Hey, some books may deserve to be forgotten.
Inspired by reading my little biographical eBook on Robert E. Howard, Famous Someday — at this moment no.2 on the Kindle Horror Litcrit Bestseller list, for what that’s worth —
(And my REH Litcrit MegaPack sits at no.6, and Howardian buddies Brian Leno’s eBook is no.5 and Morgan “The Morgman” Holmes’ Enter the Barbarian is no.7 — we really muscled our way into the Top Ten this morning. . . . Yeehah!)
Wait a minute. . . . Where was I?
Oh, yeah. Evan Lewis just read the first full-scale bio of REH, Dark Valley Destiny by L. Sprague de Camp and cohorts, and covered it in the most recent Friday Forgotten Books roundup (or whatever they call it).
Excellent review. The bio is noteworthy for the actual history de Camp unearths, crippled by his bizarre fixation on psychobabble theorizing. Evan nails it.
What Evan doesn’t seem to know is that de Camp spent five years working on the book (along with other things) because he thought it would sell a lot better than it did. Previously de Camp had done his bio of H. P. Lovecraft for Doubleday, first full-scale bio of The Old Gent — that one sold very well. De Camp had this talking point where he would refer to HPL, REH and Clark Ashton Smith as the “Three Musketeers” of Weird Tales magazine, and had planned bios of all three, to form something of a set.
But when the bio of REH bombed, he shelved the idea of doing the CAS bio (Smith, incidentally, was the only one of the Three that de Camp actually met in person). He gave me some of the initial research he’d compiled, when he heard that I was thinking of doing a CAS bio.
My plans were probably more tentative than de Camp’s, basically to take a bunch of the work Donald Sidney-Fryer already had done, fill in stuff — I do have a banker’s box with mockups of possible chapters and other notes.
Forgotten Books. How about “Lost” Books, such as the CAS bio which would have been bylined “by Donald Sidney-Fryer and Don Herron”?
I stepped aside when Scott Connors returned to the weird fiction scene and wanted to do a CAS bio. He’s been working on it for years now. Don’t know if he’ll actually finish it up. But I guess I can stand ready to step in if there is a disaster, for awhile, anyway.
You still can’t do a CAS bio with the thought of making money. You’d do it just to honor one of the greats. Probably the best reason.