I should focus more on the work of Burt Hirschfeld. The guy certainly deserves it. His novels are always a treat. Take his first megahit FIRE ISLAND (1970, Avon), for instance, this one is a breeze to go through, mostly because of his devotion to one topic: sex; sex in the bedroom, sex on the beach, consensual sex, non-consensual sex… What he also has in his corner is the ability to write. He knows how to create memorable characters, whether they are lost individuals (like the character of Mike in this novel), or wild little kittens (mostly Cindy who gets a book of her own in CINDY ON FIRE which is reviewed here). Hirschfeld likes nothing better than to gloat over their problems, and we, the readers, eat them up like it’s the latest episode of any Housewives. At least I do.
I took upon myself to take another look at FIRE ISLAND this year, just to make sure it’s still as badass as I thought it to be. It is. With summer just around the corner I couldn’t have picked a better title to celebrate sun, surf and hot bods. But the most exciting part is that it also gave me a new lease on my reading choices. I’ve been focusing too much on current bestsellers lately and I feel like I lost my way. This blog should, first and foremost, celebrate vintage trash. Besides the contractual reviewed novels that I still plan to post, I’m happy to report that Sleaze Factor is back on track, putting the spotlight on forgotten gems in books, films or miniseries.
Indeed, revisiting a novel like FIRE ISLAND does make the heart grow fonder. The main reason being it judiciously delivers what it sets out to do: present a slew of well-drawn characters in a chronicle-like setting, topped by many sexual situations of the flower power era. Purists beware, however, for FIRE ISLAND is filled with many sexual encounters that, nowadays, are not always considered politically correct. The dominant male, well, dominates. His conquests are mostly of the submissive kind, though some do butt heads with their counterparts, but the results are always great fun and more than meets the eye. Because behind all of the author’s wild and descriptive imagination lies a novel with a message about life in general, especially for those over 35 who have stumbled more than once. Oh mind you, Hirschfeld may not always handle things with kid gloves, and to be quite honest, some of his scenes almost verge on bigotry, but he still does it with bravado and a keen sense of style. His ability to deliver a clean line behind all the sex and drama is reason enough to give the book a try. Plus, following a bunch of people who view the world without rose-tinted glasses always makes for a fun read.
If I have failed to titillate you with this title then I don’t know what else to say except this: his work reminds me of early Robbins with a dash of Herbert Kastle thrown in the mix. If that gets your motor going, then you’ll probably end up like moi, collecting all of his novels and wondering how many more summers it will take to get through them all. Thank goodness I got my groove back.