Monthly Archives: May 2010

Three New Wakefield Manuscripts

Tucked into the August Derleth scrapbook was a pile of H. Russell Wakefield manuscripts. Some had been published in a collection by Arkham House in the 1960’s, but three have so far never been published to the best of my knowledge, and they are titled:

— A Crystal Pause (1300 words)

— Blowing a Black Solitude (6800 words)

— A Meeting Off the Manacles (7000 words)

No decision has been made on what to do with these manuscripts, and all three of them will be on the agenda, the next time I meet with Bob Weinberg in Chicago, scheduled for the first week in August.

Note Bene: Alas, At Pulpfest 2010, Douglas Anderson has informed me that “The Black Solitude” has already been published in Weird Tales March 1951. So now there are only 2, but more news to follow shortly….


The Garden of Eden — Auggie and Eve

August Derleth’s  scrapbook contains many different interesting items, including some woodcuts by Frank Utpatel that I have not seen before. There are two of particular note which I have entitled “The Garden of Eden” and “Auggie and Eve.” I suspect the originals were produced in the 1940s when Frank was at his best. I have censored the latter not so much because it has a single pornographic overtone, but rather to stump the pirates on the internet from appropriateing it the whole and reusing it. These illustrations would make good content for the dustjacket of Annals of Walden West. This volume is long overdue, and August was working on it, at the time of his death. Peter Ruber started to assemble short pirces for the volume in the 1990’s. I received the manuscript directly from April, in 2002, and showed it at the Walden West Festival that year, misplaced it at the Freethinker’s Hall and retrieved it once again in 2004.


Four Non-Fiction Volumes by August Derleth


I have uploaded the front dustjacket of these four volumes. In my experience they are quite rare in this condition. August Derleth wrote fiction and non-fiction, and these four books are significant additions to his bibliography. He obviously devoted a significant amount of time and effort to reserach in preparing these books for press. And to my knowledge he did not receive any significant contributions from any other person other than Alice Conger who typed his manuscripts.


“Er … what’s up, Auggie?”

Here’s an item from Auggie’s scrapbook it is undated, but the caption reads “Er … what’s up, Auggie!?” and it signed JC Melendez. Melendez was an illustrator at the Disney Studio and also did work on Charlie Brown. There is no record of correspondence under ‘M’ or Melendez in the Archives, nor Disney nor Warner Brothers. The item is undated. Perhaps it was a Christmas Greeting? It certainly is the Bugs Bunny I remember in my youth in the cartoons that accompanied Saturday afternoon at the movie theatre.

“Thanks to Books”

On a recent trip to Place of Hawks in Sauk City, Wisconsin, April Derleth gave me a scrapbook to scan for material to add content to the Newsletter of The August Derleth Society. One of the items wasn’t suitable for the newsletter, but it’s perfect for a blog entry. I scanned it and append the content below; the original was an eight page pamphlet with a single staple card cover.

Thanks to Books

There they are, waiting and silent. They neither urge, nor call, nor press their claims. Mutely they are ranged along the wall. They seem to be asleep, yet from each one a name looks at you like an open eye. If you look their way or reach a hand toward them they do not call out, nor are they insistent. They make no demands. They wait until advances are made to them; then for the first time they open up. First, when there is quiet about us, peace within

us; then we are ready for them. Some evening on returning from a tiresome round of duties, some day when one is weary of his fellow men, or in the morning when clouded and heavy with dream-laden sleep,—only then is one ready for books. You would like to hold a parley and yet be alone. You would like to dream, but in music. With the pleasurable presentiment of a pleasant experiment you go to the bookcase a hundred eyes, a hundred names silently and patiently meet your searching glance as the slave women of a seraglio look to their master, humbly awaiting the call and yet blissful to be chosen. And then, as the finger gropes about on the piano to find the key for a hidden melody, gently it yields to the hand, this dumb white thing, this closed-violin — in it all the voices of God are locked up. You open up a book, you read a line, a verse; but it does not ring clear at the moment. ‘Disappointed, you put it back almost roughly, until you find the right book for the moment. Then suddenly you are seized, you breathe rapidly and as you carry it away to the lamp, The Book, the happily chosen volume glows, dazzles with an inner light. Magic has been done; from delicate clouds of dreams there stalks forth phantasmagoria. Broad vistas open up and your vanishing senses are lost in space.

