Sunday, 26 April 2009

Can Deighton help the microwave generation?

Interesting new article here in The Guardian by its new columnist Rachel Cooke, reminiscing about Len Deighton's Action Cook Book. This, his most well-remembered of cook books from the sixties, is being reissued later this spring by Harper Collins in a new edition. Back in the sixties it made as much impact as The Ipcress File in its innovative approach, its direct marketing at the bachelor male, and its characteristic cook strip approach which was far in advance of anything that had gone before in a world more used to Mrs Beeton than Harry Palmer.

Cooke writes enthusiastically about her copy of the book, adding: "I hope the new Action Cook Book is a huge hit, and that a whole new generation of bachelors learn how to do truites à la meunière and sole bercy, thus making the lives of their future partners a lot more lovely." An entertaining little article, and we can expect to hear more about Len's impact on the world of cooking when the book comes out.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Saving the good old British thriller?

A new group of British authors has been formed to save the classic British thriller from what it calls the 'production line' of modern american thriller fiction. The Curzon Group is the idea of Matt Lynn, Martin Baker and Alan Clements, who are concerned that the methods of Dan Brown, James Paterson and their ilk are draining the creativity from the thriller genre. They wish to see a return to the values that made British thrillers world leaders. Lynn says: "Look at Fleming, look at Len Deighton – they had a quirkiness to them. Yes they were very popular, and had elements of the formulaic, but there was an edge of originality to them."

The Curzon Group has given itself five key principles:

1. That the first duty of any book is to entertain.
2. That a book should reflect the world around it.
3. That thrilling, popular fiction doesn’t follow formulas.
4. That every story should be an adventure for both the writer and the reader.
5. That stylish, witty, and insightful writing can be combined with edge-of-the seat excitement.

It's a noble thought. But does British thriller writing need 'saving'?

Monday, 13 April 2009

The Deighton Dossier - now new and improved

The new, improved, version 2.0 Deighton Dossier website is now loaded up here, at the usual url.

Tell me what you think of it. There are lots more pages, more images, more .pdfs to view and download, and more new information not on the previous website.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Is Harry Palmer coming back?

I've just found this news item popped up on MTV's website. Sir Michael Caine has indicated that he thinks young(ish) British actor Jude Law should be playing Harry Palmer in any future remake of the classic Deighton films from the sixties. He seems to think the timing is right for remakes, but there's no evidence that this is anything more than wishful thinking - I've certainly not heard anything from Deighton's publishers or seen anything else about this suggestion elsewhere. Caine also wants to see Yesterday's Spy made into a film as part of any move to getting remakes off the blocks. It is one of Deighton's more stylish stories, set in Paris, and is ripe for filming.

If not Jude Law, then who else do people think could play the 'new' Harry Palmer? I think Jude Law is a good actor, and he does have form as a 'cockney Caine', having reprised Caine's role as Alfie a few years ago. The big question is, Palmer is so obviously linked to the sixties Britain - would you get the sense sense of class tension and blokey humour between Palmer and his colleagues in a modern setting; and would any producer rewrite the stories for a modern age, or go back to the Cold War setting? Interesting idea, though.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Good news for Harry Palmer fans

On 20 April there is a release of a double box set of the two final Harry Palmer films starring Michael Caine: Bullet to Beijing and Midnight in St Petersburg. While not a patch on the sixties originals, they do address the question of what a former spy does when the Cold War ends. In Palmer's case, it's start his own intelligence agency in Moscow! DVDs are available for pre-order now through Amazon.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

New Deighton book....well, almost

Click here to find out more about a new book by Irish author Brendan Lynch, called Yesterday We Were in America, which highlights the tale of aviation pioneers Alcock and Brown, who were the first to fly across the Atlantic. Len Deighton writes the forward, in which he says: Brendan Lynch, in this excellent book, tells their story with the skill of a dedicated researcher and the talent of a popular novelist. Yesterday We Were in America is a very fine book; I only wish I had written it.”

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Driving Len Deighton

I've just managed to get hold of a Sunday Times magazine from April 14 1963 featuring an article by Len Deighton on Supercar Motoring (find the article and the links to it on my Deighton Dossier main website).

Flushed with the critical and financial success of The Ipcress File, Len Deighton was someone who clearly liked to be in the cutting edge of the latest technological developments. In 1963, that meant short-wave in-car radio phones and in-car phonographs (record players!). A fascinating insight into how far we've come, technology-wise, in the last forty years. The uses of new technology in changing the world of work is something which features in a number of his stories.