Thursday, November 26, 2009

Though first in question, is they secondary

I’ve just returned from a quick trip to California to see a couple of hockey games, and I was able to do a bit of reading on the plane. The problem I’m going to have with this list is I’m not a very fast reader. I absorb everything I read, but it takes me a lot longer to get through a book. If I try to read something too fast, I end up missing things, and have to go back and re-read half the book.

The second problem I have with reading a book and The Spy who Came in from the Cold is proving to be no exception, is that I become curious about certain important elements in a book, be it the character or the setting or the era. While a book might be good at describing everything, it might not complete the back story. As a result, I end up doing a lot of secondary reading or research. For this novel, being set during the cold war, I've ended up doing a lot of reading about early 1960's Europe, espionage, the Berlin Wall, and so on. It really slows down my progress on a book, but I have so much trouble leaving these questions, swirling around in my head, unanswered.

I’ve almost finished this first novel however, and I have to say I’m totally surprised. This book isn’t at all what I thought it was going to be.

While I didn't really know anything about the story of this book before I started out, one scene has reminded me that I've seen a small bit of the movie. I remember flipping channels one lazy Sunday a few years ago and coming across a black and white film with Richard Burton. In the scene I saw, Burton was arguing with a grocer over some canned goods at the store. At the time, after seeing the title, I wondered what kind of spy movie had a scene in a grocery store, where the protagonist seemed to be arguing over the price of a can of corn. I love watching James Bond movies, but I don’t think I’d like them as much if they focused on the day to day things Bond did while he wasn’t spying. Imagine the disappointment one would have if “Dr. No” was about Bond’s latest visit to the chiropodist. Seeing the lead character discussing canned goods seemed just as dull. However, now having read most of this book, it not makes sense, but also wasn't dull at all. In fact, it’s quite a clever scene.

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