Dust jacket illustration by Ken Laager.
What leads one person to collect stamps and another coins, one fine art and another butterflies? Who can say? But one thing is certain: those who’ve got the collecting bug care passionately -- sometimes violently -- about the objects of their obsession. No one covets like a collector; and as you will find in the pages of this brand new anthology from MWA Grand Master Lawrence Block, a truly dedicated collector will ignore the other nine commandments, too, in his quest for his personal Holy Grail.
From Joyce Carol Oates’ tale of the ultimate Marilyn Monroe collectible to Dennis Lehane’s bookseller with a penchant for other people’s tragic correspondence, from Lee Goldberg’s Hollywood hustler with a collection of unaired TV shows to Joe R. Lansdale's stylish foray into noir, culminating in Lawrence Block’s own classic story of a killer with a unique approach to choosing his victims, Collectibles illustrates the range of the collecting impulse and the lengths people will go to in their hunger to possess the perfect piece.
Limited: 750 numbered copies signed by the editor
From Publishers Weekly:
“Standouts include Dennis Lehane’s gilt-edged chiller, ‘A Bostonian (in Cambridge),’ in which a wealthy collector of letters of abandonment falls prey to wily blackmailers, and Joe R. Lansdale’s ‘The Skull Collector,’ a gangster yarn featuring gun-toting female grave robbers. Overshadowing everything, though, is Lee Goldberg’s ‘Lost Shows,’ a delightful shocker about a fanatical collector of short-lived and unaired TV shows who has turned his Hollywood home into a mausoleum of lost dreams.”
From Book Reporter:
“There is one story that still whispers to me and in perhaps a slightly louder voice than the others, though they all excel in specific ways. I am referring to “A Bostonian (in Cambridge)” by Dennis Lehane. We are not treated to Lehane’s work frequently, but when we are it is first rate, which perfectly describes this story involving a quiet bookstore owner who collects and deals in rare books. He is confronted with a Hobson’s choice involving his most treasured acquisition and a bit of knowledge that he has wished for his entire life. This could have been a novel but is perfect as a short story and is worth the price of admission to the book on its own.”
Table of Contents:
- The Elephant in the Living Room (an introduction) — Lawrence Block
- The Evan Price Signature Model — Junior Burke
- Blue Book Value — S. A. Cosby
- …from Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Obsession (1)
- A Collector of Friends — Janice Eidus
- Lost Shows — Lee Goldberg
- Bar Wall Panda — Rob Hart
- God Bless America — Elaine Kagan
- …from Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Obsession (2)
- Resonator — Kasey Lansdale
- The Skull Collector — Joe R. Lansdale
- A Bostonian (in Cambridge) — Dennis Lehane
- Miss Golden Dreams — Joyce Carol Oates
- …from Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Obsession (3)
- The Green Manalishi with the Two-Prong Crown — Thomas Pluck
- Devil Sent the Rain — David Rachels
- Chin-Yong Yun Meets a Mongol — S. J. Rozan
- The Demise of Snot Rocket — Kristine Kathryn Rusch
- …from Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Obsession (4)
- First Appearance — Alex Segura
- Collecting Ackermans — Lawrence Block
Blue Book Value
S. A. Cosby
Trey stepped over the narrowest part of the creek while balancing his shotgun on his shoulder. A cool wind slipped through the pine trees as he made his way to up the hill following the blood trail. The sun was a pale chunk of quartz in the morning sky.
Who wings a deer with a shotgun? Oh, that’s right. My dumbass. The deer, a huge buck with a medium-sized rack, had covered a hundred yards before Trey could scramble down out of the tree stand and pick up his trail. Just like most things in his life, the tree stand didn’t really belong to him. it sat in a tree on land owned by his friend Randy Wright’s aunt. Randy had given him a handshake’s worth of permission to hunt in his stand while he was on the road in his rig.
Trey had misjudged the width of the creek or the water had saturated deeper into the shore than he thought because his foot was now soaking wet. He didn’t stop to clarify who the culprit was. He couldn’t let that buck get away. He had to run him to ground before he found someplace to lay down and die that was miles away. He wasn’t out here trying to get a new pair of antlers to put on his wall. He needed meat. Gladys and the girls needed food. A big buck had sixty or seventy pounds of good venison on him. Salted and saved they could make it through the winter. Or at least make it until he could find another job. Maybe get one that didn’t test your piss so often.
Trey crested the hill and dropped to his knees. Tracking a blood trail across the moist detritus that littered the forest floor wasn’t easy—unless you were like Trey and had been raised to track a deer before you learned how to tie your shoes. His old man had taken that shit seriously. Was a strict disciplinarian, was Jay Gowens. If Trey flinched when they were field dressing a dear or cleaning a fat rabbit he got two hard claps to the side of the head. If his knife slipped cleaning the bladder out of a squirrel and ruined the meat, he got a full-face slap.
Trey shook his head. Jay Gowens was ten years dead. The only beatings he was handing out were in hell.
I collect old TV series. The cliché about guys like me is that we are morbidly obese, have bad skin, never get laid, and live in our mother’s basement, surrounded by DVDs and videotapes, jerking off to that famous poster of Farrah Fawcett. There’s a lot of truth to that, but thankfully none of it applies to me. I’m physically fit, enjoy as much sex as I’d like, and I have a nice, secluded home of my own with a state-of-the-art theater capable of screening shows in any format. I do have that poster of Farrah Fawcett, signed by her and framed on my bedroom wall, but so far I’ve resisted the urge to jerk off in front of it.
