Saturday, April 17, 2010

Alan Furst

I am in my Alan Furst period right now and I’m enjoying it immensely.
by Charlie Leck

The mystery genre intrigues me. I find the good mystery thriller captivating. The spy novel, within this category is, perhaps, my favorite. The accurate historical spy novel takes all of these to a higher level by including an extraordinary opportunity to learn. When this format is written exceptionally well you have struck the proverbial gold of the reading pile.

I wrote glowingly for you about Alan Furst back on January 20 and told you I was on a quest to read all his offerings to date. I’ve nearly completed the task and need to check back in to tell you the effort is I everything I hoped it would be.

I think Furst is a genius. Certainly he is the master of the historical spy novel. He is a masterful writer and I cannot recommend him any more highly than I do. If this variety is of interest to you, do not fail to read his work. His second book, Dark Star, is among the best I have ever read.

His ability to describe and bring characters to life is extraordinary. I’ll end this brief blog today with this example of his description of a character in Dark Star and another paragraph from that novel.

“Baumann was tall and spare, with thin, colorless lips and the face, ascetic, humorless, of a medieval prince or monastic scholar. His skin was white, as though wind or sun have never touched it. Perhaps fifty, he was hairless from forehead to crown, which drew attention to his eyes, cold and green, the eyes of a man who saw what others did not, yet did not choose to say what he saw.”

And, the quality of the following paragraph is not uncommon in his writing.

“What he remembered later was not that he had fought bravely, he had simply decided that life mattered more than anything else in the world and had contrived to cling to it. In those year he had seen heroes, and how they went about their work, how they did what had to be done, and he knew he was not one of them.”

Indeed, Alan Furst is a remarkably good writer and I recommend him to you.

1 comment:

  1. I completed the Furst canon several years ago and yearn for each new book, of which a new one is supposed to come out in June.
    I've starting reading his books through a second time and it is just as much fun as the first time.
    The writing is top-notch, the characters are sketched so that you ache for how tenuous their lives are.