RARA-AVIS: RARA AVIS Proprietor Bill Denton and the Pulp Show encounter

From: Michael Chong ( mchong@ytv.com)
Date: 01 May 2000

It was the third Pulp show I've attended. Held in Toronto in the basement of a library, the Pulp show is a one-day gathering of dealers and fans of pulp. While focussing mostly on actual pulp magazines, there were still pockets of original paperbacks, usually in boxes under the tables.

While perusing one such pocket, I found The Machine in Ward Eleven by Charles Willeford. Under closer inspection, it was way over my means at $65 Canadian. A voice over my shoulder asked "Is that Willeford?" I looked up to see a bearded man in fedora and trenchcoat.

We started talking about Willeford. He had already read The Machine in Ward Eleven. It had been given to him as a gift. After some more talk about writers, he let it slip that he ran a list-server about Crime Fiction.

"Rara Avis?"

Yes, it was William Denton, the patron saint of our rare bird.

I have to admit I expected an older man with fascistic tendencies, based on some of the more stringent "reminder" posts. Bill is a young man with a warm manner. He seemed hesitant at first, probably making sure that I wasn't a freak. I believe I pulled a fast one on him and we ended up at a local watering hole ("Starbucks") discussing Rara Avis and Crime Fiction.

He convinced me that the "reminders" are necessary to ensure that the list doesn't stray too far. Many other lists have lost their original bearings... He also reminded me that there are lists devoted to discussions of film-noir and literature.

I told him I discovered the list a few years ago after all my search inquiries on the web ended up at the Rara Avis archives. Bill said he enjoyed the fact that when certain HB authors are entered into search engines, the only listings are Rara Avis.

We parted after about an hour since I was late for a wedding.

It was worth it.


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