Monday, July 7, 2014

Just Enough Time for a Few Short Stories

With the hoppin' city picnic and fireworks on the agenda for the weekend, I figured there wouldn't be much reading time available.  I did manage to finish Cold Dish and start our discussion book, Gone Girl.  I flew through the final half of Cold Dish.  That's the way it works for me and mysteries.  Once the plot gets rolling, I find it hard to walk away and I plow through to the end.  At some point, I can't rest until I know whodunit and why.  For me, this book was more about character than plot, although the plot kept moving, jumping, twisting and never boring.  I was disappointed with the end, however (Sorry Steve).  Too many suspense novels resolve with a common reason for the perpetrator having committed the crime.  Well, that was a convoluted statement, but I don't want to give anything away.  That single disappointment did diminish my enjoyment of the book, and I will  read another Craig Johnson book soon.  You should too.

In fact, Johnson has a collection of short stories coming out soon and I know I will buy a copy.  Short stories were on deck on Sunday due to the busy weekend.  I first discovered Graham Greene when I saw the film version of The Quiet American.  The first time around I was so taken with the cinematography that I missed the story.  I never imagined there could be such lush,serene beauty in Saigon.  Breathtaking.  The second time around, I was able to concentrate on the story of a CIA agent working under cover in Vietnam. Since seeing that film, I have read  one or two Greene novels.  His main characters are generally highly scrupled individuals who face a major moral dilemma forcing them to question  closely held beliefs.  These personal moral issues are frequently entwined with political issues - shady political issues.

The few stories I read from this collection kept to those themes, but one or two strayed.  Although Greene is not often considered a mystery writer, he wrote several crime novels and shorts stories.  In "The Basement Room" he skillfully crafted a psychological drama based on lies and  pangs on conscience.   The truth V. lies cat and mouse games move quickly and the anxiety driven protagonist finds himself locked in a web of lies because the truth appears unbelievable.

Hawthorne wrote some dark (really?) and challenging short stories.  Haven't read many of them since torturing my high school student with them.  Maybe it's time....Watch out Dr. Heidigger...I'm coming for you.

Thanks for stopping by.