A bout of rereading again. In a few short weeks I got through Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night, Busman’s Honeymoon and Thrones, Denominations. As delightful as ever and still touching me deeply, though in a somewhat different way than before (and yes, Martin is to blame for that).
Ok, so now I’ve raced through the Harriet Vane novels (Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night, Busman’s Honeymoon and Thrones, Dominations) but as I’ve talked about them before I don’t think I will bother you with them now (except to say they are still excellent). I had something less of an existential crisis this time around, no doubt being a mite prepared for what awaited me helped.
I then went on to a long-awaited book by a Norwegian author, and therefore the rest of this is in Norwegian…
Så kom det ENDELIG en ny Varg Veum bok! Trilogier er vel og bra Staalesen, men det er nå bøker som Som i et speil jeg helst vil ha da (men du skriver kanskje ikke bare for min fornøyelse, eller?).
Feilen med å “anmelde” krimbøker er selvsagt at det blir så vanskelig å si noe meningsfylt uten å røpe noe om handlingen. Skal vi se… Veum blir som vanlig hyret til noe som ser ut som en ganske harmløs, eller i hvert fall enkel, sak – men som viser seg både å ha røtter lengre tilbake i tid og å involvere flere mennesker enn det Veums klient gir inntrykk av. Nei, vet du hva. Du får stole på meg: Boka må du lese så det er meningsløst for meg å si noe mer om handlingen.
Ok, ok… Here’s a quick translation: “So there’s FINALLY a new Varg Veum novel! Trilogies are all well and good, Staalesen, but it’s books like “As in a mirror” I prefer (though possibly you don’t write for my pleasure only?).
The problem with writing about crime fiction is obviously that it is so hard to say something meaningful without giving the plot away. Let’s see… Veum is, as ususal, hired on a case that appears to be pretty harmless, or at least straightforward – but which turns out to have roots stretching further back and to involve more people than Veum’s client wants to let on. No, sorry. You’ll have to trust me: You need to read the book anyway, so it’s pointless for me to say anything more.”
I’ve also done a quick search and it seems at least one Staalesen book has been available in English, at least amazon.co.uk has a listing for At Night All Wolves are Grey. So I guess there’s hope for all you non-speakers, too. Or you could just learn Norwegian. Staalesen is worth it.
(Here is one I prepared earlier, i.e. last night:) This is not good. The diary seems to be stopping me from updating this reading log (would that be a rlog or a glog, I wonder?). I will try to improve the frequency, especially because this is going to have to be some post to get me up to date…
Hornblower… Finished the series. Thought once again what a pity it was that there are only 10 books. Reflected that I am glad there are 20 Aubrey/Maturin books (O’Brian), especially since they are infinitely better than Forester’s books, although there should have been more. There should always be more books, good ones, that is.
Read some more Sayers. Thrones, Dominations arrived, so I dropped everything to read that. Kjetil was a bit miffed, as he was visiting that week, and I became rather engrossed. Lovely book. I don’t think I would have noticed that it wasn’t all Sayers’ work if I hadn’t known (it was finished by Jill Paton Walsh), and also suspect that the bits I did wonder at were probably Sayers’ own. At least considering JPW’s statement that the majority of the letters she’s had saying “that’s not the way Sayers would have wanted it” actually referred to Sayers’ own passages.
And, of course, I’ve been reading No Logo. It really is highly recommended. Even if you don’t want to get involved in actual activism, and even if a boycott of all the brands that deserve being boycotted is virtually impossible (unless you start producing everything yourself), knowing why others become activists and exercising a little bit of consumer awareness when shopping is no bad thing. And if you think, as I vaguely did, that the main focus of the book is the exploitation of the “third world”, you really should read it. The main impression I am left with is that the so-called globalisation is not only an economic and ecological threat, first and foremost it is a cultural threat. Corporate thinking is taking over our cultural space. That can’t be good. Read the book!
On a lighter note, I got hold of India Knight’s (my favourite columnist) new novel, Don’t You Want Me. It is a vast improvement on her first, My Life on a Plate, and that is very good, so this is rockin’. The most enoyable parts of Don’t You Want Me are, in fact, the parts that are most like her columns, rants of various kinds on any topic that happens to be remotely related to the plot. There are also a couple of hilarious scenes when the main character takes her toddler to an extremely PC playgroup. I suspect, however, that the reason I liked it so much more than the first one, is that this has a perfectly happy ending of the “and they lived happily ever after” sort. I like happy endings.
The new job gives me plenty of bus-time to read. It makes up for the fact that getting to work now takes 45-50 minutes instead of 20-30. So I read Populärmusik från Vittula on the bus. Risky stuff, as it’s of LOL quality, and that sort of thing tends to startle the other passengers. Apart from being side-achingly funny, it is a very enjoyable book on many levels (though enjoyable might be the wrong word, it’s rather tragic in a way), and fully deserves all the attention that’s been lavished on it in the Scandinavian media lately (and how often does that happen?).
