Note: The last post was more a rant in its original form, is still quite horrid, but I have made some changes to make it a little more, well, acceptable.
I am sure many of us have wondered at times, during a crisis especially, if there was somebody who was writing their life’s story, that they could lay blame on for coming up with this, this new way of physical/emotional/ metaphysical torture. Most people just blame God, or their parents. Some may even blame the whole wide world.
However, in case we were given a choice to determine whose book we could be characters of and thereby live the life they write for us, I wonder who I would pick.
Depending on what type of a life I want to live, I have a few options and maybe by the end of this I will have a clear winner… or maybe not. We will see.
If I wanted to live in a thriller, not a supernatural thriller, but just a crime thriller. After having lived in Baltimore, I am amazed I was not a part of one already, but there it is. I would probably debate a little between P.D. James and Reginald Hill. Definitely not intending to be in S for stupid or B for banal: Sue Grafton, or slightly less dross Mary Higgins Clark ( what was that I feel for American writers ?). I will probably swing to Reginald Hill, unless I want an action packed one instead of a poetic, literary, smart in some places, profound in others. Then I would go to Lee Child and meet Jack Reacher once The thing that particularly attracts me towards Jack is his reluctance to ‘own’ anything that binds him.A permanent life partner, A car, a house, even a license. While I may be irreversibly bound by family, I really covet a recluse life, free of all liabilties. However, in the end, Andy Dalziel and Peter Pascoe are a tide more interesting to meet in person, even if Jack promises to be very thrilling indeed.
In case I wanted to be in an African country, instead of England, I would go with Wilbur Smith. I am not sure if Wilbur Smith is an adventure writer or a thriller writer, what I imagine as he describes Africa so beautifully is a mysterious landscape with immutable deserts and unforgiving rain-forests, full of warriors, of one kind or another. I can almost tough them..
Now, if I wanted to be in a supernatural fantasy.. the choices are mind boggling- not because of the numerous writers- I only like a few and have probably not read many outside of them- but because the competition would be very very hard. There is J.K. Rowling, I could invent a new category for her, but as I mention her first, it is unlikely that I would choose her. Please don’t hate me. I beg thee. But if she had written only the first three novels or even up till the fourth one, I would have thought about it a lot longer than this. However she wrote seven and from the fourth onwards I lost track of characters and spells, and Harry Potter became another one of those ‘unlikely’ heroes, albeit very likable and powerful, that I never quite got to adoring. I am really the ‘underdog’ kind of girl..
So, next up- J.R.R. Tolkein. He is the winner. I am afraid of not even getting to Stephen King. Tolkein was the first real teller of an entirely different world close to ours in a long long tale. As far as I know that is. A world that still controls ours. I am not a ‘western’ or cowboy type of girl anyway. Other than Clint Eastwood, I wouldn’t look at another cowboy. Unless it was with respect, at Jeff Bridges. Tolkein’s middle earth, is much more to my liking, with rolling fields, mountains and hills and valleys of danger. Plus other than the underdog, I am a proclivity for the original. King would be the second choice. ( even I am surprised).
Moving on.. a classic. I don’t read very many of those and I am not at all sure that I will make a respectable choice here. Charles Dickens? Probably not, firstly because I thought of him first and thats usually a negative thought in my case ( ha ha ha). Secondly, no humor in his tragic tales. Shakespeare? Sure.. Emily Bronte? No, too much passion and usually a very very sad end. No, I think it will be Lewis Carroll. I know, maybe he is not the classic classic. Jane Austen is funny too. I don’t particularly like her stories, I already understand women’s minds so its not eye opening for me, in the same way it may be for other people. Yes, Lewis Carroll it is. If anyone can take you to a dark wonderland through a looking glass and make even a dangerous place full of the most intriguing tales, characters and other critters, it would be him. I am all but ready for it!
Science fiction. Definitely not Robin Cook, he has gone so repetitive ( I know, I defend King and accuse Cook, but King I can’t do and Cook can’t do science and I see it too clearly). Isaac Asimov, he was the original, true. However he sounds a little dated these days, I still like him a lot and am in awe of his clairvoyance. Michael Crichton, I think it would have to be. I have not read a book by him in a while, but he creates grandiose landscapes and mysterious creatures, and interesting people. I would like to be any one of them and see the others.
Moving on to spy thrillers, I think this time the first choice is the correct one: John Le Carre. So what if my husband fell asleep in the movie adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Le Carre is one of the reasons ( and all the above are the others) that one should write what one knows well and perhaps does well. He worked for British Intelligence, i believe. If he/she doesn’t do it well himself- at least knows people who do it well. I abhor David Baldacci and Robert Ludlum. The latter fills the books with such jargon that I am pretty sure he doesn’t even know what he really means. Le Carre also uses jargon, but that is when he writes a detailed, intricate series, with essentially intertwined characters and globally connected events to give it a realistic touch, with George Smiley. His non- George Smiley books have little to no jargon and thats when you know that he knows his business. And knows it well.
I am a girl and it would not be fair to leave out romance. I already know the answer but let me put it in a convoluted, torturous way that most romantic authors like to build into their story. Barbara Cartland comes to mind and quickly vanishes, even though she writes period romances and thats the only genre I like, in this category ( is genre bigger than category?, I will have to look up). Judith McNaught also comes to mind and lingers a little, she does write a plausible plot with an inherent twist or more than one twist that are quite or almost believable as the story unfolds. Mainly because of the background she tries to build. However, I have noticed some obvious examples of her trying to have characters reminiscent of famous characters by, say, Ishiguro. Give me some credit here, it cannot be a Mills and Boon or Silhouette story that I want to live in. I am not 12. The answer is Stephen King. His characters get the best ( or maybe the worst) of the fantastical and the romantic world. The best chemistry, the deepest bond that lasts even after a beloved dies. The real thing. No compromises will be accepted.
Let us not forget a philosophical story, that tells a tale with mind bending insight into others’ minds, societal structure and even the most probable future of mankind. I have not read a whole of writers in this genre ( maybe it is bigger!), so I am positive I will miss a few or a lot. From Dostoevsky to Aldous Huxley, Ishiguro to Steinbeck, even Ayn Rand ( but no, she won’t be the choice), Jostein Gaarder, Sun Tzu, Guevera’s Motorcycle Diaries, NOT Paul Coelho ( i hate him), Bertrand Russell. This is a very very hard choice for me. Perhaps because, I really want to be living in this genre, because life is the real thing and these people sure knew it and know it and write it. Give me a few more years, guv’nor.. I will know it then. Maybe.