Pulp poems, book reviews, and other tidbits from the noirboiled world
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Book Review: William Knoles, Jade Brothel (1961)
Background: I became interested in William Knoles (a.k.a. Clyde Allison) as a result of reading Feral House's Sin-a-Rama: Sleaze Sex Paperbacks of the Sixties. Earl Kemp, famed editor of sex paperbacks, claims that Knoles "was the best writer I ever worked with" (putting him above Donald E. Westlake and Lawrence Block) and that Greenleaf house editors took turns with him because "everyone wanted to be Clyde Allison's editor." But total trash is total trash, right? We'll see. I bought a random Clyde Allison novel for a song on eBay to see what it is like.
Review: Jade Brothel is the story of Dave Owens, a thoroughly loathesome American living in Thailand. Owens will do anything, legal or not, to earn a buck, and in his spare time, if he is otherwise unable to find a sex partner, his visits the brothel that he owns. But this book is not about the brothel, its title be damned. Rather, the main plot centers around Owens getting into the movie business with a Hollywood refugee named Jaybee, whom Owens plans eventually to kill in the name of more money. If Knoles had written this novel for Gold Medal, it might have been pretty good, but the requirements of the sleaze paperback formula make that almost impossible. And it's not just that the sex scenes are too many or too long or too forumulaic--it's also the repulsive pride that Dave Owens takes in narrating his conquests, which makes the sex scenes repulsive, too. But at least ***SPOILER ALERT*** it was nice at the end of the book when he got chewed up by crocodiles. Grade: D
A: Excellent. I intend to read it again. B: Good. I might read it again. C: So-so. I didn't mind reading it. D: Bad. I resented reading it. F: Atrocious. I finished it only because I'm compulsive that way.