Love my woman, love my baby, love my biscuits sopped in gravy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Gun Seller

Lately, I've had more time to read and the latest was a book by Hugh Laurie, of House fame, called "The Gun Seller."

The Gun Seller is about an ex-british forces soldier named Thomas Lang who lives in London and gets wrapped up in an arms deal initiated by people with money and connections to the US government. Things escalate, as you'd hope, and several beatings and a motorcycle wreck, Lang ends up turning the situation to his advantage.

This was Laurie's first attempt at novel, and to have it published he first submitted it under a pen name. When the novel was accepted, he allowed them to use his real name, since the material stood on it's own merits and not just as celebrity self gratuity. A classy move on his part, and it does add to the credibility of him as a writer, and maybe surprisingly, he delivers.

A look at his background and it probably shouldn't be surpising that he can write, and write well. He was educated at Cambridge and cites his favorite author as PG Wodehouse. That should not be a surprise, really, either, as he played Bertie Wooster, a Wodehouse character, to perfection in the BBC series Jeeves and Wooster. In The Gun Seller, Laurie has put the literary influence to paper and created a modern version of a Wodehouse-like book. Wodehouse created distinct and funny characters, and through the eyes and words of Thomas Lang, Laurie has done the same, in the form of a page turner of a mock spy novel.

The story clips along quite well, with occasional observations and asides that pace the action.

"She turned towards me and narrowed her eyes. If you know what I mean by that. Narrowed them horizontally, not vertically. I suppose you could say she shortened her eyes, but nobody ever does.

She narrowed her eyes."

There are some funny comparisons of what make men and women different, in a clever car metaphor, but the dialogue is at time prolific in the use of a vulgarities that Wodehouse managed to write without. I understand the argument that this is how real people like this talk, and that it is just part of building a character, but I found it over the top. I don't particularly like it anyway, but in this case restraint would have made it more palatable.

There's an interview in the back of the paperback with Laurie and he says he sold the rights to a screenplay version of the story to United Artists. He says that he would only do a walk on role, but I think that his years as Gregory House, MD have proven his ability to play a serious role with comic undertones -- especially since during a large portion of the story Lang has to fake an American accent.

It's much better fare than a typical airplane reader, and a good alternative to some of the more popular garbage that fills the supermarket paperback racks. If Wodehouse would have collaborated with Clancy, this might have been the result. A great first effort, and I hope Laurie decides to write more.




Post a Comment

<< Home