Howard Fast

Author

Howard Melvin Fast (11 November 1914 – 12 March 2003) was an American novelist and television writer. Fast also wrote under the pen names E. V. Cunningham and Walter Ericson.

  • Genres

    Thriller, General Fiction, Historical Fiction     

  • The Person

    Howard Fast                                       

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  • The three-finger hand-job is what I have devised for jerking off in public places—already I have employed it at the Empire Burlesque house in downtown Newark. One Sunday morning—following the example of Smolka, my Tom Sawyer—I leave the house for the schoolyard, whistling and carrying a baseball glove, and when no one is looking (obviously a state of affairs I hardly believe in) I jump aboard an empty 14 bus, and crouch in my seat the length of the journey. You can just imagine the crowd outside the burlesque house on a Sunday morning. Downtown Newark is as empty of life and movement as the Sahara, except for those outside the Empire, who look like the crew off a ship stricken with scurvy. Am I crazy to be going in there? God only knows what kind of disease I am going to pick up off those seats! "Go in anyway, fuck the disease," says the maniac who speaks into the microphone of my jockey shorts, "don't you understand what you're going to see inside there? A woman's snatch." "A snatch?" "The whole thing, right, all hot and dripping and ready to go." "But I'll come down with the syph from just touching the ticket. I'll pick it up on the bottom of my sneaks and track it into my own house. Some nut will go berserk and stab me to death for the Trojan in my wallet. What if the cops come? Waving pistols—and somebody runs—and they shoot me by mistake! Because I'm underage. What if I get killed—or even worse, arrested! What about my parents!" "Look, do you want to see a cunt or don't you want to see a cunt?" "I want to! I want to!" "They have a whore in there, kid, who fucks the curtain with her bare twat." "Okay—I'll risk the syph! I'll risk having my brain curdle and spending the rest of my days in an insane asylum playing handball with my own shit—only what about my picture in the Newark Evening News! When the cops throw on the lights and cry, ‘Okay, freaks, this is a raid!'—what if the flashbulbs go off! And get me—me, already president of the International Relations Club in my second year of high school! Me, who skipped two grades of grammar school! Why, in 1946, because they wouldn't let Marian Anderson sing in Convention Hall, I led my entire eighth-grade class in refusing to participate in the annual patriotic-essay contest sponsored by the D.A.R. I was and still am the twelve-year-old boy who, in honor of his courageous stand against bigotry and hatred, was invited to the Essex House in Newark to attend the convention of the C.I.O. Political Action Committee—to mount the platform and to shake the hand of Dr. Frank Kingdon, the renowned columnist whom I read every day in PM. How can I be contemplating going into a burlesque house with all these degenerates to see some sixty-year-old lady pretend to make love to a hunk of asbestos, when on the stage of the Essex House ballroom, Dr. Frank Kingdon himself took my hand, and while the whole P.A.C. rose to applaud my opposition to the D.A.R., Dr. Kingdon said to me, "Young man, you are going to see democracy in action here this morning." And with my brother-in-law-to-be, Morty Feibish, I have already attended meetings of the American Veterans Committee, I have helped Morty, who is Membership chairman, set up the bridge chairs for a chapter meeting. I have read Citizen Tom Paine by Howard Fast, I have read Bellamy's Looking Backward, and Finnley Wren by Philip Wylie. With my sister and Morty, I have listened to the record of marching songs by the gallant Red Army Chorus. Rankin and Bilbo and Martin Dies, Gerald L. K. Smith and Father Coughlin, all those Fascist sons of bitches are my mortal enemies. So what in God's name am I doing in a side seat at the burlesque house jerking off into the pocket of my fielder's glove? What if there's violence! What if there's germs!

    Philip RothPortnoy's Complaint

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  • Portnoy's Complaint

    1969
    Philip Roth


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