The Gun Seller - Hugh's first novel
At one time, The Gun Seller was being adapted into a screenplay, with the rights held by MGM, but Hugh Laurie had to abandon his screenplay for John Malkovich's production company because the story involved terrorism: "It's at the bottom of the pile now."
I was working on it for about two years, which is a shame, but people lost a lot more than I did, so it's one of those things."
Hugh is still hopefull the movie will be produced in the future and might even adapt it so he can play Thomas Lang - even though he's older than he originally envisioned the character.
The Paper Soldier has been given several release dates. The newest was Sept 2009. I wouldn't expect release until after Hugh is done with House.
At the launch of his new book The Gun Seller - March 5, 1997 (Black and white photo from the American print edition)
Photo from the UK publication (thanks Cass)
Italian front and back cover
Review by Elisabeth Gause
Okay, so he isn't a doctor. Nor is he American. And actually, he has a wife and some three kids. But all that is immaterial. The really important stuff is real. The dry wit of Dr. Gregory House is all Hugh Laurie.
Fox's House appeared to be just another show in the saturated doctor genre, but oh-ho we are pleasantly surprised. Sure, he's a physician and most of the show's guest stars are wretched supine souls but there are two key differences about this drama.
One is that it's a mystery. As a diagnostician, Dr. House is the sardonic Inspector Hercule Poirot of the medical world figuring out what no one else can, including the viewer. But you don't feel cheated when his inevitable genius prevails because you're too busy shaking your head and being impressed.
So rah-rah the show, it's fabulous, but the second and real reason this show works is actually quite common with television--because the lead is phenomenal. Yes, the entire cast is excellent and each worthy of applause, but we all watch it for 'the man.' Dr. Gregory House is brilliant, bitter and has the bedside manner of a rattlesnake.
He says what we all want to say and he does it so cleverly that you almost can't understand why his victim is frowning instead of laughing at his insouciance. But it's something else that draws us to this caustic cane-bearer, something intangible that we see in those blue eyes of his that possess the gravitational pull of black holes. Ladies and gentlemen, it's authenticity.
It's a given that we all secrety desire our stars to be who they portray. Unfortunately, they just usually aren't that cool (or, on the flip side, that evil) but this one is. This one makes us feel like Indiana Jones unearthing the Lost Ark. Now I don't know whether Hugh Laurie knows anything about the human body and I hope he doesn't treat Vicodin like Tic-Tacs, but I do know that House's oomph is Hugh Laurie. I know this not because I saw some blip of an interview but because I dove in and swam around in all 368 pages of his book (and read a caboodle of interviews.) Yep, the Brit penned a novel. But before we get to the book, let's meet the author. Paging Dr. House
His first name is James; one of his middle names is Hugh. Only someone who calls 'french fries' 'chips' would prefer 'Hugh' over 'James.' Born in Oxford to an Olympian father, he started out at a rather prestigious preparatory called the Dragon School and matriculated in to Eton and Cambridge. (How's that for a lofty launch into the world?) At university, as they say across the pond, he dated an ingenue by the name of Emma Thompson, who also dabbled in acting and once described him as "lugubriously sexy." (I figure if I had to use a dictionary for that one, you could too.)
Then in 1980, after an auspicious encounter with another talented bloke, Stephen Fry, the two smartly teamed up to form one of the most successful comedy duos in British television history. These days, he plays guitar and keyboard in a band called Poor White Trash and he rides a Triumph Bonneville, which is a fancy smancy motorcycle that looks really cool. And finally, just because I think it's an amusing bit of trivia, in his younger years when Laurie seemed to be rowing his way to a gold medal like his father as an oarsman, he was forced to leave his sculls in the Thames because of mononucleosis. It's a smile worthy irony that if it wasn't for a disease we might never have heard of Dr. House.
And, for the sake of a segue, if I had never heard of Dr. House, I never would have heard of Thomas Lang, the explicably familiar protagonist in Laurie's book. Thank goodness for mono.
Published ten years ago, The Gun Seller is a well written satire about a good enough chap who finds his motorcycle and his self in a bad way. Lang is ex-military who now freelances and somehow got roped into a job he turned down. That's all the plot I'm going to relay because you can read the dust cover and because once again the lead is the reason to tune in. Lang is self-effacing and sharp but we love him for his humanity and his panache. (Notice any House-like qualities here?)
