By Alexandra Lange
Updated April 09, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
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  • Book
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The successful reissue of Valley of the Dolls has prompted the resurrection of more vintage pulp, a new paperback edition of the soapy 1956 classic Peyton Place. In the novel, author Grace Metalious touches all of the hot-button issues that fuel Aaron Spelling’s TV world (don’t think the titular echo in Melrose Place is unintentional): illegitimacy, gold digging, alcoholism, car accidents, fashion, rape, abortion. Metalious wanted to make the book even racier and add a touch of incest, but her publisher, Julian Messner, wouldn’t let her. But rape was enough to affront people’s tastes and turn Peyton Place into one of the biggest best-sellers America had ever seen, spawning a movie, a TV show, and Mia Farrow’s career. As you follow restless, dreamy Allison MacKenzie; her abused best friend, Selena Cross; Allison’s mother, an ice-queen blond, widowed (or so she says) at 30; and the virile, ethnic new high school principal, Tom Makris, you can’t help but be sucked in. Today the small-town setting seems dated, and the sex scenes are nothing to write home about, but transfer the intrigue to a ’90s high school or apartment complex, and the catty comments still work. As University of Southern Maine professor Ardis Cameron says in her introduction to the reissue, ”Metalious tweaked the mythologies of tourist New England, turning the familiar postcard portrait into a voluptuous pinup poster.” Peyton Place joined highbrow yearnings to lowbrow sexcapades, providing a blueprint for success: Put attractive, nubile young people in close quarters, and every sort of titillating perversity can ensue, whatever the decade. B

Peyton Place

type
  • Book
genre
author
  • Grace Metalious
publisher
  • Julian Messner

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