Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Favorite Authors Part 2

Long before there was John Grisham and Tom Clancy there was Alistair Stuart MacLean.  He was born in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland, April 21, 1922 and he was the son of a Scottish Minister.  He died in Munich, Germany in February 2, 1987 and was buried Celigny, Switzerland. In his final years he was destroyed by alcoholism.  He once said that he wrote fast, taking only thirty-five days to complete a novel, because he disliked writing and didn't want to spend much time at it. He also claimed never to re-read his work once it was finished and to never read reviews of his books. According to the New York Post, MacLean once explained: "I'm not a novelist, I'm a storyteller. There's no art in what I do, no mystique." Despite his disclaimers, MacLean's many adventure novels sold over 30 million copies and were translated into a score of languages.

His adventure novels thrilled me as a teenager and young adult and I read and re read them, enjoying them to the fullest.  Many people would recognize his titles because they were often adapted for the movies.  (Some were successful, others not so much.)  All of his stories were character driven thrillers that were a joy on the page.

He also crossed many a genre line.  Even though all of his novels were action adventure he mixed the western of Breakheart Pass, with the war dramas Where Eagles Dare, Guns of Navarone and its sequel Force Ten From Navarone.  Ice Station Zebra was in the frozen north as was my favorite, Night Without End. 
In Night Without End, MacLean takes the reader on a journey through the darkness that would bring murder and betrayal and cowardice.  A tale of secret identities; that is a constant puzzle to figure out who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.  MacLean’s novels have stood the test of time and are just as exciting today as they were when they were first published.  They are truly excellent writing, and a joy to read.

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