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.


#2

One to recommend in the vein of spy stories…

One to recommend because it’s just a good darn book…


#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.


#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: