Sunday, September 9, 2007

A quick listing of authors to check out (or devour completely)

John le Carré is still a major force- Absolute Friends, for example, is required reading, and A Perfect Spy is terrific. His "post-classical period" books do not disappoint, and his "classical period" of Cold War writing is unparalleled. The thing is, when the world changed, he noticed. How many world leader's can you say that about?

Do you ever wonder what would you be like if you happened to be born in a different country, say one dominated by a different religion or political philosophy? This is a question for readers.

Alan Furst. Alan Furst. Some books are connected more than others (some aren't "connected" at all)- reading in sequence is advised. He is a man who refuses to bend to the demands of the central office in Hollywood when it comes to clean and neat endings. Hat's off to him.

Dust off some Graham Greene every now and then. I found the New Yorker review of his authorized autobiography to be hilarious, though one does feel sorry for its author. Be sure to watch The Third Man, also, which perhaps the #1 film of all time- its screenplay was written by Greene.

Lawrence Durrell is someone whose writing I spent a lot of time with in the 70's and 80's. I met him at Blackwell's in Oxford. Read it all, the poems, the novels, non-fiction. Tunc has a scene of stunning betrayal in it that really took my breath away, and I can still remember every bit of it, 30 years later. Oddly enough, I still haven't finished the sequel, Nunquam. With "Larry", the whole is sometimes less than the sum of the parts, but the parts, all of those wonderful sentences and paragraphs, are to die for.

Michael Connelly. Just read them all if you like crime fiction.

Faye Kellerman. Read them all, too. Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus nail the bad guys wherever they go. Lot's of great information about mixed marriages, conversion, marital compromise, and Judaism. Preferably, read them in the order published.

Richard Russo: Empire Falls, The Risk Pool and Nobody's Fool are examples of the best fiction around. Straight Man is a departure in style, and it is so funny that I laughed out loud constantly while enjoying it.

Malcolm Bradbury. Rates of Exchange is another book for belly laughs, though it helps to have a sense of England, Europe and European languages (you don't have to speak them, just make sure you've read an article or two on them). Is that really true, from "though" on? Let me know! There may be some Bradbury fiction I haven't read, but I can't think of it, so I'll be working up a number of mini-reviews.

David Lodge. I read Changing Places in 1977 just after moving from California to England (for 5 years). Perfect timing (I also read Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis at the time). Though I was a little young to be Professor Morris Zapp in the flesh, there were parallels between 1969 and 1977 (I arrived to protests about the Shah of Iran by masked Iranian students). Some of the bits about figuring out life in England were contemporaneous for me any the book character I was reading about. I guess some of Lodge's fiction (Nice Work?) went on television in the U.K., which means I don't know what (what to tell me?), except it parallels the opera singing vs. dancing pectorals on X's got Talent, X being America or England (I don't really know the formal names of these shows, so bear with me or bring me up to date, please). I hope he made a good living off it. I think I've read all of his fiction, too, except I couldn't take Ginger, You're Barmy, so that's a lot of reviewing to do.

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