Monday, July 09, 2007

Carlo Lucarelli, "Carte Blanche"

If more historical crime fiction were like Carlo Lucarelli's De Luca trilogy (Carte Blanche, That Damned Season and Via delle Oche, the last of which is to be published in English translation next year), I might learn to like historical crime fiction.

What makes Lucarelli's brand different? For one thing, the De Luca books are compact and almost devoid of picturesque detail. Instead, Lucarelli gets at the heart of the scary and chaotic place that was late-Fascist Italy directly, and far more effectively, through brief, violent bursts of action, and through the thoughts and words and deeds of one man: De Luca.

That hard-working police officer has transferred from the Fascist political police to the regular force, but his past stays with him and is essential to his investigations. De Luca's pleas that he hates the politics, that he is just a policeman doing his job, are a sad, almost pathetic refrain throughout Carte Blanche.
More later, perhaps.

© Peter Rozovsky 2007

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Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

A wonderful cover for a fine book, and the second in the trilogy is as good.
Carlo Lucarelli is another Italian author who packs a big punch into a small novel.

July 10, 2007  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I suppose Italian crime novels do tend to be shorter than, say, Swedish or Norwegian ones. I had not thought of this as anything like a national tendency, though. In Lucarelli's case, I'm guessing he made a deliberate effort to pare his story down to its essentials, to capture the essence of a period in history by focusing on the personal. In fact, he as much as says so in his informative introductions.

July 10, 2007  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I'm a proponent/advocate, even evangelist, of the 'less is more' school of writing, so I suspect Lucarelli's minimalist approach, particularly if he still manages to convey the sense of paranoia/divisions in WWII Fascist Italy, will prove a particularly rewarding read for me

June 13, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

These books are as minimalist as crime writing gets, and this contrubutes greatly to the sense of paranoia -- you know, if few words are said, much remains unsaid.

June 13, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Peter, you might be able to re-direct this post to the thread where we discussed the quality of translations, but I've just embarked on my first Martin Beck novel- the first in the series, Roseanna, - and I've encountered my first translation 'road-block'

'Kollberg was driving poorly, unevenly', thought Martin Beck, but for once he remained silent
The translator's name is Lois Roth.

Even allowing for a possible native Swedish stoicism, surely they must have an equivalent of "Jaysus, why do I have to put up with this, "?

btw, Under-21 All-Ireland Hurling Final result:
Tipperary, 5-22; Galway, 0-10!

September 13, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I read and was knocked out by Roseanna relatively recently, and I don't remember that sentence.

Out of context, I can tell you what that sentence conveys to me, and you can then decide whether the translation is good or bad.

Someone who could reflect with such detachment on the poor driving of his own driver must be exceedingly level-headed, calm and perhaps eerily emotionless. If that is appropriate to the passage in question, perhaps the translator did not do a bad job.

Re that hurling score, "Ahfer foegh's sake" indeed. That must be one of the bigger pastings in the history of the ancient game.

September 13, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I agree about his coolness that the description of the scene conveyed, - although in that it suggested that he might have bawled him out on previous occasions, perhaps it was only true of his character on this particular occasion.
But I was also thinking of the too literal nature of the translation; perhaps "Martin Beck thought better of not criticising Kollberg's jerky driving, on this occasion" might have been preferable.

I bought the first four novels in the series.
One of them is 'The Laughing Policeman'; the film adaptation of which starred Walter Matthau.
I seem to recall it as quite a decent thriller
(although not a patch on another Matthau, 'Charley Varrick') .

We scored our first goal after 34 seconds; the second within 2 minutes, and one of the goals was scored directly from a free of some 50 yards distance from the goal
(which is unique in my experience)

I hear talk that an old schoolmate of mine is in the running for Waterford hurling coach

September 13, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I read and was knocked out by Roseanna relatively recently, and I don't remember that sentence.

Just finished it; I think overall the translation was a good one. That sentence I quoted set alarm bells ringing that it was going to be as literal a translation as the Lucarelli, but that didn't prove to be the case.

Although it wasn't strictly speaking a serial killer story, I much preferred the approach here to those where you hear the killer's 'voice' intermittently.
Here you only got to observe his movements and were left wondering what he was thinking, especially given the way he delayed for a few weeks before making his move.

I was interested to read the Q&A with Maj Sjowall in my edition about the nature of their research and the photographs they took, due to the intricate detail concerning the boat's journey, and the killer's climactic movements

September 14, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The first two posts on this link are about Roseanna. The novel was a revelation, a surprise, and one of the highlights of my life a crime-fiction reader.

I haven't checked, but I wonder if the new edition of the novel used the same translation that earlier English editions did.

September 15, 2010  

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