On Saturday morning October 27, 2012 I got into my beautiful black Kia and took a ride up the Black Canyon Freeway–destination Prescott, Arizona. I tried to get there once before this year, but wound up stopping at Arcosanti. This time I successfully navigated the road construction–very confusing cloverleaf the state is building–imho, a big disimprovement to what was already there–made the crazy left turn and headed west from Cordes Junction to Prescott.
Prescott used to be a large town with an Old West atmosphere–a small city full of cheap motels, antique shops, art galleries, and trading posts. It still has all those things, but is now totally surrounded by miles of suburbs and strip malls. In addition to Prescott itself, there is also Prescott Valley and East Prescott. Prescott was twice capitol of Arizona, once from 1864 to 1867 and again from 1877 to 1889. Since 1889 Phoenix has been the capitol and most important city in the state. The city is sometimes called the Mile High city (yeah, like Denver) because it is 5200 feet above sea level. The city was named after William H. Prescott, an American historian who wrote some truly epic histories of the New World. The 2010 census population was about 40,000 people, but it is the center of a metropolitan area that contains more than 200,000. With a lot of traffic on the roads and suburbs sprawling in all directions, it feels like there are hundreds of thousands of people there.
I drove through town on what used to be the main drag, Gurley Street, and parked near the Sharlott Hall Museum. Then, I disembarked, had some breakfast in a nearby cafe, and walked around town for a while. This is not an organized tour of the city, but just things I saw as I ambled around.
My first stop was the Dinner Bell cafe–one of those old style Mom and Pop eating establishments that used to be the small restaurant scene in America. It had been in business since 1939 at the same location.
I left home without any breakfast, and so I was very hungry by the time I got to Prescott. I also needed to use the facilities, so the cafe was a logical first stop. Prices are a little higher in these places than they are in fast food joints like Wendy’s, but the food is much better. I ordered a Denver omelette, a delicacy I haven’t had for several years, and coffee. They were good–plenty of real food. There went my calorie count for the day.
Inside, the place was cramped, but I got a booth. Clearly the place has a lot of regulars. Like many American diners, the walls were covered with memorabilia of all sorts. I’m sure every picture has a story, but I didn’t get any of them.
My waitress had sparkly pockets on her blue jeans. The place was heavily decorated for Halloween, and most of the people seemed to know each other.
Fortified with breakfast, I went out and immediately found the true cause of my visit to Prescott. I remembered there was an old bookstore in this part of town, and I wanted to see if it was still there. Yes, it was.
The pink shop across the street from the Dinner Bell is called The Book Nook. It is an old style bookstore crammed from floor to ceiling with used books–most of them in only fair condition. It is full of treasures, and most of them at reasonable prices.
While I was inside the shopkeeper asked me if I was looking for anything in particular. I mentioned Edgar Rice Burroughs and Otis A. Kline, and was introduced to Marilyn, the shop owner, who told me that the better, rarer stuff was downstairs. I talked her into letting me go downstairs with her and found a basement crammed with old treasures not really much different from the stuff upstairs. She had a computer down there, and could look to see if she had anything that would tempt me. I asked her about Talbot Mundy, and she came up with a thick novel called “Old Ugly Face”–a tale of mysticism and espionage on the India-Thibet border set in the 1930s–not in very good condition and she wanted $55 for it. That was too much, but I might try to find it via inter-library loan. I asked for various other authors, most of whom she didn’t have, but she did have one by Aleister Crowley. This proved to be the find of the expedition, and for $35 I acquired an excellent magician’s manual.
Title page and frontispiece. The book is bound in black buckram with gold stamping on the spine, but nothing on the cover. It must have had a dust jacket once upon a time, but that is gone. The author is Aleister Crowley. The title is Magick. New York, Samuel Weiser, 1973, c.1934. illus., plates, index. 511 p.
