After I'd had a rummage and found an armful of books, I'd get out the van and have to spend about ten minutes picking up the books that had fallen out. Many-a-time I remember happily walking home with lots of books; I remember occasionally having two carrier bags full. They were mostly old paperbacks, of all different genres, but I was most interested then, as I am now, in the horror, fantasy and science-fiction titles, and his paperbacks were all around 20 p or 6 or 7 for a pound, very affordable for a not-very-rich teenage lad like me. Here, among hundreds of books, was where I discovered all the names of the genres; E.E. Doc Smith, Graham Masterton, Asimov, Heinlein, Moorcock, Guy N. Smith, Lin Carter, and carrier-bag loads of wonderful oscure 60's onwards titles; I found and devoured many anthologies, The Pan Books Of Horror Stories, Fontana Ghost Books, Lin Carters fantasy collectiions, and half a dozen books with weird covers, edited by a guy with a weird name called August Derleth, and featuring odd olf-fashioned stories by writers I'd never heard of; H.P.Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E Howard etc. -- Saturday afternoons were often spent looking over and through my books, and putting them in ever-changing order of when I would read them. Sometimes I even DID read some, on those Saturday afternoons, but mostly that came later. Then I was just happy to spread them out on the floor and examine the covers and the contents, my imagination squashed out all over my bedroom floor in bright lurid illustrations.
While I'm writing about Bob and his market stall, I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise to him, twenty years later, for stealing one of his books; even though they were really cheap, and he seemed to let me have them even cheaper ["Oh," he'd say after glancing at a pile of books I had selected, maybe 15 or so paperbacks, "just give us two pound for them ones."], I still stole one book from him, because, at about 13 or 14, I was too embarrased to buy it; it was CONFESSIONS OF AN ASTRONAUT, or somesuch title like that, and had a very risque cover, and hints of all sorts of strange sex happening inside the book. I don't remember exactly, but I must have hidden it in my pocket or up my jumper or something, paid for my other books, and then, away, I had done it, I was a thief. I'm pretty sure, now, that if he'd somehow caught me - if the offending "adult" book had fallen out of my jumper at an inopportune moment - he wouldn't have carted me off down the cop-shop, but just looked dissapointed at me [which would have been worse] and probably told me just to keep it anyway, "you little 'scallion.".
|Confessions Of A Something-Or-Other|
Anyway, I don't know exactly what happened to the book but I don't have it now; I probably sold it to a second-hand book store like dozens of other books, some of which I wish I'd kept.
Incidentally [and I think we'll get back to Richard Laymon another time; I've gone off on a tangent] aren't my book-notes really cool: they go back to mid 1992, and list every book [yes, really] that I've read since then. It's often really interesting and amusing to read some of my comments on books I'd read; here are some choice picks [from 1992];
TITLE AUTHOR SCORE [out of 10] ---- Original Comnment
A DRAGON IN CLASS 4 - ---- - 4 3/4 ----- Childish (It was a childrens book!)
SPACE 1 ---- Varied Authors ---- 6 ------ Anthology (Helpful comment, that one).
JULIUS CEASER ---- Shakespeare--- 4 ---- Hard To Understand (Nothing changed there, then.)
DIARY OF A TEENAGE HEALTH FREAK -- ... - 6.5 -- Ideal For Teenagers
MOONFLEET -- J.Meade Faulkner --- 1.5 ----- Crap! (Followed by, a few entries later,...)
MOONFLEET --- J. Meade Faulkner ---5.25 ----- Actually Not Bad (I had to read it properly for school.)
After that my comments began to get more mundane and a bit more sensible.
Anyway, all those books from the market stall; I loved them, and even though I got rid of quite a lot, I still have lots of them today on my shelf. Though its difficult to remember exactly which ones I got off that stall [my notes sometimes help a bit, or sometimes I have written a date of purchase in the book cover] I recognise some of them, and know that there are quite a few, perhaps a dozen or two, that I never got round to reading at all. Poor books. I really should get around to reading them, seeing as I've had some of them for over 20 years now. Proper book hoarder me...
Ok, well, this post was originally going to be about Richard Laymon, his works, his writing techniques, and his problems with publishing houses, as I've recently read his intriguing autobiography/writers notebook A WRITERS TALE. But that'll have to wait for another time now, cos I've used up my spare time writing this, instead of writing the ghost story I'm supposed to be writing. Oh well.