Re: RARA-AVIS: I Prayed At The Altar of Knopf ....

From: Doug Bassett (
Date: 24 Jan 2006

I went to grad school in Chapel Hill, NC, a town of a great many good bookstores.

There was one I frequented often, and one day they had a big sale on Black Lizards. The original ones; the Creative Arts ones. They were all just piled in a bin somewhere -- I forget the deal now but it was something like three for ten bucks.

At that time Jim Thompson had just started his resurfacing, so I couldn't find any Thompsons -- but most of the rest were there. I went pig wild. I bought all the Goodis I could find, all the Willeford. All the Whittington. I didn't know near as much about hardboiled fiction as I do now, but I picked up one-offs just because of the imprint, like Steve Fisher's I WAKE UP SCREAMING or Paul Cain's remarkable FAST ONE.

Apparently some of these original reissues now are valuable in their own right, which is neat.

--- "David L. Wilson" <> wrote:

> For years I prayed at the altar of Knopf, beginning
> with Cain and
> Burnett. If you were a Knopf author, brother, you
> were in. I was a
> hardback snob. Call it the ignorance of youth.
> Black Lizard helped
> with my reformation. I had never read Jim Thompson
> before the Lizard's
> first odd-sized, squared-off volumes came out,
> garish and in your face.
> I was drawn to them immediately, picked up A Swell
> Looking Babe and
> after I read it I sent my girlfriend to buy the
> remaining three from
> the nearest B. Dalton's. She found them, marched
> them to the cash
> register where the clerk looked the books over,
> sniffed and said, "I
> didn't know we carried books like these!". It was
> not an endorsement.
> It was truly my belated entrance into the world of
> paperback originals.
> Thank you, Black Lizard.
> David L. Wilson
> Downieville, CA

Doug Bassett

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 24 Jan 2006 EST