The Time Machine

Written by larry on March 2nd, 2014

It is said that if sit down at your computer late in the evening and browse the web long enough, eventually you’ll wind up on YouTube looking at cat videos. Personally, I’ve found that to be less than completely true, though I’d agree completely with the assessment that you’ll waste enormous amounts of time following long chains of links to sites you would never have gone to directly.

So I’m not sure exactly how I wound up there, but late a few nights ago I wound up reading the IMDB citation for the 1970 classic Airport. I had a vague recollection that, like most tales, the book was better than the movie, and as I believe there’s always an opportunity to learn from a master I hunted down a copy and began reading. I’d read it once before, but that was <mumble> years ago, and though the book hadn’t change, almost certainly I had.

And I’ll admit that part of the reason I enjoy reading umm… ‘mature’ books is that they’re a telescope into what life was like when they were written: the mores, values, what was controversial, what was accepted as fact, and what people worried about. That’s probably why I really can’t warm up to any of the contemporary reboots of Sherlock Holmes-what I enjoyed most about the original is that it was a visit to the Victorian era and all it’s trappings.

So hunted down a copy of Airport, the book, and polished it off over the course of a few days, partly to study it’s construction and partly to see what life was like forty-five years ago. Many things have changed, but many haven’t. The book today is an unintentional tour through areas as diverse as male/female relationships, career, aviation technology, bureaucracy, government, lawyers, abortion, race, and much much more. Its also a multi-threaded series of plots, all culminating in a climax that occurs only about eighty percent of the way through. Yet author Arthur Haley manages to maintain suspense and keep the reader’s interest all the way to the end.

So in addition to being an enjoyable page-turner (screen-swiper?) and an interesting view into the past, the book is also a place to learn about the craft of writing. Perhaps even more so than the various ‘How to Write’ books written by various other best-selling authors, sadly not including Mr. Hailey. And I’ll bet that his other works would be equally didactic, viewed from the right angle.

So there’s an opportunity to both learn and have fun simultaneously. Time to get started!


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