After being sidelined six days by a PC problem, it’s great to be back. My thanks to Dennis, who repaired my machine at a very reasonable rate.
Recently, someone recommended the work of Martin Cruz Smith, so I read Red Square, published in 1992. The action takes place in August 1991. It begins in the black market in the area to which the title refers. The title also has another meaning I will not reveal. Russia is transitioning from communism to a market economy, the kleptocracy it seems to have become. Chaos rules. A car is firebombed, the owner, a skilled businessman, killed. He was working with investigator Arkady Renko. The trail leads to Munich and Berlin, the latter city having absorbed and now in the process of transforming the infamous eastern sector. Along the way the protagonist encounters a lost love whose life he saved long ago. The pace is slow but filled with interesting details, especially about life in Moscow, to which the story returns in its closing chapters. Although the crime is solved, I was very disappointed by the open ending, the fate of the woman left up in the air, perhaps setting up another book. Since six other Renko novels, nine in all, have followed, his fate is not the mystery it was back then... Born in Pennsylvania in 1942, Smith has been prolific, using seven pseudonyms through more than 25 novels. He has been a frequent presence on the New York Times Best Seller list. He has adapted two of his books to the big screen. The first Renko novel, Gorky Park, was adapted in 1983, screenplay by Dennis Potter. Smith has won several awards. He has traveled extensively to do research. Only experts would be able to determine the authenticity of his descriptions and analyses. It was all convincing to me, who has not been to any of the areas named. Here’s part of a passage I really liked, spoken by a German detective: “When the Wall came down there was such intensity of celebration. East and West Berlin back together. It was like a wild night of love-making. Afterwards was like waking in the morning and finding the woman you had yearned for so long was going through your pockets, your wallet, taking the keys to your car…” 514 users at Amazon have rated Red Square, forging to a consensus of 4.4 on a scale of five. I’ll go with 3.25.
Given the heavyweights involved in the creation of Friday night’s movie fix courtesy of Netflix by mail, I was very disappointed with the result. Paul Schrader directed, and esteemed playwright Harold Pinter wrote the screenplay for the adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel, The Comfort of Strangers (1990). Set in Venice, beautifully shot by cinematographer Dante Spinetti, it is the story of an unmarried couple on vacation trying to determine where their relationship is going. They meet an odd restauranteur who leads them astray. The late, lovely Miranda Richardson and Rupert Everett play the couple, Christopher Walken the weirdo and Helen Mirren his wife. The pace is slow, running time 1:47. I hated the ending, which went in a direction different than I’d expected. Although it did not strain credulity, it seemed pointless. Then again, that may have been the intent. 5000+ users at IMDb have rated The Comfort…, forging to a consensus of 6.3 on a scale of ten. I think it’s appeal is restricted to fans of the creators and actors, to those who enjoy putting psychological pieces together. It was not successful at the box office, returning less than a million and a half. I was unable to find its production cost. Here are Richardson, Everett and Walken in character:
RIP actor John Aylward, 75, best known for his 74-episode run on ER. Born and raised in Seattle, his career spanned 1975–2020. There are 98 titles under his name at IMDb. He was a TV mainstay, making at least four guest appearances on eight popular series. Well done, sir. Thank you.
Although I didn’t tell anyone it was my birthday, folks sure acted like it was at today’s session of the floating book. As soon as I rolled up in my old Hyundai, an SUV vacated a shady spot, much needed, although it didn’t seem as hot as forecast. My thanks to today’s buyers, especially to those who overcompensated me, and also to everyone who bought, donated and swapped books in the past week while my PC was on the fritz. What a relief it is to be back online. I am blessed.
My Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Vic-Fortezza/e/B002M4NLJE
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