White Like Snow.

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Jon Michelet.

I have to admit that  I thought that this guy was what we Norwegians call:  “statsviter”.

A “statsviter” is directly translated as : a “knower-of-the-state”. This is an individual that constantly appears on the news with “expert-opinions” about the current state of the kingdom and its subjects.

I became somewhat surprised when I found out that this Michelet has mainly made a name for himself as an author of fiction. An award-winning author one might add.

Why did a book authored by this radical AKP -ML guy, who was previously spied on by the Norwegian government, end up in my hands?

It was given to me by a Norwegian relative, who generously enough thought that it would be cool for me to receive something written in my native tongue.

It was very thoughtful of said relative, even though it made me re-consider my personal  rule of reading every book I have in my possession… but I decided to give it a chance due to its critical acclaim.

Jon Michelet, the controversial character undoubtedly has or had, quite a gift.

For some bizarre reason he decided to waste it on vulgar crime, when he obviously could have crafted some astonishing masterpiece, which he maybe did in his later years for all I know.

His book follows an unlikable, alcoholic character named Thygesen’s decent into further misery and doom, as he finds himself randomly and unfortunately tangled  into a drug smuggling ring.

The descriptions of Oslo are impressive and beautiful, yet there are way too many references to 80’s