East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Clive Cussler, 1931-2020

I will openly admit that I have always found Dirk Pitt insufferable but, in a nice symmetry, I have always liked Clive Cussler – probably since the day I found out he had found an agent and sold his first novels by faking an agent’s stationery and setting up a simple but effective confidence game.

Clive Cussler was a man that wrote book about sea adventure, and used the proceeds to have real-life sea adventures – and to collect classic cars. He projected a certain joy de vivre that made me like him even when I staggered to finish Valhalla on the third attempt.
And later I found out I liked his other series much better – and I absolutely loved his memoirs about tresure hunting and relic salvaging.

Clive Cussler is gone, but he entertained us for decades, and his legacy will certainly live on.

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The other books by Clive Cussler

php49246e79454e7Confessions of a reader and writer of adventure stories: I always found Dirk Pitt insufferable.
And while I always liked Clive Cussler for his no-frills attitude to writing and his honest commercialism (and his aloha shirts), every single time I tried to settle down with a Dirk Pitt novel I wasn’t able to go beyond the third chapter.
In part I blame the Italian translations, in part the lasting effects of Raise the Titanic, that sort of cast a lugubrious shadow over what was supposed to be a high-adventure yarn, spoiling my fun for the following decades.
And much as I appreciated the opening titles sequence and the soundtrack for Sahara (see below), it did not actually help the defense of Dirk Pitt’s case as far as I am concerned. Continue reading

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Shameless adventures

adventure_19350815Do you mind if I rant?
You see, I don’t always call other people cretins, but when I do, it is usually because they pretend to know what they are talking about when they in fact they do not know.

Yesterday I was told that adventure stories – and genre fiction in general – is a second-rate form of cheap entertainment, aimed at housewives and blue-collar working-class brutes that can’t appreciate a good, solid, proper “real novel”.
And the word cretin erupted through my lips before I could think about something more scathing and cruel.

Then I launched in a long-winded rant the gist of which I will now inflict on Karavansara readers.
Because like a guy once said, I suffered for my art, now it’s your turn. Continue reading


Hunting sunken treasures

The first comment I got when I shouted “Wow! This is just great!” was along the lines of “Sounds like the sort of junk Clive Cussler writes.”
Talk about feeling alienated.
But let’s proceed with order.

1111bigOne of the few perks of living smack in the middle of Southern Piedmont is, in two hours I can be on the Cote d’Azure.
The sun, the sea, acres and acres of nubile, scantly clad young women stretching on the beaches…
And I normally end up in some antiquarian bookstore.
They even publish (or used to) a map of antiquarian bookshops in the Nice area.

So a few years back I was browsing the stalls of one such small Alladin caves of librarian wonder, and I caught me the three volumes of the Born Free series, first edition, and to round up the bill, I threw in a weird little book called Treasure Diving Holidays, by Jane and Barney Crile.
The book – a 1954 first edition – once bought and brought home, was placed on a high shelf together with other sea-oriented books, and soon forgotten.
Which is all right – I’m quite convinced books should be read at the right moment, so sometimes forgetting them on a high shelf is just what’s needed.
Then, when the time comes… I need some color and information for some seafaring stories I’m planning, and I go and rediscover this hidden gem.

What’s it all about? Continue reading