I read a lot of fiction–I particularly enjoy novels–and here’s the latest one I read. I picked it up some years ago, probably at a paperback collectors show, and the other night I said to myself, “What am I waiting for? It’s time to read The Cruel Touch!”
The great cover was painted by Isaac Paul Rader, whose paperback work is quite collectible now.
From my research, it appears to me this book may well have been written under the “Alan Marshall” pseudonym by Donald Westlake, who later became famous for his mystery and suspense thrillers featuring tough guy characters like Parker. The movies Pointblank with Lee Marvin and Payback with Mel Gibson (and the latter featuring a memorable Lucy Liu as a dominatrix) are based on the same Parker novel.
The Cruel Touch, in contrast, is a 1963 sex novel, a well-written tale about a radio announcer named George who gets secretly involved with Carla, his boss’s nympho wife, and his lust for the woman but his guilt at deceiving his employer. As the author writes:
“Carla was as close to being a goddess as any female could get. The fact that she was a goddess of evil, of lust and cruelty, didn’t make her any less of a goddess.”
The announcer also has a budding relationship with a “nice” girl named Suzy who works at the radio station, and his struggle to balance his feeling for Suzy, and his fear and loathing at being emotionally blackmailed by the “cruel touch” of Carla–who orchestrates their lovemaking like a pubic dictator–forms the crux of the tale.
“For a long while, neither of them moved, or made a sound, except for their mutual gasping. Hers seemed to be the inhalations of deep-seated pleasure; his were nothing but the hoarse gasps of a slave driven to the limit of his endurance.”
The sex scenes, which would qualify as softcore now without a single four-letter word, are extremely well-written and both evoke the sensuous action and the emotion going on at the same time in George’s mind. Also, I loved how the author came up with the phrase “pebbled discs” for hardened nipples–my hat’s off to Marshall/Westlake for conjuring up such a unique phrase. Describing stiff nipples in a new way is damn hard, as any porn scribe will tell you!
So one of the pleasures of being a writer is not only do I enjoy reading, but I get to learn as I’m enjoying myself. Each book I read I absorb by a kind of subconscious osmosis (as well as occasional conscious note-taking), and it all helps make my own erotic fiction better.
And of course, I never tire of looking at the amazing covers on these vintage books! I hope you like the cover of The Cruel Touch, too.