Posts Tagged ‘novel’

A Spy in the Struggle

January 23, 2021

When you find out who you are, you will no longer be innocent. That will be sad for others to see. All that knowledge will show on your face and change it. But sad only for others, not for yourself. You will feel you have a kind of wisdom, very mistaken, but a mistake of some power to you and so you will sadly treasure it and grow it. — Lorrie Moore, A Gate in the Stairs

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. — Isaiah 43:19

“We’re all fools,” said Clemens, “all the time. It’s just we’re a different kind each day. We think, I’m not a fool today. I’ve learned my lesson. I was a fool yesterday but not this morning. Then tomorrow we find out that, yes, we were a fool today too. I think the only way we can grow and get on in this world is to accept the fact we’re not perfect and live accordingly.” — Ray Bradbury, The Illustrated Man

The editing of your own soul. — Franz Kafka

Yolanda Vance an attractive Black woman, intelligent, successful, graduates from Harvard Law School, works for a corporate law firm, a Chelsea apartment, until six months after joining the law firm they are busted in an FBI raid, securities fraud.

Yolanda is the whistle-blower, when the FBI raided she handed over the papers she had been instructed to shred.

Now a pariah, no law firm will hire her, she decides to join the FBI. A follow up position not what she wanted, the salary is half what she was earning as a corporate lawyer, but two months behind with her rent, all other options closed to her, FBI is all that is left.

During her training she is on a firing range next to an asshole who brags about the guns he owns, he lets off shots before she had donned her ear defenders.

She complains, but to no avail. Told she has to learn to handle a gun in all situations.

Next time she is on the range the asshole is intimidating another woman. She shouts at the asshole. He cannot hear her and takes off his ear defenders. When he does she lets off a volleys of shots, the woman he was intimidating does the same.

Following training she is allocated white collar crime. She is about to show her boss what she has found on laundering dirty Russian money, when he introduces her to a colleague who wants her for an undercover operation in San Francisco. She is not their ideal person, too young, lack of training, but her background fits the profile they are looking for. Her target teenage activists.

Black teenagers join gangs, not because they wish to be gangsters or drug dealers, they join because it gives them a sense of belonging, something they lack in their lives.

Red Black GREEN is a gang of teenage climate activists, they are targeting a corporation. The corporation has been given land by the city to build a facility. No benefit to the city, no taxes paid, no employment, but the residents do have a problem of dumped hazardous waste, increased incident of cancer.

Planet Greener, a dodgy Big Bushiness environmental group, provided initial funding to establish Red Black GREEN. A PR stunt to distract from oil drilling on their land.

Yolanda finds a group of teenagers, not drug dealers, not jihadists, not domestic terrorists, a group of teenagers who wish to help their community, fight climate injustice.

FBI had described the teenagers as Black Identity Extremists. What Yolanda found was a group of teenagers who wanted decent schools, safe air and water, and not to get shot by the police. What was extreme about that? In other words she had been lied to and mislead by her superiors at the FBI who had asked her to go undercover.

She begins to doubt what she is doing, checks out COINTELPRO, learns Fred Hamptpon leader of the local Black Panthers was killed in cold blood by the police. Not a lot has changed.

She confides her concerns to a senior FBI agent who warns her to be careful, to assume she is being watched, document everything because when it all blows up they will be looking for scapegoats, will dump it on her as the rookie.

Thanks to Naomi Klein for the recommendation.

I would love to see A Spy in the Struggle dramatised by Jed Mercurio as a BBC and US network collaboration.

Aya de Leon is an American novelist who teaches creative writing at the University of California Berkeley.

The Girl on the Train

September 27, 2015
The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train

Travel into Waterloo Station, as you approach London, you will see rows of Victorian houses, their long, narrow gardens stretching to the railway line.

What is true of Waterloo, is also true of Euston.

That is the setting of The Girl on the Train. What is the lives of Jason and Jess, the couple seen by the girl on the train? They seem to be an ideal couple, until one day, Rachel, the girl on the train, sees Jess with a different man.

Having somehow become part of their lives, Rachel decides to alight at the station, the road just happens to be where she once lived.

What happens, she does not know. She has no memory. She finds herself home, covered in bruises, a split lip, a crack on the head. She then learns Megan, as that is her real name, is missing, foul play suspected. So shocked is she at the receipt of this news, she walks out into a road and is hit by a taxi.

The story is told from the viewpoint of three women, Rachel (the girl on the train), Megan (who has gone missing) and Anna (married to ex-husband of Rachel).

The Girl on the Train was serialised on BBC Radio 4. Until some way through, I thought one character, split personality. In the book, it is clearer, though even then, reading, begin to wonder, are all three one and the same?

Chilling.

This is the first novel by Paula Hawkins.

Style is unusual, different voices, very much the style of My Name is Red or The Winner Stands Alone.

Alfred Hitchcock would have turned The Girl on the Train into an excellent psychological thriller.

The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers

February 25, 2013

There are writers who can write one novel, no more, others who write one novel, then endlessly regurgitate the same novel, peopled with the same characters.

Paul Torday falls into the latter category. One excellent novel, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, then endless similar novels with the same characters. Not shallow cardboard cut out characters, but incredibly boring characters, who all merge into one, shooting, fishing, golf, dinner parties, and not much else. You get the impression his characters are in late middle age, such is the boring tedium of their lives. It comes as a shock to find they are only in their late thirties.

Eck was in the Army, now is is in the City, he works for a hedge fund. His job is to introduce his boring frinds to the hedge fund, it is for others to relieve them of their money.

High risk gambling, the casino side of banking.

Charlie Summers is a hopeless case. We all know or have met someone like Charlie. I used to know a man and his wife. They had a shop selling trinkets and cheap jewelry. It failed. They then went into clothes. That failed. Then fish. That failed too.

Eck meets Charlie whilst on a trip to France with a friend. From then on, their lives become entwined.

The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers does for casino banking what The Winner Stands Alone did for fashion and Two Caravans did for the food industry.

The Alchemist: A Graphic Novel by Paulo Coelho

December 10, 2010

“It was an old dream of mine to have The Alchemist as a graphic novel. This version exceeds my expectations and is a beautiful manifestation of what I originally imagined while crafting this story.” —Paulo Coelho

An adaptation as a graphic novel of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

Also see

The Alchemist Himself

Graphic Novel of The Alchemist

A lovely example of Synchronicity

The mystery of Melchizedek


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