“The Rescue Artist” by Edward Dolnick

Book Notes

Working undercover or just tracking books: Keep it simple #

The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece (by Edward Dolnick)

I’m working on a couple goals: (1) posting regularly and (2) focusing on 1-3 books at a time instead of jumping around in like 5-7 books. To keep things simple, I’m going to share one excerpt each day from one of the books I’m currently reading with some thoughts.

In the spirit of keeping things simple…

Here’s a quote from The Rescue Artist by Edward Dolnick:

Hill’s dislike of guns also reflects hostility toward technology in general. He can manage a cell phone or send an e-mail, but that is as far as he goes. The function of mechanical contrivances is to betray their user at the worst possible moment.

Hill in this is Charley Hill, the undercover cop Norwegian police hired when The Scream was stolen in 1994.

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. If something isn’t going wrong with your gadgets while you’re undercover, it’s just waiting for the perfect moment to stop working.

The Rescue Artist gives a look into a few worlds: high-end art, the criminal underworld, and the world undercover cops. It’s fascinating.

I had a familiar thought: I should read more books like this

And the last time I had that feeling was when I was reading The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly. (I wrote about it earlier this year—check that out.) That book came to mind because I was really enjoying The Rescue Artist and trying to think of what made it special. I think that it’s a departure from the usual “Here’s sort of how to get rich but, you know, with meaning” books I read.

In any case, I’m almost finished with this book and haven’t decided what the next book will be. I ordered a few hardcover books: New York 2140 (fiction), On Grand Strategy, and Choose Wonder Over Worry. I’m hoping that hardcover will help me focus but I suspect it will also just end up being inconvenient and I’ll read less.

I also still need to finish Maverick, which is also in hardcover. I’m more than halfway through so I might do that. I’ll apply the snowball debt method to books to finish the books that are nearest to completion.

Someday I’d like to have a better format for this

In keeping things simple, I’ll stick to a bulleted list. The problem for me isn’t that the technology breaks, it’s that I end up in a tinkering black hole. I want to change some style in WordPress, then get the IDE set up, then think well maybe I should make a custom template, then…

Okay so the current reading list

  • The Rescue Artist by Edward Dolnick: See above
  • Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman: This will definitely be the next Kindle book I read. I bought it last year but didn’t finish it. I’ve been bingeing on William Goldman interviews and videos so I thought it’d be good to start reading his book again. It’s great.
  • Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks (audiobook): I wrote a post about Matthew Dicks’s appearance on The Art of Manliness the other day (check that out here). I went ahead and picked up the book. I’m about an hour in and it’s got some good tips on storytelling. Some themes so far are that you don’t have to live an insane life to have good stories, if you pay attention you’ll see stories in your life, and telling stories is different from acting out a play.
  • Snow Crash (audiobook): I’ve been sick the past few days so I’ve just been putting this on in the background. I’m realizing how enjoyable it is to put a book on that I’ve listened to already. It’s like opening Netflix and throwing Friends on. I can turn my focus off and relax.

Alright stay tuned. In the meantime I’ll press publish on this thing and hope that technology doesn’t betray me.