What's in Your Wheatley?

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ericmocata
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What's in Your Wheatley?

Post by ericmocata » Sun 27 Jan, 2013 04:48:20

This is only mildly Wheatley-related. Since his books are mostly out-of-print and have been for a good while now, I would imagine that many of you have had to get Wheatley's books used, just as I have. I was curious to know what kind of random things any of you has found in one of your used Wheatley books. People seem to use whatever flat object is convenient for a bookmark. I have found business cards, some weird note about the that cat smelling bad and needing a bath or something along those lines and even the receipt from the original owner's purchase.

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Post by shanedwyer » Mon 28 Jan, 2013 16:51:57

Not in any of DW's books I'm afraid. All I've ever found (in the umpteen secondhand copies I've bought over the years) was the occasional scribbled note or underlining in pencil- usually in or around the fruitier/more salacious passages. Notate bene from some randy schoolboy one assumes.

I did, however, discover a faded wedding photo in a preowned copy of Skidelsky's biography of Oswald Mosely. It was almost antique- taken in the 20s, if the clothes were anything to go by. And really quite poignant too- the happy couple forever anonymous and their connection to the book equally unknown.
Last edited by shanedwyer on Tue 29 Jan, 2013 04:04:16, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Jim » Mon 28 Jan, 2013 23:48:35

I've never found anything in a DW book that didn't belong there (like the Roger Brook bookmark). One time, though, I bought one of the Preston and Child thrillers in a second-hand shop, and found in the book two sheets on which the previous owner had photocopied her driver's license and all her credit cards! I was very careful with those pages until I got them home, and promptly shredded them...

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Post by ericmocata » Tue 29 Jan, 2013 03:34:18

I have actually found some little notes written in the pages of some of my Wheatley books. My paperback of Strange Conflict had some particularly incredulous comments in it. There were two main comments in there from what I remember. One was to do with pointing out something about the way Wheatley presented certain characters or something like that. I suppose it might have been a remark about having a double standard, perhaps. I really don't remember too clearly on that one, as I erased the comments since they were in pencil. The other one I remember more clearly. It was at the end when there is a line about the sound of trumpets or something to that effect. This joker had written, "Oh, please!"

And Jim, that was a mighty nice thing you did for that book's previous (and apparently irresponsible) owner. Some people would have used that information to fund some crazy Satanic Communist scheme to take over the world. It's good to know there are honest people in the world.

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Post by Garry Holmes » Wed 30 Jan, 2013 00:02:25

All of the copies of Wheatley that I have are completely impersonal, apart from one of the Lymington hardback editions where on the 'also available' page someone had ticked in pencil all of those books that they had read. Did they ever get to the end, I wonder. My non-Wheatley books, on the other hand, have contained loads of peculiar insertions. The weirdest was the copy of Leo McKern's semi-autobiography JUST RESTING, which included a series of letters sent between the actor and his local councillor on the subject of the fluoridation of water. In case you're wondering, the Rumpole actor was strongly against it!

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Post by Darren » Sat 2 Feb, 2013 15:11:36

When I first saw this post I thought it was a fun idea. I finally went through my entire Dennis Wheatley book collection this morning and didn’t find anything until I got to the last one and found something intriguing that I hadn’t seen before.

About 3 years ago I was at a village fete and I walked by a stall that had a few boxes of books with 20p each written on the side. The books were mainly paperbacks and didn’t encourage me to delve in. I casually looked at the books at the top of each box as I passed and was about to move on when the letters “WHEAâ€￾ caught my eye on a book that was peeking out though buried way underneath.

Being a Wheatley fan I was curious and moved the upper books away just to see what book it was and revealed an absolute gem. It was the large format first edition of The Devil and All His Works in hardback. I was stunned with excitement. I already owned the smaller Book Club version of this book but this one was the original Hutchinson book. The dust jacket was immaculate, completely unmarked nor creased, the price wasn’t clipped. Perfect condition.

I felt guilty paying 20p for it so bought 9 other books as well that I didn’t particularly want.

