Friday, November 4, 2011

FFB: THE WESTERN HALL OF FAME and THE MYSTERY HALL OF FAME ed. Bill Pronzini, MH Greenberg (& Chas. Waugh), HIGH GEAR ed. Evan Jones

Some quick takes this week, but nonetheless some important books, the first one at least to me.
The first edition.

High Gear was the first anthology of sports fiction I read, as a kid; my father was a (mostly) amateur auto-racing driver (mostly sports cars, both track and auto-cross racing--the latter long-term road-racing, sometimes with my mother as navigator) in Alaska in the early and mid 1960s, and the Bantam Pathfinder edition of this anthology presumably caught his eye at the racks or someone else's eye who thought it would be a good gift. Certainly it was to was my first encounter with the fiction of William Campbell Gault, William F. Nolan, John D. MacDonald, William Saroyan (beating out first exposure to My Name is Aram by a year or two), war-correspondent legend Bill Mauldin and some guy named Steinbeck; it wasn't my first experience with Thurber, but close, as well as with such sports-fiction specialists (along with Gault) as Ken Purdy and Henry Gregor Felsen. I don't know anything about this Evan Jones (there seem to be, possibly, several active in the literary world in the last century) except that he also seems to have edited some western and otherwise frontier-oriented anthologies...and that he had excellent taste as an editor here.

(High Gear and The Western Hall of Fame contents courtesy the Contento indices)
High Gear ed. Evan Jones (Bantam Pathfinder EP32, Jul ’63, 45¢, 184pp, pb); Reissue (original: Bantam, Mar ’55).

1 · First Skirmish · Henry Gregor Felsen · ss, 1954
16 · Change of Plan · Ken Purdy · ss Atlantic Monthly Sep ’52
23 · Dirt-Track Thunder · William Campbell Gault · ss Argosy, 1946
38 · The Ragged Edge · William F. Nolan · ss Sports Car Journal, 1957
52 · The Affair of the Wayward Jeep · Bill Mauldin · ss The Saturday Evening Post Jun 27 ’53
68 · Elimination Race · John D. MacDonald · ss Colliers Sep 13 ’52
83 · Smashup · James Thurber · ss New Yorker Oct 5 ’35
89 · Head-On · Robert Switzer · ss Esquire Feb ’53
94 · Hearse of the Speedway · Peter Granger · ss Esquire, 1936
105 · 1924 Cadillac for Sale · William Saroyan · ss, 1948
110 · Money on Morgan · Robert Westerby · ss Esquire, 1938
117 · The $20,000,000 Decision · Cameron Hawley · ss Colliers Jan 22 ’54
136 · Throttle Shy · Frank Harvey · ss Argosy Sep ’52
150 · The Phantom Flivver · Frank Luther Mott · ss The Saturday Evening Post Jan 28 ’50
161 · A Model T Named “It” · John Steinbeck · ss Ford Times Jul ’53
165 · The Magnificent Torpedo · Dean Evans · ss Argosy Oct ’51
178 · Flags in Castelfiorentino · Francis Steegmuller · ss New Yorker, 1951

A rather blurry image of the Pathfinder reprint edition my father had, which he's given to me.

The Western Hall of Fame ed. Bill Pronzini & Martin H. Greenberg (William Morrow and Co. 0-688-02220-0, 1984, $17.95, 376pp, hc, cover by Terry Fehr) [Western]

5 · Introduction · Bill Pronzini & Martin H. Greenberg · in
11 · The Blue Hotel · Stephen Crane · nv Colliers Nov 26, 1898
45 · The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County · Mark Twain · ss, 1867
53 · The Outcasts of Poker Flat · Bret Harte · ss Overland Monthly Jan, 1869
67 · An Afternoon Miracle · O. Henry · ss Everybody’s Magazine Jul ’02
81 · Tappan’s Burro · Zane Grey · nv Ladies Home Journal Jun ’23
131 · Wine on the Desert · Max Brand · ss This Week Jun 7 ’36
141 · Stage to Lordsburg · Ernest Haycox · ss Colliers Apr 10 ’37
159 · A Day in Town · Ernest Haycox · ss Colliers Jan 1 ’38
177 · The Indian Well · Walter Van Tilburg Clark · ss, 1943
197 · A Man Called Horse · Dorothy M. Johnson · ss Colliers Jan 7 ’50
215 · Outlaw Trail · S. Omar Barker · ss The Saturday Evening Post Jan 3 ’59
231 · Blood on the Sun · Thomas Thompson · ss The American Magazine Jun ’54
249 · Stubby Pringle’s Christmas · Jack Schaefer · ss (YA chapbook, Houghton Mifflin, 1964)
265 · The Winter of His Life · Lewis B. Patten · ss The Colorado Quarterly, 1953
275 · Isley’s Stranger · Clay Fisher · ss (Legends and Tales of the Old West, edited by S. Omar Barker for WWA, Doubleday 1962)
309 · Lost Sister · Dorothy M. Johnson · ss Colliers Mar 30 ’56
323 · Paso Por Aqui · Eugene Manlove Rhodes · nv The Saturday Evening Post Feb 20 ’26 (+1)

