When I was a kid, we’d spend a week with each set of grandparents every summer. I’ve always been a voracious reader, but then I was ridiculous. I couldn’t possibly bring enough books with me for a one week stay, so I’d read whatever the grandparents had lying around. Fortunately for me, my mom’s parents were also readers and always had new books available. My grandfather had a penchant for Robert Ludlum and Larry McMurtry; my grandmother for books that are too “important” to go on the romance aisle, even if that’s where they really belong. This is when I was introduced to Jason Bourne, and Woodrow Call and Gus McCrae. I loved reading these HUGE books, it made me feel so grown up. (Little did I know that the Outlander series was looming in my future, but I hadn’t found Diana Gabaldon yet.) Oddly though, one of my favourite Ludlum books was actually a satire, The Road to Gandolfo. It was convoluted, ridiculous, romantic, and I remember laughing so hard that my family thought I was nuts.
What I didn’t know, and found out only recently, was that Mr. Ludlum had written a sequel, The Road to Omaha. It featured many of the same characters, and was supposed to be a riff on what happens when an Indian tribe figures out that a century-old treaty that has long been ignored by the U.S. Government really means that the tribe owns the land the Strategic Air Command is located on. When I learned this, I was ecstatic. More time with childhood favourites! The government being shown up by a group it has mistreated abominably! How could I resist?
I should have. What I didn’t realize, and probably should have, if I’d thought about it, is that times have changed, and jokes that were once funny are now offensive – and I mean really offensive. The racial and ethnic jokes were so intense I didn’t even finish the book. I couldn’t bring myself to read anymore after the first 100 pages. Maybe Mr. Ludlum thought that if he skewered everyone (and I do mean everyone), it would be okay. Maybe it does for some readers. All it did was make me cringe.