I’m about to catch up on book review posts after blogging very slowly for the second half of the year. The main reasons are that I’m busy and that most of my favorite reads of the year were from the first half of the year: it’s hard to keep blogging when I feel so-so about books. Anyway, expect a flurry of posts soon.
Insomnia for me means time to try out a lot of books, and I’m a little irritated by books described in the jacket copy as being thrillers or mysteries when they clearly aren’t. Just because a character has a secret past involving a crime doesn’t make a book a thriller or mysterious. Just because a more literary author is branching out into something bit more mysterious doesn’t make the resulting book a mystery. There has to be a little forward momentum, there has to be investigation or some sort of search for truth, and it would be nice if there could be some cliffhangers.
A sleep-deprived mystery fan.
I’ve been in TV mode for the past month or so, and I just finished the first season of Fargo, the television adaptation of the Coen Brothers movie. I’m slightly tired of the bad-guy-as-superman story, even though I liked Billy Bob Thornton’s performance a lot. The acting was fabulous, it felt like a Coen Brothers movie without being boring (the tone, the artistic shots), and for some reason the artificiality didn’t bother me.
For something a bit more realistic though it’s quite old (published in 1921 and 1915), I read a pair of short stories by Akutagawa, “In a Grove,” and “Rashomon,” both of which inspired the 1951 film Rashomon. The plot comes from In a Grove, and a couple elements in the movie come from the story Rashomon. “In a Grove” is a short story told from multiple perspectives about the murder of a samurai and the rape of his wife, and it’s an incredibly unsettling and unresolved story. Unreliable narrators all around in a distilled story. I haven’t seen the movie yet, and I felt I should read the story for crime fiction’s sake and just because I’ve been aware of the story for years.