Lee Child’s 23 Jack Reacher books

I’ve long had the habit of listening to guilty-pleasure books, rather than reading them.

It was a sad day for me in 1986 when I learned that John D. McDonald, creator of Travis McGee, had died. He was a go-to guy for me, together with Donald Hamilton, who produced 33 years worth of Matt Helm novels through 1993, but then was done.

Spillane croaked in 2006 at the age of 88.

Donald Westlake, writing as Richard Stark about Parker, bought the farm in 2008.

The first Robert B. Parker Spenser novel appeared in 1973. A sad day in 2010 when Parker keeled over at his computer, heart-attacked. That was a blow.

Laurence Block is almost 80, which fortunately is the new 70.

But Lee Child is still churning them out, not to jinx him. 22 novels and a collection of short stories. He says that he never knows where the book he is writing is going to go, just gets to the end using logic. Does that sound logical?

Various authors have been suggested to me as good guilty listens. I count Anthony Trollope and Steven King amongst those I cotton to. Always looking for more.

4 books on my mind

Four books that remain with me, each dealing with Man’s humanity/inhumanity, emphasis on the latter.

Black Lamb, Grey Falcon, A Journey Through Yugoslavia (1941) – Rebecca West’s magnum opus. 1,200 dense pages on travel in the Balkans on the eve of World War II. A millennium of suffering past, with the region facing more, much more of it, unsuspecting. Hard to forget.

Faces and Masks, Part Two of the Trilogy Memory of Fire (1987), and Mirrors, Stories of Almost Everyone (2009) – Two of Eduardo Galeano’s curious and poetic compendiums that outline the history of the world and the West’s dominance over North and South America’s native peoples, presented without irony and leaving a body of images in the mind that, as with the Balkans, seem indelible. “I’m a writer,” the author once said of himself, “obsessed with remembering, with remembering the past of America and above all that of Latin America, intimate land condemned to amnesia.”

The Buried Giant (2015) – Kazuo Ishiguro’s fable slowly unfolds, revealing a future of pain. I listened to this one; the marriage of reader and text seemed to elevate the message for me, entering my brain via my ears rather than my eyes.