Thursday, August 16, 2018

Montoursville 2018: Konkle Memorial Library (Part 2)

During the tail end of my nostalgic visit to Dr. W.B. Konkle Memorial Library on July 13, after checking out a dandy bookshelf full of Lycoming County and Pennsylvania history books, I explored a part of the library I had never before seen: the basement.

After descending a narrow staircase in the former bank and flipping on some light switches, I discovered a set of rooms containing additional books for circulation and also unwanted books that are part of the library's ongoing sale. Most of the books in the latter category had been withdrawn from circulation and dated to the 1970s and 1980s, which made them great fodder for browsing. These are books that Mom would likely have considered in the early 1980s, while I was checking out the Ruth Manning-Sanders and Beverly Cleary books.

For fun and to support the library in a small way, I plucked a couple volumes off the for-sale shelves for purchase. Here they are...

This 1977 hardcover reissue of Arthur Conan Doyle's Tales of Terror and Mystery, published by Doubleday & Company, contains 13 stories, with titles such as "The Horror of the Heights," "The Terror of Blue John Gap," "The Man with the Watches," and "The Nightmare Room."

This edition is illustrated by Barbara Ninde Byfield and contains an introduction from Nina Conan Doyle Harwood, Sir Arthur's daughter-in-law and would-be protector of his literary estate.

Shown below are the circulation-card pocket and an interior Konkle library stamp from this 41-year-old book.

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Up next is this volume, which has a great cover and less-great reviews. It's The Waiting Sands & The Devil on Lammas Night, two short novels by British author Susan Howatch contained in one book. Sands was first published in 1966 and Lammas Night was first published in 1970. It's not immediately clear when this Stein and Day hardcover was published; various sources indicate 1970, 1974 and 1979. As far as a credit for the cover illustration, I found a single reviewer reference to "Tim Gaydos" [this guy?], but nothing further to back that up.

As for Howatch's tales, the feedback is not terrific. Here are some snippets from Amazon, where readers have given the book 2.8 stars out of 5.0.

  • Great gothic setting - odd plot and characters
  • her characters were so flawed and self absorbed that it was difficult to care about what happened to them.
  • Much better novels about Satanic Cults are available
  • "Poole did something unprintable to both the contents of the chalice and the plates of bread. Several females in the congregation screamed in ecstasy." I think the ridiculous quote above pretty much sums up the book.
  • This is not Howatch's best but is readable nonetheless.

There were definitely more than a few Konkle library members who found this readable in the 1980s, according to the circulation-card pocket.

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