I am such a dabbler. After spending the money on it, I hope I can find time to read this book. There is no chance in hell that I’ll ever be able to practice magick the way Crowley describes it.
I found a second book that I wanted in the Book Nook, PETER AND THE SHADOW THIEVES by Dave Barry and Riddley Pearson. This Children’s novel is a continuation of the adventures of Peter Pan as imagined by modern authors Barry and Pearson. Actually there are at least 3 or 4 books in this series and they are prequels to J. M. Barrie’s work. Barry is notable for his humor, Pearson for his thrillers. It seems like an odd team to do Peter Pan stories but they are surprisingly effective together. I read the first one, PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS about a decade ago, and when I saw the second one I bought it on impulse. Peter Pan has always been one of my heroes.
I spent more than half an hour in the bookstore, and it was very pleasant. Such places are packed with treasures, and I’m sorry I can only afford to take maybe one or two pieces when I find them.
IMHO, this is what bookstores should look like. Not elegant! Not spacious, bright, and clean! A narrow place, crammed with wonders, by an old magic-worker who loves her treasures and shares them with those who are wise enough to find them.
Leaving the bookstore behind, I walked into the central touristy part of Prescott. I also came to visit the antique stores, trading posts, and galleries. I love that kind of stuff, though I have neither money to spend on it, nor places to display any such loot. Oh well, a man can look and admire without buying. I also planned to get my day’s exercise walking around downtown.
I kind of like it when artists do murals and bizarre gigantic paintings on the walls of buildings. This splash of color is hidden by foliage on the banks of a creek that runs through western Prescott and is close to the cafe.
I would like to eat dinner with this fellow some time.
I found another bookstore, this one on Whiskey Row in the heart of town. It is called The Sage, and it is the antitheses of the Book Nook. Here everything is immaculate and in excellent condition, and the prices are all double and triple what they are at the other place. I walked through this store and admired it very much, but I didn’t buy anything.
This shop is underground on Whiskey Row and specializes in western memorabilia–definitely a tourist trap, but a great place for those who might want some authentic old western costumes.
I found this wooden Indian inside another store on Whiskey Row where I stopped to admire the bolo ties, and wound up buying a couple of geodes.
Prescott was holding a Pumpkin Festival for charity in the park around the Yavapai County Courthouse. There has always been something going on here whenever I visited Prescott. There was an anti-Romney rally going on, with a bit of gentle satire involved.
Can you tell that it is almost Halloween?
There is nothing remarkable about this building. I took the picture just to prove I really was in Prescott that morning.
a pleasant day for a festival in the park. Pavilions all over the place. That massive building in the background is the Yavapai County Courthouse. One has to climb two flights of stairs just to get in through the front door.
Festival booths seen from behind.
Fry’s Wheel of Fortune. Spin it and win a bat, cat, pumpkin, or lunch at Fry’s food store. It is hard for me to pass up free stuff, but the line waiting for a chance to spin it was too long.
Life sized statue of horse and rider. I really admire these old bronze masterpieces.
The Shootist–this old gunslinger is watching a costume contest for kids under the age of 7.
The Over the Hill Gang, some old cowboys enjoying the fine weather. I spent a few minutes talking to them.
A pumpkin festival has to have a pumpkin patch. Neither Charley Brown nor the Great Pumpkin were in attendance, but one could buy a pumpkin for charity here.
Damn that fat woman in black blouse and blue jeans. She walked right in front of me as I was shooting a papparazzi picture of Spider-Man and Tinker Belle. Seems like an unlikely combination. Darth Vader was there too.
I finally left the festival behind and took a tour of the nearby antique stores. I admired some pretty trinkets, but didn’t buy anything else. Stopped to take a picture of a typical store though. I believe I’ve been here before. Deja vu!
Nothing else worth mentioning happened. I walked back to my car, and drove home, getting confused again at the Cordes Junction turnaround, but quickly correcting and heading south. The whole trip took about 7 hours. I got my exercise for the day, two old books, and a pretty rock. And I’m wondering where I can go next time the wanderlust overcomes me.
