The Best of Howard Waldrop

The last time I saw Howard Waldrop was in Seattle in July of 1997. I was in town with Marianne and some other friends, buying huge bags of cherries, strolling along the waterfront, checking out the Pike Street Markets and generally enjoying the place. Howard had come down from Oso, abandoning the fishing for a weekend, for a convention we were all attending. Somewhere in there I made a run across town in a cab to Lucius Shepard’s place to get some books signed, and I distinctly recall going to a party and John Berry and Eileen Gunn’s place, which I think Chip Delaney was supposed to attend.

Anyhow, I saw Howard a couple times, he read a great story, I gave him a framed copy of the cover of the collection of his that I’d published, and then the curtains of time closed on that period in my life. Between then and about a month ago I did stuff that I’ve talked about here before, and Howard moved home to Austin, published a bunch of stories and a couple books, and the world was ok. Happily, in assembling my two year’s bests for CHARLES and Liza at Locus Press gave me reason to get in touch with Howard again, so I called him in Austin and we had a good long chat. As it turned out, he wouldn’t be going to LA for WorldCon and I wouldn’t be going to Austin for World Fantasy, but he was writing a Robert E. Howard story and life was fine.

I pretty much figured that would, except for occasionally updating my unofficial Waldrop bibliography, take me out of Howard’s orbit for a couple years, or at least until the Saratoga World Fantasy next year. I was pretty happy, therefore, to get an email from Mike Walsh last week saying that he was working on one of the coolest projects ever: a best of Howard Waldrop. I’ve known Mike for maybe five years or so. We cross paths at World Con or World Fantasy each year, share a passion for good books generally and for the work of Howard Waldrop specifically, and have talked about working on a book together for years now. (For those of you who don’t know, Mike is the proprietor of Old Earth Books, and earned a permanent place in heaven for publishing Avram Davidson’s Limekiller!. ) When Mike said he was going to do a Waldrop best of, and that Howard had agreed, I was delighted. As is known, I love Howard’s work, and have long felt that he would be well served by a single volume best of, a Howard Waldrop Reader, if you will: a book that collected his best and most accessible stories in a single book, spanning his entire career. While ElectricStory had done a cool book a few years ago, Dream Factories and Radio Pictures, as an e-book and Wheatland did it as a print book a year or two back, no-one has yet done a book quite like this. And Mike said he was going to do it!

I was pretty excited and, over the past week or so, I’ve seen the details firm up and now it looks like it’s a fact. In November of this year Mike Walsh will publish Howard Waldrop’s Flying Saucer Rock and Roll… and Other Swell Stories: Selected Short Fiction 1980 – 2006. I’ve seen the table of contents for the book, and it’s a corker. More on this one when I can, but keep an eye out for it. It’s bound to be swell!

8 thoughts on “The Best of Howard Waldrop”

  1. Hi Jonathan,

    The Best of Howard, eh? About time – even if I have all the books. So you’ve seen the ToC?! Are you at liberty to fire off a copy?

    Cheers, Bruce
    Calgary, Canada

  2. I’ve seen a rough ToC, which is getting close to final. I’d like to get the okay from Mike before I leak it, though. I know there’ll be omissions and stuff people would have added or dropped, but I think it’s basically a very good cross section of Howard’s career.

  3. Thanks, Jonathan. How many words [roughly] do you know the HW Reader are budgeted? [I probably should just surf over to Old Earth and ask…]

    Just for fun, I’ll draft my own selection and forward to you and Mike Walsh off-line if o.k.

  4. Hey Bruce – My understanding is that the book will be somewhere around the 100-110k mark. If I recall properly, there’s maybe fifteen or so stories in there, starting back with “The Ugly Chickens” and working forwards. There were some limitations on selections. First, only two stories from Howard Who?. Small Beer is reprinting that collection next month, and HW wanted them to have a decent chance with it. Second, no collaborations. The main impact on this is that there’s no “Custer’s Last Jump”, but also no “Ike at the Mike” or “God’s Hooks”.

  5. Hi Jonathan – A good call on the limitations from ‘Howard Who?’, IMHO, considering the Small Beer reprint. Great cover! Given fifteen pieces and the restrictions you mention, my thoughts:

    The Ugly Chickens
    Heirs of the Perisphere
    Flying Saucer Rock and Roll
    The Lions are Asleep This Night
    Night of the Cooters
    The Passing of the Western
    Fin de Cycle
    You Could Go Home Again
    The Effects of Alienation
    The Sawing Boys
    Heart of Whitenesse
    Mr. Goober’s Show
    Major Spacer in the 21st Century!
    Calling Your Name
    The King of Where-I-Go

    Not an easy task at all! Very tough leaving out two of the Utley collaborations, ‘One Horse Town’ and at least four others from Howard Who?

    Any word on a title for the Robert Howard novella? Any update on ‘The Search for Tom Purdue’?

    Thanks, Bruce

  6. I’d have loved to get “You Could Go Home Again” in there. I love that story, but it’s long. I think, with no restrictions, the book could have been longer, but the point, to some degree, was to keep it short. I can say 10 of those stories are in the book.

  7. One minor correction: the collection goes up to 2005, not 2006. I think I had 2006 on the brain.

    and it’s all reprints, but Howard plans to write intros/afterwords or whatever tothe pieces. Well, atleast that’s the *current* plan.

    I suspect Howar will make note that one of the his last sttories in Ellen Datlow’s SciFiction was published on Dec 7th. Whoops, there goes another market!

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