He seems to genuinely care about the world if not actually want to be involved in it too much and he seems more objective, or aware of his lack of being so when the occassion precludes it, than most human beings. Throughout his ordeal, he is honest, poignant and, much to our pleasure, glib. Given that House came almost a decade after The Gun Seller, it seems to me that Gregory House is Thomas Lang is Hugh Laurie. And they're all just so cool.
There's talk of turning this book into a movie (with Laurie writing the screenplay) and more talk about a second novel. With the success of House, fruition of this talk seems more probable than possible. I hope so anyway. Because I think we all love to see the real deal. The actor's who funny because he really is funny.
The writer who can deliver the funny not just type it out. The Brit who can make us all think he's American and then upon learning we've been duped we're that much more in love with him because 'we couldn't even tell.' We love when people can blur lines with such finesse. And Hugh Laurie definitely has that lugubrious finesse.
HUGH-PHORIC IN LONDON
Various review snippets
"In his debut as a thriller writer, the longstanding partner of British comedian Stephen Fry treats the genre of John Buchan, Eric Ambler, and Frederick Forsythe with as much reverence as Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy did science fiction. His blend of comedy and suspense has some truly hilarious moments....Laurie's droll patter enlivens Lang's bemused narration throughout. Besides motorcycle chases, unarmed combat, and sharpshooting, Lang wittily fetishizes weaponry and personal injury. As a good Brit, however, he is terribly, terribly reticent about sex ('When it comes to sex, it seems to me, men really are caught between a rock and a soft, limp, apologetic place.')." Publishers Weekly
"A first-rate thriller...an awesome entertainment machine...a smashing book." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Now Mr. Laurie has followed his fellow Cantabrigian into comic fiction with The Gun Seller, the most engaging literary menage a genres since George Macdonald Fraser's Flashman arrived on the scene....As a writer, Mr. Laurie is smart, charming, warm, cool (if need be) and high-spirited.....This is a genuinely witty and sophisticated entertainment." Christopher Buckley, The New York Times Book Review
"Amiable and lively....It's certainly the first novel to combine The Day of the Jackal with The Code of the Woosters." The Evening Standard (London)
"There is mystery, intrigue, sex, and violence, all...[tossed] off with sarcastic wit and remarkable poise. Laurie's humor hits home. Although the subject is serious, even plausible, much of this comedy-thriller is laugh-out-loud funny and very readable. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"It's no surprise that this fey first novel from British TV comedian/writer Laurie should feature an updated Bertie Wooster pitched headlong into international intrigue, terrorism, and really embarrassing scrapes....Throughout all this balderdash as Thomas goes through all of James Bond's paces (unarmed combat, ritualistic double-crosses, soft-focus sex with Third World terrorists) the jokes are reliably funny; but since the premise and its development are nowhere more outrageous than in straight-faced examples of the genre, the japery eventually grows monotonous. Still, every episode is awash with giggles, even if the whole production seems directed at audiences who think Get Smart would have worked better as a six-hour BBC series." Kirkus Reviews
"A genuine plot twist on every other page...good guys that turn out to be bad guys and vice versa, chases, exotic locales, a heavy moral center, flinty dialogue, loads of suspense....Thomas Lang is the perfect type of hero....The only thing sharper than his tongue is his power of perception....An international thriller as solid as anything that Len Deighton or Robert Ludlum has written." The Washington Post Book World
"The funniest and most charming novel I have read in years and years. If you see someone howling with laughter on the subway, sobbing with joy in the street, or exploding with delight on an airplane this year, it's because they're reading The Gun Seller." Stephen Fry, author of Making History and the other half of A Bit of Fry and Laurie
"British writer/actor Laurie's first novel has all the trademarks of an offbeat James Bond adventure...the ming-boggling intricacy of a Robert Ludlum plot, and, most gratifyingly, the irreverent attitude of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Laurie gleefully shakes and stirs a cocktail of international terrorism, high-tech helicopters, devious arms dealers, Bond-caliber beauties, Swiss ski resorts, and British intelligence into a cool concoction that zips along, heralds a new hero...and leaves plenty of room for a sequel." Entertainment Weekly