Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Bill S. Ballinger

There's been some discussion over at Ed Gorman's blog of Bill S. Ballinger, a sadly neglected writer whose books are worth rediscovery. One of them, The Tooth and the Nail, really knocked me for a loop when I first read it, more than 40 years ago. Ed isn't as taken with that one as I was, but he really likes Portrait in Smoke, which I also think is excellent. For that matter, what about The Wife of the Red-Haired Man and The Longest Second? Both thoroughly entertaining books.

Ballinger's technique was to tell two different stories, one in first person and one in third person, in alternating chapters. Eventually the stories come together, sometimes in surprising ways and sometimes in sadly inevitable ways. (And if you think that's an easy trick to pull of, just try it.)

Ballinger went on to do a number of paperback originals for Signet Books (and at least one each for Gold Medal and Pyramid). In the '60s he did a series of spy novels (again for Signet) featuring a character named Joaquin Hawks, and all of these are fun to read.

There are several of Ballinger's originals that I haven't read yet, including one called The Source of Fear, which supposedly has a lost city in it. I can't resist lost cities, so I gotta get to that one soon.

In 1993, Harper reprinted two of Ballinger's best in one paperback volume, pictured above. A real bargain if you can find it.

8 comments:

Cari said...

Bill S. Ballinger,
He was my grandfather, not only was he a great writer, but he was an even better grandfather... he was a kitchy kind of guy, his looks remind me, as I think back of Salvador Dali, He was my fathers dad and I think as my dad is aging he reminds me of my grandfather.
keep reading, and thank you for keeping him alive in our minds!
Cari Ballinger

Bill said...

Thanks for the comment, Cari! It was grat to read your coments on your grandfather. He's a writer who should be read by a lot more people these days.

Sara said...

I love the fact that because I never got to meet my Great Grandfather I can come and read such an awesome compliment...Thanks for keeping him alive in your passion for his words and hopefully others will learn to love his talent.

Sara

Bill Crider said...

I suspect he has more fans than you might think. A very entertaining writer.

sally said...

Hi Cari...I knew Bill..and Connie and Roger and Joanie and Lucy. Do you know these people?
thanks,
sally

liam said...

um.... my last name is ballinger and all i know that my grand father ralph ballinger was born in a small town in iowa but, moved to NM because of TB,

cari said...

Liam,
I think my grandfather bill might have been from there because my father was born in iowa and his mom had tb.

cari said...

sally,
yes i know them...
how did you know them?
e-mail me bornncalif@gmail.com