Granted, it was the art of illustrator Reginald Heade that stopped me, but the understated nature of the flyleaf, so British, drew me in. And, by gosh, the stories are terrific, ripping yarns. So glad I found and bought this.
(Just a tip: If you do buy this, skip “Voodoo.” It’s nauseatingly racist.)
“When one of us caught measles or whooping cough and we were isolated in bed upstairs, we wrote notes to each other perhaps on the hour. Our devoted mother would pass them for us, after first running them in a hot oven to kill the germs. They came into our hands curled up and warm, sometimes scorched, like toast.”
— Eudora Welty in One Writer’s Beginnings (1983)
“I always go into the Persian Room after 4 to see my friend Bill
He is a busboy in the night and goes to school in the day and
his eyes water
Here’s where he’s been
Here’s where I’ve been
— From Eloise (1955) by Kay Thompson with drawings by Hilary Knight
“It was little Michael Master who detected, first of all,
That his great enormous father was becoming very small;
Now I never knew the reason, but I fancy that he shrank
Because of all the Indian ink that Mr. Master drank.”
— From The Little Father by Gelett Burgess, first published in 1899; this image from the edition published in 1985 with illustrations by Richard Egielski.
“Mrs. Sin, aroused by her husband from the deep opium sleep, came out into the fume-laden vault. Her dyed hair was disarranged, and her dark eyes stared glassily before her; but even in this half-drugged state she bore herself with the lithe carriage of a dancer, swinging her hips lazily and pointing the toes of her high-heeled slippers.
“‘Awake, my wife,’ crooned Sin Sin Wa. ‘Only a fool seeks the black smoke when the jackals sit in a ring.'”
— From Dope (1919) by Sax Rohmer
“She was wearing a blue Lastex swimsuit, which was like a dress and showed off her legs, which looked lovely to me. I was trying to keep my eyes on her face as she talked, but it was difficult when all I wanted to do was lay my muzzle on her lap and have her play with my ears and pull my tail.”
— The voice of Bernie Gunther in Prague Fatale (2011) by Philip Kerr
Frontispiece by Thomas Fogerty for Mary Roberts Rinehart’s The Breaking Point (1922)