Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Great Books and Kenneth Branaugh

I have a rather eclectic range of books that I like. Very little of my reading involves the well known authors of our day - Patterson, Patricia Cornwell, etc. I can't even think of some of the others - I haven't really tried too many because almost everything is crime fiction it seems and the more respected ones are usually male and men writers depress the hell out of me.

I generally like positive books with happy endings. Shallow, yes I am. Or you betcha in Sarah Palin speak. college I wanted to seem very intelligent so I read War and Peace and Nietzsche and Sartre and Kafka and Camus and Proust. I didn't understand most of them (especially Proust) but I did read them. I kind of liked the Sartre book about the cockroach actually.

Anyway, I know that literature is only considered art when it has at least an ambiguous ending if not out and out tragedy. A happy ending is considered frivolous - that's a pretty sad statement on our current lives though, isn't it? Are we all really leading such dreadful existences that we have to depress each other in print too?

The book I am currently reading is called Mortal Fear by Greg Isles and is from a few years ago (I am cheap - I always get my books from the library). It is about a man who works from home as a day trader. His school friend has gotten him a part time job monitoring an on-line sex chat site where people explore fantasies on different levels. There is a serial killer (isn't there always a serial killer in these books?) and our hero notices that one of the sex websites more prominent members is the killer's latest victim, then further research reveals that several of the women that use the site have been murdered - really brutally too.

The book is a wild ride; I never know what is going to happen next. This author could not have outlined this book because every page is unpredictable, goes in a different direction. Another thing I like about it is that it doesn't repeat ideas over and over and over. I now know the pressure of providing 70,000 words to a publisher can cause some writers to drive a point into your head with a sledgehammer - quite like our serial killer here.

Before this my favorite Crime Fiction was Wallander by Henning Mankell (or Mankell Henning - I can never remember which), the Swedish detective made famous lately by Kenneth Branaugh.

Wallander is in his fifties, overweight, diabetic, a melancholy Scandanavian (it's in our blood evidently). He has a daughter he doesn't understand abd a crazy father who paints the same picture over and over and sells them to motel chains. I really loved that series, only six or so but they are all intriguing.


LucyParker said...

Pat Conroy, with his syrupy southern drawl, is always on my must read list. I met him and he's everything I hoped he'd be. Then Fannie Flagg because she writes every day people in a way that makes them extraordinary. I made it to M with Patricia Cornwall, then I gave up. Right now I'm reading "Dracula" which I've never read, and it's really good. And, after watching PBS's "Any Human Heart," I've got to read it next.

I saw this card today and it reminded me of the ups and downs of precarious things, perhaps you as you do book meet & greets:

Dear Thelma,
Enjoy the ride.
Love, Louise

I've no talents worth selling, not even on my back, but this is my new mantra.

Off to Trivia Night, where my mind gets sharper the more margaritas I consume. At least it feels that way....

Karen Wasylowski said...

I'll have to try Pat out for a ride. Any Human Heart is exceptional but really really depressing. Enjoy

LucyParker said...

"Beach Music" is my favorite because he took me to Rome, and then back to the lowlands.