There are times when, and they're usually in the middle of a rewrite and you're wondering if it's too late to go back to the day job, when you come across a book that so blows you away that you either:
1. Feel so totally inspired you give up all thoughts of food, sleep and company and attack the keyboard with a mania that is both terrifying and electrifiying
2. Wonder why you ever bothered with this writing lark because you'll never ever write anything good enough to be compared to even a line of said book.
3. Both of the above, simultaneously.
The Count of Monte Cristo. The book. The whole book and nothing but the book. Not the film. Not the abridged version. But the one with torture, with executions, with drug-fueled sexual fantasies, with madness and with noble-hearted evil and an anti-hero that would have Don Corleone crying for his mother.
New Year Resolution No.5 was to read a lot more this year, but not any old drivel that had a cool cover and was hyped as the Next Big Thing. But the classics. Oh, and before you roll your eyes a conclude Sarwat's become an old fart all I can say is that you will never read a book as intense, desperate, wide-ranging and heart-gripping as this. It is a tale of revenge in the vein of Medea. Edmund Dante's descent from generous, kind and naive hero to (basically) revenge-driven madman is a masterpiece that defies categorization.
It's a chunky book and none of it is filler. Allow it's multitude of tales within tales, overlapping destinies and discussions on what best to wear for a execution consume your every waking moment. It's like taking the best bits of all your favourite things (sex, violence, revenge, fashion, philisophy, the Napoleonic wars, Italian opera, boat design and the habits of English stock-brokers) written by the best, and putting then all in one book. And THEN adding swordfights. Only a Frenchman could have written it and it not seem like showing off.
The only thing this book has made easy is my choice of birthday presents for the rest of the year.
For Heaven's sake, why aren't you reading it RIGHT NOW?