Monday, May 16, 2005


Or, titillating tomes for tongue-tied twerps, twits and tightwads

By Theolonius McTavish, a part-time procrastinating rumpus room renovator, an avid odd book collector, and a meandering monologist on my favorite subject …me

The world has become a pretty scary place of late. So rather than fret, empty-nesting boomers are seeking solace by spending their moolah on mansion makeovers, especially trogloditic tinkle-pantries, bygone basements and ramshackled rumpus rooms.

Not being handy with power-tools, hammers or paint brushes – I prefer putting my tacky, tightwad talents to good use by decorating the well-worn walls of my dowdy den with an odd collection of bootlegged books.

So, in the interests of brevity, I shall provide my fellow bookworms with a comprehensive list of my favorite flatulent folios (many of which were written in the last century if not before).

Airmail from Oblivion (1975, by B. Pleasants, a tad yellow from the killer weed, known as tobacco).

Asmodeus or the Devil on Two Sticks, (vintage 1925 by A.R. LeSage).

Babies in Birdland, A Fairy Tale, (by Laura Bancroft, a heavily soiled, moderately rubbed book published in 1911).

Bill Nye and Boomerang; Or, the Tale of a Meek-Eyed Mule, and Some Other Literary Games, (a frayed first edition published in 1881).

Billy Blue Gum or Back to the Bush, (not-your-average dog-earred 1947 Aussie publication about boomerangs, kangaroos or crocodile wrestlers).

Cleopatra’s Nose – Essays on the Unexpected, (a colorful 1998 story by Daniel J. Boorstin).

Confessions of Zeno, (by Italo Svevo, a 1930 slightly soiled 412-page book).

Das Cowboybuch, (a little known 1941 German translation of the Will James classic, “A Lonesome Cowboy?”).

Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused And Mispronounced Words (published in 1985, an "enchiridion of arcane and recondite sesquipedalian items that will apeal to the oniomania of an eximious Gemeinschaft" in all of us...hmmm....did you get all that?)

Dot and Dash The Lucky Jingle Piggie, Toyland’s Patriotic Rally, (1942, compliments of Sears Roebuck and Co.)

Ducky Doodle, (a slightly gouged 10-page pithy publication with pictures).

Elegant Extracts: Or, Useful and Entertaining Passages in Prose, Selected for the Improvement of Young Persons: Being Similar in Design to Extracts in Poetry, (1797, a tad spotty and spineless).

Every Girl Needs a Parlor, (by Anita Loos, a great read especially if you’re looking for the Beverly Munchin Hotel in the Hereafter).

Extracts from Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar, (a 1937 faded, limited edition Christmas keepsake by someone called Mark Twain).

Fantapoufs and Thinifers, (a bumped, flecked, and smudged 1940 edition by Andre Maurois).

Flashman and the Angel of the Lord, (a 1995 man-of-the-cloth-bound-book by George M. Fraser).

Foxy Grandpa’s Mother Goose, (1903 beat-up book about a fetching feathered friend).

Fungi from Yuggoth, (a 1982 best-seller by H.P. Lovecraft from Necronomican Press).

Fuzzy Wuzzy. Sheet Music, (1924, Rudyard Kipling’s whimsical words set to music).

Galactic Derelict
, (a 1959 moderately worn far-out tale by Andre Norton).

Hopalong Cassidy’s Protégé, (a 1926 cowboy book with no pictures by Clarence E. Mulford).

How to Mak’em Book. The New Erector, (a 1936 slightly soiled, illustrated oblong literary work).

Hvem Ringer Klokkern For?, (a 1943 Danish delight, if you’re into trolls, noisy clocks or Ernest Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls”).

I, Candidate for Governot: And How I Got Licked
, (a 1935 merry mongraph by Upton Sinclair).

Kabumpo in Oz, (a 1922 quirky but colorful story by Ruth Plumly Thompson [Baum]).

Let’s Pretend, Some Adventures of the Golden Age of Nursery Land, (a 1914 bodacious book for babes by William McHarg and illustrated by Bonnibel Butler).

Loading Mercury With a Pitchfork, (1976, a puzzling piece of puff by Richard Brautigan).

Love Among the Cannibals, (a slightly chewed 195os book by Morris Wright).

Matthew Merrythought’s Mirthful Mode of Managing Measures: With a Waggish Way of Writing Weights, (a tiny, terse tome written in 1983 for the pleasure of their friends at Christmas by Fred, Mary, Rick and Pete Ruffner – whoever they may be).

McGuffey’s New Fifth Eclectic Reader, (a slightly spotted and tattered 1886 tome for the tinkle pantry).

Memoirs of Monsieur d’Artagnan, Captain-Lieutenant of the 1st Company of the King’s Musketeers, 3 volumes, (a classic by Courtilz de Sandraz about a sword-weilding super-hero).

Miss Minerva’s Scallywags, (a 1927, 300-page book minus several chunks by Emma Speed Sampson).

Monkey on a Stick, (a 1940 classic for those who hate zoos and barbecues).

Mother Goose for Grown Folks, (an 1898 book by Mrs. A.D.T. Whitney for parents who don’t own a “care bare” or regretfully were not raised by Mrs. Hubbard in a shoe).

Mother Witch - Quagga, (a 1963 limited edition 41-page book about wicked witches by Emrich Urban).

Nonsense for Old and Young, (a 1901bonker of a book to break the monotony of boring life by Eugene Field and illustrated by John C. Frohn).

Peck’s Boss Book, (a cutting-edge, “how-to” handle horrible people in 1884, courtesy of an American by the name of George W. Peck).

Phisicke Against Fortune, As Well Prosperous as Adverse: 46 Dialogues, (a 1995 Foolscap Press publishing adventure written by the inimitable Francesca Petrarca).

