Voices from the Streets: Great Writers But You Never Know Their Names

I just finished a great book called “The Night People” by Michael Reaves. I then moved on to “Voodoo Child” by the same author. How many of you out there know this name?

Michael Reaves was born on September 14, 1950, which makes him about five years younger than me. At this time, he’s dealing with Parkinson’s disease. But Michael Reaves is not complaining, according to my knowledge.

He actually co-wrote many “Star Wars” books. That should make him famous, but when I picked up “The Night People” I had never heard of him. “The Night People” is a great book of short stories best read on dark gloomy nights with a candle burning in the room to shrivel the spirits that might attack.

His writing is so tight, but easy to read, that you can cruise from story to story, but you might have to stop and drink a cup of chamomile tea with honey in between stories just to calm your nerves.

Centipede Press, a small elite publishing company that puts out limited editions, signed and numbered, has just released a 300-book run by Michael Reaves called “Code 666 and Other Stories.” They have a few left, and another elite press called Subterranean Press was allotted 20 of those copies.

At the time of writing, there were still some left, but if they sell out, you can crawl around Ebay and pick up a copy for a little more than the original price of $50. Centipede Press puts out those neat books with ribbons that let you keep your place, and they’ve many other beautiful books to choose from. The same is true of Subterranean Press.

But I’m talking about great authors you’ve never heard of, aren’t I? One of the ways you to find this type of author is to deal with these elite publishing houses that put out limited signed and numbered editions. Michael Reaves book, “Code 666 and Other Stories,” is one such book. It’s filled with short stories that will make you shudder when a branch taps your window in the middle of the night.

Another writer you may not have heard of is William Sloane. He only published two books in his lifetime—that is, two books he wrote. William Sloane is responsible for publishing many authors because he was the vice-president of Henry Holt and Company and also acted as the manager and editor of its trade department.

I just picked up the only two of his novels. “The Edge of Running Water” was released in 1945, the same year I was born, and I was lucky enough to get a first print of the first edition with the number line running from 1 to 10. You might not know this bit of trivia if you’re not a book collector, but if the line begins at 3, that means it’s a first edition but in its third print. The true collector wants the first print of the first edition.

I bought this book for about $20. It was rated as “good,” with no markings, and it wasn’t a previous library book. I had it covered with Mylar to protect the dust jacket. That’s what some collectors do, especially with such an old book. The pages are well tanned.

His other book was called “To Walk The Night” and I have a Dell Edition that cost 25 cents new when it was put out. I’m not sure of the year because it is in Roman numerals, but my guess is that it came out in 1947. It’s not a first edition because it doesn’t say it is. Both books are relatively hard to find.

The good news is that both novels have been re-released by The New York Review of Books, which is a modern-day publishing house. Stephen King wrote the introduction of the book, and this fact tells you what kind of stories William Sloane wrote.

I’m halfway through “To Walk The Night” in an edition called “The Rim Of Morning: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror,” and I can tell you that William Sloane is a great writer. I’m a writer also and my goal is just to write one good novel. I think I may have done this, but it’s not mainstream. I’ve had more success with my dark short stories about drug addiction.

But this column isn’t about me. It’s about Michael Reaves, who is 65 years old and who isn’t complaining about his Parkinson’s disease. This column is also about William Sloane, the writer of two books, who passed away some years ago. He graduated from Princeton University in 1919.

As Stephen King says, “Both books contain elements of horror. Boy, do they.” In his introduction to William Sloane’s two books, King says quite a bit more, but not too much and there are no spoilers.

A few of Michael Reaves’ books were co-written by Neil Gaiman and they sell. Even Subterranean Press got into the act and published the Interworld series, a couple of books that are signed by both authors and numbered in special limited editions.

So, if you’re looking for holiday gifts and your husband or wife is an avid reader who treasures books, Michael Reaves and William Sloane are two authors to consider, especially if the reading tastes of your loved ones tends toward cosmic horror.

You can find or order “The Rim of Morning” at Harvard Book Store, one of the few remaining independent bookstores. You can roam Ebay for Michael Reaves’ books or go to Centipede Press or Subterranean Press if your loved one treasures high end books. I lean that way myself. I have to watch it though. Books are my new addiction. Nevertheless, books are way better than heroin, and you can re-sell them if you choose. It’s tough to sell collapsed veins, don’t you know.

There are many relatively unknown but great writers. I’ll name two more, just because I want you to look for them. Dark horror, gothic too. There’s C.E. Ward, who’s published by Sarob Press and whose books are very difficult to find. There’s one on Amazon, “Vengeful Ghosts” for over $400. I have “Seven Ghosts and One Other” by C.E. Ward.

Then there’s David J. Schow, author of “The Shaft,” put out by Centipede Press. You can find his books more easily. There are other books out there worth looking for. Schow has a new one coming out early next year through Subterranean Press, but it’s also up on Amazon. It’s called “DJSturbia.” Really. These are books and authors that will be enjoyed for all time.

Marc D. Goldfinger is a member of the board of directors of the Homeless Empowerment Project, which publishes Spare Change news. Formerly homeless, he serves as the paper's poetry editor.

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