… Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs (Dover Thrift Edition!). One of those I’ve never read before. I’m near the end, probably finish tonight.
A few years back I became interested in catching up on classic adventure literature, provoked, best I can figure, by Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. At about the same time, I’d indulged a love of old radio shows, especially The Shadow and The Green Hornet, and heroic pulp fiction, picking up the entire Doc Savage series from ebay, as well as most of The Avenger and The Spider books. Coincidentally, I owe another Spider for deepening an interest in period heroics by loaning me a copy of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist.
This was back around 2002/2003. I know this, because the special order sticker is still on the copy of Tarzan I’m reading. I was working in a bookstore/music store (“the more things change…”), which means I wasn’t making a lot of money, but also means I got a discount on my books. Since the store didn’t stock a lot of the books I was wanting to read at that period, I ordered in the cheap Dover editions of things like Sherlock Holmes stories and The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu. I’d found a copy of one of Sax Rohmer’s other Fu Manchu books in our local used bookstore, and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Sure, you could make a good case that the books are racist, but then have you ever read Tarzan?
I suppose I like these books in a similar way I like rock music from the 60’s and 70’s: in part, because of the history. It’s interesting to me to pick up the perspectives of writers from other times. Worldviews change; so do tastes in literature.
So back then I did get around to reading a number of classics I never made time for before, including 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Then I discovered Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, and my interest shifted to more contemporary stuff.
As I’ve gone through shedding most of what I’ve owned these last couple of years, I’ve committed to finally getting around to reading some of the books I purchased, even years ago, but never read. It’s been fun. I’ve come across some things I wish I had read sooner (Charlie Huston’s Already Dead was excellent; Derby Dugan’s Depression Funnies was delightful), and some I can’t believe I ever had any intention of reading. And now I’m at Tarzan. It’s in the middle somewhere, but I’m glad to be finally getting to it.