I'm about 180 pages into this 500-page opus, and it occurs to me that every time I pick up the book to read another chapter, it feels like a chore. I realize that I'm spending an awful lot of time reading a book that I neither enjoy, nor appreciate intellectually, nor feel is important in my attempt at a self-imposed education in the classics.
Do you know what the difference between watching a movie that does nothing for you and reading a book that does nothing for you is? After the movie, you lament the two hours of your life that you'll never get back. After the book, you think to yourself, "Man, I spent three months on that stupid thing!"
That is why it is unlikely that I will ever finish Tom Clancy's Patriot Games.
Do I really need three pages of Jack Ryan going over his stock portfolio? Four pages describing in detail Jack Ryan's travails in putting together a dollhouse? An entire chapter devoted to Jack Ryan's uneventful flight home? This is a thriller, right?
I was only reading this book because Patriot Games is my favorite of the Jack Ryan movies. But Harrison Ford's Jack Ryan is nothing like Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan. Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan is more like Alec Baldwin's Jack Ryan. And as good a movie as The Hunt for Red October is, and as much as I like Alec Baldwin as an actor, I have always been partial to Harrison Ford's Jack Ryan. Aw, heck, I'll even say it: I think Harrison Ford's Jack Ryan is better than Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan.
What do you think about that, Clancy, you right-wing, Ben Affleck-loving, hire-hacks-to-write-books-in-your-name-so-you-can-cash-in sell-out?
(I'm sorry, I got a little riled up there.)
Well, if Patriot Games did anything postive for me, it's ensured at least for now that I hold no literary pretentions. No self-respecting literatus would openly claim to prefer the movie over the book. (On the other hand, I did just publicly debase a best-selling author by calling him a right-wing sell-out.)
The New York Post raved that in Patriot Games, "Clancy delivers the suspense," but I'm not buying it. No really, I'm not buying the New York Post. Did you ever wonder what a truly sorry excuse for a journalistic endeavor looks like? Read the New York Post. Read it cover to cover. By the time you reach the Sports section, you may find that you've drooled onto your chin, that your left eyelid is twitching, and that your capacity for intelligent conversation has dropped by thirty or forty percent.
Maybe someday when I'm old and bored, and I've read all the classics and have caught up on all my Michael Crichton and then read all those great books and all those Crichton thrillers a second or third time and seen Patriot Games the movie another dozen times on top of the dozen times I've already enjoyed it--then maybe I'll pick up Clancy's Patriot Games again. Maybe my bookmark will still be stuck in there between pages 186 and 187. Maybe by then I'll be 86 or 87 and won't be able to see that tiny print anymore anyway.
Until then, I'll be happy with Harrison Ford.
Visit me at Goodreads.com: http://www.goodreads.com/profile/roxton_malone