The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I'm Gone

Headed to the wilds of the Canadian outback for two weeks of swimming, reading and hammock swinging.

Here's my reading list for the trip, carefully mapped and balanced.


Talk to you all Aug 11.

91 New Covers...


in the Pulp Fiction Cover Gallery! Savor them though. That's the last you'll be getting for a few weeks.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tipped-in Book Review

I found a copy of A. A. Milne's The Red House Mystery with this reader review glued to the fly-leaf.

The reviewer responded to the cover quotes (which claimed the book was one of the world's three best mysteries), found "no split infinitives, but...the equally vile misuse of which for that" (thankfully they aren't commenting on my writing), noted some logic and style failings then keyed the review to marginal notations in the text.

He or she definitely would have been a blogger today.

Wish I could see the rest of their library.

My 12,000th Listing!


So it almost snuck past me but I just listed my 12,000th book: The Man From Tomorrow (A Scion Scientific Novel) by John Russell Fearn (writing as Vargo Statten) 1952. Beautiful cover...unsigned but I believe by Ron Turner (more from Turner will be showing up in my SF gallery soon)

Funny, I would have thought I'd be driving this car by the time I hit 12,000 listings.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

More Summer Crafts: Tossing Games

I mentioned our discovery of Cornhole on a road trip to Kentucky a few months back. Well we finally finished our own set.

Here tis:


I found the images on a Sailor Jerry Tattoo fan page. The skull was from flash art and easy to reproduce. The thug coat-of-arms was on the bicep of a sailor--faded from sun, and hard-living--so I had to guess at the coloring....also it was a fairly large bicep so I'm hoping he doesn't mind that I borrowed it.

Each board weighs 30 pounds; there are 8 corns bags, 1 pound each; plus the obligatory bottle of bourbon, and you have game that you can't drag out casually. Probably the reason this is a popular with tailgaters who have pickup trucks.

But biking through the park the other day, I saw people playing this:


It's called Ladder Golf or Bolo Toss and since it only requires PVC Pipe and golf balls, is downright spritely compared to cornhole.

My next project.

Anybody have a drill press for drilling out 18 golf balls?

Wish I could explain this obsession with lawn games when I don't have a lawn...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The 30% off "Fund My Vacation" Sale

I am burnt. I hate books. They have me cornered.

I can't leave the apartment because it's 90+ out, I'm going stir-crazy and not getting anything done. If I didn't work alone someone would be in serious danger of me strapping on my wrist rocket and causing deep bruising.

So for my mental well being I'm extending my just around the corner vacation from 7 days to 2 FULLY DISCONNECTED weeks! Sadly no one is going to pay me for this decision so to make up a little ground before I head off, I'm having a 30% off sale for all readers of this blog.

Check out my catalogs (ex: Pulp Fiction and Vintage Paperbacks, Rare First Signed Unique, Children's Books, Fantasy Horror Science Fiction, and more) email me a list of desired titles. Put "Vacation Sale" in the subject line and I'll send back a paypal invoice reflecting a 30% discount and low calculated shipping (specify media mail or priority).

Seriously people you can't blog from Bellevue so send me off with my wallet padded instead of the walls.

UPDATE: Sale was over as of 7/25/08.

Wagging the Long Tail

A few days back I posted a review of a 1940s novel about a happiness virus that spreads across New York City. The review was picked up by Boingboing (mainly because of my comparing the happy virus to a zombie plague) and as a result used copies of the recent OP edition jumped from $0.10 up to the $25.00 range on Amazon!

I'm a tastemaker. Neat. Stand back Harriet Klausner.

I realize that without BoingBoing the book would have jumped to maybe 2 bits, but still it's a heartening demonstration of the reason to do a lit blog.

Of course, like a sucker I posted my $.10 copy on PaperbackSwap and it was traded away before I noticed what was happening.

Now I have to go look thorough my stock and see if I can make any more semi-spurious zombie comparisons...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Trunk Stories #4, Part III

Here's the third installment of Trunk Stories #4. TS is the Hang Fire Books virtual reading series and the digital resurrection of my 'zine of literary fantasy, science fiction, and horror.

A peculiar tale set during one of New York City's periodic community-building semi-disasters (pdf).

