Monday, August 4, 2008

Cold Plague

Okay, so it has been awhile since I had the chance to post here. I’ve been a little busy with work and all, plus there is still the matter of my convalescence from recent tendon surgery involving my right knee (it’s coming along slowly, but nicely, thanks for asking).

There are many things that I wanted to write about, but I think this time around I’ll just deal with water. I’m sure you’ve seen many news items of late telling us how much water we should be drinking. I’ve never been a big water drinker. At its best water is colourless, odourless and tasteless, which means I have no use for it. It’s never been a thirst quencher for me.

But as creatures made up mostly of water on a planet that is mostly covered with water, it might be understandable as to why we are preoccupied with the substance. With two thirds of the planet somewhat wet, we still send spacecrafts to other orbs in search of more water. We can’t seem to get enough of the stuff.

This brings me to Dr. Daniel Kalla. He is an emergency room physician in Vancouver who, when he’s not busy saving lives in his chosen profession, he’s scaring us to death with medical thrillers in his creative profession. His latest book, his fifth, is entitled Cold Plagueand, as you can guess by my preamble, it deals with water.

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Dan on several occasions on the radio and he’s always been an engaging and fun guest. His previous titles include Pandemic, Resistance, Rage Therapy and Blood Lies.

Let me pause for a moment to tell you a little secret about my interviewing style. When it comes to authors, I never read the book before conducting the interview. I find as a listener when I hear a conversation with two people who have travelled the same literary journey, I feel like someone who has entered a cocktail party and wandered over to a conversation that has already begun. I don’t know what’s being discussed.

I much prefer to engage an author in the discussion of their writing technique, their background and mostly their personality. An author without personality only writes technical manuals and they rarely get interviewed – or read.

Besides leaving the listeners in the dust, the other drawbacks I find to reading before talking is one of two reactions – either I loved the book and will gush profusely about the work, or I hated it and will have to feign interest (the latter is infinitely more difficult because in my mind I would be saying to myself that I’m only spending 20 minutes with this guy but reading his book took days off my life that I’ll never get back!)

Since I talk to a lot of authors, people think I get a lot of reading done. Sadly, that is not the case. I’ve already stated the reason why professionally, but also my schedule is so crammed with work for the nightly radio show and for the television show I host that I don’t get much recreationally reading done either.

But, Cold Plague is a book that I cleared a lot of my schedule for because I couldn’t wait to read it. If I had read Dan Kalla’s latest book before interviewing him it would have been a gush fest. That’s why I’m leaving the gushing to posting here on the blog.

Reading a medical thriller as I continue with my physiotherapy, being manipulated by torture specialists, might be considered ironic, but I found this book compelling. It deals with what could be considered the purest water ever found, hidden for millions of years, miles under the Antarctic ice.

Yes, it’s man’s preoccupation with water again. With water so pristine – untouched by human industrialization – just think of the natural healing powers it must contain; think how rich those who found it could be if it were marketed to the masses.

But is it a coincidence that this therapeutic water is being consumed during the same time as a cluster of new cases of mad cow disease in France? Is the human outbreak of the trifecta of rapid onset symptoms of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and schizophrenia somehow connected? And what does that mean for the rest of the world if we as a society can be done in by a simple water bottle? Those are some of the questions you’ll be asking yourself as you take the rollercoaster ride that is Cold Plague, along with the book’s hero, Dr. Noah Haldane of the World Health Organization.

Cold Plague has short, crisp chapters with the excitement building with each page turn. Without spoiling anything, I was halfway through the book, telling myself how much I enjoyed the pace, when I was suddenly rocketed into a different direction that I had not expected and I was now compelled to finish the book as fast as possible to find out what happened. I just couldn’t put it down. The sun was coming up, birds were chirping and I was still reading.

When I talked to Dan I asked him how he comes up with his thrillers. He said that as a doctor, he wrote what scares him. I don’t know if it’s a good idea to know what scares doctors but Cold Plague certainly has a chilling effect. As I said, I don’t drink water, but it got to me.

While I don’t usually like to pigeonhole books into reading seasons, I have to say that Cold Plague could be one of the ultimate reads of the summer. It’s perfect for a lazy day in the backyard, on the porch or even at the beach, when you’re relaxing on a deck chair enjoying nature and hydrating with some nice bottled water . . . on second thought, just enjoy the book, skip the water.

That’s the Stuph – the way I see it.

1 comment:

  1. When served a glass of water, Frank Sinatra said:
    "I'm thirsty not dirty"