Sunday, January 30, 2011

Unpacking My Mind

Today my son and I built Expedit from IKEA. I got the one that is four by four squares, and the squares are pretty deep, too. Perfect for my monstrous and somewhat absurd paperback collection, which has been mostly boxed up since we moved this summer. I started unpacking and shelving, as part of my mad plan to have the ultimate basement office, but I have to admit that it wasn't too long until I got, um, sidetracked by some of the great books I've collected over the years. Every book I have tells two stories, to me--the story within the pages and a piece of the story of my life when I was reading it. Books like this one:

That's the original title. I love cover art and book design, and when the story is great as this one is, well then, everyone wins.

Ah, Raymond Chandler. As much as I love this edition, which I found at a used bookstore for a dollar this year, I actually like these better:

Mainly because those were the editions I read when I was a kid; I love the Deco-ish lettering and cover art. I picked one up because I was watching the Philip Marlowe shows on HBO starring Powers Boothe and I instantly was hooked, for life, on the stories.

Then there's these, which I have a couple hundred of:

I've often said that Stephen King, Gary Gygax, and Bill Gaines were the three most influential men that I wasn't related to in my life when I was a kid.

I've got over a hundred of these, too:

Still not a complete set, though. I guess I could get the few I'm missing off ebay, but where's the fun in that? Used bookstores and yard sales for me.

Although I did get this one off Amazon or abebooks or one of them:

Jack Yeovil is actually Kim Newman, who is one of my favorite writers working today. I think this is his first novel.

And then there's this:

What a cover! Unlike my Mad and Doc Savage collections, I do have a complete set of old Shirley Jackson paperbacks. I'll buy any of the old ones that I see because I give them away often (and read them to death, it turns out). Her ouerve, although not huge, had a huge influence on me.

Every book I unpack is like a brick, or cornerstone, of the city of my mind. I first read Czar of Fear, above, when I was about ten, and read it again in my twenties when I got it in my head that it would be a good idea to read them all again, in order. I read The Bedside Mad at least a hundred times between the ages of eight and fifteen, and probably a dozen since in various formats. The one I read the most though wasn't this one but the one with the Norman Mingo cover. I read the Yeovil/Newman book late 2009, after I went on a quest to read everything that he's written (still working on it, but The Original Dr. Shade (and other tales) is supposedly in the mail. Jackson and Chandler I read very young and re-read every few years.

I'm about a third of the way unpacked...

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