Sunday, February 14, 2016

Secret finds

Many book lovers like to talk about their experiences in haunting bookstores, especially used ones, since you can find some treasures there.

I like to be different.

Anyone can ransack the shelves in a used book store, but I like to look for books in more off the beaten path places, such as antique stores and flea markets. For example, you'd be surprised how often a flea market or antique store might have a small pile of books on a shelf some place.

They were probably picked up by the proprietor who bought up an estate sale. They often don't know much about or care much about the books, so there may be some treasures there you can get for a buck or two.

In once rummaged through a junk shop and bought a 1981 copy of Terry Carr's "Treasury of Modern Fantasy" for two bucks.

In furniture stores - both new, used, and antique - they leave books around for looks, and pay no attention to what they are, so long as they look nice. You see many volumes of Readers' Digest Condensed Books.

But one time I found a copy of the 1946 copy of "Adventures in Time and Space" sitting on an antique dresser once, and gave the shop owner 75 cents for it.

By far, the best of these secret finds was when I saw, atop a piece of antique furniture in a shop in Gladewater, Texas, a thick red book, which turned out to be a special 1926 Literary Digest Edition of The Complete Works of O. Henry published by Doubleday.

I didn't even know there was a one-volume compilation of O. Henry's short stories. It's 1,400 pages long, printed in small type on onion-skin like paper. But, wow! All that great fiction in one book. I think I gave the lady watching the shop two bucks.

That's the book I'm holding in the photo.

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Latest reviews

"It’s possible that you haven’t run into the stories of Lou Antonelli. Since 2003, he’s been publishing delightful short tales of alternate history all over the nooks and crannies of the SF world. Thanks to Fantastic Books, we now have 28 of these little gems in one place. "Many of Antonelli’s stories have an unexpected twist ending. And many of them are what he calls “secret history” stories, which aren’t exactly alternate history—they’re set in our familiar history, but there’s always some element that contemporary observers missed. " -

- Don Sakers, The Reference Library, Analog July-Aug. 2014

A better path develops for a distraught man in “Double Exposure” by Lou Antonelli (debut 6/11 and reviewed by Frank D). Jake is about to end it all. He has been trying to keep his high maintenance wife happy for decades and has needed to embezzle to satisfy her spending habits. Now, on the verge of indictment and abandoned by his spouse, he buys a gun. Before he pulls the trigger, he spies a Kodak one-day photo hut. Curious, he pulls up to the window. They are holding pictures of him and his last girlfriend from 30 years before. The package is a lot thicker than it should be. Double Exposure” is listed as an Alternative History story but I would classify it as a Magical Realism tale. It is set as a second chance tale, a look into a life that should have been. The author is inspired by his memories of the old photo huts (I remember them) and of their disappearance. A cool idea (photos of another life), one that I could imagine would make for a great anthology.

- Frank Dutkiewicz, Diabolical Plots

“Great White Ship”: A traveler stuck waiting for a flight strikes up a conversation with an old airline employee. The Old Timer tells him a story of a Great White Airship that arrives from a most unusual destination. The story of a craft from an alternate reality and how it got there is only the precursor to the final act. This is one of my favorite stories from this site. I have a great passion for lighter-than-air craft and their potential as a future means of transport, which opens the story. The author uses this speculation to launch into an engaging tale. As fascinating as the main story line is, the alternate history premise that accompanies it is just as worthwhile. This story was well written and very well thought out. It is well worth the read. Recommended.

- James Hanzelka, Diabolical Plots

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