Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Aaron's Book of the Week :: All My Lovers by Alan Marshall (Donald Westlake)

All My LoversCompleting our tribute to Donald Westlake, the Book of the Week is All My Lovers (1959), from notorious sleaze publisher Midwood Books. This book is believed to have been written by Donald Westlake under his pseudonym Alan Marshall, which he used for dozens of soft-core pornographic novels.

There is a significant collectors' market for sleaze paperbacks published in the 1950's and 1960's. These books were created purely for titillation and are devoid of literary merit, yet part of their charm today is how innocent most of them are by current standards -- the sex is less explicit (sometimes thanks to hilariously creative euphemisms for body parts) than in many of today's romance novels. Few modern readers would be offended by the sex in these novels, although they would be disturbed by the misogynistic attitudes in many of them.

One of the reasons these sleaze novels have become collectors' items is that so many of them were writen for a quick paycheck by very talented authors who went on to successful careers, including Donald Westlake. Westlake admitted to writing 28 of these smut books under the Alan Marshall name, although some believe his count was over 40. It is all but impossible to determine for certain which Alan Marshall books were really written by Westlake, since he often lent the pseudonym to friends in need of a writing gig; however, multiple sources have listed All My Lovers as one of the Alan Marshall books Westlake wrote himself. Sometimes Alan Marshall wrote in collaboration with the pseudonym of another famous mystery writer, as we will see in a couple weeks -- but first we must determine if John Updike could ever be accused of writing science fiction or fantasy.


Anonymous said...

Great find! I linked it at my Parker site.

Has anyone compiled a list of these books known or suspected to be written by Westlake? I'd love to see it if it's out there somewhere. Westlake's official site lists a few novels that seem to be along the same lines by "Edwin West" but none by Alan Marshall.

JZID said...

check out Earl Kemp's website - there is a list compiled here:

Aaron Hughes said...

Thanks for pointing to that, Jzid. I looked at that article when I was writing this post.

Trent, also note that sometimes "Alan Marshall" was shortened just to "Alan Marsh."