RARA-AVIS: Re:A picture is worth a thousand words and a Holy Grail

From: David L. Wilson ( dwilson@sccn.net)
Date: 12 Jun 2007

Gosh, George --

You know this would be my Holy Grail, the picture of The Big Three. But I haven't seen the pix. And just maybe, I don't expect to.

I certainly appreciate the photo of Gil Brewer and Al James (who among other things, was Day Keene's son) that you can see on the Gil Brewer website created by the Brewer estate. I'd suggest a look at the website, particularly because it now offers more than the last time I looked. They've been doing a great job getting Brewer's work back into print, both here and internationally.

I don't want to slight all the great writers working today, but for me, it's the old stuff. There's so much opportunity now for archival and historical reprintings of classic (well, Twentieth-Century) American crime fiction that it's truly an exciting moment in the genre.

But back to the picture of the Big Three, and those others who surrounded them. .. I'll keep looking but I don't expect to find it. In the fifties a camera was a luxury item. There were no instamatics, no digital storage, it was film, and who among this crew was going to have the money to spring for film? Or the processing?

I saw the authors Bill Pronzini and Marcia Muller recently and had the chance to ask them what they're own Holy Grails of crime fiction might be. They both said a First, with a dust jacket, of The Maltese Falcon.
  Just as it was when Hammett picked up a copy from a pile of books and riffled through the pages, some years past. When you could still smell the ink on the pages. Hammett and Hammett ... now there's a prescription for domestic bliss.

I've already copped to the Whittington-Brewer-Keene photo. .. What's your Holy Grail?


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