Monday, November 19, 2018

Forsaken No More!

My wife’s stepfather died in September, about two years after her mother passed away. Over the last couple of months, members of the family have been prudently cleaning out the small but overstuffed house in which those two resided for so long, trying to make sure that the rest of us take whatever we want or can use, before the remainder is dispensed through an estate sale or hauled off to Goodwill. One of my jobs has been to cull and clean all of the books on the premises, many left packaged and stored in a cold, rat-infested garage ever since my wife’s parents divorced four decades ago.

I spent most of this last Saturday opening boxes, setting aside books I thought would be of interest to individual family members, and dividing the surplus majority into piles of works that (1) were in good shape and of potential interest to a local used bookshop, or (2) were less presentable or belonged to genres (romance novels, westerns, and politically incorrect joke books, etc.) that might attract buyers’ eyes only if severely marked down for immediate sale. I was surprised at how many books had survived, given the negligent conditions under which they’d been preserved.

From the thousands of books I went through—many of which had originally belonged to my wife’s father, a crime-fiction fan—I pulled out perhaps a dozen works of interest to me. For instance, I snagged a 1944 Pocket edition of Leslie Charteris’ Enter the Saint; one of Erle Stanley Gardner’s early Perry Mason novels, The Case of the Howling Dog (1934); and a hardcover edition of Joe David Brown’s Paper Moon (originally published in 1971 under the title Addie Pray). I also happened across a 1971 Bantam paperback edition of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale—shown atop this post—featuring cover art by Frank McCarthy. (You can see the back of that book here.)

There were a few other gems, as well: 1970s Paperback Library editions of three Milo March mysteries by M.E. Chaber (aka Kendell Foster Crossen), with fronts illustrated by Robert McGinnis; Dell’s 1958 issue of The Big Country—originally titled Ambush at Blanco Canyon—by Donald Hamilton, creator of the Matt Helm series; and a couple of John D. MacDonald books that I didn’t already own, The Neon Jungle (Fawcett Gold Medal, 1953) and The End of the Night (Fawcett Gold Medal, 1960). Scans of those six are below.

Beyond all of those, I stumbled onto a pair of romantic suspense novels, both boasting cover art by the great Harry Bennett: The Moon-Spinners, by Mary Stewart (Fawcett Crest, 1968) and Snowfire, by Phyllis A. Whitney (Fawcett Crest, 1974).

There are still more boxes for me to go through at my in-laws’ home, so we’ll see what others treasures might present themselves.

1 comment:

Art Taylor said...

I'm sorry to hear about your wife's stepfather; my wife lost her mother back in the summer, and she's helping her dad go through lots of things--an emotional process, clearly. It's good work you're doing, going through all this--and in the process rescuing what looks like some fascinating books! Keep up the good work, and share more when you can. :-)