Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Still on Brian Garfield


Finished Brian Garfield's Hopscotch (1973) late last night. It's great, as you would expect from Garfield. Very professional work, solid portraits of the spy bureaucracy (which must be closer to the truth than the usual spy novels) and a well developed portrait of depression of a middle-aged man. I hadn't read this before and I'm glad I read it now. Only one glitch: there's been so many exposé books about CIA in recent years that it seems a stretch that they are ripping up their pants for one in this.

I was checking on Garfield's bibliography and found out that he switched publishers almost from book to book, having novels come out from such small outfits as World (wasn't that a lending library publisher?) to such big conglomerates as Macmillan. So I have to take some of my words back when I accused the Finnish publishers for throwing Garfield around. He was thrown around by the American publishers, too. It seems, though, that that may have been his own choice, since his books are very different from one another. I read somewhere that Garfield said himself that he doesn't want to be pinned down, i.e. he doesn't want to be labelled as a thriller writer or a crime writer. Maybe that's the reason why he's had at least seven or eight publishers in his career.

I also got to thinking about his early books that came out usually as paperbacks. Most of them were Westerns (some of which are quite good), but his first crime novel was published in a hardcover by Avalon, another lending library publisher. The Rimfire Murders came out in 1962 under the alias of Frank O'Brian. Garfield has said that while he's not ashamed of anything he's written (not even his first Western novel he wrote while he was 18 years old), but he doesn't want his old books to be reprinted. It would be interesting to see his first crime novel back in print, though, maybe as a Hard Case Crime paperback. (There's only one copy in Abebooks, though it's not very expensive at $8.55.)

It would be also interesting to hear where he draws the line. His first novel under his own name was one of the first stories about the Vietnam war: The Last Bridge, in 1966. Could that be reprinted?

PS. Scroll down to see a link-infested list of American paperback writers translated in a short story form. There was something wrong with some of the links first, but I fixed that - hopefully.

3 comments:

Keith Raffel said...

I heard Stuart Kaminsky recommend Brian Garfield. I liked Hopscotch but think I liked the Romanov Succession even more. Try it.

Kirsti said...

Hei, onko sähköpostisi täynnä? Lähetin korjatun version novellista ja se palaa aina takaisin.

Juri said...

Thanks for the recommendation! Kirsti, laitan kohta postia, mulla on typerä boksi enkä ikinä muista tyhjentää sitä. Jos saat tämän viestin ennen kuin ehdin vastata s-postilla, laita novelli osoitteeseen
jurinummelin (at) hotmail.com