Dr. Richard Kellogg, professor emeritus of psychology at Alfred State College, is the author of an article that appears in the most recent issue of Paperback Parade, a quarterly publication for paperback readers and collectors. The article is titled “Revisiting Peyton Place.”
The author notes that “Peyton Place,” a novel written by Grace Metalious (1942-1964), was first published by Julian Messner in 1956. The book dealt with taboo topics that were rarely mentioned in family newspapers of that era. Stigmatized by some readers as a “dirty book,” it was frequently banned by many schools and libraries.
Despite the controversial content and the flak from critics, “Peyton Place” caused a sensation around the nation. The book rapidly sold millions of copies, stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year, and propelled the young and unknown author into the lofty status of an international celebrity. Members of the press promoted Metalious as the “Pandora in Blue Jeans.”
Unfortunately, her dreams of attaining fame and fortune soon turned into a nightmare for the author. Her marriage to George Metalious collapsed and she indulged in a series of ill-fated love affairs. Her financial status deteriorated due to lavish spending and unwise investments. Her final years were marred by frequent episodes of heavy drinking. Grace Metalious died from complications due to cirrhosis of the liver on Feb. 25, 1964, in Boston, MA. She was only 39 years old.
On the positive side, Kellogg concludes that “Peyton Place” is still a remarkable legacy for Metalious. The unexpected success of her first book, which definitely pushed the literary envelope, inspired others to explore and write about the most provocative and divisive social issues in our culture. Metalious reminded her readers about the spiritual vacuum and the hypocrisy about sexism and racism, which she felt were embedded in American society during the middle years of the 20th century.
Dr. Kellogg is the author of six books for children that feature Barry Baskerville, a precocious youngster who aspires to become a great detective like Sherlock Holmes. The most recent entry in the popular series of mysteries, available on the Amazon website, is titled “Barry Baskerville and the Buried Treasure,” (Airship 27, 2019).