Category Archives: Books

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 74. On Disappointments.

James Patterson was a writer for whom I had a lot of time. His earlier Alex Cross novels, up to an including Violets Are Blue, were outstanding pieces of entertainment: fast-paced, relentless thrillers. I could read a book a day if I had the time.

Then they got stupid. But worse than that, they became predictable. Even worse than that, I wished Patterson would kill off Cross once and for all. Then Patterson became a cash cow; so much so, he farmed his writing off (in my opinion) to anyone who had their hands out.

Have you been similarly disappointed?

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 73. On Impulse.

We’ve all been there: that moment of madness that overtakes us with such force that we have no choice but to submit to its will. I don’t know what drives you, my reader, to such behaviour; but for me it’s the need for a book. Not just any book – but one book that I need – must – get my hands on.

Last week it was The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. After seeing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, I just had to get my hands on some classic Cold War fiction.

As it turned out, I ended up buying three more books.

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 72. On Smiley.

No, not the emoticon but the character: John Le Carre’s famous spymaster, George Smiley. Coming out of a screening of the recent adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, I thought about fictional characters authors are most famous for. Fleming has Bond, Lee Child has Jack Reacher, Conan Doyle had Sherlock Holmes.

For people of a certain age, Sir Alec Guinness’s portrayal of Smiley was the benchmark by which Gary Oldman would be judged. But now Le Carre’s creation has a new lease of life, and  I would love to see him return for another adventure.

Classic characters will live forever.

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 69. On Stephen King.

Ever slipped into a pair of comfortable slippers for the first time in a while? Don’t you wish you never took them off? Okay, you know that you can’t wear the same shoes day in day out; they’d either fall apart or smell to high heaven.

A friend loaned me a copy of Stephen King’s Full Dark, No Stars, and I’m taking it on holiday with me. I read the first few pages when the comfortable slippers analogy came to me. King, like all my favourite writers, is a treasure: admire it but don’t overexpose it. It may lose its luster.

 

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 64. On Spy Stories.

With the release of the movie version of John Le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and the return of Spooks to the BBC (its 10th and final season), there is, for me, a renaissance of the spy thriller. The Bourne trilogy of movies resulted in a more pared-down, gadget-free James Bond, focusing more on the people involved in the business of spying than outrageous plotting.

You see, spying is a sleazy industry: keeping secrets from some, extracting them from others, without letting your emotions get in the way. It can come at a price, though.

You may lose your humanity.

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 40. On Fantasy Sagas.

After almost 2000 pages of brilliant writing, tense set-pieces and searing betrayal, I’m taking a break from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, stopping at A Storm of Swords. I have the next two in the sequence, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. Given the length of time it took Martin to write the most recent in the series, I can wait a bit longer before tackling the next one.

I have masses of books screaming to be read. The only problem I have is where to start. Maybe some Sherlock Holmes is in order.

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 22. On Reading.

If you really want to know me, ask me what I’m reading. If you want to know me better than most, ask why I’m reading what I’m reading. Better still, ask me why I read. You might be surprised by the answer. I have to read. If I don’t, my brain goes into atrophy, my well of creativity runs dry, and I’m no use to anyone including myself.

A friend popped in today with a late birthday present: Bill Bryson’s At Home: A Short History of Private Life. In order to allow my creativity to flourish, reading the same genres time and again is not an option. More on this later.