“The writing in Mission to Paris, sentence after sentence, page after page, is dazzling. If you are a John le Carré fan, this is definitely a novel for you.”
“Mr. Furst excels at period atmosphere, which he conjures up, not with a litany of facts absorbed and reproduced, but with light touches that suggest the broader scene. ”
Wow, book readings can be juicy and entertaining! I saw this in spades tonight when I went to hear Alan Furst, widely recognized as the master of the historical espionage novel, read from his new book, Mission to Paris. Alan read with brio: the passage he chose was taut and atmospheric. You could almost feel dark clouds gathering and a way of life ending. It was exciting!
But equally fascinating was a Q&A in which some enthusiastic readers of his books quizzed Alan about his travels, research, and choice of genre. He readily admitted that he had a checkered writing career: his first four novels were duds. Then, on assignment for Esquire, he visited the Soviet Union. Seeing a “police state” in action galvanized his writing. “I had some kind of moral purpose,” after this trip, he told the audience and this ignited his creativity. He began penning novels like Dark Voyage, The Foreign Correspondent, and Dark Star — all set in Europe in the thirties and forties. His newest novel, Mission to Paris, is just out and is already garnering great reviews.
Not bad for a guy who once drove taxis! Alan lived in Europe for 10 years and soaked up barrels of atmosphere, which he’s poured into his novels. He also reads lots of thirties novelists and journalists. How does he get his ideas? In part by poring over a 1951 edition of The Encyclopedia Britannica, which he said offers a wealth of historical and cultural information on the countries he profiles. Soaking in all this gives him ideas for unexplored themes and characters who are logical for the times — and out of this brain-stirring brew, a plot emerges. Fantastic!
Bravo, Alan! Write on.