What's notable to me in this anthology, with its stories chosen by polling the members of the Western Writers of America, with a simplified Australian ballot (essentially, please name your choice for best western short story ever, and your four or so [more if you like] other suggestions for the anthology) is in who isn't in the book...such younger writers as Joe Lansdale and Loren Estleman were still establishing themselves in 1983-84, but the absence of the Els--Elmer Kelton and Elmore Leonard--seems a bit odd, though perhaps their stars have risen among their peers in the last quarter-century. (Old favorite of mine Shirley/Lee Hoffman barely wrote any short fiction in the western field, pretty much going straight into the novels with The Valdez Horses and her first-novel Spur; rather comparable to Samuel Delany's entry into the sf scene.) Also, and even more surprising to me, is that not a damned one of these stories was first published in a western-fiction magazine, pulp, digest or otherwise, though the "Clay Fisher" story was apparently first published in the "1962 Doubleday WWA anthology," as the Spur Awards page on the WWA site puts it (not bothering to name the anthology!--though Pronzini and Greenberg fail to do so, as well, in the copyrights detail page). I've just received this book, so haven't yet had the opportunity to go through it...though it does look inviting, save the Zane Grey story (which, I'm amused to note, was first published in The Ladies Home Journal...given the machismic anxiety of some western readers, I'm sure that datum wouldn't help, but of course Grey, in the manner of Stephen King, wrote badly enough on a regular basis to transcend the usual audiences for his kind of fiction at the time...and perhaps, as I occasionally am with King, I'll be pleasantly surprised by this novella).

(courtesy WorldCat)
The Mystery Hall of Fame.
New York : Morrow, 1984
edited by Bill Pronzini; Martin Harry Greenberg; Charles Waugh; from polling of the Mystery Writers of America.
467 pp. ; 22 cm.

Contents: The purloined letter / Edgar Allen Poe --
The adventure of the speckled band / Sir Arthur Conan Doyle --
The oracle of the dog / G.K. Chesterton --
The monkey's paw / W.W. Jacobs --
The problem of cell 13 / Jacques Futrelle --
The hands of Mr. Ottermole / Thomas Burke --
The two bottles of relish / Lord Dunsany --
The gutting of Couffignal / Dashiell Hammett --
Accident / Agatha Christie --
Red wind / Raymond Chandler --
Rear window / Cornell Woolrich --
The house in Goblin Wood / John Dickson Carr --
Don't look behind you / Fredric Brown --
The nine mile walk / Harry Kemelman --
The specialty of the house / Stanley Ellin --
Love lies bleeding / Philip MacDonald --
Lamb to the slaughter / Roald Dahl --
No parking / Ellery Queen --
The oblong room / Edward D. Hoch --
Sweet fever / Bill Pronzini.

Now, this selection seems less surprising, though to find Kemelman muscling past the likes of Ross Macdonald, or John D. McD for that matter, seems not so much a gross injustice as a product of the time of the polling. However, as wonderful a story as W. W. Jacobs's "The Monkey's Paw" is, it has essentially no business being in this opposed to the Silverberg and Greenberg The Horror Hall of Fame. The Pronzini was polled in, and published here over Pronzini's objection (a jusst case of modesty overruled). There is perhaps one too many classic stories here of murder and eating the evidence, but the gimmick was pretty irresistible, and the stories are indeed classics (though John Collier's "A Touch of Nutmeg Makes It" might still be the most insidious of this class among the early stars). (Also notable to me is the number of typos in some WorldCat listings...fixed above...) Another recent purchase (simultaneous, actually), but I've read more of the selections above before, and don't actively dislike the work of any of the writers collected here, so expect to have a more familiar good time going through this one.

