Thursday, March 11, 2010

The PSYCHO In My Mailbox

My Canadian buddy Brent Crosson is the guitarist for the Brenda Vaqueros (think Lee Hazelwood meets Hawkwind). Anyway, a while back Brent cranked up his Chevy Beaumont and made it across the border into Montana. Somehow he managed to avoid the Sip-N-Dip Lounge long enough to hit a few secondhand shops. And in one of them he hit the jackpot.

Literally. Right there on the shelf with the Danielle Steele romances and well-thumbed Louis L’Amour paperbacks, Brent put the snatch on a first edition hardcover of Robert Bloch’s Psycho. Yeah. The novel that was adapted for the screen by some guy named Alfred Hitchcock. Price tag on that sucker? Less than you’d pay for an Egg McMuffin, buddy.

Any way you slice it, that’s an A-1 score. Brent knows that Bloch is one of my favorite writers. Generous guy that he is, he sent the book to me. I am sending him a bucketful of ice-cold gracias, and next time I’m in Canada I’ll buy him a case of beer. You know the kind, Brent -- that brand with the bunnies hiding on the label. Maybe I’ll even be able to spot a few of those critters this time.

Now, this particular copy of Psycho is an ex-library edition. For me, that just makes it a little cooler. Remnants of the “New Book” sticker still cling to the plastic cover. Even better, it’s still got the original circulation card tucked in the back. Between that and the due dates stamped in the book itself, it looks like a whole lot of folks out on the windswept plains read Mr. Bloch’s classic novel in the early sixties. Even better, the signatures on the checkout card tell me that the last five people who borrowed Psycho were all women…which goes to show that publishing folks who used to claim that old pulpsters like Bloch couldn’t reach a female audience were wrong.

So thanks again, Brent. And while I’m at it -- Lorraine Simpson, Betty Jean Dair, Peggy Weems, Mrs. Clyde Clemons, and Elayne Stephens -- if you’re out there in internetland, did you get any sleep after reading Psycho on a black Montana night all those years ago? Shoot me an email. Enquiring minds want to know.