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The Affair

September 27, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

I mentioned at the beginning of the month that Lee Child’s 16th Jack Reacher novel would be coming out on September 27. That day has come. Janet Maslin did me no favors by writing a rave review of it in the NYT a full week ago. I was doing my best to get on with my life, keeping my anticipation under wraps, but after learning from her that this edition is something of a prequel, I have been desperate to plunge in.

Maslin notes that “some (like ’61 Hours,’ the 14th) are much better than others (‘Worth Dying For,’ the 15th),” an assessment I share, adding that whatever the quality, “they played by the same rules.” She then explains that “Mr. Child’s 16th book, ‘The Affair,’ shakes up the status quo by delivering the Reacher creation myth.” [Gotta love that NYT style, with the “Mr. Child”, no?] Have we not all hungered for the creation myth? This news was too much to bear.

And now, I am in possession of the book, but not time to read it.

Take tonight. There’s tomorrow’s NYT crossword to do. (I’m printing it right now.) There’s NCIS to watch. I got a new New York Review of Books in today’s mail that I’m eager to look at, plus the latest issues of the American Math Society’s Bulletin and Notices. Pasta by Design, which I wrote about just two nights ago, arrived today.

Tomorrow is no better. It’s the first day of classes, so I’ll be off first thing in the morning to teach. It’s the first monthly meeting of a board I’m on following a summer off, and I have remarks to prepare. And don’t forget, Rosh Hashanah starts tomorrow evening.

What’s a poor Jack Reacher fanatic to do?

By the way, my favorite Language Log linguist, Geoffrey Pullum, wrote a post today about Reacher. He points out, disappointingly, that some comments Lee Child puts in Reacher’s mouth in one of the novels are entirely wrong. But with regard to The Affair, Pullum writes:

Jack Reacher will really get you through a tedious flight. If you don’t mind reading a few descriptions of fairly brutal physical violence, that is: Child’s novels are testosterone-charged thrillers about a murderously tough yet ultimately morally-inclined drifter, Jack Reacher, formerly a special investigator in the US army’s military police, now a sort of lone ranger. The stories start with a bang and soon become unputdownable. I’m not exactly proud of reading these novels, but they are well crafted and exciting, and I will read more. Flying back to Edinburgh on Sunday night after a trip to Paris, with only a quarter of the current book to go, I barely noticed takeoff, and finished the last gripping page just as we began our approach over the Firth of Forth. Perfect trip.

Unputdownable. That’s exactly the problem. I don’t have time to read it straight through, but I know that once I start, I will want to. I differ with Pullum on one point. I’m a proud Reacher fan.

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