Friday, April 29, 2011

Forgotten Books: Jill - Sid Kane

You never know what you’re going to get when you delve into the world of Fifties and Sixties soft-core erotic novels. JILL is a prime example of that. It’s by an author I’ve never heard of, Sid Kane, and published by a company I’ve never heard of, Headline Books. (Much different from the British publisher Headline, I assure you!)


But is it any good? Well . . .


JILL uses a standard erotica plot from that era, telling the story of a girl from a small town who goes off to college and experiences life, if you know what I mean and I think you do. Jill starts out as a good girl, but when she sees how much fun her slutty redheaded roommate Sheila is having, she’s tempted. Still, she holds out for a while before she gives in to her natural urges.


Jill is a pretty well-drawn character, and the supporting cast is interesting, too. There’s a goofy little beatnik called Sam the Zip, a black blues singer named Jehova, the half-breed star quarterback of the school’s football team, Johnny Toledo, and an older male student who’s back from the war (Korean?), Blondie Jensen. Blondie is one of the villains of the piece, as is a sinister gangster named Savini. There’s a minor crime subplot, but it never amounts to much. Most of the book is more concerned with the soap opera elements.


Unlike some books of this type that tend to be a little long-winded, shall we say (got to make that 50,000 words somehow), Kane’s style is terse and clipped for the most part and even reminded me in places of James Ellroy’s work. His chapters are short, too. Nightstands and Beacons usually had 12 to 14 chapters. JILL has 40 in its 160 pages.


Don’t get me wrong. JILL is no lost classic. It’s not as good as your average Nightstand or Beacon Book. But it’s interesting and has some nice dry humor in it, almost as if Sid Kane, whoever he was, was poking a little fun at the genre. Kane published one other book that I’m aware of, THRILL GIRLS, published by Epic Books in 1961, a year after JILL came out. I have no idea if the name was a pseudonym. Don’t rush out looking for JILL, but if you run across a copy at a reasonable price (I paid two bucks for mine at Half Price Books), it’s worth picking up.

7 comments:

Walker Martin said...

The great British poet, Philip Larkin, wrote a novel titled JILL. I think James has discovered that it also appeared under the name Sid Kane! This is indeed a major literary discovery.

Congratulations. Who would have thought Philip Larkin wrote porno paperbacks...

Richard R. said...

Not a criticism, but this just isn't for me. Interesting review, as always, but I'll give it a skip and continue reading the Zorro collection I'm working my way through.

Anonymous said...

Is the cover artist credited, James? Is he another house name?

Ed Lynskey

James Reasoner said...

Nope, no credit for the cover art, and there's no signature on it. I don't recognize the style, either.

David Cranmer said...

I like dipping into these type of novels every once in awhile.

Agreed the cover art is sharp.

Juri said...

Did you check Pat Hawk's and Lynn Munroe's works for "Sid Kane"? I don't really think he's Philip Larkin... Sounds interesting. You could've quoted some passages here, I for one would've liked to see how Sid Kane compares to Ellroy.

James Reasoner said...

Juri,
That's a good idea. I post some quotes as soon as I can dig the book back out.