I just got this idea for an ongoing series, that I’m going to call “Books I have recently read.” The title kind of gives it away, I guess. This series is probably just going to be my comments and thoughts on things I’ve recently finished reading (within the past two weeks or so, I suppose depending on the gap between posts). However, I won’t give the books in question a numerical rating, because it’s just too hard, and it’s a pain in the bum.
Anyway, without further ado:
Jar City – Arnaldur Indriðason
I bought this book on impulse a few weeks ago when the Chapters at Richmond and John was closing (RIP). I also bought a book on Roman Britain. I used to be really keen on this series, which features a grumpy Icelandic detective named Erlendur. I mean in writing that that I bought each book as it came out, but as I ran out of material to buy, my interest slowly waned. When I looked up Indriðason online, I discovered interestingly that this was the first book translated into English from the series. I think that the titles chosen by the translators for the series are evocative and interesting – the first one I read was called “Silence of the Grave,” a phrase which has stuck with me through the years. In any case, my notions of the timeline of the “Reykjavik Murder Mystery” (RMM) series are a little bit wonky, particularly those parts which deal with Erlendur’s daughter, Eva Lind. I did enjoy reading Jar City, though it didn’t take me long. I suppose the others didn’t either. The RMM series is characterised by a bit of a ‘slow burn’ in that often Erlendur has to examine the past to understand the crime of the present, which is pleasant enough to read. To be honest, I think this is more of a ‘winter’ book than not, but it’s still worthwhile for any detective story fan.
Granta issue 127: Japan
Granta is a literary magazine featuring short stories. Short stories are possibly my favourite format of literature, in that space is limited and they tend to be a lot ‘tighter’ narratively than novel-length endeavours. I also like the limitations of short stories as well, particularly when stores end abruptly or without a concrete resolution, so that it leaves a stronger impression. I often imagine the end. I like Granta in particular because the stories are grouped around a particular theme. This issue (issues come out seasonally) is themed around Japan, something for which I’ve always held a fascination. My dad bought it for me around when it first came out, and I’ve been reading it in dribs and drabs over the past few months or so. I particularly enjoyed David Mitchell’s (a personal favourite author, I have to admit) contribution, Variations on a Theme by Mister Donut. David Mitchell excels at telling one story from a number of points of view (see Cloud Atlas). This story in particular took place over the same (short) period of time, and each character was given the opportunity, so to speak, to describe the situation. I think I might try to write something like this, as a sort of exercise. I also enjoyed the graphics and drawings throughout as well. My other favourite story in this issue is Kyoko Nakajima’s Things Remembered and Things Forgotten. I think it’s delicate, and the characters really come out of the page. I keep thinking about the ending of the story; it’s shocking in an unassuming way. In any case, I always like reading Granta.
I have been reading other books, but I have yet to finish them, so I won’t post about them now. Right now I’m reading Knausgaard’s My Struggle: Book 2 (A Man in Love). I really enjoyed the first book. It reminded me a lot, in some senses, of David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green, except that the narrative jumps from past to present often. I suppose many good writers crib from real life (Mitchell in the case of his stuttering and Knausgaard in the case of his, well, everything).
I don’t know how to end this post