A new kind of Nerding – combining some kind of yammering on about a book that I’ve read and a little blurb about a book that The Whuff has been enjoying as of late. Since I can’t seem to either keep my old book blog updated nor create any reviews of P’s books, maybe if I try to half-ass both, I can at least come up with *one* full-assed post. Maybe.
I Read: Silence of The Grave by Arnaldur Indri∂ason.
For those of you who are new around here, I have a kind of… antagonistic… relationship with Iceland. My ex-husband is Icelandic and I spent five years either living in or at least spending quite a lot of time traveling to Reykjavík. (Which is incidentally nearly how long it took me to be able to spell Reykjavík on the first try.) Yes, I’ve seen Björk. Naked. But that’s a story for another time. (A true story!) Anyhow. I didn’t have a good experience with immigration – I actually had a really shitty time trying to get residence which ultimately ended with our moving back to the States. So, there’s that. Then there’s the part where it’s such a small island that whatever fondness I may have for it, I will probably never travel back there again as the chances of doing so casually without running into someone I used to know are exactly nil. So… beautiful and amazing place, but I shake my fist at it.
However, I do like a good detective story and I’m quite fond of a few Swedish writers and having grown up in a family of Swedish origin (my mom’s family, like Ikea, is from Småland) and lived in Iceland, the Scandinavian temperament appeals to me. Also it appealed to me that this particular title was on sale for $4 in the Kindle store and I was looking for something less heavy/dense/thought-y than Murakami to read because, damn, MURAKAMI. Anyhow.
This book is indeed very Icelandic. There’s a lot of the brusqueness that I remember from my own interactions. To those who live in societies that value politeness a bit more, some of the characters can seem like… well, complete assholes. Really they’re just grouchy because they live in a culture that has dealt with centuries of seasonal affective disorder caused by a mere four hours of daylight for months on end by self-medicating with booze accurately named “black death.” (I say lovingly as someone who inherited the genetic predisposition to SAD, but thankfully also has access to drugs more effective than vodka.) If you could stomach Mikel Blomkvist from the Girl With a Dragon Tattoo (Etc) series, you’ll do just fine – though some of the characters in this one make him look like Miss Congeniality in comparison.
Beyond that, it’s your standard detective story. Not much to say that’s not too spoilery. The plot is absolutely perfectly paced – it never drags nor rushes. I found myself unable to put down the book for the last 1/3 or so, having figured out the ultimate conclusion but dying to see the exact details of how it wrapped up. Also, a main character’s name isn’t revealed until the last page, which is a nice sort of detail.
I will put it out there that this book contains very graphic scenes of domestic violence and birth trauma, so if you’re ok with your general murder mystery but have more personal issues with those sorts of things, you might want to skip it.
While we’re on the subject of places I’ve lived…
My grandmother gave him this one for Christmas and he’s just enchanted with it. This is one where we often have to read it four or five times in a row. His favorite is the skiers. WOW LOOK AT THE SKIER AND SNOWBOARDER FLYING DOWN THE MOUNTAIN. Yeah, not the greatest narrative in the entire world but it’s nicely illustrated and indeed very Vermonty, the set-up being that it goes through the cycle of a year in one “day” saying good morning to newborn dairy calves and saying goodnight to snowman and snow woman, snow dog and snow bear.
There’s a whole series of these, and I’ll probably order Goodnight Boston for him at some point, though with toddlers there’s no guarantee that he’s willing to expand his horizons and we might just have to ask the hikers if they love the fresh mountain air a few thousand more times.