The Awakener and Suggester

I don’t go Ziggy Stardust when it comes to thrillers and crime fiction. I find so much of it dry and formulaic, with an author simply trying to fill his quota of dead bodies, the compulsory molestation, the textbook fuck scene, the family relationship unhinged by drugs or an addiction to canned soup, and one more corpse for luck.

But there are exceptions. (As it should be.) Writers like William Hjortsberg, Raymond Chandler, Ian Rankin, Dashiell Hammett, Henning Mankell, Elmore Leonard, P.D. James, Ruth Rendell, China Mieville (who usually writes weird fiction but delved into a thriller with his The City and the City), G.K. Chesterton, Ray Bradbury (Death is a Lonely Business), and Dennis Lehane. These writers use the genre to escape it.

I read Lehane’s Shutter Island and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. So it made sense to go and see the flick to see how Mr. Scorsese pulled it off.  And he did. After the film I was left with the ingering taste of Lehane on my cerebral synapses. I have to admit it was was one of the best flicks I’ve seen in a long time. Perfect mix of tension and exhalation. And a character with some real depth to him.

“When I was a child they called me a liar, now they call me a writer.” Isaac Bashevis Singer


Resistance by Owen Sheers. Sheers imagines an alternative history for WWII where the Third Reich has invaded Britain and Welsh civilians become guerrilla fighters. The story focuses on the remote Olchon valley in the Black Mountains of Wales and a group of farmwives whose men have left them to join an invisible resistance movement. Enter a group of five Wehrmacht soldiers to the valley, led by Captain Wolfram Albrecht, a Oxford-educated and unsympathetic officer to the Nazi cause. His relationship between one of the Welsh women is the highlight of the book, as well as Sheers descriptions of the harsh Welsh hills and valleys and the frailties and triumphs of the human spirit. But I found the narrative plodding and Sheers spends too much time being dutiful to the idea of “What If” and almost ignoring any kind of action besides the changing landscape of the Welsh valley.


Cast of Thousands by Elbow. I love, love this Manchester quintet.

Since I Left You by the Avalanches. Great Down Under electronic band that are made for headphones.

Tonight by Franz Ferdinand. Glasgow’s got the groove.


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