Lamentations of a Bibliophile

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I inherited my love of books from my mother. Unfortunately, what I did not inherit, at least initially, was her taste in books. As a result I often found myself in the past trolling through small out of the way second-hand specialty bookshops looking to fill in gaps in my collection of Carter Dickson, or John Dickson Carr.

Recently, I have found another case of overlooked until almost too late. I have long been a fan of the mysteries published under one of Erle Stanley Gardner's pseudonyms--A.A. Fair. I was fortunate enough to discover this when it was still possible to pick up paperbacks of the novels at a fairly reasonable price. And I did so--excessively. To the point where I think I'm only lacking one--either Widows Wear Weeds or Bachelors Get Lonely (I'd have to check the shelves. Oh, and if anyone wants to donate to the cause, please don't hesitate.)

Unfortunately, I did not acquire my mother's taste for Perry Mason in time. I found the television series mildly interesting, but nothing that would provoke me to read the novels. That's a shame because, like the Fair books, they are intricately constructed and completely in a world of their own. They don't inhabit the "hard-boiled" world of Hammett, Chandler and Ross MacDonald. They don't exist in the noir world of Chandler, Fair, and Woolrich. They don't run straight out in the golden age world of Rex Stout. There is nothing in the mystery world to compare to them.

I know that there are some who might breathe a sigh of relief at this news. However, I find myself in the distinctly unpleasant position of having about 17 out of 82 titles, and now wishing to acquire the rest--this in a time that if they are not a-list they might see print once every ten-or-so-years, and that will fade with time. I'm also in the unfortunate position of not living anywhere near a large used book store, much less the specialty used book-stores I used to prowl through in the DC area.

So, I'm left with the unappetizing, but potentially required necessity of prowling through the internet used-book corridors to see if I can rustle up some Perry Mason novels. Once again, an open invitation to any of my potential benefactors out there--you've got some you don't want, I will provide a loving and caring home for them--just e-mail me. And while I'm not picky, the 1960s editions with their lurid covers would be particularly well-loved and admired. However, beggars can't be choosers and the real issue is to get these and read them, so whatever wings its way to me--I'll be just fine.

Now, since my benefactors haven't usually mobbed me with offers, I'll ask an additional boon. If any of you all have had particular success with an on-line used book dealer or know of one that is really good, I'd greatly appreciate recommendations.

The down side of all of this is that the thrill of the hunt is definitely diminished with on-line shopping. I remember how thrilled I was to walk into a story and be able to snag a "new" (to me at least) binding of The Peacock Feather Murders or the day I nearly passed out at having in my hands Nine, and Death Makes Ten in a rare PB edition for $0.50. I know that will not happen again, but what a rush it was to score such a coup! (Same with Behind the Crimson Blind which I had to pay $10.00 for.)

Any way, any help you might offer would be greatly appreciated.

Later correction: Turns out I was missing Some Slips Don't Show, which I recall reading so I don't know how it went missing. However, probably got it from the library, etc. Still, if anyone has an extra copy lingering about. . .

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I would assume that as a bibliophile you already know this, but just in case... Try They're by far the most complete network of online booksellers, and the source of a couple of strange yet rather pleasing finds I've had over the years: Such as the first american edition of Trollope's Can You Forgive Her for $20 from some gay and lesbian themed used bookstore in the bay area. What they were doing with Trollope I have no idea. They must not have known what they had.

I like & use ... but I know what you mean about the thrill of the hunt being diminished with the internet. On the plus side, prices and availability have shrunk and exploded respectively.

I would also try And if you ever get to Portland, you must make it to the amazing bookstore that stands behind the site -- Powells itself!



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on January 30, 2006 1:43 PM.

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