Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Clarence Budington Kelland

Mr. Kelland was a writer of movie scripts, novels, and best of all, short stories. The ones that I love have a central character named Scattergood Baines.

I first read these stories in the old magazines that we collect. (That's one of the best things about vintage magazines. The stories were stories, and not exercises in peculiar ego or Angst.)

Mr. Baines was "born" in 1915, and Mr. Kelland wrote about him for years, first in the Saturday Evening Post, and then The American (Magazine). The character is a down-home, folksy fella who doesn't often impress onlookers first. They then find out, to their chagrin or benefit, that not only is he clever, his brilliance is something to have on one's own side whenever possible.

Scattergood Baines likes to dabble. In people, primarily, but he likes to make a cash profit whenever possible as well. Combining the two is his favorite way of operating. Prodigal sons, orphaned babies, young lovers, old folks who've had their independence taken away...he saves them all, one way or another, and you only wish that he lived in your town.

Many of the stories have been collected in hardcover, and are even available in present day editions, though of course I prefer the originals. After finding the first collection at the Providence Athenaeum I trolled the Internet for a copy, expecting it to be available and not too expensive. I was wrong...I'm not the only one, even now, who appreciates him! However, I lucked out recently on a "new" collection, Scattergood Baines Returns.

Check your library's old stacks for it. Reading a few of these stories is almost a vacation, even for some time after you close the book. You'll be glad you made the effort.


Batty said...

That sounds like great fun. I'm very much in need of a vacation right now. May look into it.

Eileen said...

I really recommend it! Funny, but they'll make you think, too. I'm sure you could have a copy reserved at the library, if it's no longer in the stacks these days.