If you’ve ever been to Prescott, Arizona, or any other old town where you can find rundown bookstores and plenty of characters hanging out in the local diner, why not leave a comment?
Long, long ago, before Tunnels and Trolls was even a twinkling in my eye, I got my first library job at the Ocotillo Branch Library in South Phoenix. There I learned what it was like to entertain children, and help people do research, and weed a collection, and eventually even how to select books. I learned what it was like to be part of a community, and to promote the public library–far and away the best thing that city governments have ever done for their citizens. And, after a couple of years at Ocotillo I grew ambitious, I got married, and I went away to Tucson, Arizona and the University of Arizona to get my M.L.S. (Master of Library Science) degree. To do that, I had to quit my job, and though I loved that job, I gave it up so that I could advance to bigger and better things in life.
The people at Ocotillo gave me a farewell party, as is frequently done when people leave one job for another. And we had cake and music and good conversation. And for my present they gave me this little booklet made of construction paper and things cut from magazines–something to remember them by. I had nothing to give them, but simply accepted their friendship, and tried to make them laugh.
Going through my papers, I found this old booklet which I hadn’t seen for a long, long time, and thought, I’d share it with the world. This isn’t really about me. It’s about Friendship, and the wonderful friends of the past–all of whom are lost to me now, and some of them are dead. I got my library degree, and I worked for Phoenix Public Library once place or another for some 37 years; I made many more excellent friends, and I miss them now that I’m retired, but there was never a better bunch of good-hearted people than the ones I worked with at the beginning at Ocotillo Library on the poor side of Phoenix.
None of the pictures is an actual picture of the people I worked with, but perhaps it is how they saw themselves, or how they thought I saw them. Sarah was wise and funny and black; Annie was the earth mother; Chris was the romantic blonde, Rachel was the sturdy person ready for anything, Terry was a hot salsa chick, Dick was a crotchety but wise older man who taught me a good deal about being a librarian, Beverly actually was a Navajo Indian–what a marvelous intercultural group we had! Working with the staff at Ocotillo was the best thing that happened to me during the 70s.
Well, it’s not a booklet that I want to throw away, although I imagine it will be discarded when they sort out my stuff when I’m dead, but I’ve put it here as a tribute to those friends of the past. I miss them all.
If your friends ever made a book for you, or even if they didn’t, feel free to leave a comment.
I should be writing T & T, but I’m taking the easy way out (again) and bragging on my book collection. I really feel like writing, but I don’t feel like creating–heh, so here come some more book covers and lame anecdotes. I need to get this done so I can get these books off the floor and back on the shelf. These are in no particular order–just the order they happened to stack in. My brain is in much the same condition.
Jennifer is a (distant) friend of mine. We know each other to say hi. I admire her very much, but have never really had any opportunity to get to know her very well. I wish I could get her into a Tunnels and Trolls game. Her autograph says: For Ken Thanks for the invite to the library! Jennifer Roberson. I asked her to come help put on a program at the Cholla Branch Library back in the day. She very graciously accepted and was a big hit with the attendees.
Michael Andre-Driussi was a T & T fan who got in touch with me long before I started Trollhalla. He was also something of a genius and a literary critic. HIs favorite author was Gene Wolfe. He turned his hand to creating a glossary/dictionary of everything important in the Severian books by Gene Wolfe and produced this very handsome book, becoming a sort of Boswell to Wolfe's Johnson. I haven't heard from him in a long time. He has a badly outdated web page, and has probably become a college professor of literature. His very modest autograph is tucked away behind the title page and says simply: Michael Andre-Driussi.
Kate's hardback autograph is about the same as her paperback autograph: For Ken Best wishes! Kate Elliott.
