Thursday, January 31, 2008

'The Gun Seller' ...

Ooh, I made it. Just under the wire.

Mercurie challenged me to read one book of fiction per month in 2008 because he thinks we just don't read for pleasure enough anymore.

Which is very true. For me, anyway.

So I thought I'd ease into the year-long challenge with a skinny little novel I've been meaning to read for a few years now, but then my plan changed.

When I was Christmas shopping, you see, I spied The Gun Seller staring out at me from a Borders shelf. By Hugh Laurie.

Hugh Laurie?! I didn't know Dr. Gregory House was also an author! I didn't buy the book that day, just in case someone decided to buy it for me for Christmas or decided to give me a gift card to a book-sellin' place.

But no. Christmas morning gave way to Christmas afternoon and The Gun Seller did not arrive in my hands.

So I bought it from Amazon earlier this month and took it with me on my trip to Dallas last week.

I made good headway on the outbound plane. And I even managed to read a bit on the trip, on Saturday morning, over coffee. I didn't get much read on the trip home, as I was tired from the trip (turns out, nine hours of total sleep over two nights is not enough for me) and found myself reading the same words over and over. So I threw in the towel, turned off my overhead light, covered myself with my new scarf which is practically a blanket, and dozed instead.

But I was aware that I needed to finish the book during January.

I turned the last page at 9:59 p.m. tonight. January 31. Cutting it a wee bit close, but still meeting my challenge.

So, my review of the book:

First of all, it was written in 1996. Somehow, this book had managed to elude me for 11 years. But I didn't realize it wasn't a current title until I was about three-quarters of the way through it.

It is freakishly timely, about manufactured terrorist incidents and arms deals. But then, in Hugh's part of the world, terrorism was and is more commonplace than it was here in 1996. We're just now catching up, sad to say.

It is also, despite its heavy-handed subject matter, a very lively read. It is laugh-out-loud funny in places. Which makes me wonder if Hugh has a hand in writing House, because I can hear the similarities between this book and that show.

Suffice it to say, I really liked it. And if you have any affinity whatsoever for Hugh, you'll like it, too. And if you've already read it, I'll presume that you did indeed like it, but do leave a comment and let me know, either way.

But if you didn't like it, I'll think you're daft.

At the end of the book is a brief interview with Hugh. The lead question is as banal as they come, but his answer is priceless. Allow me to share the exchange:

Q. What inspired you to write The Gun Seller?

A. I was inspired to write by the banality of my own life. I had been keeping a diary for some months, and when I skipped back over it, I was appalled to see what a humdrum document it was: no dinners with kings or presidents, no mountains climbed, no cartels busted, no wild animals stared down, no inside straights filled with a five hundred thousand dollar pot, no goals scored against Brazil in the World Cup final, no frostbite, no hunger, no withholding of vital information under torture — nothing. So I decided to make up a life. I just wanted to fantasize an adventure.

My boy has written the screenplay adaptation. He says he has no plans to star, that "the lead role ... will obviously have to go to a star — somebody with a clean jaw and good teeth. But if they need a waiter, or a 'Man on the Bus,' I'll put myself forward."

But he's just being modest. He'd be the perfect lead.

Before it becomes a movie, though, read the book. You won't be disappointed.

Unless you're one of those posers who tells everyone that you read Foucault. Then you might pretend not to like this book on principle.

But everyone else will like it.

And Hugh can use the royalties to buy another motorcycle.


Blogger Mercurie said...

Wow. Now I am glad I gave you that challenge. I didn't know Hugh Laurie had written a book. I'll definitely have to check it out!

7:52 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Sounds like a great book, but tell me ... if you're are challenged to read one novel a month for pleasure, is it really pleasurable? Not that it isn't fun to read, far from it ... but it does remind one of your college literature course, doesn't it? I mean, if you translate "challenge" into "order"? Can one be ordered, or even challenged, to have fun?

I don't know - maybe I'm just babbling. Wouldn't be the first time. Especially on a Friday.

12:09 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Well, it's hardly a challenge to read a book a month. The challenge this time stemmed from staring a 300+ book on January 24th and having things like work get in the way of my time to read.

So, no, it doesn't feel like college. And I'll be starting the next novel this weekend, giving me plenty of time to finish before the end of the month.

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Writers need to read. Period. That's how writers get better.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Replica Watches said...

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8:38 AM  

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