February 22nd, 2013

Imported Novels: Germany’s New Grim

Since my son may read this, I’ll just say “acute parental anxiety” ensued when, at seventeen, he decided to skip college and accept a brewing apprenticeship in Germany.  My anxiety stemmed not so much from his career choice as a beer artisan, which I see as a growth industry, but for his inability to speak fluent German.  I was pretty sure that Germany had never figured in an episode of Locked Up Abroad, but I knew it to be a country where ice cubes are extinct, no hot food is ever served before noon and t-shirts with cute sayings are universally banned. How would my son ever survive?

Then a spate of novels imported from Germany showed warm soda might be the least of his worries. These gritty page-turners reinvent the Grimm fairy tales – there’s nothing light and cheery here. Instead, Germany is depicted as a land where:snowwhite

Insular little villages hide pockets of gossipy, vengeful murderers -
Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus

Having a tattoo can get you burned at the stake or worse -
The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch

Conspiracies involving the bodies of dead foreigners occur in hospitals -
The Russian Donation by Christoph Spielberg

Coroners solve crimes via chatty post-autopsy ghosts -broken glass park
Morgue Drawer Four by Jutta Profijt

Bearing an uncanny resemblance to someone who then offers you money to impersonate them can result in terrifying consequences -
The Lie by Petra Hammesfahr

Teenage immigrants live in housing projects and write essays entitled “The Story of an Idiotic, Redheaded Woman Who Would Still Be Alive if Only She Had Listened to Her Smart, Oldest Daughter” -
Broken Glass Park by Alina Bronsky

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My anxiety was forever put to rest by a timely visit over the May Day holiday. Who can dislike a country where flavorful, smoked beer is placed in a little red wagon and pulled from one small village to another by groups of friends celebrating with a moving picnic? Just wish they’d believe in keeping the beverages cold…

Check out my Pinterest board for more reasons to break out of your cultural box.

What country has your favorite authors?


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January 27th, 2012

Et tu P.D. James?

death comes to pemberleyOnce again P.D. James has stabbed me in the back.  I’d forgiven her long ago for branching off with the futuristic novel Children of Men, but only because Doctor Who comes a close second to PBS Mystery in my television hierarchy.  But after waiting THREE YEARS for the next Dalgliesh mystery, I get another Jane Austen knockoff instead.  Haven’t Elizabeth and Darcy been sliced and diced enough already without Wickham’s corpse now fowling up the estate grounds?

James should have taken pointers from Nora Roberts.  Long ago, Roberts created her J.D. Robb mystery writing pseudonym as a clear pointer for her romance fans to stay away or risk disappointment. Loyal, happy fans ensued and Roberts was able to scratch a creative itch.

But, whether out of boredom or the need to expand their coffers, authors continue to boldly write outside their norm, banking on name recognition alone.  Writing for a young adult or juvenile audience has almost become a must for any big name author. Literary authors are dabbling with genre writing and many mystery, romance and thriller writers are striving to get more literary. Titles from authors trying out new digs include:

shelter harlan cobenShelter by Harlan Coben
Long running adult character Myron Bolitar has an estranged teenage nephew who investigates the disappearance of his new girlfriend – Coben sticks to his mystery/thriller roots, but gears this book towards teens.

11/22/63 by Stephen King11.22.63 Stephen King
Sci-fi, alternate history and historical fiction combine in this tale of a time traveler who attempts to prevent the assassination of JFK – a big change from King’s usual.

living-dead-girl-elizabeth-scottLiving Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
After writing successful realistic romances for young adults, Scott shocked readers with this chilling tale of a girl abducted and held hostage by a sexual predator.

insatiable_megcabotInsatiable by Meg Cabot
Author of sweet teen books like the Princess Diaries series, Cabot jumps on the vampire bandwagon with this campy paranormal romance for adults.

the-leftovers-by-tom-perrottaThe Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
Famous for satirical fiction like Election (made into a movie with Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick) Perrotta’s latest novel explores what life would be like in an apocalyptic, post-Rapture age.

Just as Patterson seemed to push the envelope too far with his “nonfiction thriller” on the murder of King Tut, will James’ new Death Comes to Pemberley prove too much for those of us enthralled by her poet turned detective Adam Dalgliesh?  I haven’t succumbed yet, but then the cover is pretty enticing…

Are you disappointed or thrilled when authors try new genres?


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