1966 Dell paperback of Chester Himes’ Real Cool Killers (1959).
Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed, the detective heroes of Himes’ Harlem novels, are tough (even brutal) but upstanding men. They try to help the weak, poor, and downtrodden but face long odds against corruption, racism, ignorance, addiction, and greed. The detectives battle thieving clergy, grifters, street gangs, sex perverts, political militants, drug dealers, the Mafia, corrupt politicians, and racist fellow cops. They don’t always win and their victories are only qualified successes. Absurdity, hypocrisy, brutality, and hyperviolence characterize their world.
Issues of race and class abound in the novels. The Harlem Cycle novels are particularly interested in the corrupting effects of racism and oppression on both haters and hated.
Himes’ detective stories share his serious fiction’s dark view of human nature. People are bad. Oppressed and oppressor are both corrupt, foolish, ignorant, violent, and cruel.
When I downloaded So You Want to Be a Wizard, the New Millenium edition, it said it was only 179 pages. Isn't the book closer to 400?
No, the shorter length is right.
Don’t forget, So You Want To Be A Wizard was written at a time when there was almost no market for long YA novels. (The “received wisdom” at that point was that such books were financially unviable, as adults wouldn’t buy them for their kids due to the extra length driving the books’ prices up.) When SYWTBAW was sold in late 1981, my editor at Dell/Delacorte told me explicitly not to go over 70,000 words. I pushed right up against the edge of that envelope, to 68,000 or so. The NME of the book, even with its added material, only comes up to around 73K. Still quite short by today’s standards.
But it’s easy to forget how much has changed in such a short time. When the first four books were picked up by their new publisher (Harcourt) in 1995 and republished at their original lengths, nobody had any idea what was about to happen to YA publishing in 1997 with the appearance of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Suddenly big fat YA novels were OK, very OK, and everybody wanted one. It was just as well that I was already wanting to put a little more meat on the bones of a book – both in terms of size and complexity – with YW #5, which became The Wizard’s Dilemma. And certainly since then no one’s said a word to me about length. :)
So yes, SYW is short compared to the books that followed it. And your file is almost certainly OK: my iPad reports its ePub version as also coming in at 179 pages for the NME. Not sure what the Kindle version claims to be. …And also, device page counts can change depending on your formatting. Heck, so can print copies, from edition to edition. The same text of SYW… turns into 226 pages in its Delacorte Press1st edition hardcover (and also the Dell Yearling and Dell Laurel-Leaf paperbacks, doubtless because they were shot from the same plates). Yet its first Corgi (UK) mass market paperback edition was 237 pages, its first mmpb at Harcourt was 370 pages, as was the Harcourt Magic Carpet digest format edition (same text, not condensed – just bigger print and thicker paper), and the 20th anniversary edition hardcover went to 278pp. So go figure. Type sizes, paper thickness, they all have an effect on each edition, and may never closely match up.
The only thing that matters is that all the words are there. And they are. Thanks for checking, though. :)