Sunday, May 07, 2006

Cheating on Moby

So at 2 o'clock Saturday morning my husband came back from Paris. He had naturally (for him) left something behind somewhere along his itinerary, this time his jacket with his house keys - luckily only in the car that gave him a lift from the airport shuttle. Anyway, he had to ring me to let him in. At 2 o'clock in the morning. Brutal.

Anyway, he bought me books. In English. It's funny really, how one of his favourite stops in Paris is Shakespeare and Company, a more or less English-language bookshop, but then he doesn't speak French. He got me The Girl Who Married a Lion by Alexander McCall Smith, which is a collection of African stories/fabels. Probably very good, so I'm glad to now own it, but I'd come across it before and elected not to read it since I didn't want to read fairy tales at the time. But it'll come in handy one day, I'm sure. Also he bought A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson - again, a favourite of mine. I'm always in stitches reading his books, and it's best when he's writing about things I know nothing or little of, as I won't spot any glaring errors then. ;-) This is a good one, of how he and his annoying friend Katz hike the Appalachian Trail. A lot of info, environmental debate, hilarious episodes. Recommended.

Also, yesterday down town I bought myself two books, because they were there. For any out of town readers I have - in Uppsala, on Saturdays, you find second-hand book stalls along a part of the river. Sort of "diet Paris" style. On my way to my bike I peeked, and found two old paperbacks: Ten Little Niggers by Agatha Christie, and Unnatural Death by Dorothy Sayers.

Ten Little Niggers was obviously renamed Ten Little Indians later for the film (which the cover of my paperback also points out, almost apologetically). It's a truly awful title, I cringe even typing the word. But hey, those where the times, that's the word she used, I can't change it. :-/ Substituting "indians" for "niggers" is really not a great improvement either. This is still one of the creepiest crime stories I've ever read. Admittedly, I haven't read it for years, I might start picking holes in it now, but as a child on summer holidays with my grandparents in Värmland I'd always read their (Swedish) copy, and it freaked me out. Storyline is that ten people are invited to a mansion on an isolated island. They don't know the others or that they are coming, and have nothing in common. They think. Once there, the supposed host is missing. A recording informs them that they are all going to be punished for being murderers that have escaped the law. And then they die, one by one. Most chilling.

Unnatural Death is Sayers' third Lord Peter novel, so he's still very much happy-go-lucky and debonair in character. Not that he ever really was, if you read between the lines. Sayers was much too good a writer for that. I love her work, and have read all her Lord Peter novels, including the one finished by Jill Paton Walsh (Thrones, Dominations). So I've already read this one too, but couldn't pass up a chance to own it for 20 crowns. Anyway, I don't seem to remember every detail of the storyline, so I'll have to re-read it sometime - the snappy Lord Peter dialogue should make it well worth it! It's something about an old woman who dies, and some people suspect her nurse murdered her. The doctor however concludes that there was no foul play involved, but Lord Peter is interested and starts picking at the problem. Then the maid is murdered, and things escalate.

The best thing about this one is the introduction of the estimable Miss Climpson, the shrewd middle-aged lady who sleuths for Lord Peter, writes lengthy italicized letters and runs his secretary school (or whatever it is). She's great. Oh, and there is a Reverend Hallelujah Dawson in this one, that's something to remember.


Anonymous said...

I'll have to borrow the Dorothy Sayers book, I love her and haven't read it in a long time...

bani said...

Just say the word! :-)