Sunday, September 14, 2008

NOTES FROM A SUNNY COUNTY



We had sunshine this morning for the first time in weeks and the shock was too much for my cable TV company and Exeter went off line. It is only then that you realise how much you rely on the internet. 
We  wandered down to the sea at Budleigh Salterton, after our delicious Sunday lunch at Dart Farm, and sat on the beach. We have had an incredibly tough week so that was our excuse for our decadent and lazy day. We also had time to drive through the lovely countryside along the River Otter to South Farm where former director of the Spacex Gallery Deborah Wood's  The Art Room is a pleasant place to spend time browsing the paintings and buying them of course. 

Incidentally I did manage to put two more links in my sidebar yesterday without wrecking anything. 

Europolar requested that I put  a link to their website.  This is a 'site in several languages for fans of European crime fiction covering current news of the literary genre mainly from Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, UK and Italy.
There are some interesting articles about authors: Leon Padura, Andrea Camilleri and Dominique Manotti. So although I have not had time yet to fully explore the site  but it looks an interesting new [for me] source of information here.

I also put in a link to Barbara Fister's excellent Scandinavian Crime Fiction website that I posted previously about here

When a book John Lawton's Second Violin has you laughing and crying within a few pages, and creates a range of very memorable characters who you want to follow right through to the end of the story and beyond, then you know you are reading something special. Thanks to crimeficreader for her frequent recommendations for me to read John Lawton's books. I might make a few short remarks about Second Violin next week but read the review here.
Reading Second Violin emphasises the observation made recently by Jerry Springer and Esther Rantzen on the TV program Who Do You think You Are? that the decisions made by our great grandparents and grandparents affect our lives today, some of us more so than others. 

4 Comments:

OpenID maxine said...

I thought you were being unusually quiet, Norm, glad to read that Exeter is back online again. What a terrible deprivation, if we had to miss our scraps of crime for very long.
I've been enjoying the Scandinavian crime fiction blog, and Barbara has joined the Friend Feed group (room) as you may have noticed. I got an email about the EuroPolar site but when I looked at it briefly I could not see much in English. It also looked extremely intellecutal. Oh well, I'll take another gander at it in view of your recommendation.
All my best to (re)-electrified Exeter.

11:03 AM  
Anonymous crimeficreader said...

Norm,

So pleased to read that you are enjoying the novel. As for the characters, you have a wealth to encounter in the other novels - ones that do not feature or feature little in SV, which in truth was more of an elder brother Rod Troy story, within the subtext. I firmly recommend that you move on to Black Out next.

There you will discover the rest of Freddie's family: mother and (eccentric) twin sisters. You will also meet Kolankiewicz, the Polish immigrant forensic pathologist with whom Freddie has a working relationship and a friendship that endures over time, with Kolankiewicz a character you cannot forget - and boy, does he make an entrance!

The Troys have a pile in Herts and Black Out also introduces you to the man on the motorbike (sorry forgot name) who looks after the pigs... Not to be missed.

Then there's Freddie's love life. Black Out introduces characters that come up again later on in the series. Settling down ain't Freddie's thing...

It seems to me that SV has you hooked, so believe me, the rest of the series will have you finding further joy in fantastic writing and storytelling.

I thought I'd read good crime fiction until I encountered Lawton who proved what a "cut above" can be. But he has never been been touted as crime in the UK - it's literary here - in the US he agreed to the "mystery" tag, because that's how his publisher chose to sell. (Oddly, I read something recently that suggested he sold better in the States.)

Another "cut above" I came to late, was Robert Wilson. I know you enjoyed The Hidden Assassins, so don't overlook the first in that series: The Blind Man of Seville. It's a classic. The second in the series, The Silent and The Damned adds to Falcon's development and relationships - not to be missed!

But do stick with the Troy series from Lawton. I feel you will love them and not be disappointed.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Philip said...

Rather a long time back and on another blog I commented on the juxtaposition of the deadly serious and the highly humorous in Second Violin. It's a characteristic of all Lawton's novels, but to find war, displacement, anti-semiticism, fascism and such interlaced with such frivolity might well give pause for thought. And yet, while I don't think I'd accept it from many writers, I could from Lawton -- his views are of such compassion, his thinking so right-minded, that I did not mind at all his giving vent to what I suspect is an irrepressible sense of humour.

Some of that comes from the 'roman a clef' aspect of the book. Churchill, Freud, Victor Cazalet, and H.G. Wells appear as themselves, and Sybil Colefax, Lord Londonderry and a few others are only thinly disguised and easy to spot. But then, in another mode, a Shavian upper class twit it wouldn't be lovely to have on the street where you live wanders in. A very humorous fictional connection with Dulwich College turns up in a Who's Who entry. A mysterious character who makes an appearance in a casino might go unremarked if he didn't seem to share Sean Connery's speech impediment. A John Osborne character seems to have come to life at the Holborn Empire. We have characters named Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Steerforth, Onions (which made me think of Oliver, writer of detective stories), and so it goes. Given all this, I rather think 'Troy' may have something to do with Ngaio Marsh. There's more, and all this frankly great fun in a novel that in a novel that otherwise concerns things that boil the blood and disturb the soul. And yet it works.

11:16 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks for your comments.
I am involved in family matters at the moment and also have a sick car so please excuse my fairly brief reply.

Reading Second Violin has brought back a flood of memories of the wartime stories [from both wars] I dragged out of my parents, my uncles and their contemporaries over the years.
One thing the Nazis lacked was the ability to laugh at themselves [something the British, the Irish and the Jews have found very easy], after all Hitler, Goebbels and himmler were very strange examples of a Nordic master race. So I don't mind this juxtaposition of tears and laughter in Second Violin it separates us from them.
I have found a similar stark juxtaposition in the non fiction account of the Deborah Lipstadt/ David Irving libel trial, History on Trial.
There is one point in the proceedings where Irving conducting his own defence refers to the judge as 'Mein Fuhrer' to the astonishment and amusement of all.

One ironic story that Second Violin brought back was that my uncle [I have a picture he painted in Algeria in 1943 behind me on the wall as I type this comment] a lieutenant colonel in the RAMC, treated wounded Hermann Goering SS Panzer Grenadiers who had surrendered in the battle at Anzio in 1944.
If his grandmother and parents had not left Russian Poland in 1902 his relationship to these SS would have been very different and I wonder what their reaction would have been if they realised they were being treated by a Jewish doctor.

cfr, thanks again and Kolankiewicz has made an appearance in SV.

I agree with cfr and Philip that SV is fine writing and great storytelling without being in any way pretentious.

2:55 AM  

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