January 14th, 2009

krazy koati

And your heart was an open book

I'm not much for thrillers; I just don't care for the genre. I don't even like James Bond movies. Every fourteen or fifteen hours BBC America will air Goldfinger, and I know this is supposedly one of The Bestest Best Ever Bond movies, but all I get from it is a lot of talky scenes with a tabletop model of Fort Knox and a sense of how Get Smart would get the same dramatic tension without being so full of itself. So I was not the prime audience to read Ted Bell's Tsar: A Thriller, although there's enough of an audience to get him bestseller status. But, hey, the book was free and it was a sort of gift so why not read it? And is techno-thriller really all that different from science fiction? And why not read MacBeth as a murder mystery?

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I'm left with ambiguous feelings about this: I never really bought into the story, and I never really got fooled by any of the plot twists or developments except the one mentioned, and I have somehow absorbed enough spy-thriller mannerisms to see through story points several chapters ahead of time (NOTE: If you are in a spy thriller, any person who looks vaguely familiar who doesn't seem to have met you is a mass murderer and is nearly certainly out to kill you, often by indiscriminate bombing), but I'm not sure that isn't what the genre calls for. Part of the fun in genre fiction has to be seeing how well the author plays with the standard features, after all ... yet if I found so much of the structure dully presented then what do people who read this stuff all the time get from it? I won't be buying his books on his own, on the strength of this, but I can't say it was anything worse than mediocre.

Trivia: In 1848 the Canadian government suggested the Barings bank should be its sole financial agent. Barings refused, insisting they continue working with Glyn, Hallifax, Mills. Source: The Sixth Great Power: A History of One Of The Greatest Of All Banking families, The House of Barings, 1762 - 1929, Philip Ziegler.

Currently Reading: The Circus Fire: A True Story, Stuart O'Nan. This is kind of a special case of currently reading. I'd started out listening to it on tape, but the library's cassette seven was snapped. So I have to finish off this book --- apparently the first general history of the Hartford Circus Fire of 1944 --- with the old-fashioned paper edition.