You asked here what books I turn to for comfort reading. My list overlaps with yours by one essential item, the Westlake/Stark double threat. Speaking of which, I loved your Dortmundrian almanac entry last week.
John D. Macdonald does very well for me too–although, since I find it hard to stop after just one or two, even getting started can mean courting some really catastrophic distraction from actual life. Series really fit this bill, don’t they? Several of your choices are series, strictly or loosely defined. There’s serious comfort in knowing that more of the same flavor is available for the asking, and imagining that the comfort zone can be indefinitely extended.
Elaine Dundy’s circa-1960 novels The Dud Avocado (based on her involvement with Kenneth Tynan) and The Old Man and Me (alas, almost impossible to find) are major stalwarts for me. I’ve read them each ten times at least, and have given away half a dozen copies of the former (most recently to cinetrix, so we’ll see what she thinks). Nobody I give it to ever likes it as much as I do, by the way–a source of ongoing amazement to me, but no damper on my proselytizing.
Jane Austen does the trick, as does M.F.K. Fisher. On the pricklier side, Mary McCarthy and Lorrie Moore–despite being more like a sharp stick in the eye than a warm blanket, the both of them. That big old David Thomson Biographical Dictionary of Film, of course. Robert Benchley. Joan Didion. Walter Scott. Robert Louis Stevenson.
Just thinking about this question makes me want to take a sick day. Sadly, that’s the last thing I can do anytime in the near future, and I won’t be blogging much in the next week either. The Friday deadline I’m facing is scary enough that I’m going to have to play the Luddite this week and shun the computer as far as possible. No comfort reading, no newfangled technology. Just me, a fistful of sharpened blue pencils, and a stack of defenseless manuscripts.
That’s the goal, anyway. I may weaken and poke my head in and out once or twice. If not, I’ll miss you and see you next week. We can talk some more about Freaks and Geeks and scenes from old movies (did I tell you I broke down and joined Netflix? So far, making the queue has been the best part. Well, it’s been the only part. But it was pure pleasure.)