Thursday, September 5, 2013

Elmore Leonard - RIP. 

I posted this answer to somebody in an online forum, but want to repeat it here, because it think it part of the many reasons why so many readers recognized the brilliance of Elmore Leonard, and because it is a large part of why I enjoy his stories:

Elmore Leonard was the first author since Samuel Richardson ( 1689 – 1761) to understand how conversation actually sounds ... who understood its flow - its pauses, its stumblings, its extemporaneous freshness - how it works. After all, no single conversation has ever happened before. Of course the conversations (and character thought-processes) were of a different time and thus have a different flavor than Richardson's. But they are time-separated colleagues in observational perception and brilliancy.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


I notice that in a short  biographical entry for preacher/poet John Jordan Douglass in the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography edited by William S. Powell, and issued by the University of North Carolina, Douglass is compared to an equally obscure previous author (Alan Cunningham):

" In an appraisal of Douglass' poetry, G. A. Wauchope, professor of English literature at the University of South Carolina, wrote: 'As a sea-poet, the author's style and treatment remind one of Allen Cunningham, a poet of a century past who excelled in ballads and songs of the free salt seas. . . . Mr. Douglass' mind is modern, but his soul is Greek. Though by profession he happens to be a Protestant clergyman by divine calling he is a son of Apollo whose magic flute has lured him into the secret haunts of nature, where he communes with the lovely nymphs and goddesses of the great outdoors.' "

I like, "his mind is modern, but his soul is Greek ..." maybe the melodious sound of his sermons, and their interest for his congregations was enhanced by his inner pagan daemon.

Please note, that - for me - the obscurity of an author does not connote any particular value judgment on that author's work. Even considering the regional/local nature of such an author's possible recognition.

We have a local poetess, whose life spanned the 19th and 20th century, and who wrote quite passable verse (very enjoyable). Her collected works, prose and verse, display for those interested a genial view of the local past - small history writ personal. Her old home is just down the road a mile or so, and you will be hard pressed to find any persons, outside of local historians or antiquarians, who are even aware of her existence, and even less of her poetry, or of her charming columns written for a local paper. 

Fame and renown is so fleeting.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Snippet about Grosset & Dunlap

Nothing big here, but we all know how frustrating it can be to establish an exact date for a Grosset issue. I've got one of their early books in front of me, (a work by Liberty Hyde Bailey) and the title page has Grosset's imprint, along with a date and an address ....
11 East 16th Street, New York ... 1906.  I had the thought that it might be a good idea to keep that address on hand, which could help at least with zeroing in to a closer circa date for other Grosset issues, if the address be present in those books sans date.  If there is no address on title page, then check for the publisher's catalog or list at the rear.

Just thought some of you might like this little snippet. (And I realize the information may well be present elsewhere)

Maybe someone else can chime in if they know the duration of their publishing from that address.

The printer for this particular book is stated as Mount Pleasant Press, J. Horace McFarland Company, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Price of a new Grosset & Dunlap book in 1906 : 75¢

Monday, March 4, 2013


Of course, as one might expect, I am drawn to fiction in which bookstores figure largely as a character in the story.  One finds fictional book shops in the most unexpected places.

This charming vintage scene by Harrie Wood of a shop interior is especially poignant for me, and speaks beguilingly to memory.  For me, its sense of a still-living past carried into the future is strong.

The book is a juvenile story about the Boy Scouts entitled Three Points of Honor and was written by Russell Gordon Carter and  Published in 1929 by Little Brown, and Company. 

This picture and the story it illustrates  are both fictions - but the illustration has great veracity in terms of its depiction of the character of a used book shop.