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  • Trevanian

    So, I thought about just PMing Neil but I wonder if there are any other Trevanian fans here?

    Quick breakdown: we had a thread here on Go. Neil recommended reading the spy novel Shibumi by Trevanian. I set out to find said novel and am kind of a quirky guy in that I never buy anything from the big mega-book stores, in fact I buy almost everything used. Anywho, I didn't find Shibumi at the book store or library, but I found Summer of Katya and read that.

    Holy crap, Trevanian is awesome! Summer of Katya is an ecclectic psychological horror/thriller/ghost story/romance set in French Basque country before WW I. But while the plot is pretty compelling what's excellent is the prose. If that wasn't enough to make me a Trevanian fan, I went out and snagged The Main and am reading that. It's equally good, a novel about an aging detective in Montreal and all the street people on his "patch."

    And I still haven't read Shibumi, which is supposed to be his best work! So, the purpose of this thread is to:
    • Thank Neil for introducing me to Trevanian.
    • Ask if anyone else has read Trevanian.

    If interested, you should Wiki him or visit Trevanian.com. Trevanian was a pseudonym for an drama professor. Very private man, but as far as I can tell Trevanian, for him, was like a character, and he wrote "the Trevanian novels," in character. He developed other characters and wrote under other pseudonyms, too, and actually there was some conflict when he wanted to change pseudonyms: Summer of Katya was supposed to be under a different voice and the U.S. publishers got pissed and wanted "a Trevanian novel." Something like that. Anyone?

  • #2
    Summer of Katya was quite different from his other stuff, frankly I didn't care much for it or rather was disappointed by it. Shibumi is much better. I also liked The Eiger Sanction, which was made into a pretty decent Clint Eastwood movie but fairly different in tone from the book.

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    • #3
      So Eiger Sanction and Loo Sanction are pretty good, too? I gather from reading the (somewhat pretentious) Trevanian.com that Trevanian intended those novels as a satire of the super-spy, James Bond/Our Man Flint-type novels.

      I'm a bit worried that Trevanian fans are a bit like Tom Waits fans - the object of their affection is worthy of devotion, to be sure, but that devotion can be excessive.

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      • #4
        Also, Neil, did you read The Main? Hot damn is that good.

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        • #5
          Haven't read the book but I love the word Shibumi="effortless perfection".

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          • #6
            The "sanction" novels read like a warm-up for Shibumi. He was fleshing out some of the ideas for his protagonist. There's an element of Bond satire in there, but also some interesting characters and very entertaining thriller plots. But you could say that about Shibumi, too. Katya was a much more straight drama as I recall, but it's been years since I've read it.

            I don't think I ever read The Main, I should look for that.

            BTW I like Waits, too, but I'm not fanatical about either him or Trevanian. If you like Waits, you should pick up "Temptation", an album of Waits covers by Holly Cole, Canada's best jazz singer.

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            • #7
              My wife is a big Cole fan, Neil. I think she has that album.

              I'm always happy when I find a writer I like reading. I'm always reading, and for me the thing I like most about a book is the prose. We've talked about this, haven't we, Ignatz? The prose is the thing. I'm always happy when I discover someone that makes me want to read all their stuff, and I feel that way about Trevanian right now. I'm also big on what I call the two McDonald's - John D. and Gregory, the former who wrote the Travis McGee novels and the latter who wrote the Fletch novels.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Charlie
                . . .I'm always reading, and for me the thing I like most about a book is the prose. We've talked about this, haven't we, Ignatz? The prose is the thing.. . .
                You have writers that paint pictures and you have writers that give you paint and brushes and let you paint your own picture.

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                • #9
                  Sorry, Ig, I still don't like Elmore Leonard.

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                  • #10
                    If you like writers that paint pictures and you like fantasy, check out Patricia McKillip, particularly The Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Charlie
                      Sorry, Ig, I still don't like Elmore Leonard.
                      I know, you like Fitzgerald but not Hemmingway.

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                      • #12
                        Hemingway is okay. I actually find that he postures his machismo so much, it's hard to swallow.

                        I haven't read a good fantasy novel in ages. Used to be all I read.

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                        • #13
                          And Fitzgerald is soooooo sensitive it makes me want to puke sometimes.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Charlie
                            I haven't read a good fantasy novel in ages. Used to be all I read.
                            McKillip isn't a conventional fantasy writer. There are no elves or dwarves or anything like that. There is a lot of magic, but she has a fresh way of looking at it. Her stuff is strongly character-driven. She strings phrases together from simple words that sound like no other voice but hers, almost poetry but still prose. This puts off a lot of people who just want to find out what happens next and don't want much of the "flowery stuff".

                            Amazon has a preview of RiddleMaster you can check out here.

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                            • #15
                              Neil, you were so spot on with Trevanian that I don't see how I could pass up McKillip. I'll have to give it a try. Prose, my friend! Prose is the thing!

                              That said, I'm usually the first to cry foul when a writer's prose is excessive, excessively pretty, pretentious, precious, "too much." I suppose it's just like porn - I know it when I see it. Or tea - has to be just right, and to each his own.

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