Monday, November 30, 2009

Harlequin's vintage collection, pt. 2

Harlequin's line of crime and melodrama reprints was met with joy from the enthusiasts. Now that Harlequin's told that the books were slightly revised, maybe even censored, everyone's angry and not wanting to buy the books. See the comments.

Okay, I can understand that. But hey, were the books any good to begin with? I would say that Harlequin did the larger mistake by bringing these six books back to print. The crime fiction community was fooled: what are these hardboiled classics I've never heard of? Yeah, there are books that are very good even though no one's ever heard of them, but these six just are not any of those. Someone's talking about To Kill a Mockingbird and Gone With the Wind in the Harlequin blog's comment section, but that makes no sense to me.

The fact that James Hadley Chase's books are probably the best in the bunch says quite a lot. Not every hardboiled paperback original of the bygone years is good.

4 comments:

Brian Busby said...

You're correct, of course, in that none of the six titles were good to begin with. That said, there's interest to be had in reading works of a different time. It would seem that Marsha Zinberg, the editor at fault, agrees. In her Harlequin blog entry she writes that the company hopes the Vintage Collection will "accomplish what the cover art exhibition attempted to do: 'offer a unique insight into the profound changes that have occurred in women’s lives over the past six decades—from shifts in private desires to shifts in the politics of gender'!"

How odd, then, that she lessens the impact through censorship.

Juri said...

Yeah, I understand that totally and I completely agree, but why didn't reprint something better? If they had asked for the reprint rights of, say, Wade Miller whom they'd published in the fifties (The Big Guy, 1958; South of the Sun, 1953; The Tiger's Wife, 1958) and got published something by him, then the vintage line would've made sense.

Maybe they didn't try. Maybe they thought that these are the kinds of books that the vintage crime fiction fans like. Maybe they didn't get the reprint rights for better authors.

But yeah, if they'd published something by, say, Wade Miller and then censored those books, I'd be angry, too!

David said...

If you want to see specific examples of what Harlequin did, go here:
http://noirboiled.blogspot.com/2010/01/harlequin-bowdlerizations.html

Juri said...

Thanks, David, most interesting!