Erik T. Johnson's work has appeared Trunk Stories (Issue #1), New York Stories, The Absinthe Literary Review, Underworlds Magazine, The Midnighters Club Anthology, Eotu, and Far Sector SFFH. He is currently working on a bunch of weird short stories, another novel, and getting people to read them. He lives in New York City.
Timothy Dedman is a writer and illustrator living in Brooklyn, New York.
Read the first two stories from issue #4 here: "Dame Morehead's Sea of Tranquility" by Tobias Seamon; "The Little Men" by William Mingin

Back issues of Trunk Stories can be purchased here (Issue #1 is OP and available as a free download).

Friday, July 11, 2008

Forensic Card Catalog

I'm behind on my blog reading after the holiday weekend and some computer trouble and that's the only way to explain how I missed seeing this great item from an upcoming Sotheby's auction discovered by Silent Porn Star.

It's a card catalog filled with individual autopsy reports from the "father of professional forensic pathology", Sir Bernard Spilsbury (1877-1947) covering London in the period 1905-1932.

There are many stories recorded in these terse notes, from horrific examples of neglect and abuse to bizarre cases such as the unfortunate Helen Elphinston-Dalrymple, who died of the effects of a dry shampoo applied at the Harrods salon in 1909. On 12 February 1918 Spilsbury performed an autopsy on 16 year-old Nellie Trew, and also examined her clothing for blood and semen: she had been raped then strangled on Eltham Common. The subsequent trial has recently been described by Rose as "one of the most blatant" miscarriages of British justice of the 20th century. Spilsbury's notes for 16 June 1919 record the autopsy of a 72 year-old widower who had been admitted to hospital two days previously: "He stated that on June 13 he had glass of beer ... Then stopped by 2 men who offered him whiskey. Drank 2 tablespoonfull which burnt his mouth". He had been given hydrochloric acid, which burnt through his stomach wall. In October 1923 Spilsbury examined the remains of a soldier, James Frederick Ellis ("H[anker]Chief & piece of cloth tied over mouth ... limbs had been tied ...when found body was reduced to skeleton except portion of lower limbs which were clothed in tight fitting garments..."), who suffocated as a result of masochistic sexual practices with another member of his regiment ("...he & Ellis proposed playing Cowboys & Indians & he trussed up Ellis who then told him that he was all right...").

If someone buys this for me (estimated at only 7000-9000 GBP) I swear I'll struggle through the doctor's handwriting and blog them all.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Flea Market Tips from The Naughty Secretary Club

Jennifer Perkins from the Naughty Secretary Club blog offers this video and list of tips on flea market strategy:



Choose your shopping partner wisely. You don’t want to go to the flea market with someone looking for the exact same things you are...

Tell your shopping partners what you are searching for so that they can also help you keep an eye peeled.
Carry a big purse or large tote bag to hold all your treasures.

Don’t just walk the middle of the aisles scanning booths, especially if you are a jewelry designer. There is no way you can see everything that is hidden inside the booth from walking down the center of the aisles.

Wear a tight fitting tank top underneath your T-shirt that way you can take your first layer off and try on clothes right there in the booth even without a dressing room.

Bring a list of measurements and a measuring tape. If you have spaces in your house where you are looking for a new piece of furniture measure the space so that when you find something at the flea market you can measure it and see if it will work.

and more in the full post.

She has a call out for more tips and strategies so chime in if you're experienced.

My best tip is to use your cellphone camera to take visual notes (sale addresses, landmarks, items you want to come back for, etc). Comes in very handy.

50s Pulp


Numerous new additions in my 1950s Sleaze/GGA set. Other sets updated as well. As always you can subscribe to my photostream here and not miss any of the covers.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Quick Review: I Am Thinking of My Darling

I just finished a really fascinating novel called I Am Thinking of My Darling by Vincent McHugh. Originally published in 1943, the book is about a happiness virus that spreads across New York City like a plague. The disease makes the afflicted lose their inhibitions, act like they perpetually have 2-3 drinks under their belt (without slurring or clumsiness, they're sharper in fact), and extremely resistant to doing anything they don't want to do.

Sounds more like a paradise than a plague right? Problem is that only 10-20% of the populace feel like doing their jobs anymore so law enforcement, public safety, garbage collection etc, go right out the window. And--though the author's description of crowd euphoria is appealing and not conservative or reactionary--some people's euphoric impulses are dangerous to themselves and others.

