The Last Stand of the Great Texas Packrat
White Noise Press
Limited Edition Chapbook $10.00
Reviewed by Nickolas Cook
This newest short offering from the mega-talented Steve Vernon could’ve easily been named instead ‘Ode to an Obsessed Book Collector’, for its main character, Texas Jack Page, suffers from that most costly of biblio-maladies: He can’t stop buying books.Â The rarer, the better.Â He’s given up his marriage for the hard-to-find Algernon Blackwood, or a slippery volume of Clarke Ashton Smith; flat broke, living in a trailer stacked full with carefully preserved volumes, and he still can’t stop buying.Â But anyone who loves books will understand Page’s out of control lifestyle, maybe even wink knowingly as he scrimps together enough money to pay for a rare tome of forgotten lore instead of the past due light bill.
After all, one may read by candlelight, right?
But back to the title, for this is definitely an ode of sorts to those who gather the lost stories to themselves for safe keeping.Â Page has a little of all of us bibliophiles in him.Â Even as he builds a self imprisoning sarcophagus of collected works of fantasy and horror’s most famous forefathers, we can understand how this would be the perfect way to end it all.
The art work, finely detailed in ink and pencil, and wrought by none other than Keith Minnion himself, crawls across every page of this fine chapbook (part of an ongoing series with future volumes by the likes of Gary A. Braunbeck, Elizabeth Massie and Kealan Patrick Burke), and illustrates what a talented writer and a great artist/publisher can accomplish in such a small package.
Ironically enough, this one is for the collectors.Â Vernon’s name alone assures the future value of the volume, but when you add Minnion’s considerable talent to the mix, this series is sure to be a hit.
Visit White Noise Press for more about upcoming titles and authors in the series.