Archive for June 20th, 2006
Had a wander around my bookshelves, and came across a couple of books by Alistair McLean. As I might have mentioned in previous jottings, I have completed about five books, all available care of my own website, and at present am working on a sixth, which is centred around British politics, all of which are so far unpublished, unloved and unknown; which is where McLean started off, but his first novel, “H.M.S. Ulysses” was to catapult him into the supertax bracket in the space of six months, and after that he unfortunately never looked back. I say unfortunately because his best work was completed within the span of his next four books, and after that, as far as this reader is concerned, he was writing and selling on his name, and producing a yearly pile of indigestible rubbish which sold because it was ’the yearly McLean’ and for no other reason.
His first novel,’H.M.S. Ulysses’ written on the experiences which he had lived through while serving on a cruiser, hit the bookshelves and was immediately recognised as a true best-seller, something which is foreign these days when the book dustjacket already proclaims the improbable facts of ‘best-seller’ status before the event. His narrative of a doomed warship, with a semi-mutinous crew, leading a convoy towards the harbour of Murmansk in Northern Russia, battling not only the Nazi enemy but also the ferocious onslaught of the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean in mid-winter, rang so true that when the paragraphs spoke of the waves crashing over the bow, you instinctively flinched before the spray and spume. He wove a narrative which rang true, far deeper than fiction, and told the story of the men fought and died to guard the convoys, the convoys which so far have never been honoured for their service and their sacrifice, except, strangely enough, by the Russians, who issued their Soviet Arctic Region Service medals, offered by the Russians to the veterans’ organisations, but permission to wear these decorations was refused by the British Government. This mean-minded and twisted logic, typical of the Blair regime, comes strangely from a Government and a Prime Minister who is normally only too keen to be photographed close to active-duty servicemen! McLean’s book, ’H.M.S. Ulysses’ still available in print, is worth a search, as it will grip the reader new to his work, and give an insight of brave men, long dead, who died so the others might live in freedom!
I honestly and openly admit that I am an avid reader of sea and naval stories, of sail, steam and turbine, because as another author writes, “the only true enemy is the sea”, and any writing which can give the reader an insight into the ways which a naval man thinks is to be devoured. The writing must be good, but if the author knows his craft and his audience, he’s already got a sale as far as this reader is concerned.