High hopes of a fair chance in Fairhope!

I rarely give myself much credit when it comes to anything really. But when it comes to what i’m doing here and this whole thing i actually think that at times i’m pretty good at digging and occasionally i’ve found some interesting stuff or leads to something. Most of the time these don’t go anywhere though, which can be a bit frustrating but what can you do, the only thing is to stick with it. And it’s both easier and more fun when it comes to the books, mainly because as i’ve said a hundred times before the general interest is much lower and that there are more placed to look. I actually got a new book for my collection yesterday but even after this i’m still missing four that i know of. One of these i could order today if wasn’t for the fact that i don’t want to pay +$125 for it, so for now i’m keeping my cool hoping for a bargain. Then there is two of them that sadly are just big black holes as far as the internet is concerned. But then we have The Butterfly Tree by Robert E. Bell…

This book is probably the one that i have spent the most time trying to find. And by that i don’t mean that it’s the title that i have punched in the most number of times on BookFinder, but as time has gone by i’ve gotten more and more leads to work with. If i remember correct it all started when i got my eyes on the “sister book” Meet Me at the Butterfly Tree written by Mary Lois Timbes, pictured here while holding a book with a very familiar dust jacket and now blogging here. Not only did she know Robert Bell personally but she had also both lived in and still regularly spent time in the area where the book is set. So in my head all this combined created a good case for potential success in finding a copy of the book. After a little stalking i found a number of her old blogs and on one of them an email adress. All said and done and an email later i got a very friendly response and a promise she would ask friends in the area and look around herself and keep an eye out for the book on my behalf, extremely kind and forthcoming in every way. This has yet to result in anything but you never know, great things happen when you least expect it! Some time later she also gave me the name of Robert Bell’s partner and informed me that after his passing in 2009 all writings and stuff was donated to The University of South Alabama and that it might be a chance that they could help. A nice lead and a great tip but it didn’t take long to get a reply saying they had no spare copies… bummer! But the woman from the University did have one good piece of information, and that was a newspaper/blog called The Fairhope Courier.

So, what’s up with this place Fairhope and how did we end up there? Well, from what i’ve read Robert Bell first spent his summer vacations there and then later in 1949 became a permanent resident. Although i haven’t read the book in question it is as i understand it  basically a coming-of-age story set in a fictional town based on Fairhope. What better place to look for this book other than the place where the author lived and based his novel on? There should be a copy in every house on every street, right!? And there very well might be, i’m soon to find out. When posting on forums i sometimes get the advice to try placing ads in newspapers and rare book magazines or whatever. Though this is definitely good advise seeing as these books were published in the 50’s and 60’s and people who now have them stacked away and forgotten on some shelf somewhere are probably in the age category that prefer reading a newspaper or magazine over using the internet. However, i don’t think that placing an ad like this is the easiest thing to do from half way around the world, and so far i have not tried this and doubt i ever will. Anyways, back to The Fairhope Courier… after a couple of emails back and forth, bounce back reports, redirected email adresses and whatnot i now have an ad up on the site and i’m also told that it will be in print this friday, or well… today basically! The owner or whatever you say of the site is also the second foot soldier in what is turning into my personal “butterfly army” and is checking local book stores and also know people in said stores, so all possible hooks are out there…

There is of course a good chance that nothing will come of all this. And as always i’m keeping my expectations low. It is however my best chance so far of finding this great looking book and getting to tick another box in my collection. Pretty exciting and yet another good example of the fun of all this and of all the places a chase can take you. Fingers crossed!

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One thought on “High hopes of a fair chance in Fairhope!

  1. Pingback: The Butterfly Tree – Robert E. Bell (Lippincott, 1959) | ratfab

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