Thursday, October 13, 2005

The thing that's amazing

about these Harvard libraries is that they have even things I couldn't get by tapping the shared resources of seven of the best university libraries in the country, including Yale and Princeton. I am going to get tons of other stuff too, it's good, but one of the things I was most excited to request from the book depository was the last of Peter Temple's novels that I hadn't yet read, Jack Irish novel #3 Dead Point. Darker, bleaker, less out-and-out funny than some of the others, but excellent nonetheless: the last fifty pages or so are superb, including an extremely well-written sex scene.

I absolutely love Temple's books, he's on my short list of particularly favorite crime writers (and the really criminal thing is that all his books haven't been published in the US). For my previous raves, in chronological order, see here, here, here, here and here. The thing I really can't believe is that it's less than a year since I first read one of Temple's books, they have so thoroughly entered my fictional landscape.

Bonus (and this is the only link in the whole post you really need to click on): Temple's amazingly sharp and funny review of John le Carre's recent novel Absolute Friends. This is a short excerpt:

It is not a pleasure to say that ABSOLUTE FRIENDS joins the list of recent le Carre novels that resemble Zeppelins: huge things that take forever to inflate, float around for a bit, then expire in flames. This one's theme is the awful fact that, for the moment, J.R. Ewing and Southfork run the world. It is a windy polemic dressed in le Carre's well-worn tweedy garments.

Perhaps the worst thing that happened to the author was being told he had transcended the spy genre. A self-consciousness of being a storyteller began to creep in - bad pathology in a novelist - and a sense that he saw his audience as captive and captivated. His plots became more and more convoluted, the writing sometimes an irritating Muzak of plummy voices uttering Pythonesque phrases. Each book took longer to wind up to the point where it begins to tick, let alone chime.

All these failings are evident in ABSOLUTE FRIENDS. The pace has become absurdly languorous, the plot sags like a boarding-house mattress, and there is a pervasive and sticky sentimentality.

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