Wednesday, July 27, 2005

X Jones

Some years ago I got a little obsessed with collecting first edition and rare copies of books by an American author of the early to mid 1900s, named Harry Stephen Keeler. Keeler wrote stories that are conventionally classified in the 'mystery' or 'detective' genre which rather sells his style short. His baffling and complex novels take a bit of work to navigate, but even if they are obtuse (sometimes to the point of being impenetrable) they are unarguably unique.

I fantasize that I could bring Keeler to the modern world in the form of some kind of surreal television treatment, but I wonder if anyone could ever capture the wonderful oddness that suffuses the old printed hardcovers that I have on my bookshelf. I love these books, and in many ways they are some of the most valuable possessions I have.

One book, 'The Case of the Jewelled Ragpicker' has an inscription in the front in Keeler's writing, penned to his wife Hazel which reads: "To my own very very dearest Hazel". I always find this tiny bit of the author's sentiment touching and vaguely melancholic (perhaps because I know that Keeler was to lose his wife some years later).

The Wikipedia entry on Keeler is here: [Link]

There is a Harry Stephen Keeler Society Page here: [Link]

...including a Keeler plot generator which gives a remarkably good idea of what you might expect from a Keeler story: [Link]

I notice also that science author William Poundstone ('The Recursive Universe') has a bit of a Keeler fascination: [Link]

Thanks Anne for putting the idea for this post in my head.


Anonymous Anne Arkham said...

Those are gorgeous!

July 29, 2005 3:08 AM  

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