RARA-AVIS: you're HOW old?

From: Chris Bahn ( Chris_Bahn@citysearch.com)
Date: 06 Jan 2000

Everyone else is doing it, so I will too. I'm 29, a native Minnesotan, and was an English major and pop-culture critic for my college paper (and now I've somehow made a career out of it). Like many of you seem to have done, I grew up with the Hardy Boys and went through my teenage years reading sci-fi almost exclusively, except for Joseph Heller's "Catch-22." I picked up
"Maltese Falcon" and "The Big Sleep" my first year of college, but don't recall them making much of an impression. Bought "The Thin Man," and again, no lightning bolt. The closest I got to appreciating noir was Robyn Hitchcock's song "Raymond Chandler Evening."

Then, a few years ago, I found four Raymond Chandlers in a quarter bin --
"Lady in the Lake," "Killer in the Rain," another copy of "Big Sleep" (I'd forgotten I owned one already) and "The High Window." Read them all in a week, then had a similar super-bargain find with a bunch of Hammetts, including "Red Harvest," by which time I was getting hooked. If I had to point to one thing that turned me on to the genre, I guess it would be the image of the Op, behind a wall and under heavy gunfire, resolving to tear down the whole rotten structure of Personville. It helped that I loved "A Fistful of Dollars." Anyway, I went back and re-read the first three I mentioned, and "got" them this time. Then I heard about this list. Through it I've discovered, well, practically everything I've read in the genre outside of the two old masters -- Ellroy, Jim Thompson, Chester Himes, John D. MacDonald, Richard Stark, Walter Moseley, etc. etc., most of whom I'd never even heard of before subscribing to rara-avis.

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