Greene County Library Saves My Ass

Current library books.

I consume a lot of research material. I like to follow whims. My current novel-in-slow-progress (NISP) is a strange/historical/western/Texan/detective story set in 1888. I’ve needed books about the Texas Gulf Coast, the cities of Victoria (see older post here) and Galveston, TX, Texas Jewish history, the Texas Rangers, ranch/pioneer life, slavery, post-slavery African-American life in Texas, Mexican-American life, period firearms, dance, the Pinkerton Detective Agency, Charles Siringo, a Montgomery Ward catalog, the Gilded Age, gambling, poker, western and detective fiction.

Sorry, I’m out of breath. Rest a bit here and think about blue skies, and….

See a reference in a book of hard-boiled fiction about Leigh Brackett’s Chandler-esque 1944 novel No Good from a Corpse? Library gets it. Decide I want to read Allan Pinkerton’s 1874 book The Expressman and the Detective? Yep, library. Most recently, I requested the University of California Press 4-volume book The Codex Mendoza (which as you can see here, the least expensive hardback on Amazon is $2000 and paperback is $164).

Sometimes I get things for fun, too, like the collected-in-book editions of Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics, music CDs or a movie on DVD.

The library gives me access to everything in the county system, a search-Ohio public libraries system, an Ohio college libraries system, and WorldCat inter-library loan. Sometimes the book I want only exists in a few libraries, but it’s rare that there is something I can’t get.

Books, reference items, yes all that, but also, for me, a place to write. Because of my work schedule and home life, about the only time I have for writing during the week is my lunch break. I can spend anywhere from ten minutes to half and hour at the nearest library branch (usually Fairborn, because I work in Fairborn but sometimes I get crazy and go to the Yellow Springs branch), then back to work to eat something. It isn’t nearly enough time, but it’s what I have and I manage to make progress on whatever I’m working on.

The point—was there a point?—the Greene County Library saves my ass. Whatever I think I might need to see, they get for me. Right now, there’s a levy up for renewal. The state, as usual, is planning to cut library funding, again. Because, you know, if people read, they might vote, and if they vote, they might vote for someone else. Or, they might vote for the levy.

If the levy doesn’t pass, the library will have to reduce services. That will hurt me and everyone who uses it. And when it passes, the library will work with the state to prevent further loss of funding. So that maybe someday they don’t have to renew the levy. The whole point is: We need a stable library system here (and everywhere).

Please go here to find out more: http://stronglibraries.com/

Fanciful Flight

Some time ago (maybe April 2012, because that’s the date on the web page), Liz Hand posted a link to an article about a friend of hers at the Smithsonian who has made models based on pictures of fanciful flying machines.

Looking at the models gave me ideas…I wanted to try making some myself, and wanted to use them in fiction.  I filed the article away for the future. And have since used one of the aircraft and its artist in “Untitled Western Novella.” The story is set on the gulf coast of Texas in 1888. One of the artists profiled in the Smithsonian article, Charles Dellschau, was a German-born butcher who ended up in Houston, TX; he created his art-and-tales about flying machines around the time of my story.

I’ve modified his life to fit the story: his exploits were supposed to have occurred a number of years earlier than 1888.

Another Dellschau sighting occurred last week. My friend Doug Lain, he of the intriguing-sounding forthcoming novel Billy Moon, posted a link to an article on a neat blog called Messy Nessy Chic. There’s also a new book about him.

Victoria Book

During my current research I came across a reference to a book on the history of Victoria, TX that came out in 1883 and was reprinted in 1961 (as History of Victoria County;: A republishing of the book known as V. Rose’s History of Victoria). I requested the book through inter-library loan. The title page said that the reprint was edited by JW Petty and published by The Book Mart, Victoria, TX 1961. At the end of the editor’s preface there’s an inscription from him, to the Texas Tech library (which isn’t where the book came from).

When I saw the title page, I remembered…  In his youth, my father frequented a used bookstore in Houston owned by a man named Joe Petty. They got to be friends. He still has many books from Petty’s store. Later on, Joe Petty moved the store to Victoria. Here’s a link to a story on him in the Victoria Advocate from 1956.

The book has been useful, with facts about Victoria, like the number of banks and various stores. Also the racial and social attitudes of the author, Victor Rose. Also, I like how my research/writing obsessions intersected with a bit of family history.