Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Late summer reading: tried & true

When I was in the sixth grade, we lived next door to my father’s mother. I was only a kid and so my memories are kid-based, but it seemed to me she had an open-door policy. I sort of came and went as I needed to.

My grandma Betty lived in a second-story, two-bedroom apartment with lots of books. As she got older, the book collection grew enormous and the house she bought was full of books – no need to paint or put up hideous wallpaper. She had bookcases floor to ceiling and most of the ones I remember were built just wide enough to fit paperback books.

Surely the woman had some hardback books, but I don’t recall them. The bookcase I remember the most in 1976 was the little metal one with brown shelves and gold ends. That bookcase held the Perry Mason books.

I read every Perry Mason book she had and I have, I feel certain, read every Perry Mason book Erle Stanley Gardner ever wrote. The older ones were the best for me because they were steeped in the contemporary language and mood of the day, albeit it maybe pulp fiction.

NO, not the movie. Geez, I hated that movie. I walked out of that movie.

There are more than 80 Perry Mason novels; the first one was The Case of the Velvet Claws in 1933. I gobbled up these books and have reread most of them over the course of my lifetime.

At some point before my grandma passed away, I got the collection of Perry Mason paperbacks. I think they’re mostly from the 50s and 60s and the cost is roughly 35 cents on each cover. I don’t read those anymore because I don’t want them to fall apart. I just like looking at them for a glimpse into my childhood.

Plus the covers are neat-o!

About five or six years ago, I made a point of reading every single Perry Mason book my local library had. This was mostly for my own occupation, but sort of also to keep them checked out for awhile.

When I was a kid, I:

1. thought Perry Mason mysteries were the only books ESG wrote. I was wrong.
2. would be a Della Street-type secretary. In fact, even now, I know I would make a great Della Street, but that sort of secretary (no, don’t read anything into that, there is no actual hanky-panky in the books) is completely out of fashion these days.
3. never, ever pictured Raymond Burr as Perry Mason. I still don’t.
4. discovered the television series after I had read all the books and the only character I saw in my head was Paul Drake, so I never really got into the show.
5. read my first A.A. Fair book in one of Grandma Betty’s Reader’s Digest compilation books and couldn’t believe it, but the story was just as good as a Perry Mason book.

So today at lunch, I drove over to the library and got a Perry Mason book that has two stories in it as well as an A.A. Fair book (written by Erle Stanley Gardner) that also has two stories in it. If I can sit down long enough to read and relax, this is what I decided will be my late summer reading.


Badass Geek said...

Nice! I should check these books out at my library the next time I'm there.

dsmcaron said...

AH! The library will love you for it. :)

The Women's Colony said...

My grandmother turned my onto Ellery Queen. Thanks for reminding me.--Jenn