Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Scrapbook of a Detective

Remember I told you how they give out free books in the coffee shop at the library? There's a new batch, and I picked up a few today... no, COURAGE IS A THREE LETTER WORD was not among them. BUT! There were some other self-help books, such as DEVOTIONS FOR JOGGERS. I left that one alone. Likewise, SINBAD'S GUIDE TO LIFE, which is not about the legendary Sinbad who battled giant birds and such (or so I recall) - though his guide to life would be helpful, especially when facing problems with giant birds! - but the standup comedian Sinbad (pictured). The first few sentences of Sinbad's book (I'm paraphrasing) were something like "I know what you are thinking. What could I possibly teach you about life?" And I was like, "Good point, Sinbad." And I put the book back on the shelf. BUT! There was a book called THE SCRAPBOOK OF A DETECTIVE, VOLUME I, by B.E. Doughty, which I found significant as I had just left my hardboiled fiction class. I am not familiar with the Carlton Press of New York, New York, but THE SCRAPBOOK OF A DETECTIVE, VOLUME I has all the earmarks of a vanity press book, including the "about the author" section, which emphasizes Mr. Doughty's church and AARP memberships and tells us "he has recorded these memoirs at the request of his family and friends... they have been related in after-dinner speeches and other talks to church groups, high school groups, Kiwanis, Rotary, and other organizations." Some of the chapter titles are exciting! "I Become a Secret Agent" - "The Big Fire" - "Bruises, Bites, and Scratches" - "A Foolhardy Stunt" - "I Become a Hobo" - "An Attempt to Wreck a Train!" (exclamation point Mr. Doughty's) - "A Hayseed Clue" (to name just a few). But here's how one chapter starts, to give you some flavor: "On a hot summer day I received a wire message that someone had stolen about fifty new cresoled crossties valued at $3.08 each." The book is inscribed! Mr. Doughty has written, "I appreciate you as a writer and fine guy and I value your friendship." But he did not preface his remark with the person's name! It is inscribed... but to no one! So that's a mystery!