Underground Reading: Grifter's Game by Lawrence Block
New Releases: Deadbeats by Chris Lackey, Chad Fifer and INJ Culbard

This is a shelf

A shelf

Americans! Remember how we had to write personal statements for college? And the default statement was always something like, "here's what's on my desk"? Because Stanford or the University of Nebraska or Pepperdine or whatever, they'd understand that the shlock on your desk is what made you unique. It was all, like, metaphorical n' stuff. 

My high school had college counsellors that were amazing. They also kept us kept us from writing that essay. Granted, we'd all try really hard to write about the stuff on our desk, but our counsellors weren't having it. And bless 'em for it.

Anyway, the blog equivalent is definitely "Here's a photo of my shelves". A little bit boring and a lot self-absorbed. BUT... and this is a terrifying thought... the internet has fewer barriers to pretentiousness than my high school did. So, without further ado, here's a photo of a shelf.

For what it is worth, I've tried to make it an interesting shelf. Literally - you may, perhaps, notice the rough edge of the shelf itself, indicating that some jackass managed to fail IKEA 101 and build it backwards.

Starting from the left, there are four battered editions of Robert W. Chambers. These are, in the parlance of Chambers fans everywhere (all one of us), "the good ones". Actually, that's a lie - as one of these is In the Quarter, which I still haven't read and is supposedly terrible.

The spineless wonder that's fifth from the left is The Terror by Arthur Machen. It is stuffed in a comic book bag because it is falling to pieces. I have no idea how it has managed to survive this long. Poor thing is running on fumes.

The Doctor Who book is Seven Deadly Sins, edited by occasional Pornokitsch contributor David Bailey (also writes as David Bryher) (plus a short from Rebecca Levene as well). It was my first introduction to Doctor Who in any format. It also marks the first (second?) book review I ever wrote - as, for the hell of it, I reviewed it for the food website we had going at the time. Doctor Who short fiction, examined for its culinary value. I'm not sure I was doing anyone any favours with that one.

Ghost Dance, Ghost Dance and Cold Warriors - Rebecca Levene's John Le Carré x The Omen series for Abaddon. Being dysfunctional, Anne and I each got a copy of Ghost Dance inscribed to us and refuse to budge with either one. Cold Warriors is very fun, as that Bex was 'practicing her author signature' in it, so it has her name in it about 16 increasingly-illegible times. 

The little chapbooks are Tim Powers (The Bible Repairman, On Pirates) and Joe Lansdale (Duck-Footed and Triple Feature). I love both of these guys, but these are mostly here because I'm terrified of losing them elsewhere. If that doesn't make sense, wait until the next filler post, when you can see the really messy ones.

President Fu Manchu is from the library of Donald A. Wollheim (DAW, Ace, etc. etc.) With a stamp in the very back. Found it in a charity shop in Chipping Camden. The monolithic black book beside it is another association copy - John Brunner's copy of Stephen Benet's John Brown's Body. What you can't tell from this angle is that the book doesn't have a front cover. It is pretty much held together by gumption.

Here's where it gets bonkers.

The nondescript brown book is probably my favourite find ever. A copy of I, Claudius. It is a delapidated ex-library copy, rebound in library binding (in 1941) and thoroughly well-read. But it has a note in it - from Robert Graves - saying it was "presented by the author". The inscription is signed "Robert Graves O.C.". That, plus the bookplate (Aedes Carthusianae, 1611) makes me think this was donated to (and withdrawn from) the library of Charterhouse. The alumni (of which Graves was one) are "Old Carthusians". It was founded in 1611, etc. etc. This is all probably well known to the natives, but as an American, it took many minutes of Google-research. Anyway, the book itself is a wreck, but... golly.

The last book is a copy of Edgar Allan Poe's Scary Tape Worm. It is a second-hand Penguin edition of The Fall of the House of Usher that was painted over... enthusiastically... by the "Stuckist" artist Sexton Ming. It is a thing. And it does have a very scary tape worm on the cover, so, that's good. 

So, there you go. A proper old-school filler post that demonstrates... I'm not sure what. I like my books as unique as possible? Tape worms scare me? Condition is no object? Doctor Who is an acceptable substitute for breakfast? Something meaningful, I'm sure.

Stanford, Pepperdine and the University of Nebraska must be very sad to have missed out on me.