Sunday, March 24, 2024

1969's "Lovely," highbrow erotica by David Meltzer

Apologies in advance if this post is a little too, ahem, cheeky for some. Actually, it's going to get a lot cheeky, if you want to bail out now. I'm still ever-so-slowly chipping away at the Resimplify Me goal or the Semi-Swedish Death Cleaning goal or whatever we want to call it. I've pruned, sold and donated a fair number of books in recent weeks, and I'm starting to put some stuff up for auction on eBay. Today's book is one of those items, but I'm feeling the regret of never having done a proper blog post about it, so I'm doing that now, before heading over to eBay to make the listing that I hope will underwrite part of my July vacation.

  • Title: Lovely
  • Series: Brain-Plant. Lovely is #1, and it was followed in the tetralogy by Healer, Out and Glue Factory.
  • Author: David Meltzer (1937-2016), a renowned American poet
  • Cover illustrator: It seems that it's Milton Luros (1911-1999). That's based on what I read at this Paris Olympia Press post. The illustration, not the text, is what originally drew me to this book. 
  • Excerpt from lengthy back cover blurb: "Welcome to the Fun Zone, where the dark shadows of your private perversions are shielded from the world outside ... where breezy girls will blow all your troubles away ... where you can feast and be feasted upon."
  • Publication date: 1969
  • Publisher: Essex House, North Hollywood, California. Essex House was a short-lived subsidary of Parliament News, which was owned by illustrator Luros.
  • Format: Paperback (#0117)
  • Pages: 159
  • Cover price: $1.95 (the equivalent of about $16.50 today)
  • Statement on first page: "This is an original Essex House book — the very finest in adult reading by the most provocative modern writers"
  • First paragraph: "Now look. Things are getting worse. That's all there is to it. It's a simple matter of fact. The 25 Year War isn't working out the way we'd figured. It isn't 1) showing the big profit everyone hoped for, and 2) it's getting terribly untidy, out-of-hand. Quite frankly, off-the-record, Military Industry is in a jam."
  • Last paragraph: "And tomorrow you will be awakened and directed to the next room which, when used up, will shut off and lead you into the next room beyond it. Lovely. There is so much more in store for you, so much to do."
  • PG-13 excerpt #1: "Dr. Feelgood née Farley Blot née Asklepius Paracellus Wiltgeltstein vibrates with twin pleasure-syndrome snap-synapse wiring within him."
  • PG-13 excerpt #2: "The drunken Reb dances his giddy gavotte across the hardwood floor and slides on the shine, lands ass-first on the firm turf and slams the side of his head against a cast-iron replica bust of John Foster Dulles, an attic-gray antique from the old days, a full ten-feet tall."
  • Are there R-rated excerpts? Yes, there are very R-rated excerpts. But the racy language veers far more toward ridiculous than toward steamy and sultry.
  • Excerpt from lengthy postscript by sci-fi author/Harvey Milk speechwriter Frank M. Robinson: "As satire, Lovely is completely outrageous — until you consider the completely outrageous reality that it's based on. We all know that Christian, God-fearing America is quite capable of committing outrageous crimes in the names of its various Gods (so, incidentally, is every other country on the face of the globe)."
  • Commentary from the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction: "(Meltzer's) vision is even more sharply focused in the Brain Plant sequence ... in which cartoonlike characters ricochet surreally through a disjointed USA in a pre-programmed search for theme-park Sex, while the Secret Masters ... at the heart of the military-industrial complex rule on."
  • Excerpt from Adam Groves' insightful and R-rated post about the Brain-Plant tetralogy on "This unjustly forgotten product of the late-1960’s porno underground, consisting of the novels LOVELY, HEALER, OUT and GLUE FACTORY (all from 1969), is among the most complex and ambitious examples of pornographic literature ... ever written. ... Each of its four books are self-contained, but all must be perused to get the full effect of a saga that reads like an unholy mash-up of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, NAKED LUNCH and Terry Gilliam’s BRAZIL. ... To be sure, the BRAIN PLANT saga is not without its share of overt flaws. It’s dense, frequently incoherent and often agonizingly self-indulgent, with satire that might charitably be called broad and obvious (as naming the central authority figure God unquestionably is). Yet it must be classified as a monumental work nonetheless, with a range, imagination and confounding intelligence that are without parallel in the [erotica] realm."

Young Oliver is definitely not old enough to read Lovely.