Empire of the Sun: JG Ballard

How Spielberg turned a weevil-ridden rotten bowl of rice novel into a movie masterpiece is a miracle.
One of the few times the movie is better than the book.


Olen Steinhauer: An American Spy

Anything Steinhauer writes is usually spun gold; this time, he weaves it differently, with strands of differing viewpoints and multiple characters starting at various time points in the story and at differing locations. Other than the opening (he never should have started with the Chinese thread there) it mostly works.
Milo Weaver, and his sister, is a gem.

I will miss Evgeny Primakov.

Letitia should be granted her own series.

Reamde: Neil Stephenson

Neil Stephenson must have heard the joke: a priest, rabbi and a minister walk into a bar…

Except in Stephenson’s universe it’s an Ethiopian girl, Russian mercenary, Hungarian computer hacker, Chinese gamer, Idaho survivalists, Muslim jihadists, pot smugglers, game developers, MI6 and CIA spies and Russian mafia who all stumble into a terrorist plot.

If we were back in the bar joke, the entire menagerie would simply walk into the plot. Here, they amble, stroll, sashay, drift and saunter.

Stephenson creates great characters but although a lot happens in the book, it is definitely not, as one reviewer called the book, “fast-paced.”

From an Unspeakable Horror…the smallest of kindnesses

In the past few days, a Canadian jury found the perpetrator of one of the most horrorific,narcissistic crimes imaginable guilty. I do not wish to glorify that monster by repeating his name here.

The victim’s shell-shocked father came from China to watch every second of the trial of the man who brutally murdered his exchange-student son. He received justice but no apology from the monster.

What isn’t well-known that the father was brought to Canada for the trial by a Canadian law firm. The law firm, which played no part in the trial, had no role whatsoever and had nothing to gain, paid for the father’s trip over, his stay here, and arranged for daily translators so the father could follow the trial. The firm had one of its lawyers take the father to lunch every day in Chinatown and even took up a collection to treat him to a Habs game.

I wish to thank them for the effort (although I’m sure they will insist it was no effort at all).