Saturday, May 28, 2011

Reading matters

As soon as I finished the book I started mulling over points I might make in this latest post under the now familiar heading. Foremost was the sudden realization that not a few novels piled high in the bookstore fall into a new category of literature: They are to storytelling what painting by numbers is to art.

Following this trainof thought I searched for a visual and came across the one above which is uniquely and regrettably appropriate. The painting by numbers trope was used by a London advertising agency for an advertisement encouraging recruitment to the British Army.

"Who cares?" Is this perhaps the claim that soldiers of any ethnicity are welcome? Or is the subtext the admission that when you give a man or woman a weapon that humanity is of no further relevance?

The latter reflects quite well the impression I was left with when I had finished Foreign Influence by Brad Thor, whose painting by numbers resorts to liberal splatterings of the hues of blood, brain matter, organic putrescence and the like. 

I like to think that I would not have bought the US edition, with the cover shown on the left. The Hodder cover, however, allowed me to think that it might be an action thriller which could be an acceptable weekend read. Were I the owner of one of these clever smart phones I might have checked Amazon before spending my ten Euros.

"Brad Thor (if it isn't, this would be the perfect made-up name for anybody who writes like this) is really Dick Cheney, I think (or maybe Sarah Palin in drag). He gushes in constant admiration for torture, power, and cut-throat tactics. His hero is really a brute, an animal, with no evident redeeming traits. Could anybody really think that this main character would be somebody that anybody anywhere would like? There are no warm and kind people in here. The more brutal they are, the greater admiration there is for them. The rule of law and the moral characteristics which make America unusual and admired are scorned as merely politically correct. The hero, Scott Harvath, heaps snide invectives on the FBI and the CIA and other legitimate federal agencies for their wuss-like adherance to law and constitutional requirements... This is a sick perspective on America."
That was one of the few reader reviews, 11 out of 89 to be exact, which gave the book less than three stars out of a possible five. Brad Thor is a regular contributor to the Glenn Beck television program and has appeared on other Fox News Channel shows.

Enough said.

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