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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Michael Crichton's last book

I just finished reading Pirate Latitudes and it made me sad because no matter how much his publisher wants to sell the idea that the manuscript is complete, it feels very much like a rough draft.

One of the things I always enjoyed about his books was the way he stuffed them full of details that had nothing to do with the story but were just bits of cool information he wanted to share with his readers. That was, I think, the reason he always included his research reading list. So if you wanted to know more about any of the topics, you had a college-level course laid out for you. It was always humbling to read those lists because you knew that he was not just taller than you, he was also a whole lot smarter.

The first chapter of this book is chock full of great period ... stuff. But that falls off as the story continues and you just know he would have gotten back to it if he'd had the chance. The book is entertaining, but it feels like there was so much left undone. And there won't be any other stories from him. Crichton wasn't always the most graceful writer but he was a damn good storyteller. And there is really nobody out there like him. Maybe James Rollins.

4 comments:

  1. My wife is a huge Crichton fan and would second your thoughts on his storyteller abilities. Sorry to hear the last one doesn't quite live up to his incredible legacy.

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  2. I loved the Jurassic-related novels and "Eaters Of The Dead," so that's a shame. It amazes me that they didn't get a writer like the publishers of Raymond Chandler's "Poodle Springs" did with Robert B. Parker (or hire on a certain Super Editor to polish things up). It stands to reason that they would've made more money in the long run by putting out a better product, rather than trying to capitalize on the memory of him as fast as they could. It's not as if we would actually forget him.

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  3. It's not so much that the book is disappointing as it is his fans will be left wanting so much more...I LOVED Eaters of the Dead.

    You know I once worked for Crichton? He was giving a speech at AFI and wanted some research done. I spent a month on the project and still have a copy of the report I sent him. He was incredibly gracious to work for.

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  4. Cool. And we can safely say that we was the tallest man ever, in literature.

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