Thursday, November 06, 2008

Top Ten Paperback Writers

Lawrence McKenna, a reader of the blog, asked me about some of my favorite writers and books. I couldn't really answer his question, but I thought I might try a list of my Top Ten Paperback Writers. My list would have some guys who started out in paperback and later went on to hardcovers, but I consider them paperbackers nevertheless. So here goes, in no particular order (and, yes, I can count; I just couldn't keep it to ten):

Jim Thompson
Harry Whittington
Day Keene
Donald Hamilton
David Goodis
John D. MacDonald
Charles Williams
Richard Stark (aka Donald Westlake)
Lawrence Block
Dan J. Marlowe
Peter Rabe

12 comments:

  1. Anonymous5:13 PM

    Bill,

    Thanks for doing this. John D. MacDonald is a writer who was, of course, around long before my time. But I first read _The Deep Blue Good-By_ after seeing an old, beat-up, dog-eared copy in a local used bookstore. Even though my wife hates him (and I mean Hates him), I think he's perennial classic who took the mystery genre in an intellectual vein that was rare vintage. And I'm glad you bring up the paperbacks. There's nothing better than chasing down old MacDonald's in those Fawcett pbs with the racy pics._Dress Her in Indigo_ has a naked beauty barely covered up in a cape someone unseen is draping over from behind; _The Scarlet Ruse_ has a topless (oh, man, she had to bring her left arm up just when that guy was getting to the good part of the painting?!) beauty in pink binkini bottom and a hat. Ha! And that's it! _Border Town_'s got two Western gals toting a rifle with a scope and one toting pure attitude. Neat stuff. And, believe it or not, the writing's even better. MacDonald was a popular writer with an intellectual edge that's rarely seen. Other personal favorites of MacDonald's would be: all of the Travis McGee novels, especially the wonderfully colorful Fawcett 1995 paperback with raised lettering and a neat little drawing of McGee's houseboat (just a nice touch) and two pages of some of the great writers' testimony about John D. Mac; _The Good Old Stuff_; and _End of the Tiger_; _A Friendship_ by Dan Rowan (letters between MacDonald and Rowan). And here's a cover I haven't seen before (but it's not worth $150): http://cgi.ebay.com/John-D-MacDonald-THE-GIRL-THE-GOLD-WATCH-1st-HC-DJ_W0QQitemZ230292902706QQihZ013QQcategoryZ377QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem.
    Bill, thanks again for doing this. You've given me a lot of new authors to read, and I appreciate the way you redefined the topic.

    All the best,
    Lawrence

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  2. Great list. I wish I could run into some of these at used book stores, but I never do. So much more fun than ordering them online.

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  3. Bill, as far as PB detective/mystery/noir writers, I can't think of any I would drop from or add to your list. PB Western writers, Brian Garfield and Clair Huffaker are two of my favorites. SF, Keith Laumer (even though like JDM, Block, etc, much of his later stuff appeared in hc).

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  4. Richard Heft7:04 PM

    Lionel White makes a dozen, Richard S. Prather makes a baker's dozen.

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  5. William Campbell Gault makes number fourteen

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  6. Anonymous8:39 PM

    How could you leave Marvin Albert off your list?
    --George Kelley

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  7. Anonymous1:23 AM

    I always preferred Ross MacDonald over John D. MacDonald.
    --Thomas Miller

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  8. Brian Drake3:32 AM

    Can't argue with the list, though I only know Charles Williams through one short story that blew my socks off (and was apparently stretched into a novel but the title escapes me--Scorpion something). And someday, someday, someday I would love to option JDM "One Monday We Killed Them All" and make a movie out of it. It was the first of his I read and I enjoyed it very much.

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  9. Bob Randisi1:50 PM

    This is not a best list, but a list of favorites. No particular order (thanks, Bill).

    Donald Hamilton
    John D. MacDonald
    Richard Stark (aka Donald Westlake)
    Lawrence Block
    Dan J. Marlowe
    Edward S. Aarons
    Ralph Dennis
    Henry Kane
    Brett Halliday
    Frank Kane
    Jeff Jacks (wish he had more than 2 books)

    These happen to be the ones I grew up readiong in the 60's.

    RJR

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  10. Lawrence, you sound like you need Art Scott's book on artist Robert McGinnis. He did a lot of those covers you love.

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  11. Karin M1:17 PM

    The other day in the metro, I was behind a woman with a colourfully striped purse. Some of the strips had the name Jim Thompson repeated in plain lettering. I was amazed that someone seemed to have designed a purse in homage to the novelist. It turns out the JT in question is a contemporary designer. Gorgeous fabrics, but nothing to do with our Jim. But you can always pretend.

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  12. Those turn up on eBay often. I was very confused the first time I ran into one of them.

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