Haefele’s Heretics got shaken up some for the run up to his new book Lovecraft: The Great Tales. Morgan “The Morgman” Holmes was busy with something else. Brian Leno’s computer died out from under him and he didn’t want to proof off a tablet screen. Haefele had two or three of his local guys he wanted to drag in on it.
Among other permutations of the lineup, we pulled the noted book and pulp collector Kevin Cook into the team. He told me, “After finishing the proofreading of John’s book I immediately got out ‘The Colour out of Space’ for a rereading. The book set me in the perfect mood for it — also for Machen’s great The Three Imposters. I want to get to Chambers again as well. That from someone who reads almost zero supernatural horror any more.”
Kevin’s gone after more Machen in particular, and mentioned to me that he intended to reread the two autobiographical volumes, Far Off Things and Things Near and Far.
I told him, don’t forget the third volume, The London Adventure. He didn’t know about The London Adventure.
Turns out Kevin was reading out of the deluxe multi-volume Caerleon Edition of Machen’s collected works (of course he was). That set came out in 1923. The London Adventure appeared in 1924.
I pulled my Knopf yellowback of Adventure out from my horde of thirteen yellowback Knopfs to check the date as we were figuring it out. Noticed that it bears the very cool bookplate of one Peter J. Tamony — the demonic Buddha image comes from the famous illustrator Wallace Smith. I’m pretty sure I have another book somewhere in my collection — maybe even a couple more — that have the Tamony bookplate pasted in. As I’ve said before, I kind of like bookplates and other such things — stamps, bookstore stickers — in old books.
Kevin currently is rereading the finished Haefele book, savoring it, taking side trails as they appeal to him. It pulls him deeper and deeper into Machen, and he says, “I have the idea of extending my Machen shelf by a few titles. I ordered a copy of the Machen bibliography. Being that I am a hardcover first edition book collector, I want to know points for identifying firsts, and then trying to locate copies in dust jacket — with signatures a bonus. I would especially want to read The London Adventure when I complete the reread of the Caerleon set with the first two autobiographical volumes. This time I can read all three in order.”
Rest assured that Kevin won’t be happy with any beaten-up yellowback Knopfs. (I will say that my copy of The London Adventure appears to be the first Knopf printing.)
I surfed around some, and quickly realized that blog fell under the same advice I gave out for dealing with Up and Down These Mean Streets. You can use the Search Bar here to look for specific things, or you could just go back to the beginning and cruise through like you’re reading a book.
But the Starrett blog doesn’t feature a Search Bar. So I worked my way back to the start, then turned around and came back. Some stuff I skipped or skimmed — I’m not a fan of Starrett’s then modern crime writing, so I breezed over those moments.
Haefele doesn’t know the precise copy count on the run — may have been slightly over 100 copies. Maybe have been under, in only two figures.
I mentioned the Unique Hamlet census to him, and Haefele put a toe in the water toward doing a census of the hardback Derleth Mythos — you know, if someone gets ambitious. He said:
I didn’t keep records, but can make an educated guess regarding the whereabouts of about twenty of the 100 or so copies.
I personally have three copies, two pristine — & one banged up, over-written, working copy minus jacket.
Family members account for four copies.
Jack Byrne has one copy.
I assume Harksen has at least one copy, & there is another he placed in some foreign institution.
Of those stalwarts we know, I assume Joshi, Derie, Leno, Deuce, Krabacher, & Holmes all have/had the hardcover.
Faig did, but it went (I think) to his favorite pro-bookseller when he downsized.
Pugmire did, but someone grabbed it — I never saw it offered with the rest of his remains.
One or two of the early reviewers — e.g. DonWebb — must have had one.
And a few collectors, since copies were offered — Rajchel, for example.
These comprise 20% of the total.
The hardest to track will be Harksen’s overseas sales.
I may have given one to the Wisconsin Historical Society, where it will probably stay buried for the next five hundred years.
I told Haefele, “Well, that’s a start — and don’t forget me, I’ve got an inscribed copy.
