Nailing down the Westlake sleaze catalog, part III: The Monarch books

Unlike a chunk of the books in the previous posts in this series, the authorship of the books written by Donald Westlake and published by Monarch Books were never much in question. The “E” in Donald E. Westlake stands for “Edwin,” so it didn’t take a master sleuth to figure out Donald Edwin Westlake. In fact, DEW had four of these five listed in his official (but not thorough) bibliography at his official site, the only sleaze titles to appear there prior to his son Paul taking up the task of filling in the blanks after DEW’s passing.

I’ll gyp this bit from this brief history and detailed bibliography of Monarch Books written by Kenneth R. Johnson with assistance from Bruce Black. Those of you familiar with the broad outline of Westlake’s life and career will not be shocked by the appearance of the Scott Meredith Literary Agency:

Monarch Books is one of a handful of publishers whose histories cannot be fully written without discussing the involvement of the Scott Meredith Literary Agency. Most literary agents simply market whatever material their authors write, shopping it around from one market to another in the hope that it will eventually sell. The Meredith Agency was notoriously proactive in identifying markets that needed material and assigning the work to their clients. It may be to the Agency’s discredit that much of such packaging involved soft- and hard-core porn. It appears that much of the material they supplied to Monarch Books was written to order from Charles Heckelmann’s requests. Much of this “packaged” material was pseudonymous, in what has occasionally been described as a “black box” operation, i.e., the publishers rarely knew who the authors were and the authors rarely saw the finished product. The result of this process is that the actual authorship of these books is rarely given in the copyright registrations, and the actual authorship of some titles has been slow to be revealed.

By my reckoning, at least 30 of Monarch’s authors were Meredith Agency clients, and their identified output accounts for about a quarter of the books published. The roster of Meredith clients included: William Ard, Lawrence Block, Marion Zimmer Bradley, I. G. Edmonds, Stuart Friedman, William Johnston, John Jakes, Jack Pearl, Thomas P. Ramirez, Mack Reynolds, Robert Silverberg, Tedd Thomey, and Donald E. Westlake. It might be significant that Monarch editor Charles Heckelmann was also a client of the Scott Meredith Literary Agency.

According to that article, Monarch published 521 books, 207 of which were sleaze. Here is Westlake’s .96% of total output, and 2.4% of sleaze.

Young and Innocent, by Edwin West (1961)

Pictured above. This one has been reprinted by our friends at Blackbird Books. (More pics)

Campus Doll, by Edwin West (1961)

This one takes place at Clifton College, which was Lawrence Block’s fictionalized version of Antioch College, a setting Block used for Campus Tramp and several other sleaze novels. (Apparently, Campus Tramp became a bit of a cult hit amongst Antioch alum of a certain generation.)

Brother and Sister, by Edwin West (1961)

This one is incredibly rare, probably because most people were too embarrassed to buy it and those who did were too embarrassed to keep it or sell it. (More pics)

Strange Affair, by Edwin West (1962)

Same cover as Brother and Sister, only with lesbians. (More pics)

Campus Lovers, by Edwin West (1963)

This is the one title omitted from the Westlake bibliography mentioned at the top of this piece. According to Lynn Munroe, “[i]t includes a couple of in-jokes. For example, one character is reading a mystery about a private eye named Tim, surely a reference to Killing Time.” (More pics)

And thus ended Westlake’s history with Monarch Books.