After promising a hiatus, I’m coming back with a bonanza. Here begins a several-part series. Just the way things work sometimes.
I’ve been sitting on a goldmine of information about Donald Westlake’s early sleaze novels, lots of it put together by paperback historian Lynn Munroe, for a couple of years now. I had planned a big series of posts about these books, but never quite had the time for a project that ambitious.
Recently, Paul Westlake has been going through his father’s bookshelves. DEW seems to have kept one copy of every edition of his books in chronological order, so, thanks to Paul’s work, we suddenly know a lot more.
Between the great information that Lynn sent to me and the gusher of great stuff that Paul is releasing, now is the time for that series of posts, although it won’t include the reviews I originally intended to feature. I’ll have to get to those later.
Lots of great writers from the late fifties and early sixties got their start writing sleaze under house names, and lots of them weren’t real proud of that. Donald Westlake was one who wasn’t, and so was Lawrence Block, co-author with Westlake on a few. Decades later, both had a change of heart and came clean about some of their early material. The right decision, I think.
Unfortunately, DEW left us before he could confess to his entire catalog of sleaze books. Thanks to the diligent work of researchers like Lynn Munroe, and the work Paul Westlake is doing with his father’s library, we can now nail down most early DEW sleaze titles. I’m confident that the ones still in question will be confirmed or denied over the next few months. And since the non-sleaze DEW books are not under dispute, getting the sleaze books nailed down should give us a complete bibliography of DEW novels.
So, at least while writing the first post, here is how I conceive the series:
- The first posts will cover sleaze books that are confirmed Westlake.
- Following that I’ll cover books that are probably Westlake, that we should get confirmation on as Paul continues his project.
- The final post or posts will be about books that people online and elsewhere have attributed to Westlake, but are either definitely not or probably not his work.
These posts will be static, but will serve as the first draft of a separate Westlake sleaze page that will be updated as new information becomes available.
I have updated my bibliography to include all confirmed titles.
Special thanks to Lynn Munroe for his hard work and great research on these titles and many others, and to Paul Westlake for his work in preserving his father’s legacy.
All right! Let’s get started! These are all 100% confirmed.
The Midwood books, part I
All My Lovers, by Alan Marshall (1959)
Pictured above. This was Donald Westlake’s first published novel. (More pics)
Backstage Love by Alan Marshall (also published as Apprentice Virgin) (1959)
The first book in the Phil Crawford trilogy. Second book published and Westlake was already writing about summer stock. He would do so many more times. (More pics)
Sally by Alan Marshall (1959)
Man Hungry by Alan Marshall (1959)
All the Girls Were Willing by Alan Marshall (also published as What Girls Will Do) (1960)
Second book in the Phil Crawford trilogy. (More pics)
More to come!