Have you ever experienced a dull phase in your reading – it’s pretty horrible. You are a reader, and you know that to read a good book will always make your day, perk up your thoughts or just plain give you something interesting to mull over on the bus to work.
I went through this phase, recently. I tried a good book, put it down after a few days. Tried another and it didn’t float my boat, so I threw the book into the corner of the room.
Surely, somebody is writing something enjoyable, exciting or thought-grabbing enough to keep my attention?
In spite of not wanting to read drabness, our brains always desire a narrative, a story to occupy it with ideas that make sense.
There are many reasons why we don’t read, or stop reading. I’m sure you would agree that being tired of the same author can be a cause of not reading novels, or being tired from work. The mind can become stale, it can go into a state of refusal of everything that it’s offered – even when it’s offered something that is healthy – like reading a book or eating good food.
I started a book a short while back, Mick Herron’s “Real Tigers” .
It grabbed my attention after the first few pages. I couldn’t put it down, and couldn’t wait till I found a moment to open the book again and start reading.
I’d finally found something to put my mind back into story mode, to create an exciting rhythm of thought that was pleasant to stick with.
The story itself is fun and adventurous, a group of MI5 failures who have been dumped into a department where they won’t and can’t cause any harm in the real world.
I’ll let you find out for yourself how much fun it is to read the stories of Mick Herron. You’ll probably agree with my point of view about the unputt-a-down-ability of his writing if you do have a read.
Each scene is well crafted. That’s a little of the magic, the reason why we continue to read on. A book is a story about some major event, that’s what makes it important enough for us to consider it for reading. But, the thing that keeps us engaged is the scene, the moment of action that each vivid and pulsating chunk of story offers us.
Reading 300 pages or reading 755 pages of novel is a major time and energy investment for many people today. So, whatever we read better be good.
In the very moment that we are reading a story, we are engrossed in the details of an event, then we are lost in the author’s own world. The one he or she created for us.
Many books are good, or I am told they are good and I should read them – “War and Peace” for example is “good”, apparently. I haven’t read it. I believe everybody when they tell me it’s good, but I probably don’t have time to stick with it. I want that immediate gratification as I read – not a lead up of thirty pages of foreplay, tickling and background essentials to make sure I understand the main event in a future chapter.
While reading “Real Tigers”, it occurred to me that I was having great fun. The writing itself is good. It’s clear and crisp. There are no ambiguous lines that boggle the mind and make you stop, the author uses universal language with great metaphors that all us use in everyday life. He’s not trying to impress us with clever language, or teach us that we should raise our standards of spoken word. He’s telling us a story worth listening to.
So, he gets down to the nuts and bolts of telling it by using scenes that drive the story forwards. Characters that make you worry about them, or hope that they will get hit by a London bus before the book is finished. Jackson Lamb, the central character of the “Slow Horses” series, is an uncharming, grubby man who is in charge of the group of MI5 workers. He hates them all, but will carry out his task of protecting them and keeping them out of trouble, as best he can.
Jackson Lamb farts and belches as he pleases, regardless of who is present. He smokes, eats old sandwiches and has a way of speaking that is effective and direct. The receiver of his words is never sure if they’ve been given an order, or insulted, along with being given an order.
It’s a wonderful thing to discover a writer who knows his craft and knows the story he wants to tell. Mick Herron tells a great yarn, and he does it with the efficiency of a Jackson lamb. No frills, bells or whistles of bad writing that tries to impress a reader with ornamentations. More like a campfire storyteller who knows how to gather a group and make them feel warmer than the fire itself. Each scene has a direct meaning and therefore drives the reader onto the next – you can’t stop half way through, if you’re on a bus or train and have to change stops, I guarantee you’ll be one of those people who walk up the escalator while reading your Mick Herron book.
I could go on, but I won’t.
Find out for yourself by reading the first of the series – I read the third book first, “Real Tigers” then realised that I should go back and start with “Slow Horses” as the first in an excellent series of stories about Spooks and MI5, politicians with agendas that are too close to real life – and therefore make you growl at the world.