life stories

the center of the universe is the brain

Books & Characters & Friends

I enjoy reading fiction. The genre that gives me the greatest pleasure is the detective novel. Although I pick up a modern mystery or suspense novel on occasion, the reliance on realism and gore bores me.

Plot and character carry a tale. P.D. James is a master both. About 1/3 of the way into her most recent novel, PRIVATE PATIENT, I am hoping everyone will be all right. Well, someone is already dead but I hope no one in the house did the deed. One of them did. Damn.

Each character becomes a friend, or at least an aquaintance, to the reader. That is what is so appealing about the detective novel. Good and evil are clear. The characters are straight-forward. The character as a whole is not necessarily trustworthy but the writing of the character is consistant.

Last year I took to reading two writers who lead-off the genre, Dashiell Hammet and Eric Ambler. There is no fluff, no extended rhetoric in either of their writing. The precision is nearly poetic. I am not trying to elevate this genre to high art. Not at all. It is more a base pleasure, one the reader can sink into like a warm bath, soak in the story without excess thought.

This sort of escape is what I need at this time of excessive stress and only books can provide it. I find it much easier to stare at a computer screen and browse through silly videos and aimlessly seek entertainment. But the minute I lift the book and open to where I last left off, I am transported.

Goodnight then. I am off once again to Dorset.


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