Saturday, July 16, 2011

Books I May Not Finish

I am becoming much too impatient now that I'm in my '60's, especially with books. Anyone who's read this blog for a while knows that I'm a fanatic about espionage. I just love it. There will never be another BBC production as brilliant and frightening as MI-5. So I've been waiting for just the right time to tackle the latest from the "master" of espionage, John LeCarre. I'm five discs in, listening to Our Kind of Traitor, and I'm ready to scream, "move it along for crying out loud!"

Today I took my three mile walk and found my mind wandering constantly. This shouldn't happen with a good spy story, should it? Not ready to give up, I worked in the yard, weeding, trimming, until I began to feel faint and it thankfully began to rain. Still, the story isn't capturing my imagination. It was so well reviewed that I have to question myself but, really, it is simply too far fetched.

Imagine this: a British couple, upwardly mobile, he's an Oxford professor, she's a litigator, are on vacation in Antigua. The tennis pro fixes Perry up for a singles match with a Russian business man who has just purchased a home on the island. When they meet up at the courts Dimitri's body guards want to search Perry's tennis bag and make a big show of their secreted weapons. Gail, the lawyer, doesn't bat an eye. Oh really? For a tennis game? Would any normal couple just walk away? Not these two.

Eventually, after much dancing around the subject, Dimitri decides that he can trust Perry and Gail to take a message back to MI-6 in London, even though they are just good citizens and not in any way attached to the secret service or Scotland Yard. He wants to defect and hopes that Perry and Gail will pave the way. It seems that Dimitri has made his fortune in money laundering through British banks and is now ready to expose those that he dealt with along the way. Sounds like shades of Rupert Murdoch! Now there's a story.

I'm sorry, but there's been such a slow build up, so much back story, so much abuse of Perry and Gail to which they respond rather blandly that I believe I'm going to have to cut them loose. If any of my readers have finished this book and want to convince me that I should too, I'm open to hearing from you, please!

The only trouble is that our library's collection of downloadable audio materials is abominable. I've searched through the last 500 titles added to the catalog and found only 5 books that I'd be remotely interested in and two of those are by Alice Hoffman. I'm sure it isn't all our fault. I understand that there are some publishers who don't immediately offer their books in this format, but please, there are people with brains out there who would like to listen to something other than James Patterson.

The other book I'm currently listening to is The Emperor of All Maladies: A History of Cancer. I know, that sounds pretty depressing but actually it's fascinating. It's just so LONG! Publishers' Weekly calls this book "magisterial." People have written passionately about the author, Dr. Siddhartha Mukerjee, and the depth of compassion he shows for his patients, their families, and the researchers and organizations that work tirelessly to stop this malignancy in our lives. Is there anyone who hasn't been touched by this disease, which can be traced back to mummified remains in ancient Egypt?

And why, why, why can't we find a cure? Not an extension of life with bouts of radiation and soul deadening chemotherapy but truly, a cure. It seems impossible that we haven't, in light of all the other diseases we've been able to eradicate, even AIDS is coming close to having a vaccine. Perhaps Dr. Mukejee will address this in his voluminous work. I, for one, will need to take a break and intersperse my reading of this history of cancer with something a bit more light hearted before I can delve back into it again. Any ideas?

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