My wife seemed a little surprised that I wrote these two samples below as personal essays. Well, my dear, what are my choices? I'm not a literary scholar; I'm not a professional literary critic or a book reviewer. Neither are my students.
For 'The Hunter' I could have made noises about the hardboiled-detective books and movies of the thirties, the noir films of the 40s, and the drugstore-bookrack crime fiction they spawned in the fifties and sixties.*
For 'Slim' I could have made similar noises about the thirties' proletarian novels ('Slim' is more proto-fascist than red in its politics) and their macho, no-girls-allowed quality and what that might be all about. But that sort of academic writing would have been playing to my weaknesses, not my strengths.
I also could have done what is often conventionally done in the introduction, which is offer some details about the author's life, the book's publishing history, or some social or historical background that would add to the reader's appreciation of the book.
But I decided to avoid using anything that was not already in my mind because I don't want you to see this as a research project. This week is an appreciation of some book you like, written to introduce a reader to the pleasure you have had, using the material you already have at hand and in mind.
* Here are some of the covers which were considered extremely hot when I began spinning those drugstore racks: this, this, this, and, of course, this.