Posts Tagged ‘spy novel’

Like father, like son? Identity is inextricably tied to parentage in Nick Harkaway’s ‘Angelmaker’

December 18, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 18, 2014

Absent parents loom large in the fictional realm. A key component of the original Star Wars trilogy is Luke Skywalker’s gradual discovery of the particulars of his parentage (especially the villainy of his father, the genocidal Darth Vader) and Luke’s struggle to develop his supernatural powers without being consumed by his own dark, angry impulses. The rebellious nature of the alternative timeline’s James Tiberius Kirk is shaped in large part by the absence of his father, George, whom director J.J. Abrams killed off in the opening sequence of the 2009 Star Trek reboot. Likewise, the rebooted Amazing Spider-Man makes the research and relationships of Richard Parker, father of the orphaned web-slinging Peter Parker, a key plot point in both of the series’s first two outings.

I’d wager that matters of parentage are even more prominent in British fiction. After all, the United Kingdom has been ruled for centuries by a hereditary monarchy, with power passing (at least in theory) from one generation of royalty to the next.

A major storyline in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy involves Aragorn assuming the position of king of Gondor that, according to genetics and custom, is rightfully his. My recollection of the books is hazy, but in Peter Jackson’s wonderful movie adaptation, when the audience initially encounters this character, he goes by the name of Strider and appears to be a well-trained woodsman accustomed to operating on his own — hardly the résumé of the standard fantasy prince.

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Books in limbo: Encounters with three novels

December 3, 2012

Author’s note: The week after I originally posted this item, I added two words to the second paragraph for clarity’s sake. The added words, which follow Gary Oldman’s name, are boldfaced. Thank you for reading, digital eyeballs! MEM

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I have before me two novels by John le Carré, an author whom I love. I have in mind a third novel by Tom Perrotta, an author whose work I’ve greatly enjoyed.

Le Carré (real name is David Cornwell) is a British author, born in 1931, who worked during his 20s and part of his 30s as a teacher and as a diplomat with ties to British intelligence. He is probably best known for his novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, about the hunt for a traitor at the highest levels of the British espiocracy. It was adapted as a television miniseries starring Alec Guinness in 1989 and as a feature film starring Gary Oldman in 2011. Le Carré’s had many other best-selling novels, several of which have also been made into movies.

Perrotta is an American writer, born in 1961, whose ethnic background I’ve seen described as Albanian-American and Italian-American. He has taught creative writing. He’s probably best known as the author of the 1998 novel Election, about a high school campaign, which was made the following year into a popular film starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick. (The book was inspired by the three-way presidential campaign among Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot in 1992.) Another of Perrotta’s novels, Little Children, was released as a film in 2006.

So what could these three novels by these two very different men possibly have in common? Let me answer that question in a roundabout way. Read the rest of this entry »

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