|Vintage Pulp||May 9 2013|
Not well known today, June Wetherell wrote numerous novels spanning genres as diverse as historical romance and science fiction. Free and Easy was originally published by E.P. Dutton & Co. in 1947 as Run, Sheep, Run, but everything got the pulp treatment in the 1950’s and this sexed up Popular Library paperback appeared in 1959. Of course, only the cover was different. The story was the same. The plot here commences in college in the mid-1930s and extends into the real world and the war years. The main player is a party girl named Pat Reed who ditches her aspiring composer boyfriend Ken Morrison mainly because his economic prospects seem bleak. Later, when both are married to others, she changes her mind and decides to go after him. Ken is unemployed and unhappy, and both remember their relationship with nostalgia and regret, but he’s a moral dude and it’s no foregone conclusion he’ll simply ditch his wife.
So Free and Easy is a love story, but one that reached for serious literary status by virtue of its plot bridging two pivotal points in American history—the Great Depression and World War II. Probably what’s most interesting about it is how the themes resonate so strongly half a century later. Here’s the New York Times blurb inside: “An interesting and disturbingly reminiscent novel. Knowing the generation that graduated from college into hopelessness and economic insecurity, Wetherell writes of them with penetrating sympathy.” Hopelessness and economic insecurity. Sounds like it could have been written about a book published last week, right? Next time you see your parents or grandparents make sure to apologize for those times you told them they just didn’t understand what you were going through. And if you’re very interested in June Wetherell, here’s a blog piece about her as she turned 100 years old.