Monday, June 15, 2009

A Good Man is Hard to Find

Flannery O’Connor
Harvest Brace Jovanovich, Publishers

I was first attracted to this book by the title and by the cover.

There are ten short stories here – twisted, sparse, dark, gloomy, funny, dramatic, Southern, angry, sexy, possibly racist, unforgiving, brooding and scary.

Flannery O'Connor was a devout Catholic, which made her a bit of an outsider in the Evangelical Protestant South. She believed in God, but not so much in people. She wrote about ugly, ugly things in such a way that they are completely beautiful. And usually heartbreaking. She painted her characters with exquisite detail,

Someone said she made the south seem even creepier than it already was

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Before the Frost

Henning Mankell
translated from the Swedish by Ebba Segerberg
Vintage Canada 2002

Wallander’s daughter, Linda, has just graduated from the police academy and is awaiting her starting position on the local police force in Ystad. They find themselves forced to confront a group of extremists bent on punishing the world's sinners, a group of religious fanatics led by an ex-member of Jim Jones’ congregation in Guyana – one who escaped the mass murders and suicide. The intricate story is deftly told, and the pacing of the action is such that you hate to put the book down – even to go to sleep!

The father/daughter relationship here is quite fascinating, and we learn about Kurt’s moods and temper and weaknesses. She's always ragging him about his bad eating habits and his ever-increasing weight - about his sex life, or lack thereof. There's also a small glimpse into the life of Kurt's ex-wife, Mona. I enjoyed looking into the lives of many of the characters, their lives outside the job. Not just the regular mystery stories I’ve read, I’m looking now for more.

Now I want to visit Sweden. I know so little about that part of the world - I didn't even know there was a bridge between Denmark and Sweden - back to the atlas