Thursday, October 22, 2015

Lana has Surgery, and a Review

I haven’t been around the blogs much for a couple of days. Lana had surgery Wednesday to repair a hernia. She was supposed to go in around 11:00 but it was 12:00 or so before they took her to the operating room. She got out of there in 45 minutes but remained in recovery for a couple more hours, partially because of the hospital being overcrowded. Anyway, the important thing is she came through the surgery well and is feeling much better already. She was feeling pretty sick and nauseated from the hernia. Very glad to see her feeling better. It is hard to watch her feel constantly ill.

Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot of reading done in hospital waiting rooms. Yesterday I read well over 100 pages in the book Footfall, by Niven and Pournelle. This is an alien invasion tale and I’m enjoying it very much. I also finished a book that I did not much enjoy. It was the first in a men’s adventure series called Hawk, by a writer named Dan Streib, who died back in 1996 of a heart attack. This particular volume was entitled “The Deadly Crusader.”

According to SpyGuys and Gals, Streib wrote all fourteen books in this series over a two year period, 1980 and 1981. This is what I call a Men’s Adventure novel and it has the trappings of its era. I often enjoy this type of book, but have to judge this particular incarnation as sub-par in most respects. I thought the work had a relatively promising premise and a decent start, but it lost me pretty early and I ended up just scanning the last two-thirds of the book. I can’t recommend it at all and won’t be reading any more of the series myself. In addition, I’ll have second thoughts about picking up other books with Streib’s name or pseudonyms on them. According to Amazon, Streib  also wrote romance novels as Lee Davis Willoughby, and other adventure tales under the names J. Faragut Jones and Jonathan Schofield.

The plot of the story has some interesting elements. Michael Hawk, who is an investigative reporter, has just been released from a Soviet prison and is relaxing aboard a cruise ship to Greece when he discovers a mysterious yacht anchored at one of the islands. He decides to find out the story behind it. Predictably, all hell breaks loose. However, the character of Hawk is not particularly well drawn. He seems to alternate between periods of mastery and incompetence.

Finally, and critically for me, the writing is just godawful in many places. There’s no other way to say it. I imagine a lot of this came from pumping out 14 Hawk books in two years, plus whatever else he was writing. There are plenty of decent lines so I’m sure it’s a matter of rushing and not anything to do specifically with his writing skills. Anyway, here’s a little sample, from page 109, of “The Deadly Crusader.” I've taken out the paragraph breaks but the words are quoted exactly.

"A rifle slug clanged metallically into the boat's exposed gas tank, leaving a hole to squirt out the explosive fluid and send it running directly toward the hot, protesting engine. Hawk stared at it, then compressed the coiled muscles in his legs for the jump. The gas tank exploded with a roar that splintered the already battered craft. A flying hunk of wood cracked Hawk on the base of the skull and he felt unconsciousness trying to relieve the pain. He wanted to scream at his own brain."


Merisi said...

So good to hear that Lana is doing well!

Your book sample sort of made my head scream right from the beginning. ;-)

"He seems to alternate between periods of mastery and incompetence."
That's one of the reasons I hardly ever watch mysteries on TV.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Glad Lana is feeling better already.
That many books in two years? I am in awe...

sage said...

I am glad that Lana's surgery was successful and she is feeling better. As for that last paragraph, Hawk wasn't the only one who wanted to scream. I was on the verge of it myself and can't imagine not screaming if I had read a 100 pages of that book.

Paul R. McNamee said...

I am sure Lana was in more pain, but reading that sample hurt.

I hope her recovery continues smoothly.

Tom Doolan said...

Let me first wish Lana a speedy recovery, and I'm glad all is well.

As to your book review, from someone who has sampled many a "men's adventure" title, that writing is atrocious. Did you find yourself internally editing sentences and descriptions as you read it? I do that, sometimes.

R.T. said...

Bravo for Lana! I will share the experience this afternoon (i.e., at the hospital while waiting for my wife's treatment). As for the "men's adventure" author, I would have offered him four pieces of advice: NEVER use another adverb; avoid hackneyed tropes; read Orwell's "Politics and the English Language"; read everything written by Hemingway prior to 1950. Finally, I wish your wife a speedy, complete recovery. (Been through the hernia game; it's a piece of cake!)