For more of this week's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

And, a late bulletin: it seems that, even as Robert Silverberg has edited or co-edited two poll-driven Fantasy Hall of Fame volumes, that Dale Walker (again with the WWA polled? Yes, as it turns out) produced a 1997 Western Hall of Fame (index from Contento):

The Western Hall of Fame Anthology
ed. Dale L. Walker (Berkley 0-425-15906-X, Dec ’97, $5.99, 268pp, pb) [Western]

vii · Introduction · Dale L. Walker · in
xi · Author Notes · Dale L. Walker · ss
1 · The Defense of Sentinel · Louis L’Amour · ss 5 Western Novels Magazine Oct ’52
11 · Gun Job · Thomas Thompson · ss Colliers Feb 28 ’53
33 · The Luck of Roaring Camp · Bret Harte · ss Overland Monthly Aug, 1868
45 · The Blue Hotel · Stephen Crane · nv Colliers Nov 26, 1898
77 · To Build a Fire · Jack London · ss The Youth’s Companion May 29 ’02
95 · The Burial of Letty Strayhorn · Elmer Kelton · ss New Trails, ed. John Jakes and Martin H. Greenberg, Doubleday, 1994
109 · Hell on the Draw · Loren D. Estleman · ss The New Frontier, ed. Joe R. Lansdale, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1989
125 · A Horse for Mrs. Custer · Glendon Swarthout · ss
145 · The Face · Ed Gorman · ss The Best Western Stories of Ed Gorman, Swallow Press, 1992
159 · Candles in the Bottom of the Pool · Max Evans · ss, 1973
189 · The Shaming of Broken Horn · Bill Gulick · ss The Saturday Evening Post Feb 13 ’60
207 · No Room at the Inn [Sabrina Carpenter; John Quincannon] · Bill Pronzini · ss Crime at Christmas, ed. Jack Adrian, Equation, 1988
221 · Geranium House · Peggy Simson Curry · ss Frontiers West, ed. S. Omar Barker, Doubleday, 1959
233 · Three-Ten to Yuma · Elmore Leonard · ss Dime Western Magazine Mar ’53
249 · The Tin Star · John M. Cunningham · ss Colliers Dec 6 ’47
267 · Permissions · Dale L. Walker · ms

--that certainly redresses some of the slights of the first set...while adding some more! At least this one (and the second Silverberg) could've been, as the SFWA sf HOF volumes were, tagged Volume 2...

...and, for the hell of it, here's the comparison of the two Fantasy Hall of Fames, the first from a World Fantasy Convention attendees poll, the second from a SFWA poll a decade and a half later:

The Fantasy Hall of Fame ed. Robert Silverberg & Martin H. Greenberg (Arbor House 0-87795-521-2, Oct ’83, $16.95, 431pp, hc)

