Classic Returns: Vintage Pulps, a Historic Sinker, and Bird Is the Word!

Okay, kids, let’s start 2012 off with a bang! Along with some vintage and modern classics, fiction offers four golden age action/adventure pulp stories from one of the greats (hint: he also founded a religion). In nonfiction, we’ve got Audubon’s Birds journal, the queen of soul, drama gods, and a top Titanic centennial title. And we’re off!


Du Maurier, Daphne. The Doll. Cemetery Dance. 2011. 182p. ISBN 9781587672736. $25. F
Noted for her novel Rebecca, du Maurier also wrote numerous short stories, 13 of which are collected here. A small volume containing eight of these stories was published in England in the 1930s, while five others appeared in various periodicals. All these shorts were written before the author was 23 and touch upon several of the themes she fleshed out in her later novels. VERDICT Solid but more for the academics and the high-end lit crowd. Save your money if all you circulate is romance and thrillers.

Gaddis, William. JR. Dalkey Archive. 2012. 726p. ISBN 9781564784339. pap. $18.95. F
First published by Knopf in 1975, Giddis’s novel has proved prophetic. The plot follows JR Vansant, an 11-year-old who follows a few capitalistic principles to create a paper empire. That sounds cute, but the author, however, is warning against capitalism run wild and a handful making millions while the masses suffer. VERDICT Considering the massive Ponzi schemes and other messes made by Wall Street in recent years, this book may be most poignant now.

Hubbard, L. Ron. Death Waits at Sundown. 153p. ISBN 9781592124008.
Hubbard, L. Ron. Hell’s Legionnaire. 137p. ISBN 9781592123551.
Hubbard, L. Ron. Mouthpiece. 137p. ISBN 9781592123568.
Hubbard, L. Ron. Trouble on His Wings. 123p. ISBN 9781592123360.
ea. vol: Galaxy. Mar. 2012. pap. $9.95. F
The prolific Hubbard was a staple in pulp magazines of the 1930s-50s. He churned stories out in every genre‚ detective, Westerns, adventure, sf‚ he did it all. His tales were simple: loaded with tough men, beautiful babes, and tons of action. Death Waits at Sundown (1938) offers two-fisted Texan Lynn Taylor’s desperate efforts to save his innocent brother from being hanged for a crime he didn’t commit by bringing the real culprit to justice‚ and the noose. Legionnaire (1935) follows an American who joins the French Foreign Legion to escape a prison sentence. He goes up against the Berbers to try to save a captive American woman. Mouthpiece (1934) follows a gangster’s son, who himself is not involved in the rackets, but goes gunning for the bad guys nonetheless when his old man is bumped off and a cool million disappears. Trouble (1939) finds top reporter/cameraman Johnny Brice’s life going to hell after meeting Jinx, a girl who’s bad luck from head to foot. VERDICT Hubbard is always a quick, fun read. Fans of pulp writing will eat these up. Note that audio versions are available for Death Waits, Legionnaire, and Trouble. The audios feature full-casts and great sound effects. Listen to one and you’ll be hooked.


Audubon, John James. John James Audubon’s Journal of 1826: The Voyage to The Birds of America. Univ. of Nebraska. 2011. illus. index. 474p. ISBN 9780803225312. $50. ART
Audubon’s 1826 journal is one of his few surviving writings. This volume is all the more important because it deals specifically with the creation of his masterpiece, Birds of America‚ one of the most cherished books ever produced. This edition corrects many of the errors found in earlier published versions. VERDICT The price is stiff, but this volume could do double duty in art and science collections.

Bego, Mark. Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul. Skyhorse. Apr. 2012. c. 428p. ISBN 9781616085810. photogs. discog. index. pap. $16.95. MUSIC/BIOG
Bego, who has written extensively on pop culture, updates his 1989 original. New materials include recent photographs, an overview of Franklin’s additional recordings, a discussion of her performance at President Obama’s inauguration, and information about her recent health scare. VERDICT This definitive biography is a natural for music and pop culture collections.

Davie, Michael. Titanic: Death and Life of a Legend. Vintage. Apr. 2012. c. 304p. ISBN 9780307948397. illus. bibliog. index. pap. $16. HIST
April 14, 2012, marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic‘s sinking, so expect a few commemorative books. Davie’s 1987 title is one of the best, as it covers the ship from its origins to the remarkable 1985 discovery of its ghostly remains almost two-and-a-half miles down in the frigid North Atlantic. The testimony of survivors describing what they heard and saw while the ship sank and when many lifeboats turned back in hopes of finding more of the living is terrifying and mesmerizing. VERDICT If your budget only allows for one new purchase of Titanic material, this is a good one.

starred review starMiller, Arthur. Collected Plays 1964‚ 1982. Library of America. Feb. 2012. 823p. ISBN 9781598531473. $35. DRAMA
The time period covered here was a prolific one for Miller‚ it contains a hefty 14 plays. Typically, some of his best efforts, like After the Fall and The Archbishop’s Ceiling (his biggest commercial hit after Death of a Salesman), are mixed with lesser-known works like I Think About You a Great Deal and Some Kind of Love Story. The contents include full-length works and short one-acts, so it’s a nice mix. VERDICT Considering Miller’s importance to American drama and the book’s reasonable price, this is a no brainer for academic collections and public libraries should also consider.

Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. New Directions, dist by Norton. 2011. 247p. photogs. ISBN 9780811219037. $24.95. DRAMA
This centennial edition of the Williams standard consists of the text of the play along with a few extras like the author’s notes; the essay “The Homosexual in Society”; poems that inspired the play by Hart Crane, e.e. cummings, Walt Whitman, and Williams himself; and a gallery of photos of the leading actresses who have played Amanda throughout the years. VERDICT The New Directions edition offers lots of extras so if you need a new copy, grab this one.

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Michael Rogers ( is Media Editor, Library Journal and Managing Editor of LJ Reviews.