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Re: [Groop]Re: Summer reading list

In a message dated 6/17/00 9:00:48 AM, kevin.hall@umassmed.edu writes:

<< Two Sheds wrote:
> First of all, let me echo Larry's suggestion of
> Lawrence Block's Tanner series and expand it to
> anything by Block.  If you like humorous mysteries
> (The Bernie Rhoddenbarr "Burglar" series) or even
> serious hard-boiled fare (the Matt Scudder books),
> you'll find Block satisfies every time.

First off, kudos to Larry for his great suggestion. (The whole thing,
not just the books he recommended). We all love reading, and this is a
GREAT way to try out some things we might not have tried otherwise.

I've picked up a couple of the Burglar series (my library is very scant
on the Evan Tanner series - had to do those through interlibrary loan)
and one of the Tanner books. Personally, I prefer the Tanner books.
While I agree with Arthur that the Burglar books are fun, they seem to
be a little rote. The character is fun, and funny, but the plots &
situations don't seem to change at all. One note of interest about the
Tanner books: Larry had called them wonderfully "dated" or some such
thing. It's VERY interesting to read them because of this - in one
chapter he's meeting with people who are a group fighting for an
independent Croatia, something the author mentions as one of the groups
with a lost cause which will never happen. :) >>

    That's quite interesting! I've read all the Burglar books to date, and it 
seems to me Bernie Rhodenbarr had quite an interesting series of changes and 
character developments. Over the course of the series, he went from being a 
full-time burglar to the semi-retired owner of a successful bookstore, with 
several interesting developments regarding his romantic life and growing 
supporting cast.

    Other writers I'd recommend? One definitely in the same vein as Block is 
Donald E. Westlake, at least in the books he writes under his own name. His 
most famous character is probably John Dortmunder, like Rhodenbarr a 
professional thief but not a murderer. He started out as a brilliant but very 
unlucky criminal and for the most part remains one, though in more recent 
books he's had a tendency to be more successful some (but by no means all) of 
the time. The series starts with THE HOT ROCK which was adapted into a movie 
starring no less than Robert Redford. (Not exactly my idea of the character, 
but a lot closer than Whoopi Goldberg (that's right) was when cast as 
Bernie... Westlake has also written a more serious series with a more lethal 
(but still sympathetic) thief named Parker under the name of Richard Stark; 
it's now up to about 16 books (having recently resumed after a long hiatus) 
and is also recommended. The first of the series, THE HUNTER, has been 
adapted into TWO successful movies, POINT BLANK with Lee Marvin and PAYBACK 
with Mel Gibson.

    Probably one of my all-time favorite humor writers is P.G. Wodehouse, who 
was active for three quarters of a century (1901-1976) before his death at 
the age of 96. The most famous of his creations is certainly Reginald Jeeves, 
the brilliant and resourceful valet (NOT, as any Wodehouse fan will explain 
at once, a butler as he's often called) who always has a way to extricate his 
employer (and delightful narrator of the stories), Bertram Wooster, out of an 
unwanted engagement or other jam. (Bertie is a perfect gentleman who wants 
nothing more to hang around at the Drones Club and socialize, but women keep 
getting attracted to him because, while he's not all that clever or 
accomplished, he's funny, kind, generous, and very, very rich. Jeeves isn't 
above a bit of genteel blackmail or even outright theft to help Bertie and 
his friends out of jams, but he's always in the right place. (Yes, the 
website "Ask Jeeves" is named after him. No, it hasn't paid anything to the 
Wodehouse estate for the use of the name, so there's currently a bit of a 
legal spat going on.) But Wodehouse has created many other wonderful 
characters, including itenerant con man Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge and 
the unfortunate Lord Emsworth of Blandings Castle, who keeps getting dragged 
into family intrigues by his snobbish sister, Lady Constance, when all he 
really wants to do is stay home and look after the Empress of Blandings, his 
prizewinning pig.

    I've many other favorites just in the humor line (I haven't even gotten 
around to Damon Runyon, Leo Rosten, S. J. Perelman, and, for that matter, 
Charles Dickens), but I'll get to them later...



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