I’ve been rereading my collection of Nero Wolfe books lately–I think it’s sort of belated comfort reading after melting my brain on the Sooper Seekrit Project earlier this summer.
I was first introduced to Nero Wolfe when we were living in Manhattan by my mother. I had long since gobbled up all of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and was looking for something else along those lines to read. So we went to the library, because that’s what you do in situations like this!
The mysteries (and possibly all of the popular fiction) were shelved upstairs; I tended to stay downstairs, because that’s where the children’s/teen area and the general fiction were. I remember wedging myself into a corner by the appropriate shelves, grabbing a title at random, and reading until mom found me and dragged me and my stack of books home. I know for a fact that’s how I started The Black Mountain.
I sort of forgot about Nero Wolfe until my junior year in college, when I picked up a copy of The Red Box at a book sale. I watched the A&E series devotedly when it started a few years later, and from then on I was hooked again. The series was clearly a labor of love, and it was very well done, especially in terms of casting and costuming. My only real complaint was that the actor playing Nero Wolfe wasn’t fat enough. And that it only lasted two seasons.
Whenever I go to a used book store I check to see if there are any Nero Wolfe books there, and buy whatever I don’t already own. I think there are only about four titles I’m missing at this point, at least one of which is very obscure and difficult to find. Hunting them down and buying them used is more fun than waltzing into a chain store to purchase them new, and searching on the Internet is just cheating. It doesn’t really matter to me if I previously read a story last week or fifteen years ago, I enjoy them tremendously. Yes, there are a few things that date them in a cringe-inducing way, but I think they’ve aged much better than your average Agatha Christie story.
The other thing I very specifically remember being introduced to at that time is H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N. I ought to track them down too…