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ALL OUR YESTERDAYS

February 3, 2003

ALL OUR YESTERDAYS by Robert B. Parker. Mystery novelist Robert B. Parker is best known for his “Spenser” series. Parker’s prose is always crisp and clean, and his dialogue is first rate. The early Spenser books were just terrific. The later ones, though… well, they are still page-turners, but somewhere along the way Spenser and Hawk became caricatures of themselves. They turned into Batman and Superman, invincible heroes who dispatch the feeble bad guys with such consummate ease that all the tension went out of the books. ALL OUR YESTERDAYS is not a Spenser novel. It’s a stand-alone, a story of three generations in an Irish-American cop family that takes us from Dublin to Boston, with plenty of murder, sex, corruption, and betrayal along the way. The vivid prose and crackling good dialogue is still there, but these characters have a lot more depth to them than Spenser and Hawk. When he wants to be, Parker is still as good as anyone in the game.

David Gilmour’s THE LONG RECESSIONAL is a new biography of Rudyard Kipling, the great poet and storyteller of the British Empire and the Raj. Kipling has become so identified with British imperialism of the Victorian Era that many people seem to think he died with Queen Victoria, when he actually lived to see (and deplore) Hitler’s rise in Germany. I’ve always loved Kipling’s work. THE JUNGLE BOOKS and JUST SO STORIES remain masterpieces, and his best poetry can still make me shiver, despite the fact that the political views that inspired much of it has dated badly, to say the least. Gilmour does not flinch from that at all, but neither does he allow hindsight to blind him to the magnitude of Kipling’s genius. He presents the man fully and frankly, and frequently in his own words, quoting freely from RK’s correspondence. This well-told, balanced biography will be of interest to anyone who has read the works of Rudyard Kipling. And if you haven’t… well, what are you waiting for? He was the greatest storyteller of his time.

Posted in What I'm Reading.
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