I was adding a book to my pile of ’get rid ofs’ when I glanced at its name. Strange People by Frank Edwards. I realized right then I couldn’t give away anything with that alluring of title. Even if I’d read it. So, I put it aside. Which means it went into a heap or pile or bottomless pit of ’stuff’ teetering by the door to my quote unquote, workroom. This mass of mess accumulates from any thing and everything out of place or cluttering up the downstairs whether it belongs to me or not. It collapses from time to time and various things come to light I thought lost, thrown away, or have no memory of existing. One day recently, the book tumbled out.
I’ve not attended an Mystery Writers Of American Edgar A. Poe awards dinner in over a decade. So this article will be strictly about those years when I did attend–from 1994 to 2001. As I’ve written before, the Edgars are the highest honor given to a crime fiction author, like the Oscars, but with far less fanfare and categories. The evening begins with cocktails where everyone smoozes, checking out each other’s attire, and literary agents, guzzling concoctions from the open bar and afterward eating the nouveau cuisine as quickly as the microscopic fare is spooned in front of them. Attendees are assigned tables. The more important the nominee, or publisher, the closer to the awards area. If you are a fledgling author paying your own
While perusing the New York Antiquarian Book Show, I came across a seller, Yesterday’s Gallery & Babylon Revisited, whose inventory almost exclusively deals in the period between the wars. The dust jackets of that span reflected the artistic craze now known as Art Deco. I’ve collected many books with the Deco motif, and would have grabbed one book they had in particular, had it not been a little out of my reach. ABE, as usual, highlighted this specific section of antiquarian books, showing off what they considered to be great examples of Art Deco jackets. I think they did a decent job of finding some gems–especially since a few of them I own. It’s hard to explain what my criteria for ‘Deco’ consists of. I know it
One of the publishers from crime fiction’s past, was a little name that tried to become a bigger power among heavy hitters. Not necessarily known for their quality, they did try hard. They signed up some known authors whose contracts perhaps expired with other publishers, and some names never heard of before or since. Collectors drool over finding a nice Phoenix in near fine jacket. And not because the jacket art was all that compelling either. ABE has a little group of them for our perusal. I think the reason these are sought after is their relative scarcity in jacket. For years, a well known writer, Bill Pronzini, another author on my Best 100, has collected them, striving for better and better copies. One of my
I remembered why I didn’t read many crime novels by Margery Allingham. Of the books I’ve read so far, Her writing is gibberish to me. Excepting Traitor’s Purse, that is. That book is on my list for the very reason that it’s not remotely like any others she wrote. It’s straight forward, with regular language, no affectations, no upper class slang, no slightly comic protagonist. In that book, which is about amnesia, you are given the viewpoint from someone whose world is unknown, and in his finding the way back, you come to finally respect and understand Albert Campion. In the book preceding Traitor’s Purse, the subject matter is far less serious–the fashion industry and the dilettante upper echelon within that world. An self centered artfully