Somewhere a clock ticks. But it does not penetrate in this self-circumscribed time. Here the hours are measured by another unit. These are books which travelled through many centuries before their word came to our lips; there are new books, just born yesterday, just yesterday begotten out of the confusion and necessity of a beardless boy, but they speak magic languages and one like the other soothes and quickens our breathing. While they excite they also comfort; while they seduce they also soothe the open mind. Gradually you sink down into them; there come repose, vision and a calm suspense in their melody in a world beyond this world.

You leisure hours, carrying us away from the tumult of the day; you books, truest and most silent companions, how can we thank you for your ever present readiness, for this eternal lifting, elevating influence of your presence! What have you not been in the darkest days of the soul’s solitude, in military hospitals and army camps, in prisons and on beds of pain! You who have always been on the watch, have given dreams to men and a bit of tranquillity in moments of unrest and torture. God’s gentle magnet, you have always been able to draw out the soul into its own sphere if it were lost in everyday routine. You have always in all periods of gloom widened the inner heaven within us to something greater.

Little fragments of eternity, quietly ranged along the plain wall, you stand there unpretentiously in our home. Yet when the hand frees you, when the heart touches you, you break through the everyday prosy surroundings; your words lead us as in a fiery chariot up from pettiness into the eternal.

— By Stefan Zweig

Translated by Dr. Theodore W. Koch. Librarian of Northwestern University.


Pleasure, Volume 1, Number 1

[This is an example of a blurb entry that starts one place and goes another entirely through serindipity]

On a recent trip to Sauk City, I visited the home of August Derleth. I obtained a couple of old scraph books with material suitable for content in the August Derleth Newsletter, a quarterly journal of The August Derleth Society. In going through the material I found a number of advertising posters for Comic Strips from The King Syndicate of New York City. Auggie had preseumbable set this material aside to mount one day in one of the scrap books. The material was dated from 1944 through the 1950’s. There was also a also a pulp magazine entitled “Pleasure” Volume 1, Number 1 which is illustrated below and copyrighted in 1946. This was preseumbable an advertising copy, and who knows if the magazine ever got off the ground! Certainly I have never heard of it before — but that’s hardly a recommendation on its status.

I took the opportuntiy to peruse its contents, humorous cartoons, jokes, limericks, advice, advertising and of course the usual assortment of beautiful ladies, appropriately, yet provocatively dressed. I went through the table of contents and noted contributions by Elmer Davis, Dorothy Parker (2 pieces), Ogden Nash, S.J. Perelman and Stephen Leacock. I did not find the words “Sherlock Holmes.” (Not through lack of trying!)

Well, the next thing was to read the Stephen Leacock snippet entitled “My Hotel Breakfast.” I didn’t remember reading it before. I t was quintessential Leacock, and I wondered, well I must have read it! Leacock never wasted any of his writing, and it was undoubtedly buried in one of books of humour. After all he died in 1994, and this appeared in 1946. It was undoubtedly reused material — BUT — I did a word search on “My Hotel Breakfast” and also, a string of words in the first line of the piece,  in the Leaock electronic file that I compiled a couple of years ago now — not a single hit!

So my questions are 1) what happened after the appearance of Vol1, No.1 of Pleasure? 2) Is this an uncollected piece of Leacock writing? Or did he write many newspaper and magazine short pieces that he didn’t subsequently collect?

My Hotel Breakfast

Every morning when I sit down in a hotel dining-room to order breakfast, I spend twenty minutes in deep thought over the bill of fare.
   At the end of it I order bacon and eggs.

   Very often—in fact usually—I call the waiter into consultation as to what kind of a suitable, agreeable, more or less novel breakfast a man might profitably take. When he has done his talk, I order bacon and eggs.

   Sometimes I get the headwaiter in on it, and ask him questions about fish, I ask him how is his sole this morning, and he says it is most excellent.

   I ask him can he recommend his sea-bass, and he says he can.

   As a final and definite inquiry I ask him what about his bluefish, and when he says that his bluefish is delicious, I say to him, in that case will he kindly bring me some bacon and eggs.

   I have heard it said that liver and bacon makes a good breakfast: I knew a man once who said he had tried it.

   And I met one day a man on a train who said that a lamb chop is an excellent thing for breakfast: but when I asked him if he had tried it, he said that he had often meant to but that personally he always took bacon ‘ and eggs.

