Another wild-goose chase…

New and exciting finds are in short supply lately so this will just be a brief summary of what keeps me busy when there is nothing to wait for on ebay basically. And what better way to spend slow days at work than trying to find some more crazy, teeny-tiny leads towards the holy grail that is now known as The Butterfly Tree. Merriam-Webster defines a wild-goose chase asa complicated or lengthy and usually fruitless pursuit or search” and i can’t disagree with that definition. I don’t mind going on one though and i’ve been on plenty during the last couple of years. And you can come across some funny things in the process, nothing new and spectacular but i found an old review of the book from 1959 in The New York Times archive. What else? Well, i eventually came across this article from some magazine i can’t figure out the name of with an interview with Eugene Walter. Nothing spectacular here either but the “good” part is in the top right corner were he talks about his taste for regional writers. Both this guy Eugene Walter and Robert Bell have connections to Mobile, Alabama. So i might not have been totally crazy when thinking that local book stores might be good bet, i would assume that people were more aware of local writers and things like that in the 50’s then they are today. But let’s do some simple math, people who bought this kind of book in 1959 were probably around 30 years old at the time, so they are in their mid to late eighties today. This of course means that there is a chance they have passed away, as was sadly the case with Eugene Walter who died in 1998.

Not that i think that it would have been an easy thing to get in contact with him but i would definitely have enjoyed the quest of trying. I did however find the author of the article and i’ve emailed her on the off chance that she knew Eugene Walter personally and/or might know what happened to his stuff. As always i’ll stick to low expectations, and considering it was more than 15 years since he passed away i don’t know… pointless to even try i guess. It’s just that there is so little information about most of these books, and in many cases it’s the same with the authors. With this in mind even the most ridiculously small lead that’s out there is worth picking up just to see where it might take you…


3 thoughts on “Another wild-goose chase…

  1. I’ll be in Fairhope another six days. I’ve been to the local museum and contacted the man who used to have an antiquarian bookstore, with no luck finding anything about Bob Bell. I may get a chance to get to Mobile before I leave, in order to see if I can get to the archive and look for addresses of contacts there. I can assure you there is not a scrap of Bell memorabilia here, but just maybe there will be in Mobile. Davis California is probably your best bet if I can find you a name there…unless I find a lead to his brother in Mobile.

    Eugene Walter is a different story. He was lionized until the day he died in Mobile in the 1990s. Books and magazine articles abound about him. I doubt if any of his fans have the slightest idea who Bob Bell was, but maybe there was someone somewhere. The book editor of the Mobile Press (now defunct) lives in Fairhope, and I do know him. I’ll see if he has any ideas. His name is John Sledge, and you may contact him yourself if you like. I’m afraid it will be another dead end—but he does know who Bob Bell was and may have a name of somebody who was a personal friend.

    Mary Lois

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

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