Monday, November 30, 2009

"Underwater Safari"

In my third posting to this blog I related how I came to work for the Shines, doing research for them at the Library of Congress. I was looking for ten short stories that John D MacDonald had written, sold and received payment for, but that had never been located in an actual publication. I was given the titles, the publisher and, in case the story's title had been changed, the first paragraph of text. I spent a lot of time looking through hundreds of old, brittle pulp magazines but came away with nothing.

The most recent of those stories was something called "Underwater Safari," sold to Bluebook magazine, known after 1960 as Bluebook for Men. I was unable to find any copies of Bluebook for Men, let alone "Underwater Safari." But in 1984 a JDM "hunter" named Carmen Russell did find it, and Walter Shine wrote about it in JDM Bibliophile # 34:

"Bibliographers can't abide those few missing items seemingly lost in the misty past of the author's early days. We found ourselves throwing in the towel on 10 of JDM's stories... But still we searched. Then we realized that one of them, 'Devil Head' was already identified, it being another title for 'Three Strikes -- You're Dead'... [June 1949, All-Story Detective] So there were nine. But then we found another missing one, called 'Animal Cage' sold to Esquire Magazine long ago, and seemingly not published. And so there were ten again. Now, because of our devoted colleague, Carmen Russell, at the University of Florida, another has been tracked down. Carmen is an inveterate reader of rare books catalogs. She came across a Santa Barbara bookdealer's listing of a totally unrecognizable JDM title, 'A Dark People Thing', in the February 1961 issue of Bluebook Magazine. Since the only Bluebook story date unknown to us was 'Underwater Safari' we turned to it and there in dialect (at least to JDM's ears) was the sentence 'A dark pipple t'ing.' And so it was published under that revised title! An editor's nonsensical idea of a more 'catchy" title.'"
This entry is missing from most JDM short stories lists found on the Internet. I don't own a copy, but if I ever locate it I will title my blog posting under its published title. I found the cover image at this great site.

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