One thing among others I can be thankful for is that a book can still knock me out purely as a physical item.
Not every book that comes through my hands. Not all the time — not nearly enough of the time. But hit me with the right book that triggers those bookman senses, and Ka-Chow!
The first volume of the collected Race Williams yarns by Carroll John Daly from Altus Press did it.
I gave it a couple of seconds after pulling it out of the shipping box, then thought: if only Hammett had some new packaging that looked half this good.
The photo from the Jersey Noir photog is a big chunk of the appeal. I look at it and think Alan Ladd, This Gun for Hire — though it isn’t exactly or nearly the poster for This Gun for Hire. Great photo — for this sort of thing, a damn great photo.
But it’s not just the cover photo. The whole size and feel is right. Height and width like those pulps, mostly Black Mask, where Daly landed his many Race Williams actioners. Stories printed in two-column-per-page pulp format. You can’t call new paper pulp, I guess, but if it isn’t neo-pulp, I don’t know what is.
And putting a Mount Everest cap on the whole shebang is the thickness of the volume — over 650 pages. Yeah, I’m thinking, don’t drop it on your foot — but more than that, I’m thinking, This behemoth is Volume 1.
How many more will there be, and will they all be this big? Daly wrote a lot of tales and most of them featured Race. . . .
In short, I am impressed. Yes, I’m poking along through the stories and will get back to them pronto.
That’s another kettle of fish, but if the plan was to revive Carroll John Daly once and for all, I think the time has come.