raised eyebrows, humor, and the universality of dialogue and difference

J. Kingston Pierce of the incomparable Rap Sheet notices John Harvey’s quote from a Hakan Nesser interview – to whit:

The crime novel used to be, and I stress used to be, a despised genre, diversionary literature not to be taken seriously. Then came the upturn and the so-called wave of crime novels, then the surfeit, of course, it all got too much, there were just too many of them. But now we’re entitled to raise an eyebrow at the poor quality and the amount of rubbish out there.”

. . . which causes Jeff to wince; do we really have to put the genre down to distinguish ourselves? (Sadly, I couldn’t find the interview online or in LexisNexis.)

The Bibliophile of (Another) 52 Books will be attending the Glass Key award. She reports “[t]here will be a panel discussion with the authors afterwards, and on Saturday there will be lectures, followed by a panel discussion with the participation of Jo Nesbø, Diane Wei Liang and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir.” <Sigh. Wipes drool off keyboard.>

Quercus appears to be having cash-flow problems that some attribute to the advance for Millennium Trilogy III. It’s causing some consternation among their other authors. Here’s hoping all works out – it’s a good publisher with a strong list.

Euro Crime presents an advance peek at K. O. Dahl’s soon-to-be-released (in the UK) book, The Last Fix.

Norm, aka Uriah, has intriguing coverage of the Foreign Correspondent’s panel of translators at CrimeFest. Evidently the audience had difficulty focusing, being stunned by the Godlike attractiveness of one of them. <Wipes drool off keyboard again.> We are, alas, forced to await the reveal of what Don Bartlett (aka Adonis) wrote in his inscribed copy of The Devil’s Star.

DJ, aka Dorte, raises a very interesting question about humor in Nesser’s work and gets many thoughtful responses, including the possibility that some readers expect gloom from Scandinavian writers and also that humor is sometimes difficult to understand because it can be so culture-specific. Not in the particulars, I suspect, but in being able to catch the nuances and inflections that signify dry wit or gentle sarcasm.  Humor in Scandinavian crime fiction is a subject that Peter Rozovsky has discussed elsewhere.

In the following article in this thematic issue of Mystery Reader’s Journal, Nesser addresses the notion that all Swedes write the same way:

We have things in common. First, most of us write crime fiction. Second, we write in Swedish. . . .But no way there is such thing as a Swedish way of writing a crime story. Because a book—every book—is a dialogue between two people. One writer, one reader. If a book is good it doesn’t matter a great deal if these said protagonists were born and educated in very diagonal corners of the world, or raised under whatever incompatible circumstances, because people are people everywhere. And when it comes to important matters—e.g. good stories—we understand each other.

this and that

There’s a good review of the BBC Wallander series at Material Witness.  It helps that the lead actor is so talented.

Branagh utterly dominated the screen, making it all but impossible to look away. His unshaven face, stooped gait, and tired red eyes held a raging storm of conflicting emotion as well as an uplifting humanity. It was a moving, mesmeric performance, understated and yet dramatic, absolutely as good as anything I have ever seen on the small screen.

And the fact that it is being filmed on site in Sweden plays a role, too . . .

The canvas on which Branagh was painted was equally dramatic. There is a quality of light and space in Scandinavian countries in the summer that is quite different to anything I have experienced elsewhere. It is captured exquisitely by cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle. But despite the light and the space Wallander also captures that essential quality of Nordic gloom. It is quite something to pull this off.

Altogether, two thumbs way up. I should also mention that crimeficreader has a thoughtful and excellent recap of a documentary about Mankell that ran on BBC – John Harvey (John Harvey!!) talking to Mankell and others (including a hugely charming Jan Guillou). Do I lose all my Scandinavian crime fiction cred if I confess I like John Harvey’s books better than Mankell’s?

And finally – Ali is winding us up for the debut of the second volume in Stieg Larsson’s trilogy with an interview with Larsson’s bereaved father, who bought his son a typewriter for his thirteenth birthday, but then had to send him to the basement to use it because it was too noisy.