Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Real Thriller

We have just recently learned that in late 2007 Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran. Over the next decade or so as more details of these operations become known, it will not be surprising that some works of fiction will take such operations as their background in much that same way that Joan Didion’s The Last Thing He Wanted has as its context the covert operations with the Nicaraguan contra forces in 1984.

I don’t know how I came to have this book on my bookshelf but what a terrific surprise. All I knew of Joan Didion was Slouching Toward Bethlehem, a 1968 collection of essays describing her experiences in California in the 1960s, and The Year of Magical Thinking, an account of the year (2004) following the death of her husband. In between she published this novel, a “thriller” in every best sense of the word.

The main character is a woman reporter for the Washington Post who quits her job covering the 1984 Presidential primaries and subsequently, in doing a favor for her father, becomes drawn into danger. The writing is superb and the structure taut. No need to feel guilty about wasting your time. Just be sure that once you start you have cleared your calendar to finish.

Readers better versed than I in history will have an advantage in appreciating the allusions and references throughout. But even I understood “November 22 1963” without further explanation – because none is provided.

I’m not sure that I really understand even now what actually happened at the end of the book. I would love to be able to discuss it.

No comments:

Post a Comment