Three favorites from the 12.21 author’s shelves.
Co-author of The Rule of Four, Dustin Thomason writes fast-paced page-turners that hinge on the mysteries of antiquity. His new novel, 12.21, draws on the Mayan myth of the apocalypse to create a gripping thriller that recalls the best of Michael Crichton. This week, he points us to a trio of favorites that possess the same qualities that make his own work so vital.
By Stephen King
“Any of us who attempts to write a story about the end of the world — or a new beginning for it — must bow before King’s masterwork. A tapestry of memorable, complicated characters; a big, weird, wonderful tale of good and evil; his Christian morality play; The Stand is the longest part of King’s doomsday shadow in which we all sit. When the book was initially published, he cut many hundreds of pages to please his editor, but from the first time I read the unabridged version and got to live inside that imagination, all I could think was: ‘If only it were a thousand more.’”
By Michael Crichton
“In the history of what writers like to call ‘high concepts,’ Crichton’s sci-fi fantasy of technology run amok stands alone. Cloning dinosaurs from DNA trapped in amber will go down as one of the best ideas for a book (or movie, or theme park, or everything else) ever cooked up. Each page is a clinic in suspense, in engaging the reader in things we never thought we’d learn about in a thriller, and in how dinosaurs are nothing like we thought. We kids who stared up at the long necks of brontosauruses at natural history museums and wondered what it would be like to live among them had to look no further (and that was even before Spielberg got to it). Jurassic Park wasn’t just a time machine that brought us back in geologic time — it brought us back to the time in our own lives when we looked at the entire world with wonder.”
By Richard Russo
“There are only a few writers alive today who can pull off the mix of comedy and tragedy that Russo does in all his novels, especially as well as he does in Empire Falls. Absurdity, melancholy, wistfulness, coming of age, physical comedy, and a dozen other things all sit comfortably within these pages, and the dance he does among them is a nearly impossible feat of writing acrobatics. His main character, Miles Roby, has a window seat to the craziness that is his hometown in Maine, and when it comes to small towns, there’s no better, sadder, funnier observer. But it’s the supporting characters that really make Russo’s inheritance of Mark Twain’s legacy most obvious, especially in the form of Max, Miles’ complicated father, which (when HBO adapted the book pretty decently) was the last character we got to watch Paul Newman inhabit.”