Sunday, July 22, 2012

Reading matters

Of course, she's not relaxing in the English Garden with one of my books, nor indeed with one authored by Alexander MacNabb, prolific Sandlander based in Dubai. MacNabb has put one of his older manuscripts on Kindle... and he describes Space thus...
" spoofs a genre that I have come to call the ‘airport novel’; that comfortingly large slab of silliness that you invariably turn to when you have to survive a seven-hour flight. Just like the Avian Obsession and the Maltese Balcony and those other man-in-race-against-time-against-unfeasible-odds-to-save-the-world-against-shadowy-cabal-led-by-megalomaniac books, Space is a fast moving page-turner filled with baddies and secret agent babes. Unlike the majority of them, Space is also intentionally and successfully funny."

It so happens that last week I bought what MacNabb calls a 'booky book'... printed not digital... and one which perfectly matches his definition of an 'airport novel'. Daniel Silva with fifteen best-selling thrillers under his belt is a master of the genre. His hero faces and overcomes one daunting peril after another in a highly predictable but somehow enjoyable manner.

But... it leaves me with a couple of things to grumble about. I am beginning to find very facile any narrative in which the protagonist has direct personal conversations with a fictional President of the United States. 

And I find the cover art... depicting the pyramid of the Louvre... a cynical and misleading choice.

Paris plays only a very marginal role in the storytelling. In many ways imagery of Dubai would be far better suited. Much of the book's action is indeed set in the Sandlands and to give SIlva his due, he has done his research very well, painting a picture of the Emirates which is both vivid and nuanced. My only complaint in this regard is that his character consults the Khaleej Times as if it were the English-language newspaper of reference in the territory. (Quiet chuckle!) 

With the final page of Silva's latest turned it was refreshing to go back to see what Kindle might have in store for me. 

The Zurich Conspiracy by Bernadette Calonego is a debut novel published by Amazon Crossing last month. Although well plotted and set in a city the author obviously knows well, it is above all character driven and far from formulaic.

I think I would claim that my own writing is character driven. I just don't think I could deliver the 'airport novel' formula. And as for writing dialogue between my hero and a US President... no we can't!

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