On Nero Wolfe and Others

On Nero Wolfe and Others

We are celebrating our 12th anniversary in business, as mentioned in the previous entry, and thus are entering Year 13. Cross your fingers.

When our Former Owner stepped away from active management of the bookstore, he wondered what to do with the extra free time. He doesn’t fish; he doesn’t golf; he doesn’t gamble. Why, he barely breathes! But he does read.

So one project he chose was to reread, in the order of publication, all of the Nero Wolfe mysteries by Rex Stout. As originally published in book form, this consists of 45 separate volumes. The task is almost over: one and one-half books to go.

Mysteries seem to lend themselves to extended series. Other long-running series that we have read in full are the Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald (20 titles) and the Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters (21 titles).

Some authors are still at it. We read the first half of so of the Kinsey Millhone series by Sue Grafton (22 titles with W is for Wasted due out on September 10.) We’ve also read a few from the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich (19 numbered titles with Takedown 20 due out on November 19, 2013, plus four so-called “Between the Numbers” titles such as Visions of Sugar Plums).

Of course, there are longer-running series written for children (e.g., Nancy
Drew), but our impression is that most of them are written by multiple authors using a “house” name or continuing under the name of the original author. We’ve guessing the same is true of long-running Western or men’s adventure series such as the Trailsman or Executioner series. It’s a different matter when a single author has devoted much of his career to a single character.

What other single-author long-running series (20 or more titles) with one main character can you think of? Have you read all of the titles in the series? We’d like to know

Grumpy Old Man?

The Former Owner of Book Bank Used books wonders if he has become a Grumpy Old Man.

He has considered some folks of a certain age as being prone to certain characteristic activities in lieu of having a useful life: activities such as continual muttering of the phrases “in my day” and “good old days”, constant and continual complaints about trivial lapses in services or products, pointless prolonged testimony at myriad city government meetings, shouting at the neighborhood kids playing in front of his house, and so on. Oh yes, also writing Letters to the Editor. Which brings us to the book-related part of this blog entry,

Recently the Former Owner’s attention was captured by two items concerning bookselling in consecutive issues of the free weekly Alexandria Gazette-Packet newspaper. The Former Owner is a faithful reader of that newspaper because (1) it’s free, and (2) he enjoys looking at pictures in the real estate ads of houses he cannot afford. Indeed, the principal content of the Gazette Packet appears to be such ads and pictures. The newspaper does have news articles on local matters, however, and columns, and Letters to the Editor.

It was a Letter to the Editor, and an apparently unrelated item in the subsequent issue, that sparked the Former Editor to write his first-ever Letter to the Editor. To-wit:

“To the Editor:

“I would like to comment on a letter in the May 9 issue (“A City’s Priorities” from [John Doe]). I agree strongly with Mr. [Doe]’s point that funding Alexandria’s libraries needs to receive high priority in Alexandria’s budgets, but I take issue with his statement that “Alexandria is a community where no bookseller can survive.” Book Bank Used Books, which I opened in May 2001, continues to thrive at 1510 King Street. I invite Mr. [Doe] and all Alexandria booklovers to join us at our 12th anniversary sale beginning on May 18.

“Book Bank is not the only surviving bookstore in Alexandria. Across the street from Book Bank our friends at Hooray for Books sell new books, primarily for children. I also note Pauline Books and Media on King Street, and our fellow used booksellers at Already Read Used Books on Duke Street just outside Old Town.

“Old Town has lost the independent bookseller Olsson’s but that was not peculiar to Alexandria; all Olsson’s locations closed throughout the metropolitan area. For those who miss the former Books-a-Million location in Old Town, Alexandria still has a chain bookseller in the Barnes & Noble in Potomac Yard.

“Thriving libraries and bookstores are both vital to Alexandria, and I hope that the city continues to have both.

[Former Owner of Book Bank]”

So, was othering to send this letter a sign of impending Grumpy Old Manhood? Or a necessary reaction on behalf of all embattled book-lovers everywhere? Something in-between? What do you think?