April 23, 2011

The Hardy Boys Habit

An unusually snark-less appreciation and recollection of the Hardy Boys from Vince Keenan. (The shout-out to King Dork as "contemporary variant" -- if shout-out is the word I want -- is also unusual. I know, because Google Alerts, which keeps track of such things and alerts me when appropriate, has brought few such references to my attention.)

My own experience of these books was broadly similar. They certainly were the foundation for a future interest in crime fiction that might well not have materialized at all had it not been for them. What would that have been like, "that" referring to my future reading life? Mostly likely Hobbits and tarnsmen and Great Old Ones would have swarmed in to fill the available space vacated by Frank, Joe, and Chet, but it sure would have been a different "mix" and it probably would have delayed my discovery of Raymond Chandler by at least a few years.

The Hardy Boys books were too low-brow and non-"literary" for the library. I get why the library decided to go that way, but the decision had one, likely unintentional, consequence. The only way you could read these books was if you actually owned them, and, for some reason, ownership made quite a lot of difference in how much I valued them. I used to get two Hardy Boys books a year, as birthday and Christmas gifts, and they were my first experience of book-owning, the beginning of a lifelong, apartment-swamping book-hoarding habit. Eventually, of course, I figured out that you could own other books as well, but for awhile there it was the Hardy Boys or nothing.

Posted by Dr. Frank at April 23, 2011 01:16 AM | TrackBack