What are you reading?

#1

Falcó by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

I’m not sure whether there is an English edition of this as yet. Pérez-Reverte is perhaps best known outside Spain for his Capitain Alatriste series of historical swashbuckling, and of course for The Club Dumas, the source to Polanski’s THE NINTH GATE.

Falcó is a much more recent work by Pérez-Reverte, his first in a series of three - up to now - Spanish civil war spy thrillers. It was marketed with an emphasis on that typical Hemingway atmosphere we’ve come to expect from that period. And indeed you can find the odd moment of For-Whom-The-Bell-Tolls pathos. Only that’s entirely debunked by the cynicism of its protagonist and the unsparing brutality of events.

What Falcó really is (and why I mention this book here) is a retake on the Bond template, both the character and his creator, to whom Falcó owes more than just a little inspiration.

All the usual Bond paraphernalia is in effect: brand cigarettes, brand lighter, brand clothes and brand gun. There’s an M figure with the rank of admiral, there’s a backstory in the murky world of arms dealing and an unsuccessful military education, there’s womanising, gambling. And there’s torture and bestiality of the worst kind.

And all of the above is blurred - and sometimes inverted - through the lens of the Spanish civil war setting. A Bond thriller if Fleming had been Spanish. And if he had been ruthless enough to tear down the whole romance Fleming so carefully employs in his tales.

Pérez-Reverte knows no such qualms, he tears apart the entire idea with just as much gusto as he used to build it up. And he spares his readers little when an Eagle-Has-Landed adventure turns into a cynical backstabbing op.

Even the ending, bloody and brutal as it is, turns out to be a deep bow towards Casino Royale and its protagonist.

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#3

Far geekier, but there is a Bondian connection: “Karman” by Giorgio Agamben.

It is Agamben’s most recent text–a philosophical investigation into concepts of law, power, violence and exclusion (among other things) in Western European culture.

Bondian part: As you can tell from my posts, in addition to caring about mise en scene, I also care about the cultural aspects of movies, and I have always found crime/spy novels and films interesting windows into how a society imagines crime/violence/punishment and other social issues. Agatha Christie was my first “adult” author, and I still re-read her—most recently “After the Funeral,” which is interesting as a providing a window onto post-WWII life in England, with an emphasis on the lives of women (a subject Christie does not always get credit for tackling).

Part of my interest in Bond films is how they have adapted over time to the culture(s) in which they were made and released. With varying degrees of self-awareness, the films provide a chronicle of social attitudes—of what can and cannot be said; what should and should not be said; and what expressions/attitudes find wide acceptance resulting in (often tremendous) financial remuneration.

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#4

Starting off the new year with a revisiting of an old favorite. Colonel Sun is resting on my nightstand. Been well over a decade since I last went through it. Just into the damage control briefing and trail pointing to Greece. Similar tone to Fleming, but Amis does have his own flow.

#5

Rabbit, Run by updike and The Arabian Nights by?

Though i don’t know how i fit it in with this CBN addiction i’ve fallen victim to :dizzy_face:

#6

I’m currently reading Becoming by Michelle Obama. :slightly_smiling_face:

#7

Just finished going through 2 world expanding books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series: Fire and Blood and The World of Ice and Fire. Currently, I’m reading Forever and a Day having not had a chance until now. I really like it so far, though it’s weird reading a Bond story with another 007 in it.

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#8

Recently read Elevation and The Outsider by Stephen King.

I am a huge fan of King, and both were excellent. I also enjoy reading the stories that are the US mini-series of the future!

#9

Reading “ The Spy who Loved me “. I’m so glad the only thing they took from the book was the title.

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#10

I just finished NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Soon to be a US TV series

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#11

Yea, it’s definitely a weak entry, though the character of Vivien Michel is excellent.

Currently in Diamonds are Forever.

#13

Just started a re-read of The Long Goodbye, great melancholic atmosphere.

#14

I have decided to finally read the Harry Potter books, to see what all the fuss is about, and to understand what the hell my kids are talking about.

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#16

Continuing my slow march through the Fleming timeline. I’m currently on From Russia with Love.

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#17

Currently reading the rather dark history of ritual suicide in Japan - book called “Seppuku - A History of Samurai Suicide”

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#18

Real Tigers by Mick Herron

Herron has started an exceptionally fun series about the ‘slow horses’ of intelligence work: disgraced agents like the one who left sensitive data CDs containing secret files of British intelligence on the tube.

This actually happened some years ago and you can’t help wondering what fate befell the responsible civil servant. Mick Herron gives the answer in his Slough House/Jackson Lamb series: cases like this are forwarded to a London outpost and HR dearly hopes to never hear from them again.

Real Tigers is the third book in the series, a good-humoured take on the genre from the direction Len Deighton used to be famous for; it’s down-to-earth, yet bizarre; the characters are fictional but some of them are clearly recognisable. And the entire folklore of backstabbing on MI5’s turf - down Whitehall corridors and inside that famous ‘greater scheme of things’ - rings disturbingly true.

But the series isn’t aiming at documentary; every book so far contains a more or less ‘classic’ espionage plot along the lines you’d expect maybe from Charles Cumming or David Wolstencroft - only from the perspective of the outcasts of Slough House.

A fun series I can recommend every fan of the more realistic side of the genre. There is some action, but it’s not the variety of extended shootouts for the gun enthusiast or fights for knife fetishists. The emphasis is on suspense and sarcasm, rather than Bentleys and Baccarat.

#19

Good lord!

#20

Its a real laugh a minute let me tell you! :wink: