Summer’s arrived here at the bloglily household. There is general happiness, and a movement spearheaded by the non-parents to suspend all routines, including the one that gets everyone into bed before the sun rises. So far the adolescents and the ten year old who’s actually 40 are winning that one.
If you’re surly enough, and I’ll admit that this describes my general demeanor about half the time, you might trudge through summer without acknowledging its wonderfulness because you, after all, don’t get to suspend all routines. But at least you get to read summer books, which is way, way better than going to see summer movies. Summer books, at their best, leave you satisfied. Summer movies, even at their best, make you feel like you’ve eaten at McDonalds, and although maybe it was okay at the time, you really wish you hadn’t.
So. Summer books — for me — mean spy books. I love spy books. I like the whole noirish atmosphere of a good spy book. I love the lone operative, the hero who behaves well, but somehow all the odds are against him. (Why can’t I think of any spy books where there’s a decent woman spy?) A couple of days ago I spent the whole day reading, which meant that we had frozen costco lasagne for dinner (here in Berkeley, that’s when they send the child protective services to your house). What kept me from whipping up an organic, vegetable-filled dinner was Alan Furst.
I really like Alan Furst’s books. They’re all set in dark, rainy corners of Europe, on the eve of the second world war. There aren’t any Americans in these books, or hardly any. The most recent one is called Spies of the Balkans. I will not tell you what happens in it because you could probably guess. Okay, I’ll tell you some things. Is there a spy who’s a Greek police officer, who’s ethical, but not above trickery when it’s necessary to protect the innocent? Check. The occasional furling and unfurling of an umbrella because it’s always raining in the countries Hitler’s about to invade? Check. Sex? Check. Daring rescues? Check. A general atmosphere of a world going to hell, during which tremendous acts of courage occur? Check.
Like I said, I read the whole thing in one day. I never do that. Happy Summer!