The protagonist of the novel is a civil servant who's promoted to acting Mayor when the former gets the virus and heads back to Westchester to build model trains. He loves the city in all its particulars and he loves his job (which is why he keeps going even when he gets the virus himself). His wife is an actress who evades him for the entire novel (because her bliss is to take on a series of elaborate character parts) and the chase takes us on a grand tour of the uninhibited city.

The novel feels extremely contemporary and realistic in the city's response to a disaster (so much that I almost put it down after the 50th motion was put before a board, argued about, voted and passed). And the author's descriptions of euphoria and ideas about what happiness means are entertaining and thought provoking.

The book is basically a zombie novel except instead of a walking corpse the infected turn into Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby.

McHugh also offers this really fascinating account of the difficulties of writing a realistic fantasy/science fiction/disaster novel (through a writing class that the protagonist's wife is infiltrating). A student asks if she should try to write a novel about the plague and the professor replies:
I'm afraid I'd say no. Too tough for a beginner...It brings you bang up against that problem of making reality, making the thing stand by itself.

You make that twice as tough by choosing a subject that takes off, leaves the ground of what we still think of as reality [which] is simply the broadest circle of reference common to his work and the reader. A kind of a priori agreement that life is like that, or could be. He'll grant you even a hurricane.

But with this Mardi Gras, this fever, you've got another kind of hurricane. A hurricane in which the houses stand but the people blow away. That's bad for our purposes, because human character is our talisman. The part of reality we use to make all the other parts come alive.

So you have to ask your readers to accept a double convention, as in fantasy. But this is tougher than fantasy. Here he's got to believe that both your realities are real at the same time. First, the way the city and the people acted before this fever came along and second, the new logic after the fever got them.
Good stuff.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th!: Dragon Breath Sparklers




These photos are from our last "Brooklyn Fireworks" show. Invented by Mr. Cuttita--our friends Michael and Carl's dad who was clearly a mad genius--these are sparklers turned up to 11.

All you need is a wire hanger and super fine steel wool (no soap added, 000 or 0000 "buffing grade"). Straighten the hanger so you have about a 3 foot length of wire with a small hook at the end. Unroll the steel wool and hook one end to the hanger. Move anyone you love back about 20 feet, light the end of the wool swing the hanger and run around like a spazz .

Good times.

For God's sake though, cover your hair, have a bucket of water handy (or a pool) and don't blame me if someone dies.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

New Bookplates

After of week's worth of smutty posts I figure it's time to get my mind out of the gutter. So here's some clean and wholesome bookplates.

First a plate belonging to "Marjorie Ludlow Timson" signed by the designer "ET", found in The Love Complex by Thomas Dixon (Boni & Liveright, 1925)


I love the lettering and the descending "T". Starting to accumulate a nice selection of naval- themed plates.

Next this plate from "Al and Elinor Black" (who apparently looked like Playmobile figurines) found in Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis (Harcourt, 1925) .


How cute is it that they have a little color-in checkbox to show when they'd both read the book?

Next this plate from "Mary and Norman Hickman" showing a lonely hilltop watchtower on a windy night. Found in Clayhanger by Arnold Bennett.


Not 100% sure it's the same person but a Norman Hickman (married to a "Minnie"), authored a number of quiz books for St. Martins Press.

Next this elaborate plate belonging to "Gustav Klemm", found in The Well-Tempered Musician by Francis Toye (Knopf 1926)


Klemm was a music critic who wrote an early anti-jazz polemic called "The Jargon of Jazz" for the magazine Etude. The article is cited in several places and is summarized thusly
describ[es] jazz as a passing craze, with numerous colourful references to his passionate dislikes ("sax slap-tongue" equals burping of frogs; "flare" equals sudden ripping of a piece of metallic cloth; "trombone smear" equals easy for beginner; various barnyard noises) of aspects of the genre.
full reference here ("What is Hip" by Rick McCrae).

Well at least he had a nice bookplate.

Lastly this mopey looking smudge on a plate belonging to "Mr. and Mrs. Paul Arthur Rubinstein" found in The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook (Harper, 1954)

Paul Arthur Rubinstein was the son of pianist Arthur Rubinstein. The plate signature looks like "R. Smith" but is tough to make out.

As always if anyone knows any points of interest about the owners or artists please leave a comment.