Thursday, 15 May 2008

The Pelican Brief

I’ve known of the book for some time and even, on one or two occasions picked it up and considered reading it – always to return it to the shelf: For some reason I thought it was a ‘lawyer’ story.

Now, with it firmly on the CAE reading list, as a matter of duty, I’ve read it.

I am tempted to name a new literary genre:

The Time Filler.

A good time filler is strong on plot, adequate with language, sufficient with character and not too far from realism to cause concern. It will roll along never pausing for too long in any one place or with any one person, love affairs are reduced to brief encounters, killings are counted in serial-numbers and enough petrol and aviation fuel is burnt to raise the Earth’s average temperature another degree.

The Pelican Brief is a good time filler.

I took four sessions to finish the 420-odd pages, and didn’t feel pressed for time – it is a rapid read.

The plot is sort of realistic in that you can imagine someone wanting to bump off a couple of American Supreme Court justices to change the ‘political’ make-up of the Supreme court – but the book does stretch credibility a little with the descriptions and personalities of both the victims and their executioner – it seemed as though Gresham had gone through a check list of ‘most likely to make a best seller’ qualities and selected them for inclusion.

The same too with his heroine, Darby Shaw, who is a least female and intelligent – more intelligent than most of the other characters in the book. However, she never really escapes the cliché of female as victim in need of a good man to support her. Why did she have to be a blond bombshell? Why couldn’t she have been short, stumpy even, and ugly? Why does the book have to end in such a ‘happy ever after’ way on a beach?

One answer is the sales figures – and film rights.

All the way through I felt I was getting exactly what I wanted – no surprise other than a needed plot twist, no truly ambiguous character – just good guy and bad guy (and a very obvious – you got it wrong, good guy portrayed as bad).

And some very film-able locations – including Washington, New York and a pre-deluge New Orleans.

It occupied me pleasantly enough, but I ended with a – that’s it? and so what? Turned the light off, and slept well.

Technorati Tags: , ,

No comments: