Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day

The Big Clock is a great noir novel that should be more widely read. Due to an unlucky set of circumstances, George's boss orders him to find a person of interest. Bad news: the person of interest happens to be George. If he is found, he will probably be killed, if he goes for the obvious escape, he will get divorced. So he tries to play it down the middle. The tension is excellent, and the role that paintings play in the plot is inventive and humorous.

The author, Kenneth Fearing, was involved in left-wing politics, so it is not surprising that the story can also be read as an indictment of corporate life and politics. When we first meet George he is bored senseless of his work, despite his high position. The boredom turns to terror when he learns the lengths to which his superiors will go to protect themselves.

George is not a terribly appealing character. He drinks too much, manipulates his staff and repeatedly cheats on his wife. For the movie version, he is perfectly good guy who has a single lapse that gets him into trouble. The boss is made into more of Scrooge as opposed to a representative of a corrupt organization. As is normally the rule, read the book first. The book was also remade into No Way Out, with obvious changes.

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