This weekend I read Arthemis Fowl, after having put it off for ages, thinking I probably wouldn’t like it much. I finally caved in (due to the “what to read while waiting for Harry Potter 5” hype), hoping to be proved wrong. Unfortunately, I wasn’t. It’s decently written, but suffers from a severe lack of likeable characters. People talk about Harry Potter being immoral and bad for children, well, what about a twelve-year-old criminal mastermind? How moral is that. Ok, so he loves his mother and he has a soft spot, preferring not to kill people (or fairies), but that really does not make him sympathetic. And the other characters aren’t much better. By the end of the story I was rooting for something to go wrong and blow up and kill everyone involved so the rest of the world could get on with it, and good riddance. NOT a book I will put on my “what to recommend to children (of any age)” list (notice that I have NOT linked to this book).
I’ve also read, of all things, a couple of so-called “erotic classics”, The Story of O, which was more disturbing than erotic, really, and Uten en tråd (Jens Bjørneboe). I can see why the latter caused a stir when it was published in the latter half of the 60ies, but in a way I also wonder at it, because it is so obviously written to provoke. I thought I’d read Mykle next, the other serious Norwegian author tried in court for publishing obscene/pornographic material. Unlike Bjørneboe, Mykle apparently was caught unawares by the hullaballoo, he was simply trying to write good literature. Hopefully that will mean the books are better worth reading, and possibly have an actual plot (I like plots).
This Saturday saw me on the prowl for more Saxegaard books, and I had amazing luck at one of the second-hand book-shops at Majorstua, where I found the last Ina-book, Ina og Ingolf (which means I’m now down to missing only four Ina books to complete the collection). Obviously, that’s what I read Saturday evening.
I’m sure I’ve left something out, this doesn’t actually seem like a lot for one-and-a-half month’s reading. I’ve watched a lot of television, though (bad girl!), and I’ve read at least one trashy romance of average quality (no, I’m not going to tell you the title, there’s no point, they’re pretty much all the same anyway).
Right now I’m in one of those “too many books at once” moods, where I have a hard time settling down to one book, because there’s so many others I’d like to be reading at the same time. Consequently, I read a chapter of one and then swap to another one and then back and then to a third, and sometimes end up just turning the television on instead (which is quite stupid, really, as that’s just going to postpone the finishing of the books further). Anyhow, I am currently in the middle of the following:
Two Feet, Four Paws, the travelogue by a girl, Spud, who, with her dog, Tess, walked the coastline of Britain in order to raise money for Shelter. Very enjoyable, though I have not yet come to Scotalnd, which was what I was looking for when I bought the book (trying to read as much about Scotland as I can before I go in September).
The Port-Wine Sea, by Susan Wenger, fellow O’Brian fan and member of the Gunroom – the book being a parody on the beloved series. Immensely satisfying.
Hele verden er min, Annik Saxegaard – another of Saturday’s finds.
Big Chief Elizabeth, by Giles Milton, is reminding me why I so seldom read history. Despite being avidly interested in the subject, I tend to find “proper” history books too heavy going (remember I do a lot of reading on the bus and such places), on the other hand, “popularisations” like this are just too lightweight – I keep looking for more depth, more source references, more detail, more critical reflection (not PC condemnation of anything resembling racism and sweeping generalisations).
Sangen om den røde rubin (Song of the Red Ruby), Agnar Mykle – as mentioned above, I’m only a few pages in, though, so no opinions to vent yet.
Those, as well as several others, including Min son fäktas mot världen by Björn Ranelid, which I stranded in half-way through sometime around Christmas and still really want to finish (I was enjoying it before I got stuck), but can’t quite work up enthusiasm for. We’ll see. I’ve also got the Chaim Potok biography by Abramson on the table, and I want to get started on it in order to write a proper Potok page for the bookshelves – there is very little good information on Potok on the web, and I feel I ought to at least try to remedy it somewhat.
Updates will (probably) follow once any (or all) are finished.
Nicolette’s right, I haven’t been very good at keeping this up to date lately. Lots of other stuff going on… But she is also wrong, I haven’t had time to read that much, having visitors (ahem) sort of slows me down a bit. However, I finished Potok’s The Book of Lights, which is a facinating story – and such lovely language. It deals with a son’s feeling of guilt for “the sins of the father”, and, as always with Potok, the difficulty of finding one’s place in the world.
I also read most of Lord Peter, which is the collected short-stories about LPW – I had read some of them earlier, so I read all the “new” ones and reread some of the others. I’ll take my hat off to DLS any day, her skill at evoking real live characters is more than admirable, in fact, I can think of few authors who outdo her, and none within the limits of “genre writing”.
At the moment I’m rereading the Hornblower series – I’m about half-way through Lieutenant Hornblower right now, and it caused some confusion this morning when I excused my lateness with “I was in the middle of a battle at sea and got a bit distracted”.
In which we shout: Huzzah, huzzah!
