Sunday, February 19, 2006

Purity of Blood a wild, rollicking read

13. The Body Artist, Don DeLillo. Fiction, 2-14, pp. 124

14. Purity of Blood, Arturo Perez-Reverte. Fiction, 2-15, pp. 267

15. Christopher Marlowe, Poet & Spy, Park Honan. Biography, 2-19, pp. 367

I started Park Honan’s Christopher Marlowe Poet & Spy on January 29 and finished it February 19. That’s an average of 16 pages a day, which is about all I could read in a single sitting. Honan’s prose is serviceable, but dense. In fairness, this biography of the 16th Century poet and playwright isn’t mean for the general public. Like his earlier work, Shakespeare A Life, it’s an academic work with a healthy helping of literary analysis. Personally, I would have preferred a Penguin Lives treatment of Kit Marlowe – a concise 120 pages; he was born only to die a quick, brutal and mysterious death, leaving behind a few extraordinary works.

Purity of Blood is the second in Perez-Reverte’s series set in Spain during the Inquisition's reign of terror and featuring Captain Alatriste, a gloomy, principled sword-for-hire. The series, which appeared in Spain years earlier, is just now appearing in America based on Perez-Reverte’s success with such books as The Club Dumas and Queen of the South. In the Alatriste series, Perez-Reverte emerges as a modern day Dumas. The books are a wild, rollicking ride. The series seems to have found an audience--the publisher, Putnam, is promising three additional books starring Alatriste in the next three years.

Don DeLillo’s Underworld was a lyrical, sometimes difficult book. The Body Artist is simply difficult. DeLillo, like Ishiguro, is extremely talented, but wildly uneven.

No comments:

Post a Comment