Exploring a little-known author of sleazy 1960s paperback cheap thrills.
While some of the once-anonymous (or, more accurately, pseudonymous) authors of sleazy, trashy paperbacks of yesteryear have been identified and hailed for their work – often ground out under a variety of names – many others remain mysterious figures. There were a lot of people writing books at the height of the pulp boom, and lots of house-pseudonyms shared between numerous authors, and many of these remain forgotten figures.
Take Jack Kahler, who wrote a whole bunch of books notable for spectacularly outlandish titles and terse, no-nonsense contents. Finding out anything about Kahler is almost impossible – he isn’t referenced anywhere beyond the odd person asking the same questions that I am – who was he? We can assume that ‘Jack Kahler’ was a pseudonym, though of course that’s by no means guaranteed, and we know that he was active in the mid-Sixties for various publishers. Beyond that… well, if anyone out there has more information, feel free to pass it on.
Kahler wrote frantic stories of lesbianism – something of an obsession, perhaps – and certainly had a thing for ‘passion’, with at least three of his novels having the word in the title. his books sometimes play with science fiction themes, bondage, and the sort of exoticism and casual racism that would be much more shocking than any of his lightweight erotica these days. I have no idea just how many books he wrote – I’ve found nineteen, shown below. There may be more.
In the absence of hard facts, we can perhaps enjoy Kahler the way he was designed to be enjoyed – for the work alone. And that is well worth seeking out. I won’t suggest that his writing is exceptional or that his novels stand out from the pack – but that’s what makes him interesting, as a typical example of the writers who were grinding this stuff out at the time. Erotic? Not really. Literary? Hardly. Gripping? Well, perhaps. Objects of desire? Damn right.