As a collector, I’m only interested in lost shows, scripted series that lasted only an episode or two or, better yet, were produced but never aired. For example, back in 1963, Robert Taylor and George Segal starred in a series called 33 Independence Avenue about special agents for the department of health. Four episodes were shot for NBC and were never broadcast. I have them.
The Skull Collector
Joe R. Lansdale
There were three of them, but the guy in front of me did most of the talking.
“What I’m thinking here, sweetie, is you aren’t telling us all you know.”
“You’re thinking that, are you?” I said. “That’s where you’re wrong. You do all this, hurt me enough, scare me enough, then I’ll tell you something, but it won’t be the truth. I don’t know the truth. You’re wasting your time, and mine.”
That was a lie. I knew where what they wanted was, but I figured once they knew, I could kiss my ass goodbye.
“Like I care about your time, sister.”
“I like to get my nails done on Wednesday, so time matters to me.”
“You’re a tough broad, I’ll give you that. Here’s what I’m thinking, though, about that lie part. We find out you told us a lie, then we got to make it harder on you. Being tied to a chair and slapped around, that isn’t going to be all of it. We think maybe we might have to start carving you up. Oh yeah. This is Wednesday, and Wednesday is done.”
I wasn’t actually that tough. I was hoping to die of a heart attack. I feared what they might do to me, feared it to the point of a possible surprise bowel movement, but there’s something in me besides shit, and it makes me a smart mouth when I’m in danger. And frequently when I’m not. It’s like the skunk that when frightened sprays stink. I’m frightened, I run my mouth.
The man who brought the letter to Nathaniel was stooped with age. Yellowed of teeth, of nails, of skin. He extended the piece of paper over the counter and asked, “How much do you pay for something like this?”
Nathaniel put on his glasses. “Well, I’d have to see what’s here.”
The old man handed it across the counter. “What’s here is his kiss off to me.”
Dear Johnny Jr.,
The most important thing a boy can learn in this world is to buck up. Because life can be quite the thing! (Why sure it can.) So I need you to buck up. For yourself, for me, and also for your Ma. She’s going to need you, son. Need you to be the man around the place, to give her a strong shoulder to cry on when she has one of her sob sessions. Someday, I’ll come back and check in. I expect to find a strong feller where I left a fearful boy. You wait for that day, son, and we’ll throw a ball around, catch up on a few things why sure.
Your father, John Sr.
“So, you’re Johnny Junior?”
“Well, a course,” the old man said with a hint of indignation. “No one’s born old. I was just a kid when I got that.”
Nathaniel considered him. “How old?”
“Six? Seven, tops.”
The bell above the door jingled as a woman in a large winter coat and oversized dark glasses entered the store. The cold came with her. She shut the door and passed the counter on the way to the stacks behind Nathaniel. She kept her head down and the dark glasses on, but he noticed the skin along the side of her left eye was purple. The sound of her footsteps came to a stop somewhere between Ancient History and Literary Theory.
Nathaniel returned his focus to the old man.
“Did he ever,” he held up the letter, “come back and check in?’”
Johnny Junior shook his head.
Nathaniel read the man’s furtive eyes. “But you know what happened to him.”
Johnny Junior nodded.
“And that was?”
“He was bit in the head by a tiger at the circus. It was in all the papers at the time.”
Nathaniel used the old Dell to Goggle it. Took all of thirty seconds. It checked out.
He bought the letter.
Miss Golden Dreams 1949
Joyce Carol Oates
Hel-lo! Welcome to Sotheby’s! Come in.
As you see, your seats are reserved. Today’s (private) auction is restricted to the most elite collectors.
And I am the most prized item on the bill—Miss Golden Dreams 1949.
That’s to say the single, singular, one-of-her-kind three-dimensional living-breathing-plasma-infused PlastiPlutoniumLuxe Miss Golden Dreams 1949.
Not mass-produced. Not “replicated.” Just—me.
(Re)created from the authentic DNA of—me.
The most famous pinup in the history of America and the most famous centerfold in the history of Playboy. And by popular acclaim the Number One Sex Symbol of the 20th Century.
Do you doubt, Daddy? Approach the platform—(no, Daddy, you can’t climb up on the platform!)—see for yourself.
My eyes see. This voice you hear is issued from me, it is not a spooky recording of Marilyn’s hushed breathy little-girl voice but the authentic thing. I am the authentic thing. Full-sized, anatomically correct in every crucial way.
How am I “animated”? I am not animated, Daddy. I am alive.
Chin Yong-Yun Meets a Mongol
S. J. Rozan
Many people would not think I am the kind of person to know a Mongolian. I suppose this is not foolish. New York City is rather poor in residents from that country. Those few who come here have settled in Queens, while my home is in the Chinatown of Manhattan. Although my eldest son lives with his family in Flushing, which is in Queens, I have not to my knowledge encountered Mongolians while visiting them. Also, for many centuries China ruled Mongolia rather unpleasantly, as I understand it. Though that relationship ended a century ago, a new one involving damage to Mongolian grazing land by Chinese mining companies leaves Mongolians continuing to see Chinese people in an unfavorable light.
None of this was of any concern to me, or known to me at all, until my middle son, An-Zhang, introduced me to his friend Tomorbaatar.
Each of my four sons is quite accomplished. It is only my daughter whose work is disreputable (though in her field she is considered successful, of course). Because I am not an educated woman, the work of three of my sons in science, medicine, the law, are things I am proud of though I don’t understand them.
An-Zhang’s accomplishments are in a field whose very existence baffles me, however. He photographs food.
- Ken Laager
- 320 pages
- United States
- Subterranean Press
- In Print
- Lawrence Block