SEVEN BOOKS FOR GROSSMAN

Morris Lurie
Ringwood, Victoria, Australia: Penguin Books, 1983
ISBN # 0-14-006837-6
110 pages.

Comments by Bob Corbett
December 2005

Literature professor Fielding has gotten himself into trouble with the mob over gambling debts. He manages to get his wife and children hidden away, and he, dressed in drag, hides out in a local hotel. His plan is to write as much as possible quickly, selling his writings to earn the money with which he can repay the mob.

He will write for Grossman, a publisher of pornography. Fielding has never written porn before, but he has had a rich life of imaginings and has read a great deal of literature. He figures he can produce salacious porn, and as he writes and produces, Grossman himself is satisfied and pays well.

When Fielding arrives at his hide-away hotel he has several of his favorite authorsí books with him, and he writes the seven books for Grossman Ė the title Ė by imitating the style of each of these famous authors, but writing hard core pornography in the style he imagines for each. His authors are Kurt Vonnegut, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Ernest Hemingway, J.D. Salinger, William Faulkner, Tom Wolfe and Don Marquis, the creator of the comic strip Archy and Mehitabel.

In each section we first have the gist of the porno novel he has written in that authorís style. These are not themselves erotic sections, but sort of tell us what the basic pornographic plot will be. Then the professor takes the work to Grossman and the scene in the publisherís office is also written in author Morris Lurieís imitation of the particular authorís style.

The novel is witty, cleverly conceived and fun, but wasnít as successful for me as I would have wished. The basic form sounded more like a creative project for a writing class, and Lurie is able to do the imitations in broad lines, sort of like the very heavy handed comedy in vaudeville. I donít think Lurie thought he would achieve porn as the various authors would have written it, but was having fun and going for broad-strokes comedy.

A quick and mainly fun read, but nothing too serious here.

Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu

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Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu