Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mystery photo: A backyard and a motel

This somewhat nondescript photo is perhaps most notable for its purplish tint. The date of August 10, 1957, is written on the back in pencil1, and there is a stamp indicating that it is a Kodacolor Print made by Eastman Kodak Company in the "Week Ending Nov. 3, 195_."

What was intended as the subject of the photograph? The backyard? The tree? The motel in the distance, with its sign seemingly specifically left in the frame?

The top part of the sign is almost unreadable. But, in fiddling with the brightness and contrast, it appears that the word above MOTEL consists of five letter and begins with an M. My best guess is that the sign reads "Myles Motel," but I wouldn't take that to Vegas.

1. Unrelated: On August 10, 1957, New York Yankees slugger Mickey Mantle hit a thunderous home run over the center-field fence at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium that is estimated to have traveled 540 feet.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The jaw-dropping dust jackets of George Manning-Sanders' novels

2022 UPDATE:
I discovered in May 2022 that my original research (that George Manning-Sanders had "at least three published novels") was faulty. "The Burnt Man" and "The Third Day" are the same novel, with different titles from different publishers. This is from the 1930 Catalog of Copyright Entries:



Here at Papergreat, it's all about folktale author Ruth Manning-Sanders. But her husband, George Manning-Sanders (1884-1952)1, was also an author.

He had at least three published novels. And their dust jackets are gorgeous. I can't imagine many of these are still floating around. So let's post them here, too, for posterity.

Drum & Monkey
"A novel about a dealer in second-hand oddments, and his ambitions for his young son."

via Flickr

The Burnt Man
"Man escapes his past and starts life anew in the west of England."

via Between the Covers Rare Books Inc.

The Third Day
"Humphrey Daine dramatically remakes his life and loves."

via Amazon (It would be great, though improbable, if a better version of this dust jacket was available somewhere.)

Drum & Monkey (1929) and The Burnt Man (1930) were published by Faber and Faber. The Third Day was published in 1930 by Horace Liveright.

1. Before he married Ruth Vernon Manning and became a hyphenate, his birth name was George Rawlings Sanders.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The wisdom of Joyce Carol Oates

American author and educator Joyce Carol Oates came out with a Twitter Essay over the weekend about Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee and related topics that have people in the book-selling and literature industries buzzing.

Her insights are worth saving and sharing, so I'm presenting them here. (Partly because I'm still convinced that the great stuff from Twitter will get lost in the digital sands of time.)

It began with this tweet...

And here is the rest of her essay from July 18:

Buying books, especially from a local bookstore, for whatever motive — this is good, this is exhilarating, this is uplifting, any books at all.

For bookstores are not non-profits but small independent businesses that sell meritorious products (for the most part) & deserve customers.

Literary writers & poets may sneer at bestsellers ("Fifty Shades of Gray Fur") but these bestsellers keep afloat stores that sell poetry.

Writers w/ visions not notably skewed by wish to make readers feel good nonetheless profit (sic) from hordes of readers for these books.

Yes it is sad that novels dealing honestly & powerfully w/ race in America ("Light in August," "The Bluest Eye") are eclipsed by novels that purposefully misrepresent such issues, presenting a false portrait of a "good" white Southerner where evidently there was just a bigot.

But there could never be a mega-bestseller that represented the starkest reality of US life — that is not possible. So, well-intentioned fantasies are preferable to nothing at all. "To Kill a Mockingbird" is beloved because it makes people wish to be better.

That it is revealed as something of a whitewash (sic) of the portrait of the author's father, executed under guidance of canny editor, is a separate issue, non-literary & beyond the frame. In itself, this is an amazing story fraught w/ every sort of irony including revenge of a writer once young whose first, presumably truth-telling novel was rejected by editor as unpublishable (i.e., not commercial).

Now, fifty years later, editor long dead, author in late 80s, she oversees publication of this once-rejected novel to great acclaim.

In this, Harper Lee has had an extraordinary career: "classic" first novel, mega bestseller last novel, & nothing in between.

If Harper Lee did not want old/first novel published, she could have destroyed the manuscript. She had fifty presumably clear-minded years.

It should be understood that writers, like everyone else, can change their minds. Your perspective at age 30 will not be same at age 80.

Worst sort of ageism to ASSUME that anyone beyond 80, or 90, is automatically non compos mentis. Burden of proof should be on accuser.

Have not read "Watchman" but assume that it is, or was, the author's heartfelt first novel & more honest than "Mockingbird." Why not publish?

May be that "Watchman" is an awkward first novel & below "Mockingbird" as storytelling but so are many new books of fiction/non-fiction.

Ironic that the first, rejected novel was (evidently) the "mature" novel & the second, bestseller novel the less mature/child's-eye version.

Career of Harper Lee bears some resemblance to that of Ralph Ellison, whose "Invisible Man" became bestseller/classic. Unlike Harper Lee, Ralph Ellison did engage in a literary career of sorts, though he could not ever bring himself to publish a second novel.

