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Odd fate of Cheap Street Press (Read 2498 times)
Silver
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Dallas, Tx
Odd fate of Cheap Street Press
25. Mar 2004 at 02:28
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You may remember Cheap Street Press from the Blaylock bibliography - they were the small rare books publisher which printed up the hilarious hoax Ashbless pamphlet, "Offering the Bicentennial Edition of the Complete Twelve Hours of the Night".

Depressingly, it turns out that the husband and wife who owned and operated Cheap Street, George & Jan O'Nale, committed suicide together in May of last year in rural Virginia, according to The Roanoke Times.

Local eccentrics, they were known to avoid human contact and warn people away from their country home by firing warning gunshots if someone stopped near the locked metal gate at the end of their driveway.

For nearly 20 years, they produced high-quality science fiction books in very limited quantities, known for a high standard of artistic quality.

In the guide written over ten years ago entitled, "The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Critical and Bibliographic History", Mark Owings and Jack Chalker wrote: "The O'Nales seem to have renounced much of the world and preferred to live in one of their own design and liking for a decade now, and the mere fact that they've actually managed to pull it off so far is in itself notable and to many an enviable achievement".

Apparently, the O'Nales were very unhappy with even this much public exposure, because they kept contacting the authors prior to publication, objecting to being included.  Owings reported being contacted "two or three times a week for a couple of months".

The O'Nales stated in suicide notes that "due to failing health" they were taking their own lives.  They had no children.  They donated the bulk of their collection to Tulane University, and sent off books to other friends and family beforehand.

I myself recall having a weird interaction or two with Mr. O'Nale, about 5 years back.  He was strangely concerned with how many copies of their books that they'd allow any one person to purchase from them.  This is understandable with their limited print runs, but with publications that had been released many years previous, and not sold out, you'd think they'd be very pleased to finally unload them.  Not so!  They were concerned more with artistic integrity and quality than making a buck.

But, he definitely came across as oddly paranoid at the time...  I'm used to purchasing from book dealers the world over, and he was in my top three list of the most eccentric I've ever dealt with!  Sort of the Basil Fawlty of book dealers, if you're familiar with the old comedy tv show, Fawlty Towers.

The O'Nales never accepted unsolicited submissions from authors, and they had high standards for quality, so it says a lot that they approached Tim Powers and James Blaylock with the proposition for the Twelve Hours pamphlet.

Odd string of circumstances, though...

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B. Pulley
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Re: Odd fate of Cheap Street Press
Reply #1 - 26. Apr 2004 at 09:24
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[quote author=Silver  link=1080181684/0#0 date=1080192484]...it turns out that the husband and wife who owned and operated Cheap Street, George & Jan O'Nale, committed suicide together in May of last year in rural Virginia, according to The Roanoke Times.

The O'Nales stated in suicide notes that "due to failing health" they were taking their own lives... [/quote]

It is terribly sad, and perhaps a bit morbid...  But, at the same time, it seems very romantic in a Shakespearian sort of way.  

B.

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This thing goes deeper than cheese.
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