Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Old Books/Old Memories

Let's here it for rediscovering old books and old authors.  Let's appreciate the feeling of excitement when we stumble onto a long since gone author's work and realize that . . . Oh my Freaking Frederick! . . . this guy could write!

I get this feeling every time I pull down from my library shelves a book I haven't read since the introduction of the Internet onto an unsuspecting world.  Lots of old and forgotten writers resting, and calmly waiting, for me to find'em again.  And I have to be honest.  The joy of rereading them again is just as pleasurable as it was the moment if first encountered them.

Take Earle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason series.  Did you know that Gardner wrote under several different pen names?  Did you know he wrote eighty-two Perrry Mason novels using just the Earle Standly Gardner name alone?  Eighty-two!

God only knows how many books Gardner wrote under one pen name or another.  I'm thinking its roughly around 200 or more.  But that's only a guess on my part.  I probably vastly underestimated the total.

But my point is eighty-two Perry Mason novels is a freaking library in itself.  Think of the fun and excitement of raiding all the used book stores, or combing the Internet, in search of every single one.  And then the satisfaction of knowing the collection is complete and you can take your leisurely time reading'em all.

Another example.  Rex Stout and his Nero Wolfe series.

Stout wrote (I believe ) thirty-two novels featuring the fat detective, Nero Wolfe.  Comparing Wolfe to Perry Mason is like comparing gold fish to a Great White.  About as opposite in style and ambiance as can be found.  Yet equally enjoyable.  Wolfe, the 400 lb. genius behemoth, working with his employee, the ever wise-ass Archie Goodwin, make for enjoyable reading.

The two different styles of characters and styles of writing give you a bifurcation on what the
detective genre can be.   There are hundreds of examples like this waiting to be discovered.  The joy, if you're an avid reader, is going out and cruising thru the old bookstores looking for such treasures.

In a world dominated by electronic gizmos and the hypnotic lure of the Internet one still should be aware of the past.  Of the genius that lived and breathed before our time.

More names pop into mind thinking about this.  Agatha Christie, the great English writer, wrote a boat load of the Hercule Poirot novels.  Have you ever read a good Hercule Poirot novel?  Missing something if you haven't (and don't forget her Miss. Marple.  Thirty-three novels featuring Poirot; twelve novels featuring Marple).

And then there are the eighteen Tony Hillerman novels.  Hillerman novels are completely and totally different compared to the authors mentioned above.  True, they are detective/mystery novels.  But detective/mystery novels shaded heavily with Navajo Indian mythology.  That's a whole new wrinkle in the reading.  One you'll enjoy.

So we have something like 177 novels to collect from just these four authors.  And the potential of the old writers goes on and on and on . . .

Thinking about collecting all of'em makes me feel like a kid in a candy store. Or more like a jewel thief in a Belgium diamond exchange.

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