I have been aware of Cussler forever, his paperbacks as ubiquitous as Danielle Steele’s or Tom Clancy’s, but I had never sat down to read any of his work. And I might never have, had it not been for a regular weekly gig I found myself doing where I spent a few hours entertaining an elderly man. I suggested one afternoon, having run out of things to say, that I might read a book of his choice to him. I had gotten this idea from a recent viewing of the Netflix adaptation of Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, and my charge was immediately enthused by the idea. He was a fan of Cussler and Titanic was one of the few titles he had not yet read.
The book itself was near pulp in the quality of its fiction. It is also a product of its time, with all the sexism and racism that goes along with that, but I found it refreshing. It also tickled my elderly charge to no end: this man was finding supreme entertainment value in the words I was reading. It got me to thinking perhaps there is still a market for the old rough-and-tumble adventures of men like Dirk Pitt. I wondered if I could put myself in that gritty mode of years gone by, shuck off all the overbearing political correctness that threatens to silence creativity in the name of sensitivity, and just say “fuck it, I’ll write a book for old men who still think women are broads and literally call spades spades”.
Then I came to my senses. But the experience has inestimable value, and I am excited to see what my ancient companion has next on his to-read list.