wives.” Sources conflict about whether The Cruel Touch was an example of Westlake’s work, or a story by someone else; Wikipedia doesn’t include it on its rundown of that author’s output, but FantasticFiction does.

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