Thursday, May 6, 2010

paste up #007 - harold robbins

(outside Allsorts Books, High St, Northcotea great new place to hang out)
I wanted to revisit Harold Robbins recently but didn’t have any copies of his books on my shelves. I probably dumped them at the local book exchange years ago after buying into the myth of the high art/low art distinction.

There’d be no trouble finding secondhand copies of his books at a book exchange but sadly, there are hardly any left in Melbourne and none I could find in the inner city. (There used to be a really good one in Thornbury but it closed down after the owner was murdered in the store.)

I tried a couple of the newer secondhand bookshops that have sprung up around the inner city recently but had no luck. I asked one bookseller where he thought I might be able to find copies of HR’s books and he said: “You’ll have to go to the 'burbs for that.”
Not that I required any further proof that the high art/low art distinction is nothing more than a class distinction but it was confirmed by his response. Ironically, “the 'burbs” is exactly where I did end up locating my replacement copies of HR’s books
in a fantastic, old-fashioned, book, music (and even DVD!) exchange on Mt Alexander Road, opposite the bus terminus at Moonee Ponds.
Back in the days when the local library shelves were chock full of “bonkbusters”, HR’s novels were a guilty, pre-teens, pleasure for me. His books are unabashedly trashy, full of lurid (and laughable) sexcapades but they’re also page-turning stories. I think I agree with Andrea Toback who suggests that as it was the time of the sexual revolution, “it made sexually explicit scenes mandatory in books and movies.  The scenes didn’t have to be very realistic or even interesting (they weren’t), they rarely included anything approximating love; they just had to be there.”
My 3 favourite HR books:
1.    The Adventurers
2.    The Betsy
3.    The Pirate
And then there are the trashfest film versions of HR’s novels, best summed up by pocca from Canada who describes the film version of The Lonely Lady as: No, it's not to my liking, but I couldn't stop watching . . .

And if that isn’t enough of an enticement to watch the film, then this Wikipedia entry should do it.
The Lonely Lady was hugely panned by critics, where the film was nominated for 11 Golden Raspberry Awards and won 6, including: Worst Picture, Worst Actress, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Musical Score and Worst Original Song ("The Way You Do It"). Pia Zadora won Worst New Star of the Decade for this film. She was also nominated for Worst Actress of the Century, but lost to Madonna.

(download it from Cinemageddon)


Urban Cake Lady said...

great image danado. and your work is always so interesting to read about. nice one!

Anonymous said...

Imagine my suprise to find Harold "The Man Who Invented Sex" Robbins pasted on my doorway this morning! What an honour!

Yes, Robbins has long gone.. the odd battered one in an op shop perhaps, but I haven't had one for many years.

Speaking of Thornbury bookshops, Fully Booked at 824 High St (just back from Plenty Rd) is well worth a visit. Proprietors Tige & Ra are encyclopedic on politics, lit & cinema. Don't know if there are any Robbins novels there. But, these days, if you want gratuitous sex & violence, there is always the mainstream TV & the Xbox.

Anyway, thanks for my 5 minutes of fame.
paul "AllSorts" perry
275 High Northcote
12 Noon - 6PM 7 days a week (and nearly every night as well)

Anonymous said...

Pasteup still there outside my bookshop.. getting some pretty funny comments. One young lady asked whether it was ME when I was 'younger'!!!
I told her that I was never that lucky.

Also, an elderly lady donating some books to me said "Oh I read about those things! And what are those other ones? (me: stencils?) Yes, I think they are wonderful, making the place more colourful!"
So you have at least one fan in the 70s!

-Paul Perry, AllSorts Bookshop

dañado said...

Dear Paul

I am pleased to hear that Harold has shown himself to be such a popular talking point and I appreciate your generous accommodation of the paste up. Thanks also for fielding questions and comments.

Your bookshop is a welcome refuge in a strip which is succumbing to a monoculture of eateries.

Bye for now

Edo Bosnar said...

Not much of a fan of HR myself (yet), but my lovely S.O. has pretty much read everything he's written - and has an entire shelf stuffed with his books to prove it!
Anyway, great paste-up and great post, as usual. Keep up the good work.
- Your admiring public in Croatia

AllSorts Books said...

There's a battered copy of Robbins'
"The Pirate" here if you want it,Dañado! just drifted in ;D