Early success can be a curse, or a burden to overcome: Norman Mailer is an example of a writer who persevered valiantly after first success & took on the vicissitudes of a real "career" — daring to follow a much-acclaimed first novel w/ a second novel, & then a third, & a fourth.

It is psychologically easier — (though not financially) — to have a career that progresses slowly (if not too slowly) but steadily...

William Faulkner's several early novels, all "failures," forced him to confront a more personal, deeper & tragic subject: the South. Immediate early success would have annihilated Faulkner — we would not even know his name today. Failure nurtured his genius.

Please don't laugh but: failure allows you privacy & space to grow; immediate success is a spotlight glaring in your face & privacy vanished.

Once a writer is a mega bestseller he/she is a product to be marketed. You do not want your sales to plummet, so you repeat formula.

All publishing houses want books to sell: they are not non-profits or charities. But if a writer wants badly "to sell" he/she is compromised.

Norman Mailer imagined a writer's career akin to that of a professional boxer. You give all you have, if knocked down you get up. Never quit.

Random vintage photo: A woman and a mailbox in Denmark

Here's an unlabeled shot from my grandmother's collection of travel snapshots. It's pretty straightforward. A woman — don't know who — in a blue pantsuit is standing next to a red mailbox in Denmark.

We know that it's Denmark, because the mailbox features the logo of the Danish postal service.

Postbrevkasse is, as you might have guessed, the Danish word for mailbox.

An English translation of the history section of the Post Danmark A/S website gives a little information about the early history of the postal service in Denmark:
"King Christian II’s temporal act from 1522 contains the first attempt to establish a postal service in Denmark, but the project petered out. King Christian IV took up the idea, and on December 24, 1624, he issued a 'Royal Ordinance on Postmen', called the birth certificate of the Danish Post Office. Nine postal routes were established. The most important route was the one between Copenhagen and Hamburg, where letters, parcels and goods were transported by carriage whereas postmen who went by foot and only carried letters served the other routes.

"In Copenhagen, a postmaster was appointed to stay at Børsen, the Exchange in Copenhagen, two hours each day and personally handle administrative as well as practical affairs, so it was not without reason that it was mentioned in the Ordinance that he had to be a 'sober and diligent man'. In the provincial towns which the postmen passed they took lodgings in an inn, for instance, and the landlord was to accept and distribute letters to addressees who lived in places not on the actual route."

Finally, on a tangent, this snapshot contains a minor mystery we'll never be able to solve. What's that sign or poster on the wall behind the mailbox? I fear we don't have enough resolution to ever figure it out.

Sort-of related posts

Monday, July 20, 2015

Ye Olde Papergreat Post No. 1,600, con pollo

Hello readers!

[Finally] It is time for another Papergreat Milestone™. This time, we have arrived at the 1,600th post. That is, for sure, a bundle of books, paper, receipts, postcards, recipes and old advertising. And footnotes. Along the ride, we've had everything from a former governor of Delaware to odd stuff tucked inside old textbooks to brochures for long-gone New England bookshops.

In contemplating what might make for the perfect milestone post1, I have often thought that it might involve postcards, a girl reading a book, a cozy room, and, of course, chickens.2

But certainly no such thing could exist. Right?

Indeed, such a thing does exist. Browsing on Redbubble, I stumbled upon a wonderful artist — one who, unknowingly, captured the perfect image for this blog. Her name is Ryan Conners and she is a "self-taught cat folk artist" and photographer who lives in northwestern Pennsylvania.

She has oodles of fabulous artwork, but when I saw this piece, I knew it needed to be featured here on Papergreat...

Girl reading book. Check.
Cozy room. Check.
Chicken. Check.

Conners, who kindly granted permission for me to post this photo (which is available as a postcard, photograph and art print on Redbubble), gives the following back story:
"The girl is my daughter and the chicken is Lillian — one of our backyard chickens. Totally a photo, not photoshopped. Had to do it quickly so no chicken poop fell. ... Anna (my daugher) loves the chickens so I figured let’s bring one in, sit them by the fireplace, and read stories. ... I only added that on Redbubble because a customer who purchased a painting with the rocking toucan, wanted to also purchase a print of the photograph with the actual rocking toucan."
So we should give thanks to the toucan, too!

Conners is an artist you should check out and consider supporting. Her cat-themed artwork and her Halloween-themed artwork (some of which overlap) are especially humorous and fabulous. Here are some places you can find her stuff...

I'll leave you with another piece of her artwork, which she also granted permission for me to use here. It makes this milestone post even more complete, because now we have a cat, too!

Stay tuned to this Bat Channel (Cat Channel?) for Post No. 1,601. There's always more ephemera.

1. As opposed to the perfect country and western song, which would probably include lyrics about mama, trains, trucks, prison and gettin' drunk.
2. Previous milestone posts include: