Tuesday, May 31, 2016

December 6, an International Thriller

“Read-Around-the-Clock” with books that have the number six (6) in the title during the month of June. The novel that marks 6 on the library's wall clock is December 6, written by Martin Cruz Smith. Once you notice that this book's cover is “wrapped” in Japan's flag you will realize the significance of the title's date.
The story's time and setting are certainly obvious, and the author creates a vivid image to transport readers into 1940s Japanese culture. Harry Niles, main character, finds himself in a challenging and overwhelming situation. He is an American, but has been in Japan since he came to the country with his missionary parents as a young boy. On December 6, Harry is caught between two lovers, on the run from a samurai with a vengeance, and trying to stop an attack on Hawaii. Harry feels torn between two loyalties. As a foreigner, the Japanese don’t trust him and having adapted so well to the Japanese lifestyle, Americans are unsure of him too. The talk of spies is all around. Heads are literally rolling, or should I say being “boxed” left and right. I recommend reading this slowly to absorb the pictures Smith paints with his descriptions. The details, the smells, colors, music, tastes of a crowded city are all here. You will “armchair” travel through time and visit the Far East with this pulp fiction story, just be quick and ready to duck.

Newsweek describes Martin Cruz Smith as Joseph Conrad on amphetamines, a true storyteller. He is best known for his thriller novel made blockbuster film, Gorky Park. He is a two-time winner of the Dashiell Hammett Award from the North American Branch of the International Association of Crime Writers.

Recently, Mr. Smith has revealed that he is living with the debilitating disease of Parkinson’s. As his disease progressed, he became unable to write like he used to. In an article for Well magazine, Mr. Smith tells how his wife, Emily, has become his typist as he dictates to her. This technique required him to retrain his brain, since he mentions that he has always thought with this fingertips, and not touching the keyboard when writing is a challenge for him. “I’m not who I was since Parkinson’s,” he said. And sometimes, “I don’t find the first word I’m after. But I’ll take the second word, the third word. I’ll take it because I like new ways of expressing things. It makes the work alive.”

Mr. Smith’s work is definitely alive! Stop by the library at 6:00 p.m. on June 6 to talk about December 6 or ANY book that has the number six in its title.

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