Thursday, September 13, 2012

David Rich

David Rich has sold screenplays to most of the major studios, and to production companies in the U.S. and Europe. He wrote the feature film, Renegades, starring Kiefer Sutherland and Lou Diamond Philips, as well as episodes of MacGyver and other shows. He wrote three plays: The Interview, The Rescue, and W.A.R. (Women's Armed Resistance). Forsaking Los Angeles for small town Connecticut, Rich turned his attention to fiction. Caravan of Thieves, his new novel, is the result. Raised in Chicago, he received his B.A. from Tulane, spent one rainy, Withnail-esque year in Wales, and earned his M.A. in English from University of Colorado.

Last month I asked the author what he was reading. Rich's reply:
On the coffee table in my den, Brighton Rock is opened to page 165. Pinkie, cut with razor blades, has returned to the wretched boarding house and reported Spicer’s death at the race track. “The Boy led the way into the bed sitting room and turned on the single globe. He thought of Colleoni’s room at the Cosmopolitan. But you had to begin somewhere. He said: “You’ve been eating on my bed again.”

Redemption can come “between the stirrup and the ground”, and a better life begins with wiping the crumbs off the bedcovers. Dread begins with Graham Greene. I reread this one once a year.

Most of my reading is rereading. It is tough to be admitted to the canon – the great Jim Thompson just got in a few years ago – but once admitted an author is on call around the clock. Books are open all over the house. I read to my mood.

Also on the coffee table is a compilation of short pieces by P.J. O’Rourke opened to page 44. It’s a tight, well written story about working on the Community Underground Press in 1971 in Baltimore. He can’t remember why they used the word Underground. The paper was sold openly. “Though the police did raid the old row house that served as our home and office, it was illegal drugs that brought them there, not publishing.” When he leaves politics out of it, P.J. O’Rourke tells a good story.

Len Deighton’s Spy Sinker is open in the bedroom to page 264. Deighton was admitted the canon on the basis of Funeral in Berlin and Ipcress File. I had avoided him for years, regarding him as le CarrĂ© lite. It’s a fair epithet, but those two books are taut and jazzy. Unfortunately, by the time he got around to the Hook, Line and Sinker trilogy he started diluting the meat with oatmeal. There is a lot of filler. I’ll reread Funeral in Berlin soon, but the last three Bernard Samson books I read can be donated.

Put Out More Flags by Evelyn Waugh is queued up next. It’s a double figure choice by now (could any book make it to three figures?). Basil Seal is the perfect scoundrel, so good that Waugh revived him from his earlier novel Black Mischief. Unfortunately for Basil and for England, the powers that be can’t understand that being the perfect scoundrel and purveyor of mayhem would probably make him an excellent spy. Every line of dialogue is the culmination of an elaborate thought process by the character. Every line is timed for maximum effect. It’s a short book, but I never read it fast. It’s too good.

After that I plan to reread The Renegades by T. Jefferson Parker, the newest of member of the club. He reminds me of Jim Thompson.
Visit David Rich's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

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