Tag Archives: Literature

Boston

I’ve read a lot of books, it’s basically what I do, but I recently came across a phenomena that I’ve never really experienced before; descriptive writing that encapsulated me, and really made me want to visit the location in question.

 

Let me contextualise this a little; lately I decided to start reading some Dennis Lehane. For those of you who aren’t too sure of who he is, go and watch Mystic River, or Shutter Island, or Gone, Baby, Gone, or even the episodes of The Wire that he penned. Then come back to me.

 

I’ve read some of his stuff before, but only the main ones, the books of the afore-mentioned movies, and now I decided to start from the beginning. If anyone isn’t familiar with his writing style, it’s basically modern noir, based in Boston, with a heavy concentration on character development and plot substance. You’ll find very few throwaway characters or filler chapters here!

 

It’s the setting that I want to concentrate on here though. Lehane is a Bostonian, and this is clear to see once you pick up one of his novels, especially any of the Kenzie-Gennaro series, where the Massachusetts capital is described in such intricacies that I can’t help but feel driven towards it.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read books that have described their settings minutely before; Shakespeare and Dickens classics depict London like little other literature, and Steig Larsson must have single-handedly improved Sweden’s tourism industry ten-fold. Even authors like Zadie Smith, who sets some of her novels in and around the area I was born, and Malcolm Pryce, the author behind the seedy underbelly of a Druid-ruled sleepy town in West Wales, do not describe their setting quite like Lehane.

 

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The Millenium Trilogy

Prompted by the hype over this trilogy, and the film adaptation of the first, I thought I’d try giving the first book, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, a read, and see if it was worthy of such critical acclaim. Written by Stieg Larsson, a Swedish author who died shortly after he finished writing the third novel, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, the trilogy has, as of May 2010, sold 27 million copies worldwide.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a novel which, as far as I can tell, deserves the over-used cliché ‘a book you can’t put down.’ From the outset, when we meet the main characters, including Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, the reader realises that this book is not one of the typical, pro-forma crime fiction novels that have seen so much press in recent years. This book is, in its basest form, a ‘locked room’ mystery thriller, instead set on an island, but the investigation takes place some 40 years after the incident in question. Without revealing too much, and avoiding the all-too-familiar SPOILER tag, this is a book that throws up twists and tension all the way through to its shock-inducing climax.

The second novel, The Girl Who Played With Fire, is a completely different type of novel to the first. One of the main characters is being sought by the police, and the novel is a manhunt, a journey of discovery, a rush to hide a major conspiracy and a search for justice, all written in a way whereby you won’t want to put this down. I myself have been on the wrong end of numerous 4am sleep times, all thanks to Stieg Bloody Larsson (an insude joke that readers of the trilogy will understand.)

I will post a more thorough review of the trilogy, along with the third book, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, once I’ve finished it. I’m only 100 pages through the book at the moment, and it’s a whopping 700 pages long, but I shouldn’t imagine it will take me that long to finish it, such is the nature of the book.

But for now, that’s all

Thanks for reading

Matt

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