During the 90s Vernor Vinge was one of the most popular SF writers around, and we had him as a Guest of Honor at Coppercon. I took advantage of the chance to meet him and talk to him, and get him to sign this book. It says: To Ken St. Andre with best wishes. Vernor Vinge (really an indecipherable glyph of considerable complexity--I think I see an N and a G in it) Coppercon '94.
Zelazny had a wonderfull feel for demigods as heroes. I really liked his Shadowjack in this book, and I lifted the character type to become one of the monsters you might meet in my Monsters! Monsters! roleplaying game. Liz Danforth liked it too and drew a marvelous portrait--half real, half invisible. The autograph is a simple: Roger Zelazny, and I suppose that's all I deserve for a book club edition.
D.R. Evans and I were struggling to make a name for ourselves in SFWA at about the same time back in the early 90s. He wrote this YA book and got it published by a minor publisher, but fell on hard times and I never found out what became of him. The signature is just: D R Evans.
I met Steve Allen and his wife Jane Meadows on that trip to Washington D.C. His autograph is small elegant. Hers is big and bold. It reads: To Ken--Steve Allen JAYNE MEADOWS.
Steve Allen was a genius. Author, comedian, television personality, songwriter–the man could do it all. A brief biography of him is available here: http://www.wyyr.com/Steve-Allen.html. It seemed to me he had a practically perfect American life. I’m envious.
Steve and Jane shared the writing of the mysteries and also the autographs. I bet that Jane was the real mystery fan in the duo, and Steve just went along with her.
And here’s the last book in the current series: Dragon by Clive Cussler. I have a Clive Cussler story. I was in Washington D.C. for the American Booksellers convention. Back in the day the country was flush. Libraries had enough money to send librarians to conventions around the country. I took advantage and went to Washington. On the first day of the convention, in a huge hall stuffed with hundreds of publishers, ten times as many authors, and tens of thousands of fans/people/attendees I heard an announcement that Clive Cussler was giving away and signing his new book. I decided to go to it, even though it was completely on the other side of the convention. By the time I arrived there was a line 100 yards long stretching halfway across the hall, and I was near the end of it. I didn’t give up. I stayed in the line and hoped I would get through. The autograph sessions were only an hour long. Clive signed and signed. The line moved slowly along. After about 45 minutes some assistants came and told people that they weren’t going to finish in time, and that Mr. Cussler wouldn’t be able to sign for those of us at the end of the line, but that we could still have the free book. Many people took the book and left. I stayed in line. Clive signed furiously, but he ran out of time and had to vacate the table for the next author while there were still about ten of us left. We were ready to walk away when Cussler walked over to us, told us to follow him, and led us off to the side so we wouldn’t be in the way of the next line. The assistants had already given us a book, so Clive stood there for an extra 10 minutes and talked to us and signed our copies. I have never read the book, but I still have it, and treasure the incident, because it seemed to me that was the way an author really ought to treat his fans.
The autograph is in a jaunty up-slanting series of lines and says:
To Ken Cheers! Clive Cussler. The year was 1990.
And that concludes my current series on autographed books. I’m bound to return and talk about my collection again some time, but I’ll try to come up with as new topic.
If you ever met any of these authors, or have some fine autographs you’d like to brag about, please leave a comment.
I did something useful today. I put together a prefab bookcase, found a place for it in my overcrowded apartment, and filled it up with books and magazines that came from my old place. Perhaps you have some idea of what 50 years of collecting or accumulating Good Stuff can do.
My book collection divides into several parts. There’s Stuff, Good Stuff, Really Good Stuff that I want to read, Stuff I helped create, Stuff my friends created, Classic Stuff from small presses or other amazing printers, and High Quality Collectible Stuff. Most of it is books, but a lot is magazines, art portfolios, games, and just a couple videos. You know what my problem is: TOO MUCH GOOD STUFF!
And I don’t have room for it all any more. And I don’t have time to appreciate it properly. And my very creative friends and associates continue producing even better stuff. Aaaaaaaaagggggggggggghhhhhh!
