book cover of Carla


A novel by

Well, here’s what the blurb for the audiobook says:

“Carla is a beautiful girl. She was plucked from the obscurity of a Polish slum to be the wife of a wealthy man—a man who seemingly gives her everything a wife could want. Except the one thing that she needs most: the pleasure she burns for while he snores beside her, the passion that only a lover can give.

“But adultery seems impossible until, suddenly, it happens. When she seduces a filling-station attendant, ruining her clothes in the grease of a mechanic’s floor, she starts to spin out of control. He is the first but not the last, as Carla learns that infidelity is no work at all.”

What it doesn’t say, but I will, is that Carla was my first published novel. In the summer of 1958 I came home from a vacation in Mexico to a note from my agent: Did I know what a sex novel was? Could I write one? We both knew I could write a book, I’d sent him one then under consideration at Gold Medal, and now I sat down and wrote a portion and outline of a book to be set in my hometown of Buffalo, where I was spending what remained of the summer before going back to college in the fall.

Midway Tower Books, a new publisher founded by Harry Shorten of Archie Comics, lapped up Carla, so to speak. I met Harry some months later, and all he wanted to talk about was the scene in the grease put at the gas station. I guess it really worked for him.

One other thing perhaps worth noting. After my portion and outline had been okayed, I completed the book. Then my agent let me know that it was a little too short. Could I please write another chapter to be inserted anywhere in the book?

That was a poser, as the plot—such as it was—didn’t have a lot of leftover space in it. But I figured out what to write, and sent along a chapter with the notation that it could indeed be inserted anywhere in the book. My good buddy Don Westlake, who also labored some in the Shorten vineyard, thought this was a remarkable tour de force, but I’m not so sure. I mean, what else was I supposed to do?

You can probably spot the chapter in question.

As I said, Carla was my first published book, and that’s reason enough for me to be pleased by its renewed availability. It may even be reason enough for you to read it. I’d hope, though, that it’s not your very first exposure to my work.

Still, if it is, there’s a bright side. From here on, they get better.

This ebook edition of Carla includes as a bonus the opening chapter of the next title in the Collection of Classic Erotica, A Strange Kind of Love.

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