Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Crime fiction echoing life

I'm not quite sure how or why it happened, but at some stage my blog became my public conscience on a number of matters. There's my public accounting for clothes buying in 2011, and public disclosure of my successes and failures with my sock knitting. And then a few months ago, overwhelmed by shame at my reading habits, I made the resolution to read ten non-crime fiction books before I allowed myself to return to crime fiction. And then promptly forgot about my challenge to myself.

But I must have internalised the intention because, of the next eleven books I read, ten were not crime fiction. A victory of some sort.

However, sometimes reading crime fiction is very rewarding (and very often it's distracting and enjoyable). I've just had a rather freaky reading experience.


Rather belatedly, I've been reading Jo Nesbo's 'The Redbreast' - originally written in Norwegian in 2000 and then translated into English in 2006. [The cover of my edition of the book promotes Nesbo as 'the next Stieg Larsson', which must be rather galling for Nesbo as he was writing to great acclaim well before Steig Larsson published the 'Millenium' trilogy.] A key focus of Nesbo's novel is the story of a group of young Norwegian men who supported Hitler's view of the world and chose to fight with German troops on the Eastern front during the second world war. Also part of the story is modern neo-Nazism, influenced by the stories of these men, and its resentment of modern Norway's values. Nesbo implies that there is a long minority history of pro-Nazi views and affiliations hidden behind Norway's current peace-seeking stance. I was reading this book just as the horrific recent killings occurred in Norway. There was an uncanny parallel between the speeches and views of the some of the characters in Nesbo's novel and those of Anders Behring Breivik. Given it was written in 2000, 'The Redbreast' seemed very prescient.

Sometimes it's easy to justify my reading habits.


Rose Red said...

Oh that is a bit freaky Lyn. Please don't read any books about nuclear war or Armageddon!

DrK said...

being a bit of a fan of the scandinavian crime genre, i shall add this to my list. there is a theory about stories, that firstly, there are only 7 and everything is just a variation. and secondly, that ideas float in the collective unconscious and emerge together at certain times. im not surprised this particular idea is emerging at the moment, as horrific as it is, and i expect we will see a few more on this theme yet.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments about Jo Nesbo. I will go and investigate further. I like some other Swedish writers. Henning Mankell is interesting, and I just finished all ten of the Martin Beck series - a sort of pioneering crime novel written back in 1960s by a husband and wife duo whose names are impossible (Maj Sowel? & ....?) Lots of political comment in them too, as they were anti-capitalist. But good old fashioned who dunnits, simple and concise.
By the way I Love your grey cardigan - elegant. Rhonda