Over the past two and half months, I’ve done lots of reading catching up on lost time. As one gets nearer to the finishing line, the urgency to do what you like in life gets more urgent. When you are young especially if you are in your 20s, there seems plenty of time in your hands. You tend to squander it away indulging in frivolous past times with no real benefits.
As for myself, I’ve stopped watching television completely for decades. I only watch those rare movies I think worth watching on YouTube, on the net or maybe once a blue moon in the cinema. How do I spend my time? From henceforth, how am I going to fully utilize my limited lifespan? After all, I’ve got only 7,300 days left on the assumption that I get to live for another 20 yrs. By then, I would be in my mid 70s. Will I be too old to continue with my passion ie reading. When I reach that age, my failing eyesight and health may not allow me to read any longer. That’s my worst fear. It’s as good as dead if I could not indulge in my favorite pastime.
I’ll have to accept that it’s not possible to read all the best books in the world during my lifetime. I’ll have to be selective in my reading. Maybe, a mixture of classics (dead authors), living authors (bestsellers), poems, essays, blogs etc to enrich my reading experience.
Today is Vesak Day – a public holiday. Tomorrow, I’ll commence on a 2-week course relating to my job. After which, I’ll need to attend another 2 courses to equip myself in my new role. I expect more courses which are in line with the national adage of “keep learning and upgrading” to move on with the times. I expect some free time in between lessons for the next 2 weeks. Hopefully I could read a couple of books by then. I plan to read Ken Follett’s “A Place Called Freedom”. I’ve also read some of his books. More on him on my next post.
I’ll briefly touch on my 10th book which I finished 2 days ago, Lee Child’s “The Visitor”. I was introduced many years ago to Lee Child’s books by Sultana. Link to Sultana bookstore. I took up his advise and read few of his books. Lee Child is one of the few authors – just like Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch character – who manages to create a fictional character as the main protagonist in all his novels.
Lee Child’s Jack Reacher started in 1997 spanning over 22 thrillers in the series until 2017, one novel each year with 2 in 2010 and the latest still in the press about to be released. His fans never grow tired of the character Jack Reacher. Tom Cruise played Jack Reacher in few of the novels when they were made into movies. But no matter how great an actor, Tom Cruise considered a short ass by American standards is poorly cast as Jack Reacher, physically who is supposed to be huge standing at 6ft 5″ – nearly 2 meters.
In Lee Child’s words,
“The stories that I love are basically about the knight-errant, the mysterious stranger. And the reason why people think that’s an essentially American paradigm is the Westerns. The Westerns were absolutely rock solid with that stuff. You know, the mysterious rider comes in off the range, sorts out the problem, and rides off into the sunset. It is just such a total paradigm, but not invented in America. That was imported from the medieval tales of Europe. The knight-errant: literally a knight, somehow banished and forced to wander the land doing good deeds. It’s part of storytelling in every culture. Japan has it with the ronin myth; every culture has this Robin Hood idea. So really, that character was forced out of Europe as Europe became more densely populated and more civilized. That character no longer had stories in Europe; it had to migrate to where the frontier was still open and dangerous, which was America, essentially. So the character, I think, is actually universal and historic, most recently, normally represented in America. I think the Westerns saw it firmly adopted by America, so yeah, right now, we think of this as a completely American character, but really, it’s more historic than that. But I’m very happy to have that reference made.”
As one reads Lee Child’s novels, the character Jack Reacher is slowly built up over the 22 novels. Bit by bit, Jack Reacher’s biography is revealed such as where was he born, his parents (mother is a French and he could speak French well), siblings, his preferences and habits. Basically, Jack Reacher is a brilliant investigator with an army background. He is an ex-MP (Military Police) served as a Major until he got booted out due to downsize and budget cuts I suppose. Having spent his entire life in the army (he was born in an army camp), he is suddenly thrown to the civilian world. He finds it hard to adjust to civilian life. He becomes a drifter leading the nomadic lifestyle without any luggage. He got nothing with barely enough in his bank account. He survives by taking hitch hike, bus or simply walking. When his clothes are soiled, he simply throws them away and gets a new set of functional clothing from a store. He only carries a toothbrush in his pocket. No handphone, watch or jewelry. He owns nothing.
As in the book I just read, The Visitor. Jack Reacher had a big house bequeathed to him by his former CO in the army. But he could not cope with maintenance of the house, property tax, utilities bills, conservancy charges etc. He finds it cumbersome and a pain in the ass. He refuses to be “anchored” to the house. He intends to sell off the big house so that he could live off the money from the sale leading a nomadic life wandering from state to state all over the vast American continent from one motel to another! He just can’t stay long in a place. His wandering is timed in such a way that he gets into trouble or an adventure once in a year. With his lethal unarmed combat, sharpshooter and extra ordinary deductive ingrained ability to observe minute details when he’s conducting an investigation, he overcomes all the seemingly insurmountable cases coming along his way.
Back to the book, The Visitor. I’ll just say that 4 women; all ex-army officers and victims of sexual harressment were mysterious killed in their houses at their bathtubs without any clues or leads to the killer. No marks on the victims, no prints in the houses, nothing on the forensic front, no forced entry to the houses. All of them live alone in isolated neighborhoods and all of them left the army over sexual harassment.
I like that part when the 4th victim was found dead in her home at the tub submerged in army issued green camouflage paint (all victims suffer the same fate), the FBI (equivalent to our SIS/CID) engaged contractor to hack away the wall on the 2nd floor of the house and used a big crane to hoist the bathtub with the dead woman to a waiting truck. Packed the bathtub in a wooden crate and flown to the FBI forensic lab in another part of the country. The crime scene ie the bathtub is preserved in its original state delivered to one of the nation’s top pathologists. Next, the whole bathtub is sent to the X-ray room for more snaps before the body is systematically extricated for the post mortem. The X-ray films are analyzed with graphic details by the expert with all the FBI investigators and Jack Reacher surrounding the corpse in the cold room. I’m not going into more details or else I’d be accused of being a spoiler. The previous blog post on those books I read reveals too much resulting in some outcry from my readers!
If you want to find out more about Jack Reacher, The Visitor is quite an interesting read. I not only enjoy the fast paced thriller, I also find Jack Reacher a most fascinating character. He’s such an unique and enigmatic character that you will never find another similar one on earth.
Below are some pages from The Visitor