Thursday, November 11, 2010

November's books

#11, Night Without End by Alistair MacLean (1959)

Yes, this one might seem off a bit, but in keeping with the theme of childhood books, somehow (?) I got hooked on this writer's action-espionage series when I found them in our library, while in sixth grade. Apparently, it sparked a life-long love affair with action-adventure, espionage, and well-written thrillers.

MacLean's books sparked a host of movies in the 1960s but this one and a couple of others I really liked never made it to the screen. This particular novel is about a passenger planeload of people who crash near the ice cap in Greenland. Ouch. Great fare for an imaginative child.

This series of books started my trend for reading everything by one author in a huge gulp. I love it.

The twists and turns of his plots, especially in these early books, are marvelous. How the hero and friends survive the weather and the baddies among them is masterful. See, the cover says so: "Master Storyteller." The fact is that we too often dismiss "popular" books and don't take the time to see why they're popular, or how they reach beyond genre or "pulp" to demonstrate real skill and technique. My students and I argued about the Twilight series and the Harry Potter series--they prefer the second, as do I--but Twilight is ragingly popular. Why? I don't know, but as aspiring writers perhaps they'd better take a look, at least, at the market, the audience, and different forms of "successful" or "good" writing, in order to make an informed choice about their own future path.

I never said they'd all be masterpieces!

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