Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My Laffety Bookshelf

I realize it is bad form to brag. However, I recently worked with a Very Nice bookseller to buy copies of Through Elegant Eyes and Golden Gate and Other Stories. This caused me to stop and think about my Lafferty Library. I’ve been slowly adding to it for about 30 years and gradually collected quite a bit:

  • The Reefs of Earth (1968)
  • Space Chantey (1968)
  • Past Master (1968)
  • Fourth Mansions (1969) (3 copies, so I can force them into peoples hands)
  • Nine Hundred Grandmothers (1970) (Collection)
  • The Devil is Dead (1971)
  • Strange Doings (1971) (Collection)
  • The Flame is Green (1971)
  • Arrive at Easterwine (1971) (loaned out to a co-worker)
  • The Fall of Rome (1971)
  • Okla Hannali (1972)
  • Does Anyone Else Have Something Further to Add? (1974) (Collection)
  • Not to Mention Camels (1976)
  • Funnyfingers and Cabrito (1976) (Collection) (Chapbook)
  • Apocalypses (1977)
  • Aurelia (1982)
  • Annals of Klepsis (1983)
  • Golden Gate And Other Stories (1983) (Collection) (ordered)
  • Through Elegant Eyes (1983) (Collection) (ordered)
  • Laughing Kelly and Other Verses (Poetry) (1983) (Chapbook) (Arrived WOOHOO! August 12, 2013)
  • Ringing Changes (1984) (Collection) (I have one extra copy in case anyone wants to borrow it)
  • It's Down the Slippery Cellar Stairs (Nonfiction) (1984) (Chapbook)
  • The Man Who Made Models and Other Stories (1984) (Collection) (Chapbook)
  • Slippery and Other Stories (1985) (Collection) (Chapbook)
  • My Heart Leaps Up - Chapters 1 & 2 (1986) (Chapbook) (Arrived WOOHOO! August 12, 2013)
  • My Heart Leaps Up - Chapters 3 & 4 (1987) (Chapbook)
  • My Heart Leaps Up - Chapters 5 & 6 (1987) (Chapbook)
  • My Heart Leaps Up - Chapters 7 & 8 (1987) (Chapbook)
  • My Heart Leaps Up - Chapters 9 & 10 (1987) (Chapbook)
  • Serpent's Egg (1987) (Morrigan Press (UK) edition)
  • East of Laughter (1988) (Morrigan Press (UK) edition)
  • Sindbad: The 13th Voyage (1999)

That’s 28 books and chapbooks sitting on my bookshelf and 4 more ordered and on their way. I’m ashamed to admit I still haven’t made my way all the way through Not to Mention Camels, Aurelia, and East of Laughter, and I haven’t even started Serpent’s Egg yet. Everything else, though, I’ve read anywhere from one to a half a dozen times. Some of his stories I just have to return to and re-read from time to time. Okla Hannali bears frequent re-readings. I gain something new every time I read it. For some reason, I re-read Fourth Mansions every year or two. Something will remind me of a passage from it, and I pick it up and restart at the beginning--marveling anew at the tricks he pulls on us every time.

There are still a lot of hard or impossible to find Lafferty books I would love to track down (and be able to afford):

Cosquin Chronicles
  • Half a Sky (1984)

The Devil is Dead Trilogy:
  • Archipelago (1979)
  • More than Melchisedech
   1 Tales of Chicago (1992)
   2 Tales of Midnight (1992)
   3 Argo (1992)

  • How Many Miles to Babylon (1989)
  • The Elliptical Grave (1989)
  • Dotty (1990)

  • The Early Lafferty (1988)
  • The Back Door of History (1988)
  • Strange Skies (Poetry) (1988)
  • The Early Lafferty II (1990)
  • Episodes of the Argo (1990)
  • Lafferty in Orbit (1991)
  • Mischief Malicious (And Murder Most Strange) (1991)
  • Iron Tears (1992)
  • The Man Who Made Models (2014 - Anticipated)
    Amazon first had the title as
    From the Thunder Colt's Mouth. What changed?

  • Four Stories (1983)
  • Heart of Stone, Dear and Other Stories (1983)
  • Snake in His Bosom and Other Stories (1983)
  • Horns on Their Heads (1976)
  • Promontory Goats (1988)
  • Anamnesis (1992)
  • Sodom and Gomorrah, Texas (2007)
  • The Six Fingers of Time (2010)
  • True Believers (Nonfiction) (1989)
  • Cranky Old Man from Tulsa (Nonfiction) (1990)
  • Grasshoppers & Wild Honey - Chapters 1 & 2 (1992)

And the Very Nice bookseller has the Amazon storefront link: Stop by and check out his inventory.

My Bookshelf:


  1. "The Man Who Made Models (2014 - Anticipated)
    Amazon first had the title as From the Thunder Colt's Mouth. What changed?"

    The order of volumes, as well as the organizational conceit of the series.

    Also, a slight correction: "How Many Miles to Babylon" is a novella rather than a novel. Still crucial to the Argo cycle, though. And the remaining Drumm booklets. (Though Grass-hoppers is in my experience significantly tougher to find than the others. Also Snake for some reason was elusive forever.)

    Elsewise: don't bother with the "Sodom and Gomorrah, Texas" or "Six Fingers of Time" chapbooks; they're blatant cash grabs on public domain stories.

    The single most difficult items to find, I'm given to understand, are the Anamnesis chapbook (which is pretty highly ironic, once you read the story) and also the issue of Strange Plasma with "Hound Dog's Ear." The United Mythologies Press materials can generally be found, just at an incredible premium.

    From your list, I would prioritize Iron Tears and Lafferty in Orbit, as well as Archipelago and maybe Half a Sky.

    1. Sadly, to prioritize those books, I think I may have to prioritize a raise in salary.

      I had a feeling that "Sodom and Gomorrah, Texas" or "Six Fingers of Time" were not worth the price of the paper they're printed on, because they look like exactly what you said--an attempt to reprint something from a Gutenberg E-text for profit.

      Oh well, I feel reasonably proud of the collection I've gathered over the years. None of these are really collectible copies (except for the soon-to-be-delivered Golden Gate and Through Elegant Eyes). These books are read and re-read frequently. It's like the guys who collect cars. I once interviewed the owner of Isis Imports, San Francisco's only importer of Morgan sports cars from England. He said about half the cars he sold went to driving enthusiasts who drove the cars to commute in every day and raced them on the weekends, and about half went people who wanted the prestige of owning and being occasionally seen in one. Those cars spent almost all their time parked, a tribute to the acquisitiveness of the purchaser, and racked up very few miles (he once resold a 12-year-old Morgan that had just over 600 original miles), which is a shame, because those cars are designed to be driven. It's the same with my book collection: Even if I could afford it, I wouldn't pay top dollar for a pristine collectible copy, because I buy books to read.

  2. Heh heh, once again this is something I've thought about doing on my own Lafferty blog. So glad to see I'm not the only obsessively curatorial fan of Laff.