Lana Gramlich said...

Thank you all for the kind well wishes. I feel 500% better. SO glad it's done!

Snowbrush said...

I’ve had inguinal hernia surgery, and the recovery would have been a breeze if the surgeon hadn’t also done two lymph-node biopsies. I certainly wish you the best, Lana.

P.S. You look young compared to Charles. My wife is three years younger than I, so I call her "my child bride" or else "my nymphet."

Angie said...

Best wishes to Lana. I hope she heals well and quickly.

Re: Mr. Streib, it's possible that he, as an individual, just wasn't a very good writer. There are writers who could and/or can write fourteen books in two years and have them all be enjoyable reads, especially since, given the genre, I'm guessing they weren't 120K word doorstops. In fact, I just looked and it's 183 pages, which means it might be 70K words, or even less. If you're writing full time (40+ hours/week), which most of these pulp-type writers were, it's not hard to do that in a month, much less the nearly two that a 14-books-in-24-months pace would require.

Fast isn't bad. Bad is bad.


oscar case said...

Best of luck to Lana, glad she is doing well. Thanks for the review and I know I won't be reading Streib's works..

Cloudia said...

So glad Lana feels better!

ALOHA I'm SO glad to be back online!


Charles Gramlich said...

Merisi, yes, my head was doing flips over that one

Alex, not sure I'd call it writing. Maybe typing. I could probably type 14 books in two years.

Sage,I scanned the last 100 pages for the most part.

Paul, it did indeed hurt.

Tom, I've read quite a few men's adventures too and often find them pretty well written, if not necessarily beautifully written. But this was barely serviceable

R,T. She is really feeling much better already.

Lana, me glad too

Snowbrush, Lana is actually 9 years younger than me. I call her my trophy wife! :)

Angie, he had some background apparently as a journalist so I suspect he was probably a better writer than indicated here. I think writers have different 'optimal' speeds and he must have been writing too fast for optimal.

Oscar, yeah, that one put me off.

Cloudia, very much. Glad for that as well!

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, I'm glad everything went well and Lana is feeling fine. I hate reading in hospitals. I'd rather read inside a stinkin' crowded second-class unreserved coach.

G. B. Miller said...

Glad to hear she's on the mend once again. No one should have to go through what she has gone through in the past few years. Says a lot about how strong her spirit and her resolve is.

"Clanged metallically" Gracie?

Reminds me of my running house joke. I arrive home from work and I announce my presence thusly: "I are home."

Richard R. said...

So glad she's better and recovering! Yay for both of you!

the walking man said...

Yeah Lana-now take it easy--spring will be here soon enough, stay out of the harsh weather. heal well.

Sorry Charles i just couldn't stay focused on a story once the writing of it fell apart. What ever happened to editors and eyes not involved in the success or failure of a book.

Charles Gramlich said...

Prashant, thanks. We sure appreciate the good thoughts.

G.B., clanged plastically!

Richard R., yes, very good to see her not be in pain

Mark, I suspect in this case the publisher was pushing them to churn 'em out. Money money money.

Snowbrush said...

"I call her my trophy wife! :)"

Ha. I picture deer on one wall, wild boar on another, bass on the third, and wives on the fourth.

Charles Gramlich said...

Snowbrush, that's it exactly! ;)

Barbara Martin said...

Glad to hear Lana is doing well. Many blessings to heal well.

Poor writing is enough for me to put down a book, as well as not having enough description of location on a page to place the characters.

Riot Kitty said...

Glad Lana is recovering well!

Godawful writing, with a cover like that? You don't say... ;)

Charles Gramlich said...

Barbara, I need that kind of description too

Riot kitty, lol. Sometimes there's writing in those kind that ain't so bad. Sometimes not!

Erik Donald France said...

Sometimes I want to scream at my own brain, too. Haha. Glad Lana is recuperating ~ > cheers, man ~ >

jodi said...

Charles-Hope Miss Lana is feeling better. I had to have hiatal hernia surgery awhile ago. Not fun.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

Good review. I pray you and Lana can stay out of the hospitals soon.