Re: RARA-AVIS: you're HOW old?

Date: 05 Jan 2000

Born in '55 (sheesh, Eisenhower's FIRST term in office). Read Bobbsy (sp?) Twins and Hardy Boys as a young, young boy (ah, the wonderful old Carnegie Library in Guthrie, Oklahoma), then progressed on to all the Sherlock Holmes in junior high. Also read all the James Bond books about that time, plus some Spillane. Got really snooty in high school, only reading Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner etc. Got even snootier when I went off to college to major in English
-- Updike, Bellow, Welty, Oates, Heller, and so forth. A few things happened at once: I read Walker Percy's LANCELOT, which is an existential crime novel. I read Norman Mailer's AN AMERICAN DREAM, another existential crime novel (and a great one, IMHO) that I think owes a great deal to hard-boiled writers. I saw the film version of THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY? on TV and shortly thereafter found a paperback edition of the novel plus the screenplay. Then my mother gave me a copy of John D.'s THE DREADFUL LEMON SKY and I read a good profile of MacDonald by Rust Hill in ESQUIRE. Then an amigo lent me THE LONG GOODBYE and said it might be the REAL great American novel (I'm not sure I disagree). Then I read Capote's and Mailer's "nonfiction" true crime novels (IN COLD BLOOD and EXECUTIONER'S SONG, respectively). Finally, one day I had a moment of epiphany and realized that Charles Willeford is a more important writer than Saul Bellow. Next the reprints of the novels of my Oklahoma homeboy Jim Thompson began to appear (POP 1280 is the best depiction of small town Oklahoma I've ever read) and I became a confirmed low-brow.

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