“Pug’s copy in fact sold. Cheap! I covered it in the Collecting Haefele post. Joshi didn’t even know enough to ask the $60 original retail. (The other one mentioned in that post that popped up for $60 I told you about and apparently you told Rajchel.)”
Of the original Haefele’s Heretics, Morgan Holmes was the only one who had not nabbed a copy of the Harkson hardcover. (And omitted, by accident surely, from the brief list of Heretics above is Tex Albritton — I imagine Tex still has his copy.)
And at this moment two copies are offered on Amazon, both in the $190.00ish range. Cheap, compared to a copy of the first edition of Starrett’s The Unique Hamlet.
I think I had my longtime pal Donald Sidney-Fryer really going for about two or three weeks late last year, when I told him I was thinking about collecting the entire print run — a reported 2045 copies — of his 1971 Arkham House book Songs and Sonnets Atlantean.
You’ve got to admit that getting every copy would make for the ultimate collection.
But it’s a nightmare scenario — any small press publisher who’s ever tried to move out 2000 copies of a title would yell, Good God, don’t do it! It defies reason, and laughs at economics. I can almost hear a thousand small press guys break out in sobs, and August Derleth starting to crawl from his grave.
And the shock for the artist would be to have a book vanish from the world, almost if not quite as if it never existed. The cornerstone of DSF’s fame, locked away on shelves in one crumbling redoubt, not in hundreds of collections — approaching Bond villain diabolism!
If you had enough money, you could almost do it. Figure that a good chunk of the run simply doesn’t exist any more. House fires, drowned in spilt beer, left on the commuter train. I can imagine an easy 500 copies gone forever after fifty years. Maybe more. Jumping on eBay or ABEbooks you could sweep up lots of copies today, usually priced from $15ish to $25ish. Fill up a couple of shelves, no problem.
But you could never buy them all. Because of guys like John D. Haefele, Arkham House completist — the guys who have assembled complete sets of Arkham titles, and the guys who dream about assembling complete sets. I don’t know exactly how large the count of that crew. I know several personally, and if they don’t own a copy of the 1971 S&SA they don’t have a Complete Arkham.
While I was kidding about buying up every single copy, some impulse nudged me into getting a couple — and a couple more.
First pair popped up for sale. One to Richard Brisson, whoever he was (a copy of the DSF monograph The Last of the Great Romantic Poets also inscribed to him has been on the block, but I’m only curious about S&SA, not every book DSF has done — tentatively). $20ish, I think, cheap enough to open the door. And about the same week another copy came up for sale, described as inscribed to a fellow poet, while coyly withholding the name.
Intrigued, I popped the $30ish to see who it was and found G. Sutton Breiding’s personal copy inscribed and dated “San Francisco 19 January 1975.” Score. Since then DSF has written intros to two or three GSB collections.
Soon enough I tracked down the copy inscribed to cartoonist Gahan Wilson (he reviewed S&SA on publication). Hand-corrected throughout, including the typo on the inside back flap (the last in Last of the Courtly Poets isn’t capitalized — I’ve only got three copies where DSF made that emendation). Plus the Wilson copy includes the business card DSF had made up: The Art of Incantation, with a holograph note on the back explaining why DSF insisted on a print run of 2000 copies for his first poetry collection. That’s a lot of copies for an Arkham poetry release to that point, usually they had fallen into the 500 range, like Stan McNail’s Something Breathing from 1965.
But DSF insisted, as part of his stance to continue the legend of the California Romantic Poets, and talked Derleth into it.
The card also supplies evidence that DSF adopted the name Donald Sidney-Fryer just as the book hit print — on S&SA itself he is bylined Donald S. Fryer.
The Wilson copy inscription is dated “20 June 1971.” One of the famous claims about the book is that it was the last Arkham title released under the personal purview of August Derleth, who died July 4 that year. The copy DSF inscribed to Derleth — held in private hands other than my own — is dated “17 June 1971.”
In the same order with the Wilson I nabbed one of my current favorite copies, inscribed to DSF’s San Francisco dope dealer. The bookseller didn’t emphasize that detail. Perhaps he didn’t know. Only one hand-correction — but it did come with the bookmark DSF had made up to promote the release.
