I’m not one to run the flag up a pole every time I read a good book. I tend to let the book in question seep into my every atom and cell and, I guess, tell its own story in a more mysterious way through my own excitements and passions. You could say the good book is the catalyst for the excited me.
But I just finished reading David Benioff’s City of Thieves and this is one book I fucking wished I had written.
And what makes the subjective “good” book?
Well in City of Thieves it’s the fact that I was desperate to get back to the story, the way you get needy for that first spring day after winter, or that one right word to finish a sentence. The book got its claws in me and I wanted to be ripped away from the “cold clockwork world” and into the rich and funny and exciting and madcap one of the Nazis blockade of Leningrad.
The friendship between the two main characters, Lev, the teenage son of a Jewish poet, and Kolya, a Russian soldier, is infectious, and I felt like I was in their company at every pitfall and exhilaration of their adventure to locate a dozen eggs for a colonel of the secret police who wants the eggs for a wedding cake for his daughter.
Benioff writes with the irreverent and droll humour of Woody Allen and the precision for facts and the diligence for research like Peter Ackroyd.
The rapport between Lev and Koyla follows in the crazy footsteps of such literary comrades as the Gray Mouser and Fafhrd and Snufkin and Moomintroll .
Read it and despair. Or else read it and get revisited by the spooky art and get writing like a holy spook.
At least that’s what I’m doing.