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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Biblio-maniacal thoughts from Bohumil Hrabal's Too Loud a Solitude

Pulpfest 2013 just ended, and as usual, I did  could not attend (Plane tickets alone would have cost me 1300$ or more).

Unable to be there, I was drowning my regrets in cheap drinks and costly books as usual. One of those books was Bohumil Hrabal's Too Loud a Solitude and on reading it I thought it had some pretty good descriptions of book collector's mania (a mild version of which I have). I thought you might enjoy these.

For thirty-five years now I've been in wastepaper, and it's my love story. For thirty-five years I've been compacting wastepaper and books, smearing myself with letters until I've come to look like my encyclopedias—and a good three tons of them I've compacted over the years. I am a jug filled with water both magic and plain; I have only to lean over and a stream of beautiful thoughts flows out of me. My education has been so unwitting I can't quite tell which of my thoughts come from me and which from my books, but that's how I've stayed attuned to myself and the world around me for the past thirty-five years. Because when I read, I don't really read; I pop a beautiful sentence into my mouth and suck it like a fruit drop, or I sip it like a liqueur until the thought dissolves in me like alcohol, infusing brain and heart and coursing on through the veins to the root of each blood vessel.

...

I've been bringing home books every evening in my briefcase, and my two-floor HoleŇ°ovice apartment is all books: what with the cellar and the shed long since packed and the kitchen, pantry, and even bathroom full, the only space free is a path to the window and stove. Even the bathroom has only room enough for me to sit down in: just above the toilet bowl, about five feet off the floor, I have a whole series of shelves, planks piled high to the ceiling, holding over a thousand pounds of books, and one careless roost, one careless rise, one brush with a shelf, and half a ton of books would come tumbling down on me, catching me with my pants down. And when there was no room for even a single addition, I pushed my twin beds together and rigged a kind of canopy of planks over them, ceiling high, for the two additional tons of books I've carried home over the years, and when I fall asleep I've got all those books weighing down on me like a two-ton nightmare. Sometimes, when I'm careless enough to turn in my sleep or call out or twitch, I am horrified to hear the books start to slide, because it would take little more than a raised knee or a shout to bring them all down like an avalanche, a cornucopia of rare books, and squash me like a flea.

...

Any other addicts want to speak out on this? If you want to get the book, go here:


Friday, 12 July 2013

Short story by Robert V. Carr - Business Letters of a Cowboy


From the Popular Magazine, January 7, 1916, comes this funny story of a cowboy. Robert V. Carr, the author, was a famous cowboy poet. Thanks to the PulpMags project for providing the original scans of this. I wish I could get the other stories in the series. Anyone who can share, please drop a line in the comments.

 

Letters of a Cowboy to a Lady Friend
The Popular Magazine
 Sep 7 1915
Love Letters of a Cowboy
The Popular Magazine
 Sep 20 1915
Letters of a Cowboy to a Friend
The Popular Magazine
 Nov 7 1915
Letters of a Would-Be Cowboy
The Popular Magazine
 Dec 20 1915
Letters of a Cowboy to a Movie Queen
The Popular Magazine
 Mar 7 1916

 

Here’s the link to the story itself – Business Letters of a Cowboy.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

J. D. Newsom – Obituary in the New York Times (April 27 1954)


John D. Newsom, author, editor and former national director of the Federal Writers Project of the old Works Progress Administration, died Saturday of a heart attack aboard the Home liner Roma on the way to Italy. Mr. Newsom was about 60 years old and recently had resided on a farm In Bucks County, Pa.

Mr. Newsom was born in Shanghai of American descent. He was reared in France and attended Cambridge University, England. For a time he was an anthropologist in Melanesia and later he lived in Morocco. He served as a captain in the British Army in France in World War I and as a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy in World War II.

In the Navy he served in the Pacific and as a liaison officer with our armies In Northern Africa and Southern France. His writings included a number of novels about the French Foreign Legion, including Legionnaires, Drums of the Legion, Cockney of the Legion, London Legionnaire and Wiped Out published in the Twenties and Thirties. From one of his stories was made a motion picture, Trouble in Morocco produced in 1937.

Mr. Newsom became Michigan director of the Federal Writers Project in 1938 and national director in 1939. He held the latter post for several years. Under him a series of encyclopedias of useful information about our various states was published.

After World War II, Mr. Newsome served Harcourt Brace & Co., Inc., book publishers here, as an associate editor, for a few years. He had intended to do literary work with Arthur Koest1er, the novelist, In Europe.

His widow survives.

Foreign Legion stories - great blog

For those of you who are fans of Foreign Legion stories in the pulps, the Mon Legionnaire blog is a gold mine. It has short fiction by Theodore Roscoe, Georges Surdez, Robert Carse and J. D. Newsom.

It  also has a lot of interesting non-fiction articles on the Foreign Legion.

Click here to see only the stories.