Okay, I know you can’t expect too much of junk fiction. All you’re asking for is some lurid, maybe prurient, hopefully violent escapist time-killing. Anything beyond that is actually a bit suspect. Characterization? Plausibility? Well-drawn settings? Well, okay, if unavoidable, but let’s not strain ourselves.
Only two things are required, O Junk Novel. First, don’t be dull. I mean, kill time, yes, but don’t let me hear it groaning and pleading. Do your job mercifully. Second, know what you are: junk. Don’t put on airs and start preaching to me about your author’s hobby horses. Take warning from what a bore Heinlein became and Grisham is becoming.
Alas, one of my favorite junk tuff-guy writers, Lee Child, whose dozen previous thrillers had led me to expect snappy action unimpeded by socially redeeming values, has decided he actually has something to say.
I eagerly snatched up Nothing to Lose, his latest “Jack Reacher” bash-em and trash-em potboiler from the New Book display at the library, confident that it would deliver yet another update of Popeye vs. Bluto, only to discover that Mr. Lee had turned his lunk-hero into a pulpiteer on the evils of War (but only after 1945), Christians, American Army Men, and Big Business.
Aw, jeez, what a disappointment. It’s as though Mike Hammer started spouting off about global warming. Glad I didn’t actually plunk down dollars for this one.