Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Berlin, first message

First the books.

I read two books during our trip. The first one was Scott Phillips's debut novel "The Ice Harvest" from 2000. It has received hearty recommendations and is indeed worth every one of them. It's funny in a very difficult way: you don't feel like laughing when you're reading the book, because the stuff is so grim and violent, but when you start explaining to someone what's happening (as I did several times to Elina) you realize that it's actually very funny. Try this and you'll notice it's not easy.

For the Finnish reader, the premise might be a bit implausible, because Phillips relies much on the fact that the US folks cannot drive their cars if there's snow. Use the goddam winter tires! That's why they were invented!

The book reminds me a bit of old crime paperbacks and it's full of intrigue and double crosses and partners in crime killing each other, but you couldn't mistake "The Ice Harvest" having been written in the 1950s.

The second book I had with me was James Hadley Chase's sequel to his debut, "No Orchids for Miss Blandish". Someone has torn away the title page of the copy I have, so I don't really know what's the original title. (Even I don't bother to check all the time.) The book is very absurd and very implausible, but you never know if it's because Chase was a poor writer or because he wanted it to be so. There's a ridiculous thing about having a law according to which if you escape from the mental institute and manage to not get caught in fourteen days, you get to go free. What the fuck? If you manage to forget all this, I guess the book could be enjoyable. There *are* some genuinely chilling moments and Chase has a knack for outrageous violence, but in the end it's a rather empty book.

The French director Patrice Chereau made a film from this in the early eighties (or late seventies?). It emphasized the dream-like quality that I think is involuntary in the book and is a much better work of art. I should check the title of this as well, but I'm too lazy. Instead I'll scan the cover.

1 comment:

Peter Rozovsky said...

Nice comment about tires in The Ice Harvest! Maybe Charlie Arglist and the rich people whose cars he borrows are so smug and arrogant that they think no way will ice stop them.

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