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Archives: William mcIlvanney

(still deeply impressed by the best British crime TV series of 2013, now out on BluRay and DVD, Broadchurch) 


I have a little private theory. One thesis is simple: a great crime/thriller story can have a more profound effect on your life than a lot of highly estimated pieces of so-called serious fiction. It’s a „can“-phrase, no general statement. I believe that a great thriller is no fast food, but a way to touch deep zones of your life, on a conscious and unconscious level. And I ‚m not simply referring to the classics a la Hammett, Chandler, Highsmith, Woolrich, Doyle et al.

I ‚m always careful about books everybody’s talking about. Uwe Tellkamp’s novel „Der Turm“ has been highly praised, and is pure bullshit in my modest opinion. „Die Asche meiner Mutter“, on the other hand, is brilliantly written, high literature in every sense, but boring to death (because you always know what will happen next). Or Peter Handkes „Die linkshändige Frau“, pure kitsch that seems to be proud of any lack of action. Its lack of imagination speaks volumes.  Or one of the most boring books of German post-war literature, „Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter“, another Handke novel that is – without mercy – killing hours and hours of precious lifetime. But the highlight of depressive nonsense of highest order is Handke’s „Der Chinese des Schmerzes“, in comparison to this Günter Grass’s slightly exhaustung „Der Butt“ is a hell of a ride!  Or last year’s bestseller „Shades of Grey“ – read ten pages of this piece of crap and you must think the so-called  sexual revolution had never really happened.  Völlig verklemmter Quatsch. So many books that get a nearly hysteric attention!

But, under the radar, you’ll find lost treasures that give you so much more than normal „serious“ or „mainstream crime fiction“. So, at the end of this, I highly recommend three books, one thriller, one mystery book, one more or less contemporary novel that deserve much more than the exclusive praise by a few happy critics and then vanishing into a minority „cult status“. „The Ocean at the End of the Lane“ by Neil Gaiman (okay, not really a secret anymore, but ignored (with raised eyebrows) by a lot of people who regard mystery books as third class literature!), „Der amerikanische Traum“ by Ernst Augustin (a true masterpiece!!!), and „Laidlaw“ by William McIlvanney (a crime novel I had read within two days and nights, originally published in 1977, and reissued by Cannongate Books in 2013).



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