|Vintage Pulp||Jul 15 2017|
This cover for Rock Anthony's 1963 novel Fringe Benefits was painted by Paul Rader and ranks as one of his most famous pieces. You see it everywhere. But as far as we know, nobody posting the art has bothered to read the story, so we bought a copy of this Midwood Books classic and sat down with some cold white wine. It took just over three hours to read, which was perfect timing because we were out of wine by then. Basically, you have a corporate drone who has his pick of women but isn't inspired by any of them. There's Adele, the society woman who's the major shareholder of the company. There's the boss's smoldering cougar secretary Mildred. There's the drab but sweet office assistant Nina. There's Gladys, the always available member of the steno pool. And eventually there's the eighteen-year-old new girl Dolly. We have no idea which one is supposed to be depicted in Rader's cover art. Probably Mildred, though she's a redhead in the book.
Anyway, the protagonist's continual scheming to get laid leads to him landing an executive position, and from there he finds himself in the middle of a takeover war. If he makes the right moves he'll end up as company president, and if not—well, at least he still has love. And is there any doubt who he'll end up with? Take a guess. Of course it's the drab but sweet Nina—but only after she transforms herself into a super hotty. Fringe Benefits may be a classic in the pantheon of mid-century sleaze art, but don't be fooled into reading it. There isn't enough humor or sex to maintain interest, and with vocabulary like “sarcasmed” and “sideglanced,” the writing might make you wonder if Rock Anthony got his break because he had an uncle in Midwood's executive suite. You know what the real fringe benefit is? We read the bad books so you don't have to.