Day 12: A Book You Used to Love but Don’t Anymore
It didn’t take me long to pinpoint Clive Cussler’s Raise the Titanic! This was my first Cussler novel as well as my first foray into adventure fiction. I read it shortly after the paperback was published so that would have been around the summer of 1977. I was eleven years old and had become extremely interested in ships and sealore perhaps a year or two before. Our summer vacation that year to visit relatives in California included a stopover in L.A. before heading back home to Texas. To accomodate my budding interest in the great age of ocean liners, my family made a detour to Long Beach so that we could spend a day touring the Queen Mary.
My mother gave me my copy of Raise the Titanic! because of what had become more than a passing interest in the Titanic (I remember that she read the book first and then wouldn’t let me read Cussler’s earlier novel The Mediterranean Caper because she deemed it a bit too racy). This was the latest in a growing collection of Titanic stuff. I’d seen a couple of the classic movies and was a big fan of Walter Lord’s account of the sinking. I sought out other books and information on fhe ship wherever I could — an interest that continues to this day. In fact, one of my last visits home before my mother passed away included a day at Kansas City’s Union Station which was hosting a huge exhibition of Titanic memorabilia including artifacts brought up from the wreckage of the ocean liner.
I enjoyed the book greatly at the time and it launched an interest in Clive Cussler’s novels (and non-fiction works) that continues to this day. In fact, just today I finished reading his 2010 “Oregon Files” adventure, The Silent Sea. I even liked the movie made from this book starring Jason Robards as Admiral Sandecker (I’m sorry, I can’t for the life of me recall the actor who portrayed Dirk Pitt!). You might say that the movie and the book were both “cult classics” in our home (I think Mom might have watched the movie more than I did).
However, I can’t read the book at all now (nor have I seen the movie in years). I did try to read it again just a couple of years ago but it seems horribly dated now. The condition of the Titanic when Robert Ballard discovered her in 1985 was just so different from what Cussler imagined that I just couldn’t get beyond that. This is the same reason that I can no longer read a number of the Cold War novels written by luminaries such as John le Carré or Tom Clancy. While these can be regarded as “historical fiction” now, I just have problems reading about these topics. And yet I enjoy books set in eras much farther removed. I think perhaps I’m just too “close” to certain events…
At any rate, I do wish I could still enjoy Raise the Titanic! I may try again soon to see if my feelings have changed at all.