I’m mid-reading on several avenues at once right now.
After having read the first two of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher collection, Killing Floor (1997) and Die Trying (1998), I went on to start Umberto Eco’s The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana (2004) I needed an intellectual fix after Child. Well crafted drivel selling 100,000,000 copies and counting, but so formulaic to my eye: the very opposite of thrilling or entertaining to me, as in annoyingly repetitive and transparently signposted, even though written to a formula of process rather than one of plot or content. Not a genre that appeals to me, written or cinematic, without the premise that Andy Martin’s Reacher Said Nothing (2015) is not only by an author I greatly admire, but is also topping recommended must-read lists. Writing whose craft I can and do appreciate.
Anyway, reminded that the first two were a a set of three we’d bought, I paused on Eco to read Child’s third Tripwire. Sadly, no respite, but at least I’d done my duty in prepartion for Make Me (2015) and Reacher Said Nothing (The Making of Make Me)(2015) by now on order.
Finishing Tripwire, the order hadn’t yet arrived, so I went back to Mysterious Flame again. But now it has, so I’m reading Child again. So help me, Make Me, 28 years after the first three, Child still has doors “sucked” open and closed! Apart from forensic curiosity, as in a car crash, say, I can’t imagine why I’d pick up another Lee Child. Ever. Except to learn the craft.
Martin’s interest is also forensic, literary criticism aimed at the creative process, rather than the content. Mostly Reacher says nothing, but then neither really does Child so far as I can tell. But, how exactly does one create material that sells in such mind-boggling quantities? I guess every would-be writer wants to know that kinda secret <cough>.
[Post Note: Andy has now also written a second volume “With Child” on working with Child’s writing and readers, and Heather Martin has a full biography “The Reacher Guy” in the pipeline.]
However the only reason for making this post – and being gratuitously rude about Child is clearly a mean and pointless quest – is because I stumbled acros a 2015 Child sentence that said pretty much exactly the same as Eco in 2004!
And I can’t for the life of me remember what it was or find it again. Knowing you know something subjectively even though you can’t remember what it is objectively, is Eco’s Mysterious Flame of course.