Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dick Francis

I know that many of you, if not all of you, can remember where you bought certain books. I can remember exactly the first time I picked up a Dick Francis novel, and in fact I can pick up that exact book anytime I want to. I can see it from where I'm sitting right now. So why don't I just get it down from the shelf.

Okay, there is is on the left. A Berkley paperback from 1967. Not a very good cover, but it was the blurb that grabbed me. I could never resist a blurb like that one.

I was in a little convenience store in Austin, Texas, a couple of blocks from home. I don't remember why I was there. Maybe we needed a loaf of bread. Anyway, I never pass up a spinner rack of paperbacks (or I didn't; now I never see them), so I took a look. That blurb jumped out at me.

I took the book off the rack and read the first sentence: I was never particularly keen on my job before the day I got shot and nearly lost it, along with the rest of my life. Well, that did it for me. I plunked down my 60 cents plus whatever was need for the other stuff I bought, went home, and read the book. After that, I found Francis' earlier books and read them. Since 1967, I've read each of his novels as it appeared, and I've never been disappointed. For me, he was one of the best, top of the line.

13 comments:

J. Juday said...

"Was" -- oh, no. I just checked the news to see if this meant what I suspected it must. I am so sorry to hear that he has passed away.

For me, the first novel was "Proof," which grabbed me with, "Agony is socially unacceptable." I read the book in one day. Like you, I then read all the older novels I could find. As far as I know, I have read every new one within the year since 1986.

In fact, I have been rereading him off and one this last year. They reread very well.

Bill Crider said...

Yes, they hardly seem dated at all.

Todd Mason said...

Oddly enough, PROOF was the first I read, too...I got a proof...always adept. I didn't love them, but they were impossible not to like and admire for their construction.

Deb said...

BTW, I have seen spinner racks recently--at one of those "everything for a dollar" stores. We have so many in the area--Dollar Tree, Dollar World, 99-Cents Store--that I don't remember which one is was, but it was full of cheapie thrillers and romance novels--none of which inspired a second glance on my part (sadly).

Bill Crider said...

I would certainly check those racks carefully, myself. Just for nostalgia purposes if nothing else.

George said...

I haven't been as diligent as you, Todd, and Deb. I've read about a dozen Dick Francis novels so I have plenty to read. I do own them all, though.

pattinase (abbott) said...

He made sports like horse racing fun even for someone with little interest in it.

Richard Robinson said...

I got through half of one novel, and I don't even know the title of it. There was a Francis omnibus with, I think, four novels in it, early ones if I recall correctly. Seems there were people in the desert shooting a movie or something. I don't remember any mystery, or horses, just some star got shot.

Guess I'll have to try another. Suggestions?

Bill Crider said...

That doesn't sound like a Francis book to me, Rick, but I might have forgotten it. Try the one I mentioned.

Graham Powell said...

I've read a bunch of his books. My favorite is his second Sid Halley book, WHIP HAND, with THE DANGER, PROOF, and REFLEX close behind. Leaving aside my personal preferences, REFLEX was probably his best book.

His writing also made him seem like a kind and dignified man.

Janet said...

For me, it was NERVE. My mother subscribed to the Reader's Digest Condensed Books way back when, and one of the volumes contained NERVE. I was hooked from the first sentence. I reread all the books in order several years ago, and I just read NERVE again this past December. We shared a Halloween birthday. He was a lovely man and I feel fortunate that I met him twice.

Bill Crider said...

I wish I'd met him. By all accounts a very nice man.

W. J. St. Christopher said...

I could cry.

I started reading Dick Francis novels when I was only eleven years old. Since then, I've read and re-read them all, countless times.

The Francis audio books frequently keep me company as I create my art or wait out sleepless nights, and knowing the ending doesn't hamper my enjoyment of every story.

Ed McBain. Robert Parker. Dick Francis.

You all contributed, greatly, to my quality of life, gentlemen. Thanks for that.

Rest in peace.