Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Dell Holland's The Far Out Ones

The Far Out Ones by Dell Holland is included in Stark House’s three-novel paperback edition A Beatnik Trio. It was published in 1963.

The authorship of late 50 and early 60s sleaze novels can be challenging to untangle. Donald Westlake and Lawrence Block, prior to finding fame as crime writers, made a very good living churning out sleaze fiction using pseudonyms such as Andrew Shaw. They figured it would be cool if they could get other writers to ghost-write some of these novels. Which is how William R. Coons came into the picture. He wrote sleaze novels as Andrew Shaw and as Dell Holland. The Far Out Ones is one of the books he wrote as Dell Holland.

It has to be said that The Far Out Ones doesn’t have a huge amount to do with beatniks. The only beatnik is Jim, and he never considered himself a fully-fledged beatnik.

Jim is hitchhiking and gets picked up by two gorgeous young women, Sue and Joan. Sue and Joan are headed for New York. The three need a place to stay for night and end up at Zach’s Inn. The inn is hard to miss, what with the nude girl on the roof and all. Not a picture or a statue but a real nude girl. Her name is Emmy. She’s fixing the roof for her pa. Emmy isn’t keen on wearing clothes.

Her pa is Sam. He has a distant cousin by the name of Charlie working for him as handyman. Charlie belongs to the local tribe but they’re a bit embarrassed by him. Every time he ventures into the woods he gets lost. Charlie has no more idea how to survive in the woods than any greenhorn city boy.

Jim is keen to get Joan into bed. Sam and Charlie are equally keen to bed Sue. They all get their way. Sue is a very broadminded girl and she’s happy to have two men alternating as her bed partners. Joan is a bit more prim and proper but Jim’s charm wins her over and she’s soon shedding her clothes for him.

It’s all rather cosy, until disaster strikes. But it’s not a real disaster, since Sam ends up with quite a bit of money. Sam likes making his friends happy so they all head for new York. They end up in Greenwich Village. Emmy comes along as well - she has dreams of making it as a dancer.

Joan is the only one with any keenness for work. Emmy does however get a job as a belly dancer. Jim has decided to become a famous playwright. It sounds like a good way to make a living, as long as he doesn’t actually have to write plays. He thinks he’s found a way to make his plan work.

Along the way there’s lots of sex for everybody.

Despite the fact that some later scenes take place in the Village and despite Jim’s semi-beatnik status it’s a stretch to call this a beatnik novel. It’s basically just a sleaze novel.

A sleaze novel with major comic overtones. In fact at times it approaches farce. And it is genuinely amusing and pleasingly crazy and frenetic.

It’s also reasonably sexy, with the sex being described moderately graphic (by 1963 standards). One nice thing is that everybody enjoys the sex. The women enjoy it every bit as much as the men. This is a cheerfully amoral good-natured feel-good story. Nobody gets punished for having sex. Nobody gets punished for choosing freedom rather than the daily grind of a 9 to 5 job. It’s OK to have a good time. In that respect, in its rejection of the conventional social norms of its day, I guess it could be considered a sort of counterculture or beatnik novel.

This isn’t a work with any literary aspirations but it’s a lot of fun. Highly recommended.

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