The University Library having come up trumps as far as Sayers goes, I have now finished Have his Carcase. And started Gaudy Night again… I keep being annoyed at “getting” too many bits of the story before Lord Peter (or anyone else), but it’s not been so bad since The Nine Tailors (that just really annoyed me). Hm, I think I figured out a way of commenting without spoiling the book for other people – I’ll use the comments. And put a warning in the main message. That ought to work…
Still, Sayers’ language, setting and characters are so delightful on the whole, that a few minor annoyances are not going to stop me. Also, of course, the benefit is that once I’ve read the book once, nothing at all will be a surprise the second time around, and there will be no need to be disappointed at the lack of surprises. Oh good. Because I really do want to read them all again.
I will also have to start reading some of all these books on Austen that I am unearthing.
what, you are not surprised by anything the umpth time you read a book? I am! well, maybe not surprised as such, still in suspense… depending on the quality of the writing, of course
Nicolette 05/02/02 03:51pm
In suspense, yes. Surprised, no. (There is always that suspense of whether they are going to make it/solve it/get together this time, too, but I’m not Surprised as such.)
Robin 05/02/02 04:07pm
As you’ll know if you’ve been reading the diary, I’ve been immersed in Lord Peter novels lately. An obliging bookshop on Karl Johan kindly sold me Strong Poison and Gaudy Night on Wednesday. And I had to go back and fork out some more for Busman’s Honeymoon on Friday. From which you can infer that I got rather caught up in them.
So I finished those and then finished Unnatural Death, which was one of the few Whimsys the library managed to produce. And now I want to read Thrones, Dominations, but it doesn’t seem like the library even have it, and I can’t get amazon.co.uk up at all. Very annoying.
I’ve been attempting to listen to a recording of Little Women (Sterling Audio), but think I may have to give it up. I read Little Women somewhere back in the dark ages, but can’t remember anything, except I think Jo sold her hair. But this thing is read by Lorelei King, and I really can’t stand her voice/modulation/intonation/whatever. It’s driving me mad.
Ok, Easter is over and I’m back at work (sigh).
For some reason it has become almost mandatory to read whodunnits at Easter in Norway, so that’s what I’ve been doing. I had a very frustrating time of it, though, as what I like is to be surprised when I get to the end, and this year very few things surprised me.
First, I read Kakerlakkene by Jo Nesbø. It’s a Norwegian one, and I don’t think it’s been translated, so those of you who don’t read Norwegian will just have to ignore this bit. Nesbø is one of my favourite songwriters, so I thought it was about time I checked out his novels, too. And I’m glad I did, too. Very engaging, and beautifully written. Unfortunately, I sort of guessed major parts of the plot way before they happened. Pity. Still, I’m certainly going to read the other Harry Hole books as well.
Right, then I got on to P.D. James’ last novel, Death in Holy Orders. I got rather worried half way through, as the person I thought would be murdered had just been murdered and I thought maybe I knew who’d done it, too. Fortunately, I was proved wrong – I hadn’t guessed the murderer, though I’d sort of guessed the motive. All in all, the end made me very happy (for another reason, too – trying to avoid spoilers here), and I can say that, as usual, P.D. James really has to be read.
I also watched Evil Under the Sun (Agatha Christie) on television, and got the murderer way too early. Very annoying, but the Poirot mini-series are always so throughly enjoyable because of the setting and the people that it didn’t really matter all that much.
Gosford Park is a whodunnit of a sort, too, and I saw that Saturday. Beautifully done, with an amazing cast, wonderful props, costumes and cars, lovely lines abounding and an invaluable addtion to the portayal of upstairs/downstairs life. But again: there were no surprises. It was obvious who the murderer was, how the murder was done and what the motives were. So disappointing. On the other hand, you get Altman’s inimitable touches of reality twisted, so despite the obvious solution it’s a picture well worth seeing. And you never know, you might not think it all too obvious…
Adding to the disappointments, I finished listening to Ian Carmichael reading The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers yesterday. Delightfully read, Lord Peter was lovely company as usual and Sayers isn’t normally one to disappoint. But. I actually guessed at the “murder weapon” in the very first few chapters – granted, by the time the body was found I had forgotten about this (it was a few days later, my time). However, when the puzzle was almost solved but the weapon still a mystery, of course I remembered again. And it was so b****ing obvious! Fair enough, a little specialist knowledge helped, but I can’t believe that Lord Peter (who should, judging from the rest of the story, have more knowledge on the subject than me) would take weeks and even months to come up with the solution. In this case, then, as opposed to the others, the problem wasn’t so much that I guessed the solution, but that the sleuth didn’t. And in some ways I think that’s worse. I really do not want to be steps ahead of Lord Peter. Really.
All in all, as you see, I have been a bit too clever this Easter. Problem is, I don’t really think I’ve been too clever, I think the authors haven’t been clever enough. I still think I’ll read those other Nesbø books, though. And I’ve just started Lord Peter views the Body (same narrator), so I haven’t given up on him, either.