Sunday, March 14, 2010

Nesbø on news

The profession of which I am a part has cropped up twice this weekend in my crime reading. First, Dan Waddell writes about the excesses of English tabloids and the non-action of Home Secretary Jack Straw in a notorious real-life murder case. (Jack Straw used to be my favorite political name until Philadelphia elected Michael Nutter mayor.)

Then Jo Nesbø's The Snowman offers an amusing swipe at newspapers' moral pretensions and a more probing examination of television. Here's the first, as reporters besiege Oslo police headquarters

"Mumbling among themselves that the police had to acknowledge their responsibility to keep the general public informed about such a serious, shocking and circulation-increasing matter."
Later Nesbø has protagonist Harry Hole appear on Norway's leading talk show to discuss the killer and turn the show into something like Harvey Pekar's appearances with David Letterman. That television manipulates truth and reduces everything to entertainment and morally neutral "content" goes without saying, though Nesbø says it well. What I like best, though, is that he captures that ghastly attraction of the insidious medium.

"`Jesus,' she heard the producer wheeze behind her. And then, `Jesus bloody Christ.' Oda just felt like howling. Howling with pleasure. Here, she thought. Here at the North Pole. We aren't where it happens. We are what happens."
© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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10 Comments:

Anonymous solo said...

Peter, I'm looking forward to reading your essays on Iceland and Sicily.

I don't know this Declan Burke fecker who has kept you from having a trifecta of large European islands to write about but I'd get on to Maxim about this interloper if I were you.

I haven't read any Nesbo yet but my feeling is that crime journalists too often allow themselves to be the uncritical mouthpieces of police forces.

I've just read Ken Bruen's Vixen. Where the phrase 'the ubiquitous baseball bat' was clearly meant the phrase 'the obsequious baseball bat' somehow slinked past the copy editor. Inadvertent it may have been but a definite improvement on the original. Of course, if you had been the copy editor I'm sure we would have been denied this felicitous mistake.

March 14, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That Declan Burke fecker knows his Ireland and his crime fiction and his Irish crime fiction, so I'll look forward to what he has to say.

Nesbø's main jabs are aimed elsewhere, but such jabs as he does take at journalists and their television counterparts aim more at the quest for the scoop than at their subservience to their sources. For that kind of criticism in crime fiction, you might try Stieg Larsson in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo on financial journalists.

As for Bruen, you may know that I've enjoyed all the Brant-Roberts books, that I've called Bust one of the funniest crime novels ever written, and that I found Priest one of the most affecting experiences of my crime-reading life. That said, mistakes like the one you cited are rife in Bruen's books (though I like the associations conjured by "obsequious bat"). This leads me to suspect that copy-editing is not a priority with some of his publishers.

March 14, 2010  
Anonymous solo said...

Peter, that was a fascinating response. Thanks. I haven't read Larsson yet but I will rectify that as soon as possible.

March 14, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Solo, some time back I singled out a scathing passage about financial journalists from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

March 14, 2010  
Blogger Michele Emrath said...

Just came over here from Murder is Everywhere--one of my favorite blogs. Glad I found yours so I can make it a weekly haunt!

I have been meaning to read Nesbo, but can't find 'The Leopard' anywhere in the US. Have you read it?

Michele
SouthernCityMysteries

March 15, 2010  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

BTW lest we forget in all the bile directed at Jay Leno, David Letterman is a complete asshole as these interviews prove.

March 15, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'd looked simply for a bit of background on Pekar's appearances on Letterman's show. Instead I found that incisive analysis of Letterman. The analysis is harsh but credible, and I'd say Pekar is worth reading even when he's not writing comics.

March 15, 2010  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

I dont know if you do requests but I'd love to see an interview with the great Mr Pekar on DBB.

March 15, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

If I could find a plausible connection to crime fiction, I'd interview him in a second. I'd want get a greater sense of the range of his writing first, though.

Years ago, I did write to him to ask about the possibility of writing an piece about him. He wrote back with a go-ahead, but I never wrote the article, though.

March 15, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Michele, I haven't read "The Leopard." I don't read Norwegian, and it has not yet been translated into English. It may have been translated into other languages. Five of Nesbo's novels had been translated into French before three had been translated into English, for example.

March 16, 2010  

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