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Binding With Briars

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Essex House, North Hollywood, 1968
(price: $1.75; 264 pages)

The blurb on the back:

Black Power in the bedroom.
By day, executive John Handley was a smooth, imposing kingpin in the business world. But at night, when his surface virtues lay on Addie's bedroom floor beside his expensive clothing, he became a whimpering slave to sexual abuse, cringing and begging for the most perverse kind of humiliation. A pathological servitude spawned by fate had grown into a screaming need while John, too terrified to resist, watched the order of his former life decay and crumble...
A stark tale of sexual tyranny.

opening lines:
The intercom buzzer sounded and John Handley picked up the phone. His secretary's voice came through. 'There's a Miss Addie Bishop on line 23, Mr Handley.'

The charged racial politics of 1960s America had a strange effect on popular culture. In the context of this site, we've already come across the interesting but flawed Black In Time, and now we find this flawed but interesting volume.

Essex House, you'll remember, was the publishing company that attempted to encourage literate porn in the late-60s - see also Philip José Farmer's entry (as it were) - and Paul V Dallas was an SF writer approached by them to have a stab at writing some erotica. From what little I know of him, he was an American born in England who wrote for the pulps in the 1950s and produced at least one full-length novel in The Lost Planet (1956). Therefter, I lose track of him until this commission.

The result is a decent stab at the themes of femdom within a recognizably real, rather than fantasy, situation. The racial overtones are a bit odd and don't sit very well with the overall thrust, but they undoubtedly lend the book a period feel that lifts it well above its peers. It's well-written, lacking the pretensions that the title (lifted from Blake, I think) might suggest, and even has a coherent structure. Like I say: flawed but interesting.

Oh, and the cover's fabulous.


here's an excellent history of Essex House