Thursday, September 24, 2009

Reading redux

Like most people with favorite authors who are no longer writing, I like to go back every few years and reacquaint myself with their work. It not only helps me in my job by reminding me what is good out there, but it also informs me what is gone. Take Ross Thomas, for example.

The fact that he was a great novelist, writing 26 witty thrillers in as many years, doesn't come into play:
Most of his work is no longer in print. Reprints of what is still available attest to his powers: Introductions to his stories are written by Sara Paretsky, Donald E. Westlake and Lawrence Block, among others (no slouches in the writing department themselves). And I guess we should be thankful that Twilight at Mac's Place and The Fools in Town Are on Our Side remain available, along with his Edgar winners, Briarpatch and Cold War Swap.

But after re-reading Chinaman's Chance and Out of the Rim, both featuring con artists Artie Wu and Quincy Durant, one logically wants to move on to their third adventure, Voodoo Ltd. However, moving on is itself limited because the third in the trio is o.p. And after you've read the two Mac McCorkle and Michael Padillo books available (Cold War and Mac's Place), you'd expect to fill in with the other two: Cast a Yellow Shadow and The Backup Men. And if you are hunting for a St.Ives novel, forget them: All five are nowhere to be seen.

While I applaud St. Martin's Press for making a third of Thomas' oeuvre available, I'd like to also make a plea to some enterprising publisher out there. If you are looking to do some great reprints, think of Thomas. I, for one, will be eternally grateful.

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