Sunday, May 31, 2015

Crimefest wrap-up, Part I: The real inspiration for the first Martin Beck novel

Over at the Rap Sheet, Ali Karim weighs in with a comprehensive report on Crimefest 2015 in Bristol. I note with complete agreement his praise for the convention's programming and panel moderators.  I spent more time attending panels than I generally do at conventions and less time resting between panels, and virtually all the moderators were concise, interested, and well-prepared. (None, that is, was like the moderator who inspired this post from Bouchercon a few years ago.) So, good job, Crimefest.

Ruth Dudley Edwards.
(All  photos by your
humble blogkeeper.)
Here are my previous posts about Crimefest 2015 (click on the link then scroll down.) And here's a bit more about this eighth edition of the excellent crime fiction festival:
Barry Forshaw, noir
Friday's Audible: Crime Pays In Audio panel was packed with authors, voice actors, readers, and producers who gave the audience a real sense of what goes on in the studio, and of the logistical, legal, and ethical considerations that come into play when a book jumps media to audio.

A welcome addition to the Bristol scene.
The session was so informative that I regarded with indulgence moderator Steve Carsey's use of space where other people would say field, genre, environment, or nothing at all. ("The crime space," "the romance space,"  "the audio space," "the drama space," "the audio-book space.") Jargon usually drives me over the edge, the more voguish and more enthusiastically embraced, the further over. But Carsey was so knowledgeable, genial, and fluent a moderator that I did not mind in the least. (A hat tip to the non-crime friend who was the first to alert me to this use of space. She lives in the United States, but I can assure her that the United Kingdom has enthusiastically joined the space race, possibly even pulling ahead of America.)
The notebook where I tried to figure out answers
to the anagrams portion of the Crimefest pub quiz.

I don't remember the context, but I quite liked Nev Fountain's remark during the Sex in Crime Fiction panel that "There are literally people who will have sex with anyone connected with a television series."
Lee Child, Maj Sjöwall
Lee Child's interview with the festival's guess of honor, Maj Sjöwall (available as a series of clips at the Shots e-zone Web site), was full of entertaining and enlightening moments that disproved, if it still needs disproving, the notion that the Nordic countries lack a sense of humor. I had also not known that Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö intended to stop their Martin Beck series after ten novels even before Wahlöö died the year the tenth book, The Terrorists, appeared.

And I quite enjoyed Sjöwall's account of the genesis of the first Beck novel, Roseanna, which begins with the murder of an American tourist in Sweden (to appreciate the full flavor of the anecdote, it helps to know that Sjöwall and Wahlöö were husband and wife, albeit common-law). The two were on a ferry one day, and:
"There was this woman there, very beautiful, standing there watching the Swedish shoreline, and, of course, Per was standing there watching her. I said to Per, `Kill her.'"
The bar staff at the Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel just before last call,
except they call it "Last orders!" This seems to me better suited
to the solemnity of the occasion.
 Sjöwall and Child also discussed the Beck novels' employment of a group cast of central characters and to give those characters lives outside their police work (Ed McBain had done so first, though Sjöwall says she and Wahlöö did not know McBain's work early on, and only later read--and translated--McBain.)  Sjöwall's remarks on the roots of this plan may surprise those of us in America for whom leftist politics, empathy, and popular entertainment are inimical:
"We knew some officers in the Stockholm police and we tried to think the were human beings.  At that time we were criticized because it was not allowed for a police officer to have a private life."
"Everybody does it, and you started it," Child said.

"We didn't mean to do it," Sjöwall replied.

I also liked the attractive modesty of Sjöwall statement that "I don't think books change the world very much, but they can change thinking."
More to come when I flip through my copy of the Crimefest program, where I took most of my notes.

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Anonymous Fred Zackel said...

Beck. Episodes 1-3 [DVD] / produced by Victoria Film in collaboration with Filmlance International ... [et al.] ; director, Pelle Seth ; screenplay, Rolf Börjlind ; producers, Lars Blomgren & Thomas Lydholm.

June 01, 2015  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. I've never seen that show, nor have I seen the Walter Matthau version of The Laughing Policeman.

June 01, 2015  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so jealous of this. Had I known far enough in advance I would have made plans to fly over to see Maj Sjowall. I'll look for the video clips.

I enjoyed the BBC radio drama version of the Martin Beck books, though I did not get to listen to them all. I've not seen any of the movie/television versions. Not sure I want to. I like having the books as books.

June 02, 2015  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

James, I had not known there was a radio adaptation. I will look for it; it might make find listening in my idle hours or even my not so idle ones. Thanks.

One nice feature of the Sjöwall interview was that the organizers decorated the halls with posters devoted to Swedish and other crime writers who owed allegiance to Sjöwall and Wahlöö.

June 02, 2015  

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