"The 1950s," he said, "are a fascinating time because, I think, it was the end of history for most of us, an eternal present." But, he said, "It became clear to me it was a completely alien time," a world that would have been recognizable to someone who had been around in the 1930s.
Edward Marston, the panel's moderator, spoke of his childhood during the Second World War: "I saw no one between the ages of 18 and 40 because they had all been conscripted. I didn't see my father until I was 6. ... My grandfather lived with us. He'd fought in the First World War," and, Marston said, those who remained at home heard much about how "His war was better than our war."
Marston also made a remark that ought to make all crime readers and authors reflect on the world in which fictional detectives live and work: "Your sleuth must have social mobility."
Ruth Dudley Edwards spiced up the sex, violence and bad language panel with the observation that her Baroness 'Jack' Troutbeck, while willing to avail herself of a carnal romp with whatever sex is available, "would be just as motivated, really, by a good dinner." (My question about sex as a motivating factor in crime fiction, as a means rather than an end, won me a book bag for the session's best question. I won another later the same day, and no one was around to take it away from me.)
Elsewhere, Michael Ridpath, an author new to me who sets his recent novels in Iceland, said that country's financial crisis had forced some rewriting. "I had to change `In Iceland everything is expensive' to `In Iceland, everything is cheap,'" he said. Asked at a different session what she thought of Ridpath's choice of settings, Iceland's own Yrsa Sigurðardóttir said: "That's great. That's just excellent."
Yrsa also brought hákarl, or highly pungent fermented shark, an Icelandic specialty she was eager to share with fellow attendees, along with bracing Icelandic schnapps to wash it down. I enjoyed watching the faces of everyone who tried hákarl. You'll enjoy doing so, too. Says Wikipedia: Hákarl "is an acquired taste and many Icelanders never eat it."
I suspect that after Crimefest 2010, some Canadians, Americans, Englishmen and South Africans may join them.
© Peter Rozovsky 2010