Thursday 16 July 2015

I've rarely read a book as fast as I read Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald. The Avon paperback with red-edged pages and cover text out of register, invited speed and derision; the short sentences and perpetual dialogue propelled a version of plot-driven impatience I'd forgotten about.

I'd seen the film the night before and was curious to see if it was as funny on the page or if it was born to be plundered. I found myself looking only for differences in the plot, locations, characters. Why is the name Underwood changed to Underhill in the film? or Nevada to Utah? Adultery to bigamy?

I must have bought it in the seventies or eighties during a trip to New York. My taste was more catholic then, and I was trying to understand America. Even cowgirls get the blues, for example, illuminated a road trip across America in 1980/1. Teach Yourself Irish and the autobiography of Sean O'Casey, Volume I, illuminated my early years in Ireland.

Fletch is less funny on the page than in the character played by Chevy Chase. Such is the wraparound nature of film, and the open nature of reading.

I read Fletch that day because I felt disinclined for most else. Dan and Alessandro were up in the field trampling dock around the new trees; I didn't feel like working on poems while they were doing that. They were doing the work and I felt tired. So I read Fletch and listened to Fidelio (talk about crossed lines) and I read it fast.

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