Charles McCarry

Just finished Charles McCarry’s OLD BOYS, which, like the rest of the Paul Christopher series, just absolutely blew me away. The guy’s not just a good storyteller, he hammers his prose, too. Usually you get one or the other.

A sample line:

She had the wary unwavering eyes of a woman who knew how attractive she was but wanted no sign from me that I might have noticed this too.

I’m not sure or even suspicious that it gets any better than that. After reading it, too–and this was just because I didn’t want the experience to be over, so was trying to wring the book for every last word–I finally got around to the back cover. Elmore Leonard, Peter Benchley, Norman Mailer, etc. First, though, right at the top, one of the best blurbs I’ve ever seen:

Infinitely seductive, sophisticated, and authentic, finely conceived, perfectly written; a masterwork by an exceptional novelist who writes about espionage.

It’s that last bit that stands out: “…by an exceptional novelist who writes about espionage.” this is wholly different than being a ‘spy novelist,’ a term people might use to dismiss a writer as unserious, perhaps. Crass enough to want to actually appeal to a reader or two. But Alan Furst (the blurber here), he cut through all of that, and even kind of showed us how we should be organizing our shelves: not by genre, but just alphabetically, by author. Granted, it’s not so easy for the marketers to sell an author as it is to sell a trusted category of fiction. But, man, if people could just be “exceptional novelists” who maybe write here, and there, and wherever… It’d be cool. And I’m dreaming, yeah, but Charles McCarry’s writing, I don’t know: it makes me think thinks are possible.