Friday, August 12, 2011

Forgotten Books: Happy New Year, Herbie & Other Stories -- Evan Hunter

It's a surprise to me to be writing (not for the first time) about something by Evan Hunter as a forgotten book. When I was a youth, Hunter was a big name, what with Blackboard Jungle coming out in the middle '50s. He was the guy everybody was talking about. The movie and the book were both big sensations, but Hunter was a writing machine. After that success, he kept on turning out paperback originals as Richard Marsten and Ed McBain and Curt Cannon and Hunt Collins. We now know that a bit later he was also writing softcore porn as Dean Hudson. Hunter was the name he reserved for his more serious work, including some of his short stories. Like the ones in this book.

There's quite a mixture here. A summer camp story, a suburban despair story, a crime story, a science fiction story, and others. All of them well done, because Hunter was a storyteller above all. Now, if he's not forgotten, he's well on the way to being forgotten, and most of his books are out of print. I don't know why that bothers me, but it does. If you'd like to take a look at the different kinds of things he could do, this little book wouldn't be a bad place to start.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm going to try this collection if I run across it, and see if there's finally a body of Hunter's work that works for me...

Todd Mason said...

I will try this collection if I come across it, and if it doesn't work for me, I'll know there's just something that doesn't work for me with Hunter's work, which I wish I liked more than I do.

George said...

Evan Hunter (aka, Ed McBain) wrote novels, short stories, and Hollywood scripts. The guy was versatile and prolific. It saddens me to that he's on the way to being forgotten.

Todd Mason said...

I think the McBain body of work actually isn't...

Elizabeth Foxwell said...

Note that the amazon imprint headed by Larry Kirshbaum is reprinting a slew of McBain/Hunter's work starting this fall. Also note that Hunter's _The Jungle Kids_ was selected as an important ss collection by Ellery Queen for _Queen's Quorum_, and McBain's "Improvisation" was read not long ago on the NPR series _Selected Shorts_.

Bill Crider said...

I hope the Amazon deal will bring Hunter back to people's attention.

Elizabeth Foxwell said...

In addition, Charles Ardai has reprinted _The Gutter and the Grave_ (originally published as _I'm Cannon--For Hire_ under the name Curt Cannon, now published under the McBain name) as part of the Hard Case Crime line.

Kent Morgan said...

This is another one I've got in a box somewhere, probably in the garage. Are the PBs you keep posting about exclusively from the stock in your well-organized office? I've never forgotten a photo that you posted years ago. Maybe it's time to post it again for people who haven't seen it.

Bill Crider said...

Yes, all from the "well organized office." Which book do you think needs another showing?

Kent Morgan said...

I meant a photo of your office,

Bill Crider said...

Ha. Sure.

Ed Gorman said...

One of those little collections that is a true treasure. What a master of all forms he was.

Anonymous said...

Read his thrillers, such as "Ghosts" under the name of Ed McBain. Terrific!