Enconium: Mr. Dortmunder and Oleg, часть вторая (Part 2)

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“It just looks small.  To me it looks small.”

“Dortmunder,” Stan said, losing his patience, “it’s a tugboat.  It’s the safest thing in New York Harbor.  This boat has pushed around oil tankers, passenger liners, big cargo ships from all over the world.”

But not recently.  Labor strife, changes in the shipping industry, competition from other eastern seaboard ports; what it all comes down to is, the New York City tugboat is an endangered species.  Most of the sturdy little red and black guys with the hairy noses and the old black tires along the sides are gone now, and the few still struggling along, like the hero of a Disney short, don’t have much of a livelihood to keep them going.

There’s nothing new, let alone revolutionary, about publishing editions of books you don’t have the rights to.  It’s happened to some of the most famous and popular books ever written.  It even happened to Shakespeare, after his death–that’s why we still have Shakespeare’s work.  Because a small group of friends and admirers (in a time before copyright) collected and published it, in a limited deluxe edition.  You may have heard of it.

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Long after most of you reading this are gone (and perhaps myself as well), the rights of the literary estate of Donald E. Westlake will expire, and anyone with access to a printing press (if such things even exist by then) will be able to publish any or all Westlake novels in any quantity or format they choose.  (Going by e-books I’ve seen, some of his short stories are already in the public domain, though none of his best ones).

From that time onwards, whether the books stay in print or not will depend entirely on whether the interest in reading them, originals or translations, still exists, passed from one generation to the next, across the centuries.  The one thing that keeps fiction in print after an author’s death is passionate readers.  And it was passionate readers who committed this unprofitable act of minor theft.  Relating to 14 novels about a unprofitable pack of minor thieves.

I find great symmetry in this.  I still think copyright laws exist for good reason, and must be enforced strongly.  But of all the storytellers who ever lived, surely this one would be most inclined to turn a blind eye when it came to theft committed in a good cause.  Or even just for the sheer fun of it.  Anyway, no doubt he and Oleg have already discussed it over a few bourbons, if Mr. Westlake had any bones to pick.  Speaking of which–

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In this case, the end paper illustration relates to the first part of the omnibus.  (Though I can’t say I recall this precise scene.)

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(This one I remember.  How are things in Tsergovia, Grijk?)

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(Oh no!  Dortmunder is going to be tortured by Zippy the Pinhead’s evil round-headed cousin!)

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(Kelp on the prowl, seeking a saintly femur.  Probably my favorite illustration from this book.)

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(The stalwart men of the Continental Detective Agency on the job.  After eating drugged pizza, see up top.)

(Your guess as good as mine. Haven’t read this one in a while.)

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(So this guy gets a nod, and J.C. envisioning the great nation of Maylohda does not?  There is no justice.)

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(Finishing up with a nice bit of heraldry.)

Time for one more?  Why not?  Or as they say in Russia–

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(I don’t think Dortmunder and Gus Brock were dressed like this at the Carrport Mansion–where nobody was supposed to be–but what the hell.  Looks cool, don’t have to draw whole faces.)

(And now Dortmunder is in his usual shabby suit.  Continuity with regards to personal appearance and dress is an occasional problem with these editions, but with art like this, am I complaining?)

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(I like the Superman insignia on Wally’s jacket, although it does make me wonder if in some parts of the world, he is considered to be the true hero of the novels he appears in.)

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(My vote’s for this Wally!)

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(Dead.  Solid.  Right.)

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(You all know how I think Max Fairbanks looks.  I suppose that in present-day Russia, it might not be politique to portray him that way.  Still, way too distinguished looking–though I must admit, there is a reference to him being a brandy drinker.  Also, there are Stars of David in the I-Ching?  Who knew?)

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(Dortmunder lifted his gaze from his reproachful knees, and contemplated, without love, the clothing Andy Kelp had forced him into. He said “Who wears this stuff?”

“Americans,” Kelp told him.

“Don’t they have mirrors in America?”)

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(Two Golden Carriages.)

(Laugh clowns, laugh.)

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(For the last laugh shall be ours.  In a Westlake novel, anyway.  Hey, maybe even in real life!  What’s the best that could happen?)

TO BE CONCLUDED–

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2 Comments

Filed under Donald Westlake novels, John Dortmunder novels

2 responses to “Enconium: Mr. Dortmunder and Oleg, часть вторая (Part 2)

  1. Ray Garraty

    I like spreads the most.

    Speaking of whether these books will be in print or not. How Alexander got hooked some of his friends to these editions: he would just put the books into his friends’ hands and say ‘Read it’. They’d read it and ask for more.

    • Westlake can have that effect–in any language.

      I’m sure others would have done a better job scanning the pictures. I was using, as I typically do, the KIC Bookeye optical scanners we have here at the library. You hold the book face-up (much less wear and tear than a flatbed scanner), and you see the tips of my fingers in many images, because there’s nothing but your hands to hold the pages down. It basically takes a digital photo of whatever you’re scanning. Quite sophisticated. But not without certain quirks.

      The resolution is excellent with these machines, both a good and bad thing, since the image density is problematic if you’re posting a lot of images at once. Too Much Information. I found that I could get everything I needed from one volume into a single session, which I’d then email to myself, after converting it to JPEG format. (Learned the hard way, when I copied Westlake’s Philip, that I couldn’t post PDF’s, the default scanner format, to the blog.) I found that if I posted the covers of each book at full size, they would block out things like the comments section and links to other sites, so I would post them alongside some other image. I have no idea why that worked.

      It was theoretically possible to do the two-page spreads as one image, but the result was less than satisfactory, and furthered problems with over-large file sizes. So I’d just let the machine automatically split the pages, then post them side by side, with just that narrow blank strip to indicate the join.

      Then I just had to go into my email, download the scans to my PC, then upload them to my now-massive archive of images, where I could position them to my satisfaction in each article. It wasn’t that hard, but it wasn’t all that simple either.

      What’s particularly nice about the Bookeye is that we can use it for free. 🙂

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