Too Many Women
Toronto: News Stand Library, 1950
Maurice Bendrix, the main character in The End of the Affair, is a novelist. I'm more than prepared to allow Graham Greene this conceit; in his twenty-six novels Bendrix alone holds the occupation. I have less time for Ronald J. Cooke, who placed novelist protagonists at the centre of the first two of his three novels.
I've not read the third.
The House on Craig Street), frustrated novelist Dave Manley (The Mayor of Côte St. Paul), washed up novelist William Marshall (Exit in Green), and successful novelists Mortimer Tombs (I Hate You to Death), George Sloan (A Body for a Blonde) and Gabrielle Lubin (The Best Man).
Ron Simpson, the main character in Too Many Women, belongs with Tombs, Sloan and Lubin. His debut, Two Loves Have I, is a best seller, "a book a lot of old maids are crazy about." Tall, handsome and talented – though, let's be frank, that title implies otherwise – he should be living the dream.
So, what's the problem?
Well, first there's wife Sue, who talks on the phone and has the radio tuned to soaps when genius requires silence to write. For goodness sake, she won't even answer the damn door! And let me tell you, those callers are persistent. A kid selling magazines rings and rings, while brother-in-law Arch will hold that goddamned button down for a ten-minute stretch. No exaggeration.
It's kind of a mistake to let Arch in the house. Ron's old college pal, he's part of the reason they were expelled. What's more, the guy's a boor, a braggart and a womanizer. How he ended up married to Sue's sister is a mystery.
Could alcohol have had something to do with it? I'm not so sure. There's more drinking in Too Many Women than in any other novel I've read, yet no one gets drunk. This is not to say that bad decisions aren't made. For example, Ron agrees to an early morning game of golf with Arch, which is something I'd never do.
The next day, Ron takes three swings and loses two "dollar and a quarter balls" to a gully and another to some bushes, then returns to the club house where Arch introduces him to Dell Whitney. She falls for the writer's pouting, petulant ways as he drones on and on about the love he may or may not have for his wife.
|(cliquez pour agrandir)|
The idea that "Ron flits happily from woman to woman, heavily sampling the nectar of each", as cover copy would have you believe, is absurd. Ron doesn't so much as kiss young Cynthia and rejects Maxine outright. Yes, he does. Even though she's got the body of a Grecian goddess… and a gun.
Not to worry, the scene between Ron and Maxine, depicted somewhat inaccurately in Syd Dyke's cover, begins and ends in less than half a page.
Anyone who bought Too Many Women based on the back cover would've been disappointed to learn that there is no "three day [sic] orgy" – in part because there is no character named "Charlie the Greek". The professional party girl is, I suppose, Maxine, though there's no "play and run" talk. The calibre and mark of the gun she pulls on Ron are never mentioned, but then Martin is not one for details.
Hey, the publisher was only trying to sell books. A novelist should understand.
|Main Street, Hamilton, Ontario, 1 August 1947.|
Ron watched Arch clean the dust off his shoes with a towel.Every writer's fantasy.
"I must admit she's attractive," he said.
"Attractive hell!" said Arch. "She's good enough to eat."
"Then how come you never made a play for her?" asked Ron.
"I'm not her types," said Arch. "She's the queen. I'm only the cat that can look at her. She doesn't like cats. She likes writers…"
Object and Access: Could this be the best produced News Stand Library title? There are few typos, no dropped lines and the text is a uniform dark grey.