Henning Mankell & the World Cup

It’s Saturday afternoon, and I’m trying to justify watching football on the tv by writing a blog — after all, if I’m writing a blog, it’s not really goofing off is it?

I’ve spent the morning writing my daily 1400 words, which I finished by about 12 o’clock, before settling down with Henning Mankell’s Firewall, which may or may not be his last Kurt Wallender novel. For those of you who only know the dyspeptic, diabetic detective by the anaemic BBC adaptations featuring Kenneth Branagh, which are not a patch on the original Swedish episodes often shown on BBC4, the cycle of ten or a dozen novels are perhaps the most grounded narratives in the detective genre. At the risk of sounding pretentious, they chart the moral disintegration of Swedish society in the 1990s through the brutal and often irrational murders that Wallander has to investigate.

Before Firewall, I read Sidetracked, which justifiably won the Crime Writer’s Assosciation’s Gold Dagger Award for Best Novel. Mankell interweaves real world events with the storyline by featuring Sweden’s matches in the 1994 World Cup as part of the sub-plot and setting. It’s part of a complex set of plot threads that at times sidetrack the reader as effectively as they do Wallander’s investigation.  

Reading Mankell teaches one that it’s the little touches that give a narrative its sense of reality. Years ago, Brian Aldiss began to work himself, his friends and family into the narrative, blurring the lines between fiction and reality. I’m tempted to try the same technique in future, maybe featuring a writer who blogs during the 2010 World Cup as part of the sub-plot….

But for now it’s back to the real World Cup. I’ll finish Firewall between the two matches.

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• July 3rd, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0