9 · Introduction · Robert Silverberg · in
13 · The Masque of the Red Death · Edgar Allan Poe · ss Graham’s Lady’s and Gentleman’s Magazine May, 1842
21 · An Inhabitant of Carcosa · Ambrose Bierce · ss San Francisco Newsletter Dec 25, 1886
26 · The Sword of Welleran · Lord Dunsany · ss The Sword of Welleran and Other Stories, London: G. Allen, 1908
42 · The Women of the Wood [earlier version of “The Woman of the Wood”, Weird Tales Aug ’26] · A. Merritt · nv The Fox Woman & Other Stories, Avon, 1949
76 · The Weird of Avoosl Wuthoqquan · Clark Ashton Smith · ss Weird Tales Jun ’32
86 · The Valley of the Worm [James Allison (past lives of)] · Robert E. Howard · nv Weird Tales Feb ’34
110 · Black God’s Kiss [Jirel of Joiry] · C. L. Moore · nv Weird Tales Oct ’34
143 · The Silver Key [Randolph Carter] · H. P. Lovecraft · ss Weird Tales Jan ’29
157 · Nothing in the Rules · L. Sprague de Camp · nv Unknown Jul ’39
191 · A Gnome There Was · Henry Kuttner · nv Unknown Oct ’41
221 · Snulbug · Anthony Boucher · ss Unknown Dec ’41; F&SF May ’53
239 · The Words of Guru [as by Kenneth Falconer] · C. M. Kornbluth · ss Stirring Science Stories Jun ’41
248 · Homecoming · Ray Bradbury · ss Mademoiselle Oct ’46
263 · Mazirian the Magician [Dying Earth] · Jack Vance · ss The Dying Earth, Hillman, 1950
282 · O Ugly Bird! [John] · Manly Wade Wellman · ss F&SF Dec ’51
296 · The Silken-Swift · Theodore Sturgeon · nv F&SF Nov ’53
318 · The Golem · Avram Davidson · ss F&SF Mar ’55
325 · That Hell-Bound Train · Robert Bloch · ss F&SF Sep ’58
341 · Kings in Darkness [Elric] · Michael Moorcock · nv Science-Fantasy #54 ’62
375 · Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes · Harlan Ellison · nv Knight May ’67
399 · Gonna Roll the Bones · Fritz Leiber · nv Dangerous Visions, ed. Harlan Ellison, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967
424 · The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas · Ursula K. Le Guin · ss New Dimensions 3, ed. Robert Silverberg, Nelson Doubleday, 1973

The Fantasy Hall of Fame ed. Robert Silverberg (HarperPrism 0-06-105215-9, Mar ’98 [Feb ’98], $14.00, 562pp, tp) Anthology of 30 fantasy stories from 1939 to 1990, chosen by SFWA members. Introduction by Silverberg; individual story introductions by Martin H. Greenberg.

vii · Introduction · Robert Silverberg · in
1 · Trouble with Water · H. L. Gold · ss Unknown Mar ’39
21 · Nothing in the Rules · L. Sprague de Camp · nv Unknown Jul ’39
47 · Fruit of Knowledge · C. L. Moore · nv Unknown Oct ’40
77 · Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius [1941] · Jorge Luís Borges · ss Labyrinths, New Directions, 1962
91 · The Compleat Werewolf [Fergus O’Breen] · Anthony Boucher · na Unknown Apr ’42
137 · The Small Assassin · Ray Bradbury · ss Dime Mystery Magazine Nov ’46
153 · The Lottery · Shirley Jackson · ss New Yorker Jun 26 ’48
161 · Our Fair City · Robert A. Heinlein · ss Weird Tales Jan ’49
177 · There Shall Be No Darkness · James Blish · nv Thrilling Wonder Stories Apr ’50
211 · The Loom of Darkness [“Liane the Wayfarer”; Dying Earth] · Jack Vance · ss The Dying Earth, Hillman, 1950
221 · The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles [as by Idris Seabright] · Margaret St. Clair · ss F&SF Oct ’51
225 · The Silken-Swift · Theodore Sturgeon · nv F&SF Nov ’53
243 · The Golem · Avram Davidson · ss F&SF Mar ’55
249 · Operation Afreet [Steven Matuchek; Ginny Greylock] · Poul Anderson · nv F&SF Sep ’56
277 · That Hell-Bound Train · Robert Bloch · ss F&SF Sep ’58
289 · Bazaar of the Bizarre [Fafhrd & Gray Mouser] · Fritz Leiber · nv Fantastic Aug ’63
311 · Come Lady Death · Peter S. Beagle · ss Atlantic Monthly Sep ’63
327 · The Drowned Giant · J. G. Ballard · ss The Terminal Beach, London: Gollancz, 1964
337 · Narrow Valley · R. A. Lafferty · ss F&SF Sep ’66
349 · Faith of Our Fathers · Philip K. Dick · nv Dangerous Visions, ed. Harlan Ellison, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967
379 · The Ghost of a Model T · Clifford D. Simak · nv Epoch, ed. Roger Elwood & Robert Silverberg, Berkley, 1975
393 · The Demoness · Tanith Lee · ss The Year’s Best Fantasy Stories #2, ed. Lin Carter, DAW, 1976
405 · Jeffty Is Five · Harlan Ellison · ss F&SF Jul ’77
423 · The Detective of Dreams · Gene Wolfe · nv Dark Forces, ed. Kirby McCauley, Viking, 1980
439 · Unicorn Variations · Roger Zelazny · nv IASFM Apr 13 ’81
461 · Basileus · Robert Silverberg · ss The Best of Omni Science Fiction, No. 5, ed. Don Myrus, Omni, 1983
477 · The Jaguar Hunter · Lucius Shepard · nv F&SF May ’85
501 · Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight · Ursula K. Le Guin · nv Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences, Capra Press, 1987
527 · Bears Discover Fire · Terry Bisson · ss IASFM Aug ’90
537 · Tower of Babylon · Ted Chiang · nv Omni Nov ’90

Two covers that leave much to be desired...the newer book's being a bit less dire...