Pish, Posh Said Hieronymus Bosch, (a 1991 Nancy Willard boffo book).

Podgy Puppy and Naughty Needy, (a 1927 book by Clara G. Dennis with simple words, a defective spine, and heavily creased covers from sitting on them too frequently).

Punch’s Pocket Book for 1874 Containing a Calendar, Cash Account, Diary and Memoranda for Every Day of the Year, (…so what else did you expect for $65.00!)

“Shakespeare or Bacon”
in the Canadian Magazine (1897).

She Stoops to Conquer, Or The Mistakes of a Night, (a very odd little ditty published in 1910, and written by one Oliver Goldsmith [Hugh Thompson]).

Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Big Surprise, (a 1941 publication with pretty pictorial label by Major Lindman).

So You Want to Be a Wizard, (written by Diane Duane in 1983, this book provides an alternative career options for those who've been fired without just cause or laid off in the latest re-engineering and corporate right-sizing experiment) .

Spleen and Other Stories, (1928, a badly bumped limited edition book by Pierre Victor, Baron de Besnval).

Still More Lecherous Limericks, (an Isaac Asimov 1977 first edition with sticker residue left on it).

“Strictly from Mars”, (a short story in the Amazing Wonder Stories, vol. 2 no. 22).

Thaumayurgia, Or Elucidations of the Marvellous, (an 1835 Edward Churton book with very entertaining advertisements for those who need illustrations to keep them happy).

The Big Swingers - Edgar rice Burroughs 1875-1950, Tarzan 1912, (for those who love jungle mouth, short sentences, and adore beating their own breast not to mention hanging from vines for fun).

The Book of Diversion
, (a 1925 thinkless-and-do nothing book for adults).

The Country of Thirty Six Thousand Whistles, (a 1930s book by Andre Maurois for anyone who enjoys blowing their own horn but can't find an appreciative audience).

The Enchanted Typewriter. (An 1899 tale of classic communication, or how to pitch woo with a billet doux by Olivetti and Friends?)

The Fairy Godmother-In-Law, (1905, a Oliver Herford special with pretty pictures).

The Foolish Dictionary, An Exhausting Work of Reference to Uncertain English Words, Their Origin, Meaning, Legitimate and Illegitimate Use, Confused by a Few Pictures, (a 1904 giggling gem by Gideon Wurdz).

The Happy Hypocrite – A Fairy Tale for Tired Men, (a 53-page book by Max Beerbohm, published in 1906 for males with incredibly short attention spans and tightwad spending habits).

The Hasheesh Eater: Being Passages from a Life of a Pythagorean, (a 371 page, 1857 weed-wonder book by an author who wishes to remain anonymous).

The Inconstant Mistris, (a 1948 book for the lonely hearts and mollycoddlers of the world who can't spell).

The History of Little Bo-Peep, The Sheperherdess, (for those who like worn-covers and 1850s woodcuts).

The Little Chick That Would Not Go to Bed, (published in 1924, this story written by Edna Groff Dieh is best red at nap-time with milk and cookies).

The Lowest Form of Wit, (Louis Untermeyer wrote thirteen-pages of tinsel-time twaddle and had it published as a book just after World War II when they desperately needed a good laugh).

The Luck of the Bodkins, (a slightly wrinkled 1936 edition by P.G. Wodehouse).

The Man from Bar-20, (written by Clarence E. Mulford and illustrated by Frank Schoonover, this unhinged first edition is truly a must-have for any rumpus room).

The Mechanical Bride
, (a 1951 cello-taped first edition by Herbert Marshall McLuhan).

The Naked Lunch
, (a 1959 William Burroughs book with a green line around the title page).

The Peculiar Major, (Keble Howard, a 1919 classic for men with the optical density of air).

The Purple Prince of Oz, (this 1932 publication is designed for macho males who just can't relate to super-duper heroines like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz).

The Red Fairy Book, (this 1924 classic is written to give hope to color blind wee folk who have an urge to create mischief, mayhem, and general all round merry messes for everyone).

The Speed Queen
, (1997, comes with a brief inscription reading “a sexy, breathless novel?” on the inside cover of this book by Stewart O’Nan).

The Sunny-Sulky Book
, (a 1935 picture book by Sarah Cory Rippey for slow readers).

The Surprising Adventures of The Magical Monarch of Mo and His People, (a very loose, water-stained book written by Frank Baum and published in 1903).

The Tale of Miss Tiggy-Winkle (it's time to celebrate the centenary of this bedtime thriller first published in 1905).

Trouble in Bugland, (this 1985 creepy-crawly book will no doubt appeal to meat-eaters everywhere).

Under the Vierkleur - A Romance of a Lost Cause, (if you didn't catch the first printing in 1904, you're plumb out of luck).

Valiant Dust, (a 1936 cracked hinged cliff-hanger by Helen Genung and Caryl M. Hayes).

Where Robot Mice & Robot Men Run round in Robot Towns, (can't wait for the sequel to this 1977 contribution to urban life).

Whirligigs, (a 1910 book by Henry O. for those who haven’t got any sugar plums dancing in their heads, hate counting sheep, or can’t remember the words to “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”).

Who and What, A Book of Clues for the Clever, (a 1927 soiled and stained edition …but frankly my dear, who gives a damn!)

Wopsy Again, The Further Adventures of A Guardian Angel, (a 1945 block-buster book for folks who can't relate to flying nuns, by Gerard F. Scriben with illustrations by Sister Mary Barbara)

Write It Right – A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults
, (a bent book by Ambrose Bierce in 1909 about mortals who misspell words and mangle grammar among other things).