A BAD BOOK DAY

SUNDAY MORNING, JULY 21, 2013: Today I’ll read the New York Times OR most of the Times OR at least part of the Times. I won’t read from any books because I’m a little angry with them for two reasons. First they’ve so crowded around me this week, each little stack whining for attention.  Write about us… your Icelandic companions…  When are you going to write about us, we shared our stories of the Great Plains with you so that driving those long straight empty roads would have meaning…Hey, over here, weren’t you going to start reading your Arabian peninsula series in preparation for the December trip?

 A BAD READING DAY: Secondly, yesterday I was a little depressed so I hung out with some of my less desirable book friends. Like on Bad Hair Days you don’t go without hair…on Bad Reading Days you don’t you go without books, you just hang out with a selection of them that have no real value, only diverting your attention from how you’re wasting a day feeling sorry for yourself. They are books that require no curiosity, attention or love.

 First I read a Danish murder mystery by a new (to me) author. The book is “Call Me Princess” by Sara Blaedel and it did get me through the first half of the day without throwing myself in front of large trucks. I am not sure what is wrong with this book. The reviews are good and she has won several book prizes in Denmark but I did not like it at all…well just enough to read it to the end.  However (unlike with ‘good’ books) I was happy when the end arrived. There’s a spunky/plucky/gutsy female cop and her equally adventurous but flighty female journalist buddy. There’s the city of Copenhagen. There’s a repulsive bad guy. The plot is okay…nasty serial rapist with the action all getting a little too close to home in the end. Somehow though I never liked any of the characters including Copenhagen; it was all flat; the people never became flesh and blood and city noises and smells never really materialized. It might partially be in the translation—which felt too cautious, too carefully word for word. It’s not exactly a bad book, just has something critical missing.

 Then after a restless nap, I started two more books but knew right away they were not going to keep me from under lethal trucks. One a friend loaned me and it turns out to be satire which I can only handle in newspaper column-length doses (Gail Collins for example). I just bought the other, “Helsinki White” by James Thompson, an American living in Helsinki. It’s too shoot ‘em up, tough guy American-style for me. If the first few pages are any example I would say it’s short on subtlety and long on braggadocio. This appears to be the direction of Scandinavian crime fiction if Nesbo’s an example but I’m going to stick to the less bloodily spectacular of international crime as long as I can. All the good crime fiction or any fiction for that matter has imperfect heroes but the best ones aren’t quite so proud of their imperfections! For example, Henning Mankell’s characters don’t seem to feel the need to brag incessantly about their bad boy/bad girl foibles which almost always end in a spray of bullets and oozing body fluids.

 That was my week in books although earlier in the week I finished a very very good book called “Bad Land” but more about that later. For now, I have banished my books to the corners of my consciousness and will eat Minnesota chili and read the paper.

 Welcome to “Reading Books.”

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