I appreciate it very much when people ask me to sign things for them. I think all authors do. Signing something somehow makes it special. For a moment author and reader really connected with each other. When I was younger, I often went to great lengths to get authors to sign their books for me. It was partly because I wanted to experience that special moment of connection, and partly because I wanted to give them that rush of satisfaction and pleasure that I felt whenever someone asked me to sign a book or game. And partly because I used to imagine that having those signatures would make the books themselves that much more valuable to some other collector some day in the future.
Well, I’m older now, and I have all these autographed books that nobody seems to want. So much for dreams! But I still want to share them–the wonder of them, and therefore, this blog.
I could scan the autographs, but that would involve smashing the book open. I will try digital photography and grabbing covers from Amazon. Let’s see. I’ll let the old librarian out of me, and display them in alphabetical order by author.
For a couple of years, Bill and I were pretty good friends. We shared a love for the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
I photographed the autographs, but it isn’t working. I have the pix in Iphoto, but can’t find them to actually upload them to this blog, so I will just tell you what they say. This one says: William Barton 02-18-95.
Kathryn is an author I admire, but never really knew at all. Her autograph just says: Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff.
Kate Elliott is a pseudonym for Alys Rassmussen. Kit Kerr took me to visit her at her home one afternoon--only time I ever met her. The autograph says: For Ken, Best wishes! Kate Elliott
Phantoms is one of the many successful anthologies that Martin Greenberg packaged over the years. For this book I got the actual editors signatures. They say: To Ken Marty Greenberg Rosalind M. Greenberg 6/4/89.
This is going to be a poorly constructed blog, inconsistent at best, because WordPress is fighting with me. Sometimes I don’t like this site at all. I’ve tried to enter a caption twice now, and lost it both times. However, I’m getting the information in one way or another.
I actually visited Katherine Kerr in California a couple of times, and we corresponded for a while. She is best known for her heroic fantasy series about the land of Deverry–a series I admired very much at the time. In fact, I put the whole series, mostly in trade paperbacks in a position of honor on the bookcase I filled up today. Resurrection is more standard sci-fi. Her autograph says: For Ken–All my best–Kit. Ms. Kerr is known at Kit by her friends.
Here’s another picture of Corencio’s hands and t-shirt. This cover of Dragon Doom is not available at Amazon. This book is my absolute favorite of all the fantasies that Dennis McKiernan wrote. We know each other, although I haven’t seen him for several years now. His autograph says: Ken: This one is my favorite at this time. But Eye of the Hunter may displace it. Dennis L. McKiernan W F C (9).
Amazon did not have the paperback cover of this, but they did have the same picture on their audio version, so I grabbed that to show you what the paperback looks like. Robert Sawyer is very much a hard sf writer--it's kinda surprising that he and I became friends for a while. His autograph says: For Ken with all best wishes. Robt. J. Sawyer.
Michael Stackpole and I go way back together. It shouldn't surprise you that I own most of his books with his signature inside. This one says: To Ken, This is my "deja vu" novel! Best, Mike
And another one from Mike–Talion Revenant was actually the first heroic fantasy he wrote, although it was not the first to be published. In some ways I like it best of all his early books–it has more of a Tunnels and Trolls feel to it than his other stuff.
The signature says: To Ken, reads better in book than ms! Best, Mike. This is a reference to the fact that I was one of the few people to read the book first as a manuscript. In fact, I think I only saw the first half in manuscript. The second half of the book was new to me when it was finally published.
I have many more autographed paperbacks, but these are all that popped up today while I was sorting and filing things. And that’s enough, really. You’ve had a mini-tour of my personal book collection, and you’ve seen how some authors sign their books. I also have a lot of signed hardbacks and trade paperbacks in a much larger format. I’m thinking I might do a blog about them also some time in the future.
If you have any autographed books, and would care to share those signatures with the world, go ahead and leave a comment.