Yvette said...

Reading about The Western Hall of Fame reminded me that when I was a teenager and even later, I read westerns very enthusiastically.

I remember Zane Grey and Walter van Tilburg Clark, though I don't remember the actual stories. Just that I read and enjoyed them. I also read O Henry - mostly in school, but do remember one particular story of his. Not a western.

By the way where is Louis L'Amour's name?

I have an anthology of Elmore Leonard's Western Novels which I've been meaning to read. It's here, on the TBR pile.

I was wondering if MY ANTONIA or RAMONA might be considered western novels...What do you think Todd?

Todd Mason said...

Well, Clark was a vastly better writer than Grey, and you might remember THE OX-BOW INCIDENT or THE TRACK OF THE CAT or "The Portable Phonograph" from Clark, or RIDERS OF THE PURPLE WAGE from Gray (ZANE GREY'S WESTERN MAGAZINE, aside from the Grey reprints!, was one of the best western fiction magazines we've had, a Dell digest in the latter '40s and '50s, briefly revived by Leo Margulies in the early '70s but despite early work by Pronzini and others, that version was less impressive).

Louis L'Amour wasn't as invested in short fiction as he was in novels, but if one's going to include Grey...I suspect Grey had a stronger nostalgic hold on the voters' memories. "Luke Short," Steve Frazee, there's a whole lot of folks who were not included who might well've been...and that might've been just one reason Pronzini produced a pulp western companion volume (even Damon Knight edited a collection of pulp western fiction in the '70s).

If you have that collection of Leonard's short fiction that was published so handsomely about seven years ago, you probably won't be disappointed.

I'd certainly consider the Cather and, I assume you mean, the Helen Hunt Jackson novels to be westerns or at very least "novels of the west"...even though the Jackson, particularly, was a contemporary mimetic novel (iirc) when it was published...

Todd Mason said...

Don't know why I want to call him "Gray," but I do.

Kent Morgan said...

The title and those High Gear covers look familiar so I may have to go digging in the garage as long as it doesn't snow. I've never been a racing fan, but that hasn't stopped me from adding books of this type to my sports fiction collection.

Todd Mason said...

I know what you mean. I'm usually lukewarm at best to most sports, but I'm usually game for sports fiction...I like fiction.

Richard Moore said...

Not surprised to see Dorothy M. Johnson with two stories in that first Western Hall of Fame. What a fine writer, one of my favorites no matter the genre. She grew up in Montana, worked for a time in New York City but returned for many happy years. Loved her memoir of her frontier childhood in Whitefish, Montana WHEN YOU AND I WERE YOUNG WHITEFISH.

After an early failed marriage, she was proud of her self-sufficiency both from writing and jobs such as the director/manager of the Montana Press Association. I read that her epitaph on her tombstone in Whitefish is one word "Paid."

Todd Mason said...

And it's remarkable that she wasn't included in the second volume...Peggy Simpson Curry being the sole woman writer there.

Juri said...

Sounds like an interesting anthology, the car-racing one. I've been tempted to try to compile a sports story anthology in Finnish, but I'm not sure whether there enough old stories to fill a book and enough younger writers to try theirs hands at writing sports stories.

Todd Mason said...

If you don't feel like translation...though do you think there are no handy writers with a passion for any given sports? Even with my general nonchalance, I've written a scrap of sports fiction, and could easily write some more (classic women's volleyball, not so much the competitive beach variety, is certainly inspirational, if not necessarily of story ideas).

Anonymous said...

Would like more Lady Gaga content!

Alice Chang said...

Need more lady gaga content!

Todd Mason said...

Patience, dearie. A smidgen of Stefani Germanotta content is likely soon.