Emphasizing the personal priorities involved, this copy is dated “3 June 1971.” As of this moment, that’s the earliest date I’ve found.
I’ve picked up a few more copies — a “23 June 1971” is another good one. Depending on what shows up, I suppose I’ll go after associational value, and keep looking for early dates. I wonder if DSF got a box of S&SA in before June 1st and put his mark into some copies.
Thus, a little reverie in celebration of the upcoming 50th anniversary publication of Songs and Sonnets Atlantean. Sometime in June? Or was it possibly May?
At least I presume the image above connects to NoirCon. That’s how I read the clews.
I only attended the very first NoirCon, in 2008, where I was amazed that for the Charles Willeford “panel” they had some academic talking on and on (I don’t remember a single trenchant thing he said) while they had as attendees both me and Guest of Honor Dennis McMillan, and both of us actually knew Willeford. What a fucking stupid waste of time, and resources. But, hey, if that’s what the crowd demanded. . . , jeez, what a dumb crowd.
I’ll doubtless see him again soon, in connection with his latest San Francisco crime novel, Last Seen, due out in early May. He’s having a couple of Zoom events to promote it, but I’ll grab my copy in person.
Sequel to Last Ferry Home, Last Seen is your typical kind of wild Kent extravaganza. One angle that struck me reading an advance proof was that Kent took the character that I remember as the most average (and so kind of boring) from the first book and went berserk with a new backstory.
Who knows what will happen if he makes the narrative into a trilogy?
Two or three emails back the noted book and pulp collector Kevin Cook mentioned to me that Hammett had gone to France during the Great War.
I told him, not as far as I know.
But now there’s some evidence for his idea — if you can call a newspaper article evidence.
Evan Lewis used newsprint from 1939 on his blog today, and alongside mentioning the trip to France, Hammett tells reporter Willa Gray Martin that he likes to kill off characters that bore him, and refers to a recent dustup with Tallulah Bankhead.
Without checking into it, I think Evan has located an otherwise “lost” interview with Hammett. Not a major interview, but it’s got some info worth pondering over. Every scrap interesting, of course.
I wonder if the reporter just got the info about France wrong — or it is entirely possible that Hammett told her he was shipped overseas. That era, 1939, with war drums beating in the distance, he might have thought it sounded good.
And by the way, in recent months Evan has been tossing up various newspaper articles on his blog — search under Hammett Herald-Tribune. Some center on specific Thin Man movies, selected topics. I haven’t bothered to mention most of them, although I do try to keep current cross-reference to any actual stories reprinted in the papers.
But as I’ve said before, Hammett kind of serves as one of their standards — not as constant as State Capitals and the Periodic Table of Elements, but for one guy with a life and a few books and some movies, he keeps popping up.
For Season 37 Episode 126 on March 22 — the first segment guest-hosted by Dr. Oz — they used the category MacGuffin.
The $400 clew:
In a 1941 movie Humphrey Bogart called this title MacGuffin “The stuff that dreams are made of”
The champ of the moment responded, “What is The Maltese Falcon?”
Terry Zobeck pops along the news from The Rap Sheet that unbeknownst to us Sam Spade moved to France and is about to get into some 1960s colonial action, as in a Jean-Patrick Manchette novel! Well, hell, I wasn’t expecting that, at all at all. But I can’t say I’m actually surprised.
Spade, details the report, “has been quietly living out his golden years in the small town of Bozuls in the South of France. It’s 1963, the Algerian War has just ended, and in a very short time, so, too, will Spade’s tranquility.”
Casting Clive Owen as our boy Sammie is a plus, for my tastes — he was excellent in Shoot ‘Em Up.
For the rest of it, I suppose that depends on how the idea gets brought off. (I am reminded that I still haven’t bothered catching the recent film of Willeford’s The Burnt Orange Heresy.)
In 1977 Don Herron began leading The Dashiell Hammett Tour, now the longest-running literary tour in the nation. On this site you’ll find information on current walks — dates, where to meet, arranging tours by appointment — plus a hard-boiled blog with news, reviews of books and film, and a dash of noir.