High-flying corporate executives behaving badly were a staple of Australian pulp fiction in the sixties.
Coming off the drab post-World War Two austerity of the fifties, readers devoured tales of power hungry businessmen, international travel, fat expense accounts and modern, high tech business practices, mixed with organised crime, boozy parties and infidelity.
The following selection – sourced from my collection – mainly features local versions of books originally published in the US by Beacon Press.They were reprinted locally by an anonymous outfit called Magazine Services, Pty, Ltd, based in Sydney and Melbourne.
Most of the following titles don’t include the date they were republished.
The only indigenous effort, Mile Pegs, was written by political journalist, Don Whitington, who went onto be a celebrated author and biographer. Mile Pegs the story of a “King Hit” Seager who built an outback coaching venture into one of Australia’s biggest airlines while “Mercilessly disregarding the rights and feelings of the woman he loved, his illegitimate son, his colleagues and everyone who stood in his path”.
See Me Tonight! by Lee Richards is a rip off of a 1963 pulp called the Sexecutives. Subtle as a sledgehammer. The story of “high-power executives who stop at nothing to get their way – and of women who cooperate”, it bills itself as a “revealing book of today’s executive and the temptations put in his way”.
Sign Here, Lover by Jay Albert is a “daring novel of men who use romance for profit”. The man in question is Mac Macey, an aspiring corporate executive “not above making love to his client’s wives when it suited him – until he finally feel into his own trap”.
But it’s not just the men who behave badly. The women do too, even if the only thing they’re allowed to have their sites set on in the mid-sixties is a wealthy husband.
Curt Donovan’s Hotel Widow is the story of Clarise, “easy to catch – but hard to hold”. A rich and lonely widow, she employs a man to run the hotel inherited from her husband. She expects the hired help to be not only “her lover, but one she could control with a lift of her finger or a turn of her eye”.
The Beach Club features another widow, Heinie. Now “free to live her own life”, can she survive without the protection of a strong man? And can she resist the lure of Milton Carlton, unscrupulous lawyer?
Office Loves tells the story of Rita and the other women in a company town. “On the surface, it seemed a quiet, prosperous community … but below there were vicious currents of double-crossing, intrigue, illicit love affairs – and the frantic urge to succeed, no matter what the cost”.
Will she be able to resist the charms of Roger, “The new breed scientist, the genius with computers”?
Last but by no means least is Make Every Kiss Count by Ronald Simpson. Originally released by Stag Modern Novels, a UK pulp publisher, it was reprinted by New Century Press Limited, based in York Street, Sydney.
It features a three-way relationship between Don Brannigan, newly promoted partner in a Wall Street firm, Duke Parnell, tough Las Vegas money man, and Norma Gay. Norma is “Duke’s luscious, eager playmate in unusual bedroom sports” and is “good at being bad”.
The same sentiment could be applied to these pulps.
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