Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, September 30, 2019


Openers:  I had no way of knowing how long they'd kept me in that small, square basement room.  The walls, like the floor, were constructed of solid cement blocks, with no window.  The metal door didn't have an opening in it either.  And whenever it was opened briefly all I could see was the artificial light of the corridor outside.  The only light in the room was from the gooseneck lamp on the bare table, the neck twisted so the stong, naked bulb in the socket spotlighted me.

-- Murder in Room 13 by "Albert Conway" (Martin H. Albert) (1958)

Albert was a versatile and highly readable paperback writer of the 50s and 60s who graduated to hardcover thrillers in the mid-70s.  Most of his work was in the mystery and western genres and in film novelizations almost all of it good.  In addition to his "Albert [or 'Al'] Conroy" pseudonumn, Albert also wrote as Nick Quarry, Ian MacAlister, Anthony Rome, J. D. Christilian, and Mike Barone.  His series characters include expatriate Pete Sawyer, the Mafia fighter Soldato, Miami P.I. Tony Rome, P.I. Jake Barrow, and western hero Clayburn.  Albert's first hardcover thriller, The Gargoyle Conspiracy, was nominated for an Edgar for Best Mystery Novel in 1976.  A number of his books were filmed:  The Law and Jake Wade, Renegade Posse (as Bullet for a Badman), Apache Rising (as Duel at Diablo), The Bounty Killer (as The Ugly Ones), The Man in Black (as Rouogh Night in Jericho), Miami Mayhem (as Tony Rome), Lady in Cement, The Don Is Dead, Nice Guys Finish Dead (as A corps et a cri), and Murder in Room 13 (as Adieu Marin).  If there is any justice in this world, Martin H. Albert should be due to be rediscovered by a major reprint publ;isher soon.  All of his novels are highly recommended.  As for his film novelizations, that's another story.  Albert wrote 23 paperback novelizations from 1958 to to 1987, many of them based on romantic comedies of the Rock Hudson/Doris Day type; although all were written for a quick buck, some are very readable and some are very not -- you pay your money and you take your choice.


  • The Detection Club, Crime on the Coast & No Flowers by Request.  Two round-robin novellas written by member's of England's The Detection Club in 1953 and 1954 and published in book form in 1984.  "Crime on the Coast" joins the talents of John Dickson Carr, Valerie White, Laurence Meynell, John Fleming, Michael Cronin, and Elizabeth Ferrars in a seaside resort mystery.  "No Flowers by Request" is a country house murder among a family of eccentrics as imagined by Dorothy L. Sayers, E. C. R. Lorac, Gladys Mitchell, Anthony Gilbert and Christianna Brand.  This is one of least five such books written by members of the Detection Club in the first 25 years of the club's existence.  A number of collections and one other round-robin novel have been published since.
  • David M. Earle, All Man!  Hemingway, 1950s Men's Magazines and the Masculine Persona.  "[Earle] explore the popular image of of Ernest Hemingway in order to consider the dynamics of both literary celebrity and miscentury masculinity.  Profusely illustrated with magazine covers, article blurbs, and advertisements in full color, All Man! considers the role that visually played in the construction of Hemingway's reputation, as well as conveys a lurid and largely overlooked genre of popular publishing."  This book, published by Kent State University Press, expands on Earle's dissertation.  Turns out that the author was teaching at a local Pensacola university at the time the book was published; I don't know if he's still there.

The Good:   

The Bad:  

And the Ugly:  White House advisor and man voted most likely to lead a death cult Stephen Miller tries unsuccessfully to defend the president and to label the Ukraine whistleblower as a deep state operative.  It did not go well for Miller.  Trump defenders are having a hard time defending the president as poll numbers begin to show the majority of Americans are in favor of impeachment procedings.  Watch the sideshow here:

People Who Are Not Like Us Dept.:  In January 2016 Beyonce filed an application to trademark the name of her daughter Blue Ivy.  Blue Ivy, she reportedly argued, is a cultural icon.  The application is being opposed by Blue Ivy, a Boston wedding planning service; Beyonce has called that Blue Ivy's opposition as "frivolous."  Pot, kettle, anyone?

Hemingway's Sex Novel:  That's what his classic novel A Farewell to Arms was called when it first came out.  The book was rigidly banned by schools and libraries.  A list of banned books from the past is laughable, just as list of today's banned and/or challenged books will be laughable to future readers.  I like Harlan Ellison's advice to students who have been told they could not read a certain book because it has been banned:  Run, don't walk, and find the book and read it.

What's your favorite banned book?  Catcher in the RyeHuckleberry FinnThe Satanic VersesThe BibleThe Call of the Wild?  One of the Harry Potter books?  Or some other so-called subversive book that happens to sing to you?

Today's Poem:
A Hero

He was so foolish, the poor lad,
He made superior people smile
Who knew not of the wings he had
Budding and growing all the while;
Nor that the laurel wreath was made
Already for his curly head.

Silly and childish in his ways;
They said, "His future comes to naught."
His future!  In the dreadful days
When in a toil his feet were caught
He hacked his way to glory bright
Before his day went down in night.

He fretted wiser folk -- small blame!
Such futile, feeble brains were his.
Now we doff hats to hear his name,
Ask pardon where his spirit is,
Because we never guessed him for
A hero in the disguise he wore.

It matters little how we live
So long as we may greatly die.
Fashioned for great things, O forgive!
Our dullness in the days done by!
Now glory wraps you like a cloak
From us, and all such common folk.

-- Katherine Tynan

1 comment:

  1. Love the good things list; I skipped the other. What a lot of work compiling this is. Have a great week.