Espionage at its best

I reread Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Identity this week, after seeing the movie. Bobbi and I had discussed how we weren't worried about the movie ruining the book for us, as the book was so entrenched in our minds. We were right.

Do you like espionage? Yeah, me neither, until I came across my father's collection of Ludlum novels. (My father pretty much determined my early taste in literature. I read most of what was on his bookshelf, while avoiding anything on my mother's. It's her own fault for forcing Pearl Buck down my throat.) I was mesmerized by the intricate plots, the hardboiled characters, and the breakneck pace. And The Bourne Identity was Ludlum's masterpiece. While the movie is fun summer escapism, they kind of forgot the plot. And the plot is what makes this book, full of twists and turns and Machiavellian conspiracies and government agents (good and bad) and cool fight scenes and romance and anguish and, well, you get the idea.

I've never understood why John Grisham gets so much more recognition than Ludlum. Grisham has no style, in my opinion, his only saving grace in the way he propels his story forward, creating a sense of urgency. But Ludlum is much more subtle. Not only does he use words of more than one syllable, but he can create an atmosphere of suspense better than almost any author I've read. Okay, I don't want to bash Grisham, but I've wondered for a long time why a movie was made out of The Firm while The Bourne Identity was overlooked, despite being the better book. And I finally understood, after seeing the movie, that it's because the plot was so convoluted, so complicated, it was impossible to translate onto the screen. However, they did a reasonable job of it, and if they couldn't tell the real story of Jason Bourne, they at least conveyed the essence.

Another recommended title by Ludlum is The Road to Gandolfo, his one marvelous attempt at comedy.

I know this isn't really a book review, or a movie review, but a bit of both. Can we call it a brovie review? Mook review? Bookvie?

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