Sunday, April 03, 2011

The Steam Pig and Trouble on the Horizon

I just bought a new copy of James McClure's first novel, The Steam Pig.  First published in 1971, it is a police procedural set in South Africa and is the first in a series starring an Akfrikaner and his Zulu partner.  I bought a used paperback copy of it some 20 years ago on the advice of an old bookseller on the south side of Chicago. (Her store was stuffed to the ceiling with books, poorly lit, drafty, and always filled with cigarette smoke, but I got a lot of wonderful stuff from her over the years.)  I also acquired the rest of the books in the series.  Of course, I never got around to reading them - but I have thought about them on and off over the years.  (The gestation period for me to starting reading something after I buy it can sometimes be a decade or more.)

For whatever reason, I've become interested in reading McClure now.  The problem is all of his books are packed away in boxes and stored in the crawlspace of my dad's house in Chicago - some 700 miles away.  I recently picked up a copy of Snake, McClure's fourth in the series, as back up travel reading.  Which means I've purchased two of these books twice.

I just found out that my dad might be moving next year - and that I have a year to figure out what to do with the 20 or so boxes of books in his crawlspace.  Realistically, I have room for maybe two boxes of these books.  The rest will have to go.  Even if he weren't moving, how long are we allowed to keep boxes in our parents' houses after we've moved away?

I know I have McClures to rescue, plus several Jim Thompson pulps - actually, maybe a lot of noiry/pulpy things from a phase I went through way back then.  I have been wanting to rescue my copy of The Best of Frederic Brown with the Richard Corben cover - something I had forgotten about until I read OlmanFeelyus's review of it last summer.  I salvaged all my Philip K. Dicks several years ago but I know I still have some old SF paperbacks I want.  Boxes of old issues of The New Yorker?  I love my old copies of that magazine but I think they take up too much space.  Getting rid of them will hurt.  The rest of these books?  Obviously, I don't need them all.  I'm going to take pictures of what I discard and this record of biblio-exsanguination will be proof that I don't keep everything and that I am not some demented hoarder.  Is one even a hoarder if one only collects one kind of thing? 

Lastly - I think it is a good thing I have a new copy of The Steam Pig as I think this is the cover of the copy that is in storage.  Can't comfortably read that in pubic, can I?

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