Thursday, December 07, 2006

TRUE CONFESSIONS OF A FICTION READER


When I was in college, I developed a love of fine poetry and literature. After I had taken my first literature course, I knew that I had found the subject in which I wanted to major. As I explained in my very first post, the title of this blog comes from my all-time favorite poem: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T.S. Eliot.

When I began college in the fall of 1980, the world of literature was new and amazing to me. I loved every minute that I spent absorbed in it. I strongly considered going to graduate school to major in English literature, and ultimately becoming a college professor in the subject. Although I felt certain that I would have enjoyed that course of study, I finally determined that I could make a much better living as a lawyer than as an English teacher.

I give you this background so that you will understand something of the reading culture from which I emerged. I was originally taught that only high-brow literature was worth reading, and that the reading of "ordinary" fiction novels was something of a waste of time. I had some wonderful English professors, and I am very thankful to have had them. At the same time, I must now acknowledge that some of them may have been considered to have been intellectual snobs. Although they were kind, and certainly favored reading generally, I occasionally heard them scoff when popular novels of the day were mentioned. All of this made me think that the reading of popular works of fiction was somehow beneath me.

I no longer feel that way. Although I resisted it for some years, I began reading popular fiction regularly some 10 or 15 years ago. It all began when my brother Jonathan told me how much he had been enjoying a series of books written by Lawrence Sanders. The protagonist of that series was a hard-boiled homicide detective named Edward X. Delaney. Jonathan told me how much he was enjoying reading about Delaney's exploits, so I decided to give it a try. I found that the novels were well-written and exciting. I also found that they provided me with a delightful means of escape after a day of intense trial preparations or grueling depositions. I ended up reading a great number of books written by Lawrence Sanders.

Since that time, I have become an unapologetic reader of novels. I have found that there is a tremendous wealth of fiction that is stimulating and thought-provoking. I spend hours reading and thinking about the books that I have read. Some of my favorite authors have become Ken Follett, Michael Connelley and Val McDermid. If you have not read any of their novels, I highly recommend that you give them a try. It is my intention to begin discussing some of my favorite novels with you as time allows.

At present, I have begun reading Veritas, by William Lashner. Thus far, I am enjoying it very much. The main character in Veritas is a Philadelphia lawyer named Victor Carl. He always seems to find himself in perplexing--and sometimes dangerous--dilemmas. This is the second book that I have read in which Victor Carl is featured. William Lashner is an attorney himself, and I think that he captures well the mentality of a lawyer.

Prior to Veritas, I most recently read A Perfect Evil, by Alex Kava. I enjoyed A Perfect Evil immensely. I was previously unfamilar with Kava, but I have come to discover that she is an excellent writer. She kept me in suspense and anticipation throughout the book. I eagerly look forward to reading more of her work.

One more for now: Just prior to the Kava book, I read Final Scream, by Lisa Jackson. I did enjoy that book, but not nearly as much as A Perfect Evil. This was my second reading of a Lisa Jackson offering. Although I do think that she is a good and entertaining writer, there are some elements of her plot lines which bother me. The romantic entanglements that she creates are sometimes too predictable. Unlike Alex Kava and Val McDermid, she also sometimes fails to accurately capture the male perspective. For instance, she goes to great effort at times to have the male characters discuss their erections with other males--a phenomenon which does not quite ring true to me. Notwithstanding these problems, I still generally enjoy her writing style and story lines.

The works that I am discussing here may not be considered to be classic literature. By and large, however, they are enjoyable and worthwhile. By no means are they a waste of time.

More later. Skoal!

--Matthew

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too have become a fan of William Lashner. He is hilarious, while at the same time being insightful from a legal standpoint. I look forward to hearing what you think about Veritas. I have not yet read that one.

By the way, what time are we meeting at your house for the Christmas gathering?

Krafty John

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11:30....And I'm counting on you to bring the corn pudding!

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