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Some Fun Stuff

Guest Post by Bill Cushing

Okay, we’re all stuck indoors for the duration, so I’ve used the opportunity to get to some books I’ve not read. However, occasionally I like returning to a guilty pleasure—whether it’s a movie or book. Here are two such recommended books.

Although George Fox wrote several novels, Amok remains my favorite; the ride is such fun that I can now breeze through in about two hours. The story isn’t new by any stretch: a Japanese soldier still fights WWII in the Philippines during the 1970s. Hell, even Gilligan’s Island did that one, but it’s the way Fox constructs his story that makes this version so interesting.

For example, he begins by noting that the word “amok” began as a noun. Now, there’s a hook. Additionally, Fox’s story is so cinematic that I was casting it during my first reading some 40 years ago.

When Nicholas Meyer moved from writing scripts and novels (Time After Time and The Seven Percent Solution stand out) to directing films, I felt a sense of loss to the world of letters. Not that I blame the man, and he is actually responsible for two of the better Star Trek films (The Wrath of Khan and Undiscovered Country), so there was an upside.

But his novel Confessions of a Homing Pigeon offers one of the best coming-of-age books around. An orphaned boy of acrobat parents moves to Paris with his paternal uncle. He’s taken from the morally ambiguous relative to Chicago after his mother’s family decides he needs a “proper upbringing.” Quickly tiring of that suburban grind, he decides to return to the beloved uncle and makes his way back to France in a novel quite accurately described as “charming.”

Meyer is a great writer, and this may be his greatest yet least known book.

Amok by George Fox. 1978.
Confessions of a Homing Pigeon by Nicholas Meyer. Dial Press, January 1981.

Reviewer bio: Bill Cushing writes and facilitates a writing group for 9 Bridges. His poetry collection, A Former Life, was released last year by Finishing Line Press.

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