Friday, December 14, 2012

Maigret in Vichy by Simenon

First US edition of Maigret in Vichy published by Harcourt Brace in 1969
One of Simenon's later works featuring the renowned Inspector Maigret, Maigret in Vichy is a slightly different Maigret tale in that it doesn't take place in Paris and Maigret is not in the driver's seat for this mystery. While relaxing on vacation with his famously passive wife in the town of Vichy, Maigret can't help but let his detective mind get to work analyzing the town's inhabitants and others on vacation. He is quickly drawn to a lone woman he keeps seeing, and when murder invariably ensues the local police look to Maigret for his expertise, once again putting his poor wife on hold. Maigret in Vichy is a quick engaging thriller like nearly all of the Inspector Maigret novels, but with a pleasant twist and change of scenery. This first American edition also has one of my favorite covers ever, featuring stellar, simplistic jacket design by Ken Braren.

Monday, December 3, 2012

There's No Business by Charles Bukowski

Later printing of Bukowski's short story with illustrations by R. Crumb
First published by the legendary Black Sparrow Press in 1984, There's No Business is another short story by Charles Bukowski published in a stapled, matte card-stock volume with amazing illustrations by R. Crumb. Bukowski's short story (barely 7 pages not including illustrations) tells the brief tale of over the hill comic Manny Hyman and his failure of an act. Like the majority of Bukowski's characters, Manny is an aging and depressed drunken mess, and this story highlights the travails of less than mediocre show business as Manny receives heckle upon heckle. Eventually a fracas breaks out, and, surprisingly though, a new star is born. Bukowski's short stories never disappoint and There's No Business is no exception, not to mention being part of a great illustrated volume. 

An R. Crumb illustration depicting ailing comic Manny Hyman in his dressing room