Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fiction: The Pussycat Transplant

(Ted Mark, Berkley Medallion, 1968)
Truth be told, the best thing about this book is the cover, which features – as you can see above – a nicely painted illustration of a young, healthy, slim woman lying naked on a bed, her nether regions discreetly covered by a white towel, her long legs, flat stomach, hour glass figure, and pleasantly sized orbs free for all to see, a happy smile decorating her pleasant face. The book is a sequel to The Girl from Pussycat, also by “Ted Mark,” the author of untold trash from the 1950s to 1970s, including the nefarious but seldom read Man From O.R.G.Y. books, one of which was actually made (minus most of the sex) into a third-class Z-film in 1970 by James Hill, the director of the famed family film, Born Free (1966). Seldom screened anywhere, it is also known as The Real Gone Girls. Ted Mark is actually the pseudonym of at least one writer, possibly more. (This book is copyrighted to the American writer Ted Gottfried, born 1928, but the number books and articles attributed to Ted Mark is so large that the concept of one man writing it all is almost unimaginable – he would’ve had to have spent as much more time at a typewriter than Stephen King has at his computer, especially since Gottfired is known to have published under 4 or 6 other pseudonyms as well.)
Most of Mark’s books from the late 60s and early 70s feature the same type of hippie humor that Terry Southern specialized in his books Candy and The Magic Christian, but read more like cheap, badly written imitations penned by pubescent boys who giggle at the word sex. Hit or miss affairs, they can elicit an occasional chuckle, but generally they wear thin quickly and become annoying, the humor being as dated as it is childish.
In this book, like its forerunner, the heroine is hardly a “conniving female,” as described on the book’s back jacket, but, just like Terry Southern’s Candy, is rather a less than intelligent but physically attractive young chick who has gotten herself pregnant. In search of an illegal abortion (for those of you who don’t remember, it wasn’t always your right to have one), she ends up at the practice of a “Dr. Kilembrio” and his lesbian nurse “Miss Carridge” (Ha! Ha! – get the jokes?). In the sixties, lesbians were still perverts, so the reader gets treated to a rather unpleasant sex scene in which Mark goes into detail about the dirty fingernails of Miss Carridge as she “examines” Penny’s clitoris. Neither funny nor sexy, everything that comes afterwards seems almost anticlimactic. (Ha! Ha! – get the joke?) Penny gets popped into a furnace by Miss Carridge when the nurse mistakenly believes the practice is being raided, but Penny’s barbecued body gets pulled out early enough for them to transplant her brain into the body of a man upstairs (also named Penny) who just blew his brains out. Penny, her breasts gone “without so much as a thanks for the mammary,” spends the rest of the book getting use to her penis as she tries to find out why Mr. Penny stole a lot of dough from work and then killed himself.
Virtually every women in the book end up being killed by the book's end, as does (s)he – only to wake up at the end with her brain again newly transplanted into the body of yet another young pregnant woman, the father being the same man who had gotten her knocked up in the first place (and, actually, taken her virginity in the first book of the series, The Girl From Pussycat).
Anti-establishment satire? Hack writing paid by the word? Hilariously off the wall? Idiotically immature? Sexist? Modern? Well, take a guess, why donchya....

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