Van Veeteren on Screen at Scandinavia House This Summer

I tend to be a bit scattershot with my reading, preferring to read what captures my interest at any given time rather than adhering (at least with my pleasure reading) to any strict schedule or plan. So while I tend not to be bored with my current reading at any given time, I do tend to put off getting to quite a lot of great/important/classic titles on my ‘to-read’ list because I don’t plan ahead, but rather get distracted by something that I pick up at random in the bookstore or library.

One of the series that I’ve long planned to try is Swedish author Håkan Nesser’s Van Veeteren series. His detective–apparently a grumpy gourmet in his 60s–is introduced when he is still working on the police force in the fictitious Northern European city of Maardam, but in the course of the series (10 novels total, I believe) he retires and becomes the proprietor of an antiquarian bookstore. Nevertheless, even in his retirement, Van Veeteren’s expertise is sometimes still required by the police, who ask him to consult on cases frequently.

Luckily, I now have encouragement to dip into Nesser’s oeuvre, because between July and August, Scandinavia House will be showing episodes of the popular Van Veeteren TV series. The first episode they’ll be showing is based on Nesser’s much-awarded novel Borkmann’s Point, which finds the Maardam police on the trail of a particularly clever and seemingly random ax murderer. A bit grim, but perhaps still a worthy summer read.


Anticipatory Reads: Georgette Heyer

A librarian friend of mine drew my attention to an upcoming talk on Jane Austen and her influence on regency romance and crime novelist extraordinaire, Georgette Heyer. The talk, “Witty Women: Jane Austen’s Influence on Georgette Heyer’s Regency Novels” is being given by Dr. Jennifer Kloester (author of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World and the soon-to-be-published Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller) and is hosted by the New York chapter of the Jane Austen Society–which I was previously unaware of–this coming Monday, June 27. (Interested? See the full lecture description and register here.)

Given that I have suddenly discovered my affection for Jane Austen novels and moreover, had a Georgette Heyer novel (albeit a mystery, not a romance) on my bookshelf just waiting to be read, I’m taking the opportunity to become familiar with Ms. Heyer, reputedly “the next best thing to reading Jane Austen” and quite a cult favorite in her own right. I’ve started with The Unfinished Clue, which is, thus far, just delightful, and was able to snag two other Heyer paperbacks–Cousin Kate and Death in the Stocks–from a used bookstore on a whim.

Since I’m generally a fan of crime novels, Heyer is particularly intriguing: it’s not every day that you find a beloved romance novelist who specializes in historical, Regency-era dramas who is also a well-known mystery author. It will be interesting to see how (if) Heyer’s apparent love of Jane Austen informed her crime writing as well as her romances. I’ll report back on the matter soon.

Gljúfrasteinn: At Home with Halldór Laxness

I’ve been on something of a hiatus here at The Afterword: taking some time off to finish my Master’s in Library and Information Science and graduate (!) and also–excitingly–take my first trip to Iceland. I’ll be back with reviews and lit crit articles of interest soon, but in the meantime, here are some shots of Gljúfrasteinn, the home of Iceland’s Nobel Prize winner, Halldór Laxness. We didn’t take the full tour of the house–which you can do–but we did walk around the grounds a bit, which was great.

Although Gljúfrasteinn is now a museum, it has been kept as it was when Halldór and his family lived there. There’s a lot of information in English and more images on their website, here:

Quick anecdote: when we rented the car to drive around (with GPS directing us to important spots), the man at the rental place suggested that we should skip Gljúfrasteinn, because “it is just the home of some famous writer, and not interesting unless you’re really into history.”

Halldór’s car is still parked in the driveway.

Behind the house.

It’s somehow kind of odd to imagine a Nobel laureate having an above ground swimming pool.

Two churches in the Mosfellsdalur valley, visible from the front of Gljúfrasteinn.

Kaldakvísl is the river behind Gljúfrasteinn.

Sheep grazing in the valley behind the house.

Easy to see why this would be such an ideal place to work.