When I got home and after getting a slow shake of the head from my wife who didn’t understand my triumph (she’s giving me the same look now as I write this) I displayed it proudly on the shelf. Because I had read the BCA version I didn’t really examine the book thoroughly and, other than admire and cherish my recent acquisition, it has stayed on the shelf for the last three years doing nothing other than give me a nice warm feeling every time I look at it.

Anyway, this morning I took it down and thumbed through the pages and towards the back I found a sheet of ruled paper (the sort that was popular when we used to write letters) and the following is beautifully hand-written on it in blue ink by someone with a fountain pen.

The Prince of Darkness
(Chief of all the forces of darkness)

I sought him here
I sought him there
I found he isn’t anywhere!
He flies in dark
Come light and – hark! –
He’s nowhere in Noa’s Ark!

December 27, 1971.

. He’s done with V (interruption by Den. e Da.)

He ceases to be where there is a spark
And on the ways where stars embark –


And that’s it. (The spelling of Noah as Noa is as written).
It doesn’t appear to have finished and there are no other papers in the book. The He’s done with V (interruption by Den. e Da.) line is also as written, though it seems out of place.

Thanks for the idea Eric. I enjoyed my find.
Last edited by Darren on Sun 3 Feb, 2013 00:13:15, edited 3 times in total.
Regards,

Darren.

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Post by ericmocata » Sat 2 Feb, 2013 19:36:32

That was certainly an interesting find in The Devil and All His Works, Darren. Also the book itself was a great find. My copy is the American 1st ed and I had to get it online. I suppose over there in England, people use old Wheatley novels to even out wobbly tables or as doorstops, but here a Wheatley book is like Bigfoot or Nessie. Mostly I just hear about other people seeing these books or some photo of one. The few occasions I have actually found a Wheatley book in a physical store have been much more enjoyable than just searching through some website and waiting for them to arrive in the mail (especially the one that I didn't realize was shipping from Nova Scotia until it took a long time to show up and I checked where the seller was from). I think the best find I had in a store was the 1960s-era Lymington Edition of They Used Dark Forces.

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Post by Darren » Sun 3 Feb, 2013 10:50:33

Dennis Wheatley books used to be easily available in all second hand bookshops over here. I have noticed in recent years that they are becoming less available. Occasionally you come across a seller with plenty in (The Endeavour bookshop in Whitby always seems to have a healthy collection). In particular, the Lymington editions (which are my favourite) are rarer - the Heron books are still about.

I was chatting to a book seller in Robin Hood's Bay and he said Dennis Wheatley fans were getting rarer. He could have DW books in stock for a long time with no interest and then suddenly a DW fan will turn up and buy the lot!
Regards,

Darren.

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Post by Garry Holmes » Sun 3 Feb, 2013 14:32:32

Darren wrote:
I was chatting to a book seller in Robin Hood's Bay and he said Dennis Wheatley fans were getting rarer. He could have DW books in stock for a long time with no interest and then suddenly a DW fan will turn up and buy the lot!
This does touch on stuff that we've discussed on this forum before. Those people who have become fans of DW are generally those who got his books when he was still fairly well known and in print. A few people who have seen the movie version of THE DEVIL RIDES OUT have tracked down the original book and gone on from there, but most young readers nowadays will never have read a line of his works. There are simply fewer copies of the books knocking around nowadays. and hence less of a chance for new readers to find him. I'm hoping that the sale of the rights to DW's novels will actually lead to some new editions, otherwise there is a good chance that he will be almost completely forgotten in the not too distant future.

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Post by Jim » Sun 3 Feb, 2013 14:53:23

Darren wrote: Dennis Wheatley books used to be easily available in all second hand bookshops over here. I have noticed in recent years that they are becoming less available. In particular, the Lymington editions (which are my favourite) are rarer - the Heron books are still about.
Many of those seem to have gone to libraries, so it's not easy to find nice copies. (Regular readers of this forum know how long I have been trying to get a copy of Gunmen, Gallants and Ghosts.)

