People ask me what other authors I like to read. Richard North Patterson and Sue Grafton, for starters: two of the classiest writers of prose in the English language today. Line for line, Grafton’s prose stacks up against anyone’s in the history of the English language, and she’s a virtuoso with character development and story. Patterson is bringing to life ideas that we as Americans need to face, and he does it with elegance and heart-palpitating suspense. In “The Race,” the question is, Can an honest man become president?–And for those of us who voted for Obama in the primaries, as I did, the answer is: I sure hope so.
Lately I’ve been reading Daniel Silva. Another elegant writer who can tell a story. His painting restorer/secret agent Gabriel Allon is three-dimensional, human, and mesmerizing. I read Silva’s book and think, I wish I’d written that.
I read for pleasure and knowledge, I read fast, and I read everything. There’s plenty out there that I can’t believe actually got published. There’s a lot that’s great, too. I’ve become wary of current books touted as ‘literary’ because that usually means they are precious, self-congratulatory and unreadable, with unlikable characters. But if I look back fifty years or more, that wasn’t the case. Dickens is full, rich and satisfying, and Jane Austen never gets stale. And there are occasional evenings when I kick back with a glass of red wine and the Complete Works of Shakespeare in my lap, and I read aloud from his plays. What could be more fun than that?