Friday, February 25, 2011

Beyond The Valley of Burt Hirschfeld

Ed here: The website Glorious Trash has a post about writer Burt Hirschfeld (using the name Hugh Baron here) and some of the novels he wrote in the spirit of Jacqueline Susann's Valley of The Dolls. If you were alive in 1969 you'll remember that Susann and her novel were inescapable. Susann gave good snarky tv interviews, which helped, and famously feuded with Truman Capote who dumped on her novel. She went after him with gay slurs which only raised her profile--and profits--all the higher. Dolls was pure soap opera and not particularly good soap opera at that but the book was set in Hollywood and had enough seeming insider stuff (she'd been an actress at one time) that it sold millions. Below is Hirschfeld's version of Susann. Even at GOP parties you don't meet women this mean. In Hirschfeld's defense he was a good pulp writer. I enjoyed many of his non-Susann novels and have managed to hang on to a few for forty-some years.

Glorious Trash:

It's this flashback nature which hampers The Goddess Game. In short, the storylines for each of the four women are mostly the same. The material in 1969 however is true trash gold and makes one wish for more of it. For as the narrative progresses we learn that Mandy hasn't just escaped; she's been kidnapped, and the kidnappers already have a stash worth of photos of Mandy taking part in "unwholesome activities" with a bunch of men and women.

Only Mandy's flashback sequence comes close to equalling the 1969 portion: Mandy is a true trash fiction bitch, the "Neely O'Hara" of the novel. (The entire novel comes off like a "spot the Valley of the Dolls analogue" guessing game.) Like Neely, Mandy Brooke is a pill-popping man-eater, a malicious monster who schemes and manipulates and backstabs. Her flashback is the juiciest, as she sets up "friend" Holly so as to steal her part in a Broadway play: Mandy pays some bikers to rape the poor girl, and then, while it's happening, places an anonymous call to both the cops and the gossip rags that a "wild sex orgy" is taking place with a Broadway actress in attendance. From there Mandy becomes only more deliciously conniving: she makes a famous, elderly director fall so in love with her that he divorces his wife of decades; then she sleeps with a variety of men so as to become pregnant and fool the director into believing that it's his child, so he will marry her; then she gets an abortion while he's away. Finally she literally screws the poor bastard to death; now that she has the standing of his name, she doesn't need the man himself.

for the rest go here:

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