Pamela Moore Plus Forty
by Robert Nedelkoff
This article, first published in The Baffler (Issue 10, 1997) was the first in-depth study of Pamela Moore and her work to have appeared in over 40 years.
One afternoon toward the end of 1982 I happened across a newly published trade paperback called The Catalog Of Cool, compiled by a veteran music-industry writer/editor named Gene Sculatti. The book consisted of articles and blurbs by Sculatti and his cronies, among them some names — Ronn Spencer and Davin Seay, for example — familiar only to steady readers of music magazines, and others, such as Nick Tosches and Richard Meltzer, known in wider circles. The book represented an early attempt to codify that species of 1950s bachelor-pad nostalgia that would finally catch on among twentysomethings more than a decade later, with heavy coverage given to Terry Southern, Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack, Louis Prima, Robert Mitchum and others. Garage bands of the 1960s, Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor, and some other things only tangentially related to the 1950-1963 archetype of “cool” were also included. One sixteen-page section summarized a few dozen “reads” for the aspiring hipster, including some obvious choices, like Richard Farina’s Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me; some selections a bit ahead of the curve in 1982, like Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me; some books by authors I’d heard of before, like Chandler Brossard and Bernard Wolfe; and one title completely unfamiliar to me:
Chocolates For Breakfast, by Pamela Moore (Holt, Rinehart & Winston hardcover; Bantam paperback): This eighteen-year-old “answer to Francoise Sagan” penned the ultimate teen sophisticate fantasy in ’56. Her fifteen-year-old heroine first balls a fag actor in H’wood, then makes it with some hermetic, filthy rich, hotel-bound Italian count in NY, where she’s gone to swing at the Stork Club. At home, mom serves martinis at 11, breakfast at noon.
I noted the blurb and read on, assuming I would encounter Pamela Moore’s name elsewhere. I never did. A few years later, on a whim, I looked her up in one of the volumes of Contemporary Authors. The sketchy story it told was of interest, and since her four books were long out of print I set out to find them in secondhand stores, finally locating all her titles in a dusty warehouse of a bookstore south of Oakland. I also sifted through what facts of her life I could learn from old magazines and newspapers and a few reference books. The story I compiled from these follows.