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.