31 January 2010

The Club Dumas

I know i've read something by Arturo Perez-Reverte before. I believe i read the first Captain Alatriste novel in 2006, in the fall. The reason i am pretty sure is that was when R first got the news that he'd be having surgery and i remember sitting in a waiting room, staring at the same page and not being able to remember much.

One of the books i finished on my snow day was The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte. This is a very twisty sort of novel, complex. Lucas Corso is a rare book go-to guy. He finds books for collectors, negotiates deals, has books authenticated and, if an owner is unwilling to sell to a motivated buyer, he is able to arrange that the book becomes available, without doing the dirty work himself. He gets two assignments: a friend wants him to authenticate a handwritten chapter of The Three Musketeers and a rich client wants him to find which of three copies of a book, The Book of Nine Doors, is the real one. Several characters seem to Corso to have come straight out of The Three Musketeers. As people die, the intrigue ramps up; there are clues and red herrings, complications and coincidences, demonology, angels, and lots and lots of book knowledge.

Corso is a smart guy but world-weary and lonely. He has a random sexual encounter which makes him look terrible to a female reader. After he meets Irene Adler, his self-appointed bodyguard, we get a lot of Corso's softer side as he thinks about his feelings for her and reminisces over his lost love, Nikon. I ended up rooting for him and feeling very protective by the end.

You know, i learned something today. Because of comments Corso makes, I looked up what a "second-level reader" was and learned about the Reader-Response school of literary criticism. Cribbed from Wikipedia "
Reader-response theory recognizes the reader as an active agent who imparts "real existence" to the work and completes its meaning through interpretation. Reader-response criticism argues that literature should be viewed as a performing art in which each reader creates his or her own, possibly unique, text-related performance". so the same book may mean different things to different people at different times? All quite interesting. I know i've got a literary theory book around here somewhere...

I really liked this book. a 6. Other Opinions: BiblioHistoria, BookShelves of Doom, The Reading Life, We Be Reading.

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