Monday, May 16, 2011

Regarding Tom Reamy: An Open Letter to Bud Webster...

...because I don't have Bud's email address.

Dear Bud,

I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your profiling Tom Reamy in your inaugural installment of "Who?!" in the new issue of Black Gate.  I've enjoyed your "Past Masters" columns for years.  You have a tendency to profile most of my favorite writers from my teenage years.  I assume you know which ones to pick because you have exemplary taste.

I was especially pleased that you chose Tom Reamy.  He is an author who is sadly neglected, and I wish someone would bring him back into print in an archival edition.  His work could easily fit into a single volume, and given the size of some of the retrospectives being published these days, it shouldn't be that hard.

The reason I'm glad you chose him is because, although it's rather tenuous, I have a personal connection to Tom Reamy.

You mentioned in your article that Tom was born in Woodson, Texas.  We lived in Woodson in the 1970s, from about 1972-1976.  I was only in 3rd grade when we left, so I hadn't yet discovered science fiction and fantasy, nor would I have known who Tom was.  If I had been a little older, I probably would have made an obnoxious fanboy of myself.

I realize by this time that Tom had moved on, but he still came back from time to time and briefly lived in Woodson circa 1972-1973.  Howard Waldrop writes about visiting Tom in Woodson in 1973.  (Although I've met Howard numerous times, my mind boggles that we were that close geographically back then.)  My parents knew the Reamys, but I don't think they ever met Tom. 

When Blind Voices was published, I had started reading science fiction, although I hadn't gotten into fantasy very much yet and so didn't read it until a number of years later.  It wasn't until the mid-1980s, after someone had dropped off almost a decade's worth of F&SF at the local used bookstore in Breckenridge that I read some of Tom's work.

I was impressed.  Somewhere, and I don't recall where, I found a hardcover of San Diego Lightfoot Sue.  At the time I was (and still am) an aspiring writer with a fondness for short fiction.  Knowing Tom had written some of his stories  in a half horse town not far from where I was attending high school (Woodson wasn't and isn't big enough to have a whole horse), as well as the stories themselves, served as an inspiration to me.  There's one story (that will never see the light of day) that I can trace back to Tom's work as its inspiration.

In his Afterward, Howard Waldrop writes about the gas station the Reamys operated on the highway between Breckenridge and Woodson.  As soon as I read about it, I knew exactly the gas station Howard was talking about.  It sat in a curve in the road just inside the county line.

The gas station is gone now, but the house is still standing.  That's it in the photo on the right.  I'd read on the Black Gate blog that you were going to write about Tom and I took the picture when I was visiting my parents in Breckenridge last Christmas.  I think the gas station was where the two pine trees are now, but I'm not sure.

Your article made me do some looking on the internet, Bud, and I learned that Tom is buried in the family plot in Woodson.  I'll try to pay my respects the next time I'm in the area.

Anyway, I wanted to thank you for your article.  It brought back memories.  Of all the ones you've written, this one is the one I can relate to the most. 

Best regards,



  1. To say that I'm gob-smacked would be understating, Keith. The reality is that although I write the articles I write because, like all geeks, I'm driven to share my geekery regardless of whether my audience is equally geekful, what I really want is considered and thoughtful feedback. It don't happen much at all.

    Those of us who do this in public, in front of Cthulhu and everybody, rarely hear anything back from our readers; it's not so much that that they don't appreciate what we do, they just don't express it where we can actually, y'know, hear it.

    I'm delighted that you've enjoyed the PM columns I've written, and even happier that the subject for my first BLACK GATE column was one that resonated with you. That you say so publicly makes it even better - I can send all my friends and family members the link so they'll know I'm not making it all up this time. Thanks for the opportunity to brag my substantial butt off.

    Next up for "Who?!" will be Chan Davis, author of "It Walks in Beauty" and "Adrift on the Policy Level."

  2. You're welcome. Brag away to any and everyone you can. And if we're ever at the same convention, let's discuss favorite books and authors over drinks. I'll buy the first round.

  3. Interesting topic, and am glad to see Bud Webster getting long-due credit for his SF scholarship. He's got a couple of book collections of his columns from various places out there, and I'm hoping to see more of those. Thanks.

  4. You're welcome, Paul. I'm going to have to track down Bud's books.

  5. His latest, Anthopology 101, is available from the publisher, Merry Blacksmith Press at and also from

  6. Merry Blacksmith will be publishing another non-fiction title of mine this summer, but if anything it's even more of a niche subject than the Antho book. _The Joy of Booking_ is an expanded and updated edition of an earlier booklet I wrote seven years ago on the subject of selling used sf books as a hobby, at conventione and online. Within the next few years, we'll also be publishing a revised and expanded edition of _41 Above the Rest_, my bio-bibliography of anthologist Groff Conklin, and a collection of the Past Masters columns. Oh, yeah, a short-story colection is in the works, too, so I'll be coming at you from all sides.

  7. Being a book geek myself, those all sound interesting. My wife is recovering from a hysterectomy, so cash flow will be disrupted until she's able to go back to work. Once that happens I'll be catching up on my purchases. _Anthopology 101_ was already on the list, and _The Joy of Booking_ is now.