Friday, February 1, 2013 In Copy | trackback

Don’t be a bully, pursue your personal legend, and always tell me the truth! Story time.

Books 2012 in review

I read at least five stories last year. It is always easier and faster to read a story, my favorite genre did not change: Mystery, thriller, detective, and always, always a story with an end. I hate stories that have no ending!

The Sittaford Mystery (Agatha Christie)

But it’s an awful temptation to be a bully, especially if people won’t stand up to you.

Agatha really knows a lot about human nature. Not everyone is like that of course, but she drew a character, and fiction writers have the liberty of making politically incorrect statements, as controversial as they might get.

Agatha Christie was and still is one of the best detective and mystery story tellers. She created this line of art that we take for granted nowadays, where the hook and the core of the story, is not the action, nor narrative, but the the story itself. There aren’t many writers who choose to write a compelling mystery without putting the star in danger. Even mystery stories written for kids revolve around the action and thriller that goes along with detective work. Agatha is different. You never feel while reading the stories that the characters are endangered, or vulnerable. You do not sit at the edge of your seat reading the next line in a hurry to see what happens next. But what you do instead, is stop reading, retrace a bit, dwell upon few words, and dive in your own thoughts, trying to figure out how it happened, and why, before Agatha tells you.

If you like Agatha’s stories, chances are you can tell the victim and the killer after few pages of Ms Marple’s, and it takes you longer to read one of Poirot’s.

61 Hours (Lee Child)

A phobia would be a fear, of course, possibly of commitment or entanglement. A philia would imply love, possibly of freedom or opportunity.

I have phobia, no I have philia! This this the only Lee Child I read (Amazon kept recommending him for me because I am a Grisham fan!) and it is one of Jack Reecher’s series. At first I did not know Jack was a series star, I really thought he was the culprit. But once I realized he wasn’t, it was pretty clear to me who was, and why. I did not appreciate the violence detailed in putting up the lines of the story. There isn’t much intelligent work, it is more like building a new Bourne character, only slower, dumber, and less articulate.

Prison riots are rare. Like revolutions in a nation’s history. The conditions have to be exactly right

And exactly right for millions of people. That’s why wars and revolutions cannot be onset by man alone.

‘Eventually you’ll want to stay somewhere.’
‘Hasn’t happened so far.’
‘See how you feel thirty years from now.’
‘That’s a far horizon.’
‘It will come faster than you expect.’

I feel like both parties of this conversation!

The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)

This novel has been written in 1981, and I did not realize it until some chapters down the road. The thing that bothered me was the lack of mobile phones! And what set me off at last was that the author never told us why the characters wouldn’t use any mobile phones. That was when I decided to check the date!

There was first a TV series in the ’80s about the character, before the movie in 2003. The novel is very different from the movie. The movie I can only say is a lot better. It is always a mistake to read a story about technology that has been written or set in the past. Big mistake.

Bureaucratic mentality had not changed in several millenniums. At the mention of a superior officer’s name, one followed orders.

Determined killers avoided taking the wrong life, not from compassion but for practicality; in any ensuing panic the real target might escape.

Tell me the truth; I’ll know if you’re lying.

My favorite line, he keeps repeating it as if it really works:

Tell me the truth!

The identity of your employer. A name and sufficient proof to have sealed in an envelope and given to an attorney, to be held throughout your natural life. But if your life were to end unnaturally, even accidentally, he’d be instructed to open the envelope and reveal the contents.

I think this trick was used in the Firm, the movie. When Mitch dumps all that he knows in a boat that sails indefinitely, if something may happen to him, it should land. A TV show aired last couple of years based on the Firm only set in 2003. That mistake again! The show was canceled.

The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)

A philosopher teaching you about life, when he knows very little about it as it seems. I do not take my advice from someone still in search for the truth. So generally speaking I did not appreciate this story, nor did it bother me much.

If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.

Goes back to my old motto, I’m good at washing the dishes, I know, but doesn’t mean I want to be a dish-washer.

Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is.

This is a dangerous statement to make, as it’s not always true. I wanted to be a photographer when I was young! Some people find their “personal legends” after 40.

If you start out by promising what you don’t even have yet, you’ll lose your desire to work toward getting it.

Many psychologists agree. If you share your plans with third-party that would hold you back as you would consider sharing it part of of the achievement. So:

استعينوا على قضاء حوائجكم بالسر والكتمان

Everyone in the market fell to their knees, touched their foreheads to the ground, and took up the chant.

Paolo should have spent a little more time researching Muslim prayers, this is absurd!

You must love the desert, but never trust it completely. Because the desert tests all men: it challenges every step, and kills those who become distracted.

Yikes, I am driven towards -and by- distraction!

life really is generous to those who pursue their Personal Legend

The Rackateer (John Grisham)

I have to say I was waiting for a novel like that for a while, forget about story telling skills, we all know Grisham is excellent at that, but I was waiting for somehow a plot, some legal thriller, a bit of court-room thriller. Although this isn’t one of Grisham’s better ones, but it is different, and I loved it, loved reading it, loved the surprises, and the details. Of course, like in all thrillers and movies of this kind, there are quite some stretches and what I think are plot holes. But it’s part of the thrill really.

Grisham was previously a lawyer. He creates plots making every use of his law knowledge. Court-room thrillers are nothing like how Grisham makes them. Some of his best are A Time to Kill, The Firm, A Few Good Men, and my favorite is Runaway Jury.


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