Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Poseidon Adventure: A Great Adventure Book

I gave my book club Paul Gallico's novel, The Poseidon Adventure, for Christmas and we are reading it for January. What a great adventure book and, in fact, I think it could be the model for writing an exciting work of fiction. Bring together an interesting assortment of characters, put them together in a plausible situation, give them a common goal, place obstacles on the way to achieving it, have them develop as the novel progresses, and, in the end, provide a believable and satisfying resolution.

If you've never read a Paul Gallico novel, I recommend him. I first "met" the author in high school when we read The Snow Goose, a short work about a deformed artist and his friendship with a young girl and an injured snow goose. He lives in a lighthouse on the shore of England and sails to Dunkirk to help evacuate the trapped troops there. It is a modern fairy tale that has an almost poetic beauty.

Another novel, Trial by Terror, is a gripping story of an arrogant journalist who slips behind the Iron Curtain into Hungary after the execution of an American "spy" in 1950. He is captured, himself accused of being a spy, and subjected to torture and a show trial. The book was published in 1951 only a few years after Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty's arrest and show trial. I wondered when I read the book whether Gallico had that in mind as he described the interrogation, drugs, and torture used to break the journalist. He ends up confessing to everything just as the cardinal did in the end.

I look forward to reading more Gallico. His personal life was less than exemplary, but he had a great gift as both a correspondent and story-teller. One of his tales is The Small Miracle about a little boy who seeks help from the pope to cure his sick donkey. Somehow, I think the Lord will be merciful to a man with the childlike nature to write such a book.


Old Bob said...

Dear Mary Ann,

I recommend also his "Mrs. 'Arris" books about a London charwoman; I believe there are four of them.

My favorite book of his is "The Love of Seven Dolls," which was the basis for the movie "Lili" and the play "Carnival" (which I worked on and acted in in 1964). It is a gritty and realistic, but tender and touching love story.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Oh, I love Mrs. Arris, Bob! Thanks for reminding me. Angela Lansbury was wonderful in the movie. I forgot that was Paul Gallico. Another reason to love him.

Lili was also a lovely movie. Leslie Caron was so beautiful and touching in the story. We had so many beautiful musical comedies in those days.