Tuesday, August 02, 2011

A good line, and goodnight!

This is an early night, so I'll leave you with just one line from the book I've begun reading along with a thought about what makes it good.

The book is The Boy in the Suitcase, the authors are Agnete Friis and Lene Kaaberbøl, and the set-up is a rich man musing upon the obstacles he overcame to have his cliffside house built. Here's the line:
"(H)e had even conquered the representative of the local Nature Society with a donation that nearly made her choke on her herbal tea."
That's not a knee-slapper, but it's a functionally amusing line that keeps the narrative going, hints at the point-of-view character's susceptibility to amusement at his own situation and, at the same time, just hints at the corrupting influence of money. That's not a bad day's work for one humble line.

A helpful commenter suggests that, given recent events in Norway, I ought to point out that the boy in the suitcase is alive.
Agnete Friis and Lene Kaaberbøl will be part of my panel "A QUESTION OF DEATH: HOW IMPORTANT IS WHODUNIT?" on Thursday, Sept. 15, 10 a.m.-11 a.m., at Bouchercon 2011.

© Peter Rozovsky 2011

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Blogger Michael Malone said...


August 02, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

I always enjoy your quotes.

August 02, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Michael, it sets a nice tone, I think. One interesting note: Lene Kaaberbøl is the book's translator as well as a co-author.

August 02, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I.J., a line like that will contribute much to a book's texture, I think.

August 02, 2011  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...


I read this one and liked it.

The Danes are definitely the funniest of the Nordics.

With every sensible person avoiding all media about dead Scandinavian children you should maybe point out that the boy in the suitcase is alive.

August 02, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Oh, geez, Adrian you're right. I'll insert that in the body of the post. Thanks.

August 02, 2011  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Well, if Adrian liked it, it must be good. You expect a lot out of books.

So that makes it even more interesting.

Glad the child is alive. That is more of an inducement to read, would not want to read about a dead child in a suitcase, especially after living where I do and seeing the horrendous news story about a psychopath who killed a young boy.

August 03, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, one thing that impresses me in the book's early chapters is that even amid some high tension, the authors avoid shocking the readers (of course, the main events that drive the plot have not net happened at the point to which I've read).

It's probably pretty easy to shock the reader with graphic descriptions of horrible events. That relieves that authors of having to create a compelling, believable world of which such events are a part; the shock is enough.

August 03, 2011  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Well, in the balance of good writing creating atmosphere and backstory vs. graphic, shocking violence, I'll take good writing any day.

This book looks quite good, and from all I've read about it, I will read it, even buy it if needed.

With library cutbacks, it may not even reach the shelves for a year or one copy will be purchased and made a noncirculating copy.

I just found -- after waiting for months -- that Yrsa Sigurdadottir's third book, Ashes to Dust, is noncirculating. There is one copy in one library.

No one can read a book that way.

August 06, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, if you can't come up with another way to read Ashes to Dust, let me know, and I'll send you an extra copy I have lying around, if I can find it.

The Boy in the Suitcase is more Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas territory.

August 06, 2011  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Thanks very much for offering on the book.

I'm going to bug the library buyers first and see what is going on. And to find out what has happened to Pierre Magnan's Death in the Truffle Wood, another book missing in action, which you also recommended.

This library cutback situation is awful and exasperating for avid readers. Classic mysteries have been taken out of circulation -- i.e., Nero Wolfe books, on which I'm binging right now.

Lots of books, including global crime fiction, are not being purchased, yet there are 500 copies of a current DVD. And people complain about the "dumbing down of America."

Aren't libraries supposed to encourage reading?

At my branch library, I can't even find the mysteries, more or less any other fiction -- unless they're best-sellers, written at fifth grade level. DVD's have taken over the shelves.

What the heck is going on here? It is ridiculous. Books are sacrosanct. Not apparently any more.

August 07, 2011  

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