Thirty-nine Degrees

After seeing The Crimson Rivers and listening to the Orson Welles production of The Thirty-Nine Steps, I felt compelled to seek out a book in the thriller/adventure genre. Specifically I went looking for a Penguin collection of the John Buchan‘s Richard Hannay novels (of which The Thirty-Nine Steps is one) that I’ve seen before.

I didn’t find it, so I picked up Buchan’s Huntingtower. I’m only a few chapters into it, but I’m already bowled over by it (despite the stuffy & somehow dismissive introduction and the latter-day editor’s intrusive footnotes* that pollute this Oxford U. Press edition).

I cringe to a degree when the main character’s attitudes match some of my own tics. It’s really funny. Regarding his book collection: “He had a liking for small volumes – things he could stuff into his pocket in that sudden journey which he loved to contemplate. . . . Only he had never taken it.” Then a couple of days into his retirement, he decides to finally take that holiday. Only after carefully selecting a book to take with him does he think to contemplate what his destination should be. To make an allusion to a book I’ve set aside once again, he’s a bit Quixotic.

McCunn, the main character, gets into a conversation at one point with a jaded young writer wannabe who is filled with half-baked half-formed ideas. I smile as these characters, both of whom seem to mirror conflicting aspects of my own personality, talk. One, slowly building a case against the older. The other, good naturedly feeling his way through the discussion before arriving at his conclusions about the man sitting across from him.

*intrusive footnotes – I know what a “safety razor” is, thank you very much.

Categorized as Before