Saturday, November 01, 2008

How do you say "pulp" in German?

Fruitful intercultural exchange is happening at Christa Faust's Deadlier Than the Male and the German crime-fiction blog Internationale Krimis. It started when Faust travelled to Germany to promote Hardcore Angel, the German translation of her novel Money Shot, and found a surprising attitude to the kind of crime fiction she loves :

"(I)n Germany hardboiled pulp (vintage or modern) is basically considered lowbrow trash on the level of supermarket romance. I had several interviewers ask me about how it feels not to be taken seriously, and I honestly didn’t get what they meant at first. ... (T)he Germans have this idea that crime fiction ought to be much more literary and `serious.' Apparently this means no explicit sex or violence, just lots of depressed, angst-ridden (male, of course) detectives brooding and contemplating the meaning of life."
Bernd Kochanowski of Internationale Krimis replied with a nuanced picture of fragmented German crime-fiction traditions that encompass both "pulpy" and "high end" and make sweeping references to "the Germans" problematic. One difficulty, he wrote, is that some German critics fought hard to get crime writing taken seriously and are unprepared to accept pulp and hard-boiled crime fiction. He also takes up the discussion, in German, on his own blog.

Follow the exchange for an incisive view of crime fiction's audience in one major country, for Faust's take on her own work, and for a tale of literary culture shock.

© Peter Rozovsky 2008

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8 Comments:

Blogger petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

Hello, Peter! Have never read anything by Ian Fleming, although I have read his biography. I understand when he first started writing he was highly insecure and needed help until he felt comfortable in the medium. Are his books good reads?
p.s. Still laughing at the comment of needing a casting director. I don't think that'll ever happen again. I created a monster! There
are two in "Going Commercial." I hope you enjoy it!

November 02, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'll look in at you new, stripped-down script.

Interesting that you should have read his biography without having read his books. I actually have very little experience with Fleming and Bond. I've read just one story and seen the recent movie version of Casino Royale in addition to my current listening. But between publication of the new paperback editions of the Bond books and the occasional Bond items from Paul Davis, Bond has been on my mind a bit more.

November 03, 2008  
Blogger N/A said...

A recent Conde Nast study determined that since the first thriller was published by Ian Fleming in 1953 James Bond has generated nearly $14 billion from the novels, films and the video games, making our Mr. Bond the most lucrative fictional character in history.

The films induced scores of viewers to become readers of the books, like me in 1962 when I was only 10.

Although the films in the 1960s were faithful to the novels for the most part, the films in the 1970s left the books behind and became little more than cartoons.

So many readers are pleasantly suprised to find that Fleming's thrillers are far more dark and complex than the films.

I would suggest that a first-time Fleming reader begin with "Casino Royale," the first novel, and then jump to "From Russia With Love," the best thriller in my view.

Then if your hooked go on to read "Dr. No," "You Only Live Twice," and the rest of the series.

If you won't take my word, take the word of Raymond Chandler, Kingsley Amis and Anthony Burgess, all of whom believed that Fleming was a great thriller writer.

Paul Davis
daviswrite@aol.com
www.orchardpressmysteries.com/crime_beat.html

November 03, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Funny you should say that because the episode of the BBC reading of Casino Royale that I listened to tonight contains hints of the cartoonish aspect to come, but also a notable instance of the complexity.

The evil accents of the villains were overdone, for example, though that's probably the fault of the reader or the director. The reader, Alex Jennings, might have been under the influence of the later Bond films.

But what I most noticed was Bond's speech to Mathis from the hospital bad, a surprisingly resigned and even fatalistic oration from a Cold War-era spy novel.

November 03, 2008  
Blogger N/A said...

Peter,

Fleming wrote the thrillers unabashedly for entertainment - his own as well as his readers - and although he used elements from reality that he picked up as a naval intelligence officer during WWII and before and after the war as a journalist, his characters and plots are, as Fleming put it, "improbable but not impossible."

Goldfinger was obsessed with gold, painted girls gold before sex (famously killing one that way), and he plotted to rob Fort Knox.
Ernst Stavro Blofeld stole nuclear weapons (Thunderball) and planned biological warfare for terroristic extortion (On Her Majesty's Secret Service), so the villians are certainly not your average, everyday bad guys.

But Fleming was able to make you go along for the ride by means of a very swift narrative, peppered with authentic details about people, places, events and commerical products.

I listened to the first three chapters of the radio broadcast of "Casino Royale," and it was a good reading, but I liked the 90-minute radio drama of "You Only Live Twice" better.

It had several actors playing the roles and I liked Michael Jayson as Bond.

My hope is that these radio broadcasts and the new Bond film will send new readers to Fleming's classic thrillers.

The new film, although breaking box office records in the United Kingdom, received poor reviews from The Times of London and other British publications. They state that the new film strips too much of the Bond formula away, and you are left with a good action film, but it is not truly a Bond film. The film opens in the U.S. on November 14th.

Paul

Paul Davis
daviswrite@aol.com
www.orchardpressmysteries.com/crime_beat.html

November 03, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The radio broadcasts, the new movie and the reissues of the books.

I enjoyed the Daniel Craig version of Casino Royale, especially the dark introduction. The filmmakers let us know from the beginning that this is a different kind of Bond movie. So I'll probably see the new movie, too.

November 03, 2008  
Blogger N/A said...

Peter,

I plan to see the new film as well, and you might want to venture back to the original great Sean Connery films, "Dr, No,"
"From Russia With Love,"
"Goldfinger," and "Thunderball."

Connery's "Diamonds Are Forever" and "Never say Never Again" are silly films, saved only by his presense.

I liked "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," although George Lazenby, a former model, replaced Connery. He was OK, considering he had never acted before. He looked like Bond and he did the fight scenes well. The director, Peter Hunt, had been the editor of the previous Bond films, and he followed Fleming's story closely.

If the film had Connery it would have been the best film in the series, toping "From Russia With Love," my favorite film - and novel.

I liked "Casino Royale," as it followed the novel, updating the plot from post WWII communists to modern-day terrorists. Daniel Craig was good, but Clive Owen, as I've mentioned before, would have been a better fit for Fleming's character.

Paul

November 03, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'll be interested to see whether I can get past the Hugh Hefner schtick, or whether the books and the better films do a good job of integrating the sex into the story. The new Casino Royale was commendably low-key that way, I thought.

November 03, 2008  

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