He Learned About Women
Ted Greenshade [?]
Toronto: News Stand Library, 1949
Tex had lived long enough to realize he had more than average appeal to women. All his life they had either wanted to clutch him to their bosoms and mother him or have him clutch their bosoms and make mothers of them.Oh, brother.
I won't say that He Learned About Women was News Stand Library's worst book, only that it's the worst of those I've read.
Let's hope it isn't.
He Learned About Women opens on Tex Lane, a mercenary in the employ Israel's "Jewish Army", belly down on the desert sand, facing an unforgiving "arab horde". As he awaits certain death, thoughts drift back to the women of his past.
"A THOUSAND NIGHTS, A THOUSAND WOMEN and ONE LESSON"
A THOUSAND WOMEN? I count twelve, beginning the Methodist Sunday School superintendent's daughter, who let teenaged Tex touch her during a clubhouse initiation. Sexy, sporty Peggy McLean is next; she capped a day at the beach by taking his virginity. Third is the wanton wife of his instructor at Sandhurst.
Tex starts out as a lower-middle class, middling schoolboy from Hamilton, Ontario. How did he come to be accepted at England's most prestigious military academy?
More than a soldier of fortune, Tex Lane is a man of mystery. He moves about the globe – London, Paris, Shanghai, Montreal – with impunity. Inexplicably wealthy, Tex can become the rattiest of church mice when plot requires. By turns a journalist, an ad man, an actor, a captain and a carny, he is everyone and no one. Meanwhile, women come and go, each more fully formed than the protagonist. The most interesting to these eyes is Helen Demoskoff, a sympathetic young Doukhobor who was once arrested for removing her clothes as a form of protest.
Helen is a woman of conviction and character. Tex, on the other hand, is the sort of man who will sleep with a woman, then accuse her of being a slut. He's the type who will pressure a woman to give up her child because he isn't the father. Tex is the kind of guy who will abandon a woman, return, then feel betrayed that she has married.
In short, he's not a man you'd want to know.
Looking into her worried face Tex felt like someone who has been caught putting a feather up the nose of a child in an iron lung.Epigraph:
It's from the Book of Ezra (1 Esdras 4:22).
Speculation: The idea of the trapped soldier revisiting his past may owe something to James Benson Nablo's 1946 novel The Long November, which News Stand Library reprinted in two editions prior to He Learned About Women.
Trivia: Back cover copy refers to a "girl who died in the Cathay Hotel because of a millionaire's lust and passion." No such character features in the novel.
Object and access: A 160-page mass market paperback with cover art by Syd Dyke.
He Learned About Women is nowhere to be found on WorldCat. As of this writing just four copies are being offered by online booksellers. The lone copy of the Canadian printing looks to be in about the same condition as mine, but is a bargain at five dollars. The three Americans range from US$2 (Reading Copy) to US$14 (Very Good - Fine).