"Rodino's wide-ranging interests also included crime and detective
fiction--and he even taught an occasional course on the topic (not at
all a common thing 20+ years ago on any campus, I think)."
Then I guess I was very lucky at the University of Maryland in the mid
'70s, where I took, not one, but two different courses on crime fiction. I took a survey course on the history of the mystery from Ian Ousby, who later wrote several books on the subject (including one on Chandler, I think). I also took a course devoted specifically to hardboiled fiction from CC Mish, one of my two favorite professors. He was proud to have read every book by John D MacDonald and loved baiting other professors by leaving a copy of I, the Jury on his desk. One of classmates was George Pelecanos, who has always credited Mish's class with making him realize ordinary people could write books about ordinary life in ordinary language.
There were a number of other crime fiction fans in the English
Department at the time. I was initially turned on to Raymond Chandler
by my ENGL 101 instructor who recommended it in passing (I was already
into crime fiction, but had really only read classical mysteries at that
point). Chandler opened a new world. A few years later I turned
several of my professors onto Fletch, including Mish.
Another who had enjoyed Fletch asked me if I had read Joe Gores. He was
interested because of the Wenders connection. So I loaned him
Interface. He gave it back a few days later, said he had stopped
reading after about 20 pages and was totally dismissive of it. I
totally lost respect for him.
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