Saturday, January 25, 2014

Finding a Lost Gem of a Book

Scott D. Parker

A rather uneventful week here in Houston for me. Well, yesterday, we had Ice-pocalypse which, for us in southeast Texas means shutting down the city on account of a thin sheet of ice. The schools closed, the sun didn't show its face, and the television stations preempted regular programming to show video of radar and…roads. I know it takes very little for us to go crazy in the cold, but it still seemed extreme. Just wait until we have a nice, spring day and that will be the one day we have to make up our Ice Day.

The weather didn't deter me from taking a quick trip to Half-Price. I have made it a habit not to go into any of these types of stores with any preconceived ideas of what I'd like to find. That way, if I find anything of note, it's a nice surprise. In the course of my reading, I study the way some authors structure their stories. One type of story is best exemplified by Lester Dent and his Doc Savage novels. I enjoy the vintage reprint editions that mimic the 1930s editions, but they are sometimes hard to find. Well, lo and behold, I found a cache of the 1960s reprint paperbacks. And to make it even better, they were only marked with the cover price of fifty cents! But that wasn't the real find. I stumbled across a 1975 edition of Philip Jose Farmer's book, Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life. This book was Farmer's attempt to write a 'biography' of Doc that accounted for all his adventures. This little book is chock full with a lot of fun information including Farmer's family history of Doc that linked him with just about every major pulp and classic hero and villain, including Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, and Fu Manchu, among others. I'm really looking forward to diving into this book.*

Speaking of using existing authors for studying, which authors do you study for structure or style?

*As excited as I am for this find, I still am planning on picking up the new, revised edition.


James Reasoner said...

Not to sound too much like an old codger--even though that's exactly what I am--but I remember being thrilled to come across a brand-new copy of Farmer's Doc Savage book in Barber's Bookstore in downtown Fort Worth. I even remember where it was on the shelves. In those days I had no way of knowing what books were coming out, so I didn't know it even existed until I saw it. Thanks for reminding me of that good memory.

Scott D. Parker said...

Glad to help the memory tug, James. For a bit more detail here, I had always looked in the trade/hardback section for the larger reprints. Then I would always scan the *SF* section for the paperbacks. For some reason last night, I decided to try the Men's Adventure section and viola! There were the paperbacks themselves. For the Farmer book, it was something even more fun. I was actually in the mystery section looking for Farmer's Sherlock Holmes story when I found the Farmer/Savage book.

One thing I'll say about the 1960s Bama covers vs. the original 1930s covers is that Doc seems so much older when Bama painted him in the 1960s.

Being a person who, upon discovery of an author, prefers to read the books in order, with Doc, I'm going the other way: I'm just going to read them whenever I find a copy. Be a little more fun that way. Having said that, I did specifically pick up book 3 (Quest of the Spider) and the Fortress of Solitude (book whatever; written in 1938). I chose Spider because I have actually read books 1 and 2. I picked Fortress because I've been reading the 1991-era comics and the villain in Fortress (Sunlight) shows up there, too.

John McFetridge said...

At the time I had no idea what was going on when my dad would bring home a box of paperbacks with no covers....