Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Turned the last page on Loose Lips by Claire Berlinski last night. It was a delight--funny, intelligent, with a strong plot and characterization--a scrumptious, voyeuristic thrill ride at the CIA. Selena, with a Ph.D. in Sanskrit literature under her belt, finds herself at loose ends. While musing what her next career move should be, she follows up on a lead that eventually lands her at "The Farm," the CIA training facility. Revealing any piece of the story will ruin the fun, but I will say that I appreciated Berlinski's research (she interviewed a number of former CIA operatives) and the effort she spent fine-tuning the details of the agent-in-training's life.

Reading the superlative Loose Lips makes me wonder why all "fun literature" isn't more like it. I'm dead tired of lazy novelists who write books overflowing with cutesy or, even witty, dialogue and that's it. The novel may be set in London, Haifa, or Charleston, but you'd never know it because the setting details are so vague that the story could be placed anywhere. And, it's not just setting details that are lacking.

I was so lucky that Paul Auster's latest, Oracle Night, was sitting on the "New Books" shelf at the library I journeyed to last weekend. (My library is closed for extensive renovations following serious flooding due to a HVAC coil burst.) More on this tomorrow.


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