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I've been reading...

Posted by David Mehegan  March 14, 2008 04:38 PM

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...John Buchan's little thriller, "The 39 Steps," which was published in 1915. It was made into a classic movie by Alfred Hitchcock, with Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll, and the original remains a remarkably readable book. Buchan was a master of the novel in which action jumps off the page from the first paragraph, which we today associate with the books of Robert Ludlum or Tom Clancy. Fortunately, I never saw the movie, so the book is entirely new to me.

It's a short book, only 149 pages, and recently was republished in pocket-sized paperback by Penguin. Here is the first paragraph, full of information and suggestion and energy:

"I returned from the City about three o'clock on that May afternoon pretty well disgusted with life. I had been three months in the Old Country, and was fed up with it. If anyone had told me a year ago that I would have been feeling like that I should have laughed at him; but there was the fact. The weather made me liverish, the talk of the ordinary Englishman made me sick, I couldn't get enough exercise, and the amusements of London seemed as flat as soda-water that has been standing in the sun. 'Richard Hannay," I kept telling myself, 'you have got into the wrong ditch, my friend, and you had better climb out.'"

Stay tuned...

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1 comments so far...
  1. And when you're finished with that, you will want to read "Rogue Male" by Geoffrey Household. Both writers have as their protagonists echt Englishmen who are sickened by the modern world--which has become so...so...unEnglish, so....enervated and unbeefish and lacking in birdsong.

    Posted by Mrs Miniver March 14, 08 06:01 PM
 
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