   In fact, I believe that they all do. At every hotel I see men sitting at the breakfast table with a bill of fare in front of them, thinking deeply, with a waiter standing behind them babbling about bluefish: and in the end I always hear the waiter say, “Bacon and eggs. Yes, sir.”

   Indeed my own opinion is that in all the big hotels they don’t really have anything else to eat in the place except bacon and eggs. They just write down all that stuff about bluefish to look well and to let the guests think. In reality there is only bacon and eggs.

   Yes they do say that Scotch oatcake and honey, is a nice thing for the breakfast table.

   Some day I certainly must try it.

  Or, no, to blazes with it. Let the Scotch eat it!


4 Blue Books and 2 Ears of Pigs

I recently attended the Windy City Pulp and Paper Back Show at the Westin Hotel in Lombard, Illinois. Before the show I met with April Derleth at “Place of Hawks” in Sauk City. We sat outside, it was a beautiful Spring morning, and the lilocks would be in bloom in less than a week. This was August Derleth’s favorite month: he named his daughter April. After an animated discussion, which included the ritual smoking of a cigar (A Monte Cristo) we achieved the agreement which eluded all three of us the day before in a 3 way conference telephone call with Bob Weinberg in Chicago. As a prelude to the meeting “Sundrop” was served and Queenie and Reggie enjoyed two left entire Pig’s Ears, and subsequently Pig’s ears in parts. Their behaviour which is interesting will be a subject of a subsequent blog, but after a bark or two in greeting, silence reigned for the remainder of the meeting.

I loaded up some books to sell at the Windy City Show. Some file copies of Ballantine paperbacks — nine different in all (7 Lovecraft and 2 Clark Ashton Smith); I also got a box of unbound signatures for an Arkham House title under the reign of Jim Turner, and four other bound (in blue cloth) volumes.

These volumes are remarkable, and I shall have to study them in detail. In fact I showed them to John Haefele at the show, and he undertook to look at them one at a time as well. The titles on the spine will tell you, and their size (15″ x 23″) will give away their content — Tear sheets from newspapers: The Capital Times and The Milwaukee Journal.

1. Book Reviews (Oct 1941 — December 1943)

2. Book Reviews (1946-1953)

3. Book Reviews (1. 1954 – 4. 1956)

4. Book Reviews (4. 1956 – 8. 1964)

Aug reviews his own books for the paper as well. A practice which is unheard of — at least officially today! I note in passing that he wrote up a series of 100 best books for 1950 etc.


“Under the Darkling Sky”

Only the serious Holmes aficianodo will recognize this as a short quote from The Hound of the Baskervilles. In Florida, I made the final editorial changes to the manuscript, and finished the compilation of the index, and sent the print out to the author John Weber of Syracuse for his final perusal. This book is fully titled: Under the Darkling Sky: A Chrono-Geographic Odyssey through the Holmesian Canon. It should be ready for a conference in August in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The two pictures attached are Sunset on Dartmoor and the author at the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. In passing, a trip to the Reichenbach Falls is the Sherlockian equivalent of a trip to Mecca — strange but true!


At the Crack of Dawn

Now what does that expression really mean or imply? — “got up early” — “enthusiastic to get the events of the day underway” or perhaps — “after a restless night” or maybe — “awakening after a long debauch the night before” and then again — none of the above. But I rolled out of bed early this moring walked to the ocean patio door, peered out and saw the saw sitting on the  eastern horizon of the Atlantic Ocean, an orange circle, with a yellow orange haze. Time for coffee and orange juice — e-mail, facebook groups and this blog.


The Necronomicon

Is this reality or an eleborate hoax? That’s a good question which I was going to try and answer, but stopped when I paged through the 8 issues of The Arkham Sampler. I found a great article on the book which ansswered most of my questions, and posed a few others. Perhaps somebody should go about compiling a Bibliography on this phantom title? Rather than going out and trying to find the original, which is elusive and expensive wait a little while and purchase The Arkham House Facsimile Edition written up elsewhere in this blog. If you do decide to purchase the originals, a set sold at a recent book show for $250.00. The problem is the purchaser can’t really subject them to a careless bedside read, because they are printed on post war (1948-1949) pulp paper, and they have a significant tendency to fall apart. This is a strange paradox — purchasing books you can’t read if you want to retain their value! However purchasing the Necronomicon is no problem, any “legitimate” copy will only contain blank verse!