When I heard that James Grady , author of the just released Last Days of the Condor, would be at The Mysterious Bookshop, I did what any plugged in person does these days—I watched Three Days of the Condor on Amazon Prime. This is what I found: Robert Redford is still a hunk; Faye Dunaway still lights up the screen; and Cliff Robertston’s hair still looks ridiculous. And the nail-biting tension is still all there. The end of the movie leaves you wondering what happened next for the Robert Redford character, Joe Turner. And what became of the author James Grady who wrote Six Days of the Condor (on which the movie was based) at the age of 25.
Well, James Grady solved those mysteries at his book release event at The Mysterious Bookshop on Thursday eve (Feb. 19). Otto Penzler, owner of the book store and master of all things mysterious, introduced the author, remarking how Six Days of the Condor represented a turning point in espionage fiction by presenting us with the notion that not all of the guys on the U.S. side were good, some were very bad.
The author then explained why he had abandoned the Condor: My impression was that he didn’t create an immediate sequel or series because the movie created characters that were larger than life or than the fictitious framework he had originally created. We all know the failure rate of sequels. Maybe more writers should follow Grady’s approach. But the Condor kept bugging him, through 9/11 (James Grady published Mad Dogs in 2006), until the Condor finally said, “Let’s do it.” Thus we have Last Days of the Condor. As a writer, I appreciate the voices of our own creations continuing to live in our heads and insisting their stories be told.
Mr. Grady read an excerpt from the book to demonstrate how he managed the challenge of writing about a character who in the reader’s mind will always be Robert Redford. While not all authors are good readers, James Grady captivated the audience with his reading, leaving us all wanting more. And in the end—isn’t that what a book release party is all about.