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Post by Jim » Mon 4 Feb, 2013 22:55:57

ericmocata wrote: Jim, that was a mighty nice thing you did for that book's previous (and apparently irresponsible) owner. Some people would have used that information to fund some crazy Satanic Communist scheme to take over the world. It's good to know there are honest people in the world.
I got a package today, with the last volume of Philip Reeve's "Mortal Engines" quartet. This is a young adult fantasy series, and as the British covers are far better than the U.S. ones, I had to search a bit to find this book. Checking it over before I shelve it with the others, I thought I saw a loose piece of paper sticking out. Sure enough, it is an Amex receipt, probably for the original purchase of the book (since the years match). But the amazing thing is the total spent in one visit to the (Los Angeles) Mystery Book Store: $647.68!!!

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Post by ericmocata » Tue 5 Feb, 2013 05:10:59

See Jim? That's what I was talking about. Who would spend over $600 in a book store in one visit other than Satanic commies? Seriously, though, somebody must really like books and have money coming out his ears to spend that much in one trip.

Can't say I blame you about the cover art thing either. There are authors whose work will get reissued with new and unimproved artwork and it drives me up the wall. Wheatley himself was certainly not immune to this problem, as I believe you and I have discussed before. Stephen King comes to mind, since his publishers love to rework the covers for those every 2 years and it is really hit or miss with those. I especially dislike cover art that is not only boring (or just plain stupid), but has nothing to do with the actual book. An example of this is the original cover for Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door.

I did a quick flip through my most recent Wheatley purchases (a bunch of old Arrow paperbacks). I didn't find anything of interest (other than the actual text, of course) but I was reminded how much I love the smell of old books. Same goes for old record sleeves. Anybody else? Or is this just me? Come on, don't tell me none of you has every just deeply inhaled the scent of an old book or record sleeve. . . it's not that weird, is it?

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Post by Garry Holmes » Tue 5 Feb, 2013 06:56:24

ericmocata wrote:I was reminded how much I love the smell of old books. Same goes for old record sleeves. Anybody else? Or is this just me? Come on, don't tell me none of you has every just deeply inhaled the scent of an old book or record sleeve. . . it's not that weird, is it?
Apparently, the smell of old books is (according to an international team of chemists) "A combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness". It is terribly comforting and evocative smell, and quite different to the awful stink of books that have been allowed to get damp. If you've ever been to a badly maintained second-hand bookshop you'll know what I mean. I imagine that it is reproducible artificially, so perhaps it can be sold commercially as a scent, possibly to someone seeking a librarian as a partner.

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Post by Steve Whatley » Sat 9 Feb, 2013 00:08:32

[font=Courier New] [/font]I can't recall finding anything of interest in any of my DW volumes, but all this talk reminds me of Driff's Guide to all the Secondhand and Antiquarian Bookshops, which ran to several editions in the mid-'eighties and early 'nineties. They were quite amusing, and are collectable items in their own right now. One of my favourite descriptions of a bookshop was 'organised chaos for the traditional browser'.

I well remember one book dealer mentioned therein who was plagued by a customer who always asked if he'd found any tram tickets in his latest stock. This slightly deranged tram-ticket collector would spend hours leafing through books in the hope of finding a rare collectable tram ticket from a bygone age.

I've never found a tram ticket in a book, though I have found tickets issued for bus and underground railway journeys, in the days before anyone ever thought of Oyster Cards. Presumably they were used as bookmarks, and so tram tickets used for the same purpose probably do turn up in books once in a while.

I also recall from Driff's Guide a little verse about a book dealer who was always too busy penning his own literary works to be bothered to serve a would-be customer:

'Mr Connolly sells neither prose nor rhyme; he writes himself - he hasn't the time!'

- Well, it amused me, anyway.

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Post by ericmocata » Wed 13 Feb, 2013 06:10:16

Okay, you'll have to forgive my being American on this one. I am familiar with a good bit of Brit slang, but what it blazes is an Oyster Card? Is that a frequent rider thing? See, in the U.S., we do have public transportation, but it is about 50 years behind most other countries, I'd say. I think it's the American desire to just drive ourselves where we want to go rather than sit next to weird, smelly people we don't know (except for places like New York City).

I don't mean to say any of you are weird, smelly people, by the way. I am sure you all smell fine. The fact that you are weird is obvious with the fact that we all have an unashamed fondness for a rather archaic and forgotten author, so it's perfectly acceptable.

Mmm, okay, I will go back to drinking and listening to music now.

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