Q. How available is The Man with the Mustache is Costello, your father's only book?
A. It's very, very difficult to get hold of.
Q. How do people remember your father?
A. They're wishing that he were still around.
Q. A nostalgia quality?
A. Definitely. I went to see this guy at an advertising agency. He knew me. I was sitting there talking to him, trying to get a job. All of a sudden, he shakes his head and goes, ''diuzzgusting.'' Then he starts talking about Dad. I didn't get the job. There was no job. That happens all the time. People will remember one little quirk, one little idiosyncrasy of my father.
Q. How's the book coming along?
A. As far as the recognition factor is concerned, that was something that Little, Brown was leery of. I hope that Houghton Mifflin will be the publisher if his collection, anthology. I was in touch with them at one point, and it seemed all set, and I haven't been back there in eight months. I might even publish the book myself.
A. One of the reasons I've finally gotten off my duff and done it [work on the anthology] is that so many people were going to do it, and I didn't want anybody else to do it outside my brother and me. I knew I had something after he died. So many people are after me, if that's the right word. I felt guilty. The publishing houses have also told me that a number of people have come to them with the same idea, which certainly doesn't surprise me. Plus there's the factor that I feel badly about not doing it. I should have done it by now. All his stuff [body of work] is fairly voluminous.
Q. Did he keep scrapbooks?
A. No. His sister, my aunt did. There are some gaps. I don't have copies of his column when he was just out of Harvard. ''Sweet 'n Low" [in Downbeat], I think it was called.
Q. Who owns the columns?
A.I don't know. My brother, who's a lawyer, doesn't know. The copyright law is one othe trickest things. It's so complicated. I wouldn't think that anything from the last 20 years would be in the public domain. I don't think that anything I'm dealing with would be in the public domain. But, then again, I'm not sure. But they [copyrights] do run out. Copyrights aren't self-perpetuating.
Q. I see....
A. I get very sentimental. That's one of the reasons I'm taking so long. I was very close to my father. When he died, Boston Magazine ran a bunch of articles on him, one of which I wrote. And they [the other articles] pissed me off. I mean, someone like David Brudnoy, who's as Mid-West as Minneapolis, writing about my father, pissed me off. He [Brudnoy] didn't know anything about him. The only one who knew anything about him was Frank, the headwaiter, downstairs, at Lock-Ober.
Q. How about Lee Grove, from the University of Massachusetts, who also contributed to Boston tribute?
A.He might have been a friend of my father. But what incredibly pedantic piece. That really annoyed me. That whole thing.
Q.Was that the end of it?
A. About month later, I heard this guy, Ed Berger on WEEI, who gives financial reports, saying the stock market had duende. If there anything my father hated, it was the stock market. He had worked for Hornblower and Weeks in 1929. That was a good year. You always run into people who said they knew him, who didn't know him, or people who paraphase him, who quote him -- totally erroneously. They have no idea. They annoy me. That gets me. Everytime I think ofd that, I get annoyed.
A. Is it ''exploÃtation'' that concerns you?
Q. Not exploiting in a financial sense. But exploiting by self-gratification. Yeah, I definitely think so.
To be continued.