A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster
I have a friend, or maybe a relative, I can’t remember who it was who told me they write a mini-review of every book they read. That’s a good idea when you think about it. They simply take a copy of their list of reviews whenever they go to the bookstore to make sure they don’t do what I do which is to read it, toss the book on a pile, and forget about it. That helps to explain why more times than I care to remember I buy a novel and three pages into it realize I read the dumb thing last year, or worse, last week.
I am not all that bright. I think I told you not long ago that I rented a Rambo movie once, watched it, then rented the same movie the next day because the blurb on the back of the video box sounded a lot more interesting than the one I rented the day before.
My latest bit of stupidity is to read a trilogy out of order, in fact backwards. I was merrily reading Len Deighton’s Hope when I realized that not only was one of the characters I was reading about already dead, I remembered his murder. But how could that be? How can he be alive? And then it dawned on me, I read the last book of the trilogy last month. What do I do now? Not only am I confused, what about that pretty blonde German fraulein who is waiting for him in that little hotel in Allenstein bei Magdeburg and the room and the girl are already paid for?
I did the only sensible thing I could do, I finished reading the book and went looking through the used book stores for the first book of the trilogy, the one that supposedly started this whole adventure. But I can’t do that since I can’t find Faith anywhere. That’s the book that begins this series and even if I do find it, it won’t help because Faith is only the first book of this trilogy; it is not part of trilogy that came before this one with the same characters and the one that started it all. I know that because I read Spy Sinker in the spring and it is the last book of Spy Hook, Spy Line and Spy Sinker series. Now I am reading it again because I have forgotten who’s who. Now I have to go looking for Spy Hook, Spy Line and Charity before I can find out how the complete story ends.
But what if I do find all three and finish the first two trilogies? What do I do if there is a third? And there sure in hell will be because Deighton is addicted to writing trilogies and unfortunately, I am addicted to reading them. Let’s say I find the first book of his next trilogy and start into reading that one? Then I am trapped. Len Deighton was born in 1929, what if he croaks before he finishes the last book in the next trilogy? Thousands of readers will be wandering the bookstores saying “What in hell happened to Bernard Sampson? He was just sneaking across the border into Russia and . . . now, nothing.” Some people just don’t know when to quit.
I know a lot of writers are willing to carry on a series after the original author has gone to his or her reward. Ian Fleming only wrote 12 James Bond books but the movies will go on forever, although most of them only slightly resemble the original books. Indiana Jones, Jack Reacher, and John Wick will still be pumping out movies long after we are gone, although I’m not sure about John Wick, John has killed so many people there won’t be enough villains left and he will have to retire. If he does he will likely write a trilogy to pass the time.
I think that is how the Bible got started. Eve said something funny about Adam’s poison ivy fig leaf and Adam said, “Let me write that down in this here trilogy.” Then Abraham, after he finished begotting Sarah one evening, added three books of his own. And then Joshua gave Moses a new quill for Christmas, and so on and so on until here we are today – you, trying to make sense out of this column, and me scouring the bookstores looking for a cheap copy of Charity.