Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: You're HOW old? and a few other comments

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 05 Jan 2000

I was born the week Bill Haley's "We're Gonna Rock Around the Clock" hit
#1 in 1955. I started mysteries with Encyclopedia Brown and Emil and the Detectives (my initial discovery that the book is almost always better than the movie).

I moved on to the Hardy Boys (loved their How To book in particular), then plowed straight through my father's two volume collected Sherlock Holmes. I read a few Christies, which did nothing for me and my mystery reading had pretty much narrowed down to Batman comics when an offhand comment by my Freshman English instructor led me to read The Long Goodbye.

I was hooked, read everything I could find by Chandler, then moved on to the few Hammetts that were then in print. I discovered a now-long-gone used mystery store, X Marks the Spot. There I found a number of the Dell and Mercury Hammett collections. Also, X himself turned me on to Latimer (the expurgated Fifth Grave), John Evans/Howard Browne and the two Kanes, Henry and Frank, among others. For some reason, I had to discover Ross Macdonald on my own.

I read almost exclusively private eyes, did not even taste the sorta private eyes like Travis McGee until much later. When I did find McGee, I plowed through them in order (about 12 or 13 at the time), followed closely by my roommate and girlfriend. I have still read only a few of MacDonald's non-series books, a gap I really should do something about.

At about the same point, I found a couple of Stark's Parkers. I would have plowed straight through those, but it was during one of those frustratingly long periods when they were out of print, so it took me years to find them all. I read each as I found it, but when I completed the set I read them all in order and got even more out of them.

It is embarrassing how recent I started reading some of the masters of the paperback originals like Thompson and Goodis.

And this list never ceases to throw out names I feel compelled to run to the used stores to try to find. Seldom have I been disappointed by these additions.


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