Saturday, July 7, 2012

Oakley Hall, a well-known, unknown author

A Well-known, unknown author
The book I had found in the motel was titled Ambrose Bierce and the Death of Kings. It is a solid member of the subgenre of mysteries involving a detective who is well known, although not for detecting. Here, he is in the story mostly to provide color, or an enticement to the reader or potential book buyer.
This was not much of a mystery, although it was an entertaining story offering an enticing introduction to the history of Hawaii just prior to its annexation by the United States. I doubt that I will read any more in this series.
However, the author, Oakley Hall, is another matter.  It turns out he is a well-known (though not to me) Western author who is roughly my generation. He was born in San Diego, graduated from Berkeley, taught literature at Irvine.  His children have all become writers and actors, playwrights and poets.  His son, also named Oakley Hall, was a brilliant and driven playwright and director who suffered major and permanent brain damage as a result of a fall from a bridge in Upstate New York.
Now there's a compressed biography for you.  The senior Oakley Hall apparently began his writing career in the pulps, writing Westerns and mysteries sometimes under pseudonyms before he published the Western Novel Warlock which brought him prizes and a reputation.  As a teacher he  inspired several of the best-known young California writers (Michael Chabon, Amy Tan among others). He died in 2008.
I have added his name to my list, to check the shelves when we visit book stores.
Speaking of visiting book stores:  yesterday we visited the local shopping mall and found a Coles Book Store.  It is part of the Indigo Books chain. Indigo itself is similar in appearance to Barnes and Noble and can be found throughout Canada.  Picky Elsa didn't find anything, but Bob purchased two books, which means our book box in the truck will stay untouched for awhile.


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