From Tic-Tac-Terror (by a Franklin W. Dixon) to Lolita (Nabokov), I’ve collected more books than I have read. But I have read some.
It started off with Hardy Boys; and I remember Fenton Hardy’s case always being connected in some way to the Boys’ case. So, during each book, I used to watch out for clues that would link the boys’ case with anything that their father was doing at that time (mostly in some other part of the country; just to add to the grandeur of the plot). At one point somewhere during 6th or 7th standard, just to ensure that I could prove to a few friends in school what I had read, I started maintaining a list which had the name of the book, plot, and ‘gangleader’ written in neat columnar format. A sample line would be like this:
Tic-Tac-Terror: Moustached guy, emerald disapperance, defection of Igor the international agent, HAVOC – the terror group, and the secret government agency called Burton O Bradley: Gangleader = George Gamma.
After hunting down books in remote libraries near home (Indian Institute of World Culture, Desiree Circulating Library, etc.), I was almost done with the ‘adventure books,’ and was then introduced to the more serious ‘Case Files,’ of which I sampled a few here and there. I even bought two of those. These were more sinister, and had more fantastic plots, and unrealism was taken to new heights. But for some reason, I don’t remember having liked any Hardy Boys book at all. I cannot remember the plotlines of any of their books now; unlike the Three Investigators’ books.
Akka insisted that I move on to the cooler underdogs: The Three Investigators. I remember the plot lines from at least a few of their books, like the Stuttering Parrot, the Talking Skull, etc. I even convinced myself that I was good enough to be Jupiter Jones himself, made a Pete Crenshaw out of Sudarshan, and Gautham had to become Bob Andrews, and we went over to the Gavi Gangadareshwara temple to investigate any mystery that we might encounter. Our motto, of course, was: “We Investigate Anything.” I will spare you the details of the gadgets we had made for ourselves, for self protection, of course.
Nancy Drew came and went unnoticed somewhere in between, and I could never lay my hands on those Nancy Drew Hardy Boys combined books as well.
Recently, I picked up a few Three Investigators and Hardy Boys books to (finally) start my own collection, and went through a few of them. A few things have changed: the awe-factor of seeing Akka finish these books in a couple of hours flat has disappeared now, being replaced with an appreciation of how simple and easy to read these books are. I never forgot the meaning of words like “sleuth,” “cahoots,” and “red herring.” Maybe the sleuths were in cahoots with the gangleader, or was that a red-herring? I wonder…..
These did open the concept of the Novel to me, and it’s a pity (and an irony) that I haven’t read Kadambari yet.