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Funny thing about this 'McGuffin/Iran arms deal' thesis cropping up today; because over the weekend I was reading an advance copy of my friend Chris Petit's forthcoming metaphysical spy thriller, The Passenger. Not out till April but I highly recommend it and not just because Chris is my BF and getting me drunk tomorrow: I wasn't convinced by his last coupla books and told him so; but this is brilliant - he's got the mix just right: fact, fiction, conspiracy, DeLillo-esque impersonation of real historical characters (here a vivid and haunting portrait of CIA spymeister James Angleton). CIA, Borges, Greene, London, Thatcher, oil, conspiracy, melancolia ... what's not to like? It's ostensibly about the Lockerbie plane and 'who put the bomb on and why?' is in some senses the McGuffin. I won't say more than that (except that Iran, Iraq and arms dealing do figure heavily), but here's a passage from page 98:

"Angleton and Hitch dined together occasionally in Washington. Hitch was a fan. Angleton had given him the McGuffin for North By Northwest. The ideal McGuffin was the perfect zero: the idea that drove everything and explained nothing. Angleton told Hitch that he and Greene had once invented an agent in Rome that didn't exist. "Perfect," said Hitchcock."

This is central (so central I can't quote the next few lines).
Uncanny coincidence, eh?

BTW1: I also highly recommend Chris' Northern Ireland thriller The Psalm Killer.
BTW2: does this count as inadverant 'viral marketing' or something?

posted by Ian 1/16/2006 05:14:00 PM

The idea that Galloway (not to mention Tony Benn and Arthur Scargill) are/were double agents working to discredit the left is the only thing that even *begins* to make sense!
PS Just being nosy, but which are the Petit novels you didn't rate? I wasn't too struck by The Hard Shoulder - but I reckon Robinson is an absolute masterpiece...
On no I LOVE Robinson (I think I may even be in it...). I was thinking of the last two 'thrillers', one of which (THE HUMAN POOL) had BRILLIANT stuff in it, but the narrative flow was overpowered by having too much thrown in - or at least I thought so; and BACK FROM THE DEAD (which I think Chris was a bit unhappy with too). Anyone who likes Welles or Fassbinder should read Robinson...
Brilliant, Ian

Yes, I adore uncanny coincidences - a letter does indeed always arrive at its destination ...
Or - see The Passenger - a letterBOMB...
Could it be this one, by any chance?

The top winner in the contest for the greatest blunder of 1998 was a Latin-American patriotic terrorist who sent a bomb letter to a US consulate in order to protest against American interference into local politics. As a conscientious citizen, he wrote on the envelope his return address; however, he did not put enough stamps on it, so that the post returned the letter to him. Forgetting what he put in it, he opened it and blew himself to death — a perfect example of how, ultimately, a letter always arrives at its destination ...
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