Wednesday, April 13, 2011

reading and writing and reading and linking

journal 64

i'm reading jussi adler-olsen's latest crime novel, journal 64, featuring detective carl mørck of department Q, which reinvestigates old unsolved cases. the series has already won a number of nordic literature prizes. and it is well-written for crime lit. i'd actually listened to the first three novels as audio, so this is the first one i've actually read. it's interesting how the voices as i heard them on the iPod, resonate through my head as i'm reading. apparently zentropa has bought the film rights to the novels, so they'll be making their way to the big screen at some point.

journal 64 is a good book, as it weaves historical fact with contemporary events into a very convincing, if chilling, fiction. nazi-like parties which want to keep denmark danish strike a bit close to home these days with the political rhetoric that's in the air.

but i didn't set out to write a book review here and it's too early for that anyway, as i'm only about halfway through. actually, one of the most interesting things about the book is the lexicon of swear words that adler-olsen has either revived or simply made up (fandenbukme, edderrolme, saftsuseme, edderbroderme - a few examples for those who read danish). i keep texting them to husband and he tells me whether they're something he'd heard before or whether they're made up. adler-olsen takes danish swearing to an entirely new level, for which there really aren't equivalents in english. it will be interesting to see how these words are translated when the novels come out in english in may (no less than penguin will release them). it's funny that it wasn't something i noticed in listening to the novels, but i've definitely noticed it in reading this one.

maybe because the book is called journal 64, which is actually a reference to a medical journal, i got to thinking about handwriting (you know, journaling). and suddenly, i've been noticing handwriting. and thinking about how it's often quite cultural. for example, you can instantly tell the handwriting of someone from the philippines. i remember twenty-odd years ago, i so admired the neat, pretty handwriting of my friend natz, and i can recognize the lines and strokes in the writing of my filipino friends today - it must have something to do with the way writing is taught in schools. there is simply a distinctive style that is filipino handwriting. the same with russian handwriting, even if russians are writing in english, you can tell they're russian. there's just a special russianness to their handwriting. i'm certain it's true of others as well, but we don't see that much handwriting these days, do we?

and then there were 11

i noticed it again today when my latest jacabunny arrived...kit's handwriting on the package is so recognizable as upper midwest handwriting. it could have been written by any number of people from my hometown. in my own handwriting, i can see echoes of both my dad and my maternal aunt. so perhaps it's also in the actual construction of one's hands how your handwriting manifests. that might also explain the distinctive filipino and russian handwriting styles.

ok, and now back to the scandinavian crime novels...i also recently read karin wahlberg's pigen med majblomsterne. wahlberg is a doctor in lund, sweden, and apparently started writing to work out the stress of her real job. the novel was heinous. badly plotted, badly translated (from swedish to danish) and ultimately rather uninteresting. tho' i am a firm believer in writing to ease one's psychological issues, sometimes people should simply be stopped from publishing. i was happy that the book was only 69 kroner. it's one of those books where i wondered why i was doggedly determined to finish it. when will i ever learn to put down a book that's not good. somehow tho', once i've started, i feel compelled to plod through to the end, no matter how bad it is.  i also wondered how she got it published and strangely, it's not her first. i guess in the aftermath of the success of the stieg larsson books, scandinavian publishers are looking for the next Big Thing.

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if you're interested in reading more about scandinavian crime novels, this blog is great.
if you want bobbaloos, stalk check here.
as for handwriting theories, i've got no links, tho' i'm sure they exist.


Numinosity said...

Regional handwriting...I never thought about that!
xoxo Kim

poet said...

French handwriting is also very distinctive! I can only recognize US handwriting as such but not regionally distinctive handwriting, that's really curious that it works too, but it figures :)

Pia K said...

there are just so many craps swedish crime novelists, and i fear that the majority of the crap ones are female as in "deckardrottningar" ~ crime novel queens. wahlberg is one of the crap ones. i'm pleased you didn't enjoy her;)

if you want a fantastic female writer (or two, come to think of it, but one is not an obvious crime novelist, but borderline so and GREAT), then it's Åsa Larsson (ex-lawyer, of course she's good...;) but no, sadly there are a few other ex-lawyers and still practising lawyers writing crap crime books too) and Maria Ernestam (Caipirinha with Death, the story is just completely unique, the writing fantastic, to die for...).

Arne Dahl and John Ajvide Lindqvist (Let the right one in) are my two favourite Swedish male crime/horror writers. read them!

Sammi said...

i have to read a book in it own language and in english if they're translated. i hate translations. things get lost. tehere are some things you can't translate. like danish swearwords.