Tag Archives: reading

an unexpected problem with reading

I was cosy and comfy in the caravan. There were bursts of sunshine and wandering on beaches. We were still in the honeymoon phase of Girl1’s return from foreign parts.

Mountcharles pier

We’d had the world cup chocolate boot presentation.

worthy winners

We’d been in a favourite shop and seen a real loom. No tiny elastic bands required.

Magee's loom

I had plenty of reading material, and was engrossed in a novel. All was well with the world.

The next morning I refilled the breakfast coffee mug and lifted my trusty Kindle, another day of lazy contentment planned. I flicked the switch, keen to get on with the story.


The screen was filled with half images and shadows of words (not a good sign), and didn’t change (a worse sign). I’d been here before, many moons ago, when my Kindle was still an infant. Amazon replaced it immediately. But now, the Kindle is elderly, obsolete. Dead. They don’t make that model any more.

farewell old friend

We have no internet access in Donegal which meant that I couldn’t set about finding a replacement until we came home. Also, I couldn’t simply continue reading the novel on my phone, because it wasn’t already downloaded to that device.

I started to read Spurs Fan’s football book, but it wasn’t the same. Less violence, for a start.

Once home, I began to investigate. I was briefly tempted by ‘Fire’, ‘HD’, ‘HDX’ and other random collections of letters before deciding I wasn’t going to pay good money for a flash tablet when I had a voucher that would practically cover the cost of a basic e reader. Doesn’t my phone do all the fancy stuff? (I have no idea what my phone can do.) After that I pottered choosing a cover and spent a huge amount of time trying to organise super speedy delivery.


The colourful cover is here. The Kindle is not. I feel like I’m waiting for a baby to be born. “Is it here yet?” “Oh, it’s on it’s way!” “Still not here.” I’m pining for a bit of electronic equipment I’ve never met.


I got the story finished. Jo Nesbo’s The Son. A bit long, a bit daft, but I enjoyed it. The reviewers didn’t. Lazy, they said. Turgid, they said. Perhaps my judgement was addled by the Kindle added suspense.

Or maybe I just enjoy some fun rubbish fiction*?


*other examples of this genre include anything by Lee Child or Janet Evanovich.

on my night with a Norwegian stockbroker

Well, who knew?

Scandi crime writer Jo Nesbo was a top flight footballer before falling victim to a cruciate injury. He then was a lyricist and musician with Norwegian pop/ rock band Di Derre. While his band mates were on the tour bus, he was flying back to Oslo daily to do the day job- stockbroker. Ridiculous levels of over achievement, before he became a novelist.

He got into writing crime fiction because he had five weeks to write something and reckoned crime would be good- it needed a start, a middle and an end, and surely he could do that. While touring Australia with the band.

At this stage the audience were rocking with laughter, or jealous rage.

from @noalibisbooks
from @noalibisbooks

Jo Nesbo faced the biggest audience of his book launch tour at the Ulster Hall over the weekend. He was impressed equally by the fact that Dickens and Led Zeppelin had been on that stage before him. He’d have been ecstatic if they’d been able to find a note of George Best having been there too.

From a distance the shaved head, black t shirt and jeans put me in mind of TV doctor/ detective Gregory House, and of course the other funny guy/ sportsman/ musician/ writer/actor chap, Hugh Laurie. This is never a bad thing.

not like Hugh at all
not like Hugh at all

Nesbo spoke of revealing only 10% of the story in his novels, trusting the reader to do the work. Also, he has to trust to the translator- accepting that some of the nuance will get misplaced in translation. What I hadn’t considered was how important an English translation is, as that forms the basis of other versions- e.g. it is easier to find a translator to work from English to Korean than from Norwegian to Korean.

He spoke mostly of his Harry Hole series of novels, but also stand alone work, film, and children’s books.

We heard of how a childhood experience eating apples off the tree (unpicked- the apples still on the tree, growing) inspired a particularly horrible murder in Phantom. I haven’t yet read that book, but the image of Jo up his granny’s tree with an apple stuck in his mouth will stay with me.

“My stories are about moral dilemmas, about choices.”

“Everybody wants a happy ending, but really, we want to know will he do the right thing. Will he save his eternal soul?”

I’ve read several of the Harry Hole series. The rest may have found their way on to my Kindle within minutes of me arriving home…

“I am the world’s greatest living crime writer. Jo Nesbø is a man who is snapping at my heels like a rabid pitbull poised to take over my mantle when I dramatically pre-decease him”
–James Ellroy

fetch, and other words

On a grey, wet winter day I gathered my stick about me and walked into town. I was tired and sore and grumpy, and in need of poetry. Balm for my bruises.

You may be thinking that I have any number of poetry books in the house, and easy access to a whole wide world of words, but happenstance meant I’d already got a ticket for a poetry reading. L had done the hard work, I just turned up.

The reading was by Ciaran Carson, and he surprised me greatly. Melodic Irish airs played on a marching band flute. Who knew marching band flutes didn’t come pre programmed with The Sash? (Now, that’s a link I’d never imagined posting…)

Carson was reared through Irish, learning English outside the home. He talked about the differences between words and meanings and languages. Somehow, I’m now interested in the word ‘fetch‘ which he described as having haunted him for years. So many meanings, such interpretation, variety and storytelling.

In discussion about ‘other’ worlds, he was asked if he believed in such things, or if it was just a good story. “Just a good story? Just?”

The story telling, the use of language, the words: that is what interests him. And his use of them caught my imagination, brought my self away from my piddly little bruises, and sparked my mind.



Carson’s poem Belfast Confetti can be heard, and seen, over at The Poetry Archive. It’s worth the trip

the mystery of marian’s writing

Marian’s latest book is about Helen, the youngest of the Walsh sisters- we’ve already got to know the family through Watermelon, Rachel’s Holiday, Angels and Anybody Out There.

From the other novels we know that Helen is beautiful, has men falling at her feet, and that she doesn’t suffer fools gladly. We know that she is a Private Investigator and that sometimes Mammy Walsh helps out.

What The Mystery of Mercy Close shows us is that Helen has had a serious bout of depression, spending some time in hospital. She’s heading into another bout. She is terrified.

Marian often explores major issues in her deceptively light novels- I’ve been moved by tales of abusive realtionships, bereavement, infertility and addiction. I’ve never before been so connected with a book that my reactions mirrored those of the main character. Helen got anxious and panicky: I got anxious and panicky. I had to stop reading it- it seemed to make no sense that I had to take some diazepam to sit on the sofa and read fiction.

I got back to it eventually. I didn’t get anxious this time, not even when Helen bought a suicide kit. I began to wonder what had actually happened to Wayne from the reforming boyband Laddz, whom Helen had been hired to find.

There are a lot of characters in this novel and my 6 week break meant that I had some difficulty remembering who was who, but the mystery and the supporting cast are funny, comfy background, so it didn’t really matter.

The best crime novels use the ‘crime’ as a framework for exploring wider issues. Marian uses that type of structure (no one could really call this a crime or mystery novel) to consider the issues of both individuals and the country being broke and broken.

Finances, relationships, people- all are subject to change. How do we move forward? Where do we get help? Who are our friends? How do we look after ourselves?

Marian wrote this when dealing with her own mental health issues. I’m amazed she was able to write it at all. I’m going to have to read it again.