Thursday, June 02, 2005

READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

It’s a new month, and the screensaver for June is the Marx Brothers, in all their hilarious glory.

Ironic that Deep Throat officially came out of hiding yesterday. I’ve been reading a novel full of Washington intrigue, scandal, deception and back-stabbing. It’s Brad Meltzer’s THE FIRST COUNSEL, about a young attorney in the White House counsel’s office who goes out with the First Daughter, only to witness what may or may not be a crime. After that it becomes a game of Who Do You Trust? as there are murders, compromising situations, blackmail and assorted other predicaments.

I like Meltzer’s writing. It’s sparse and gets to the heart of the matter quickly. His stories are often centered around high-power people, such as lawyers, financial wizards, and the like. But they also have a Hitchcock feel in the sense that they usually center around a decent, honest guy who gets sucked into circumstances beyond his control.

Regrettably, Meltzer may fall into the category what we’ll call “summer reading.” People often go on vacation and take along these books that are as thick as a brick, usually by authors such as Grisham or Clancy. Stephen King, $10.99 a pound. Some writers will pander to such people, for whom reading is an effort to fight off complete and total boredom. If you fall into such a category, Meltzer may prove to be a welcome find.

But if you’re like me, reading is not a seasonal thing just because there’s nothing good on TV. Melzter is the kind of talent who can simply tell a good, entertaining story. And that’s not a bad thing at all. I would put Louis L’Amour and Mickey Spillane in this category as well.

Let’s see, what else have I read lately? Spider-Man 2, the novel of the movie. Kind of pointless to read a book based on a movie based on a comic book, I know. But I appreciate discovering the bits that come in under the radar while watching a movie, such as fragments that don’t make it into the final print. The book featured cameos by other Marvel characters, such as Hank Pym, better known as Ant Man, Giant Man, and Yellowjacket.

And I’m always reading old pulp novels, usually Doc Savage or the Shadow, or some private eye type of character. But next up is Greenwich Killing Time, a mystery by Kinky Friedman. Can ya tell I love a mystery?

I hope I don’t come across as a snob who spends all his time in a chair reading. I watch my fair share of junk on television. Like Pandora, I have a fondness for the cartoons of my youth, especially the original run of Jonny Quest. So much so I have a framed JQ poster published by Comico back in the mid-’80s when they were doing the comic book. It hangs on the wall of my own little Fortress of Solitude.

What I like about JQ is it pre-dates that era when Saturday morning cartoons had to be educational. Jonny took me to exotic foreign lands; that was education enough. Then, in the early 1970s, Filmation lead this wave where cartoons got a bit preachy about helping others and being a good citizen. Even at the age of eight, I knew I was being beaten over the head with somebody’s sermon.

But considering this was the era of Watergate, I guess they were hoping to avoid another generation of “respectable” adults like Nixon and his cronies.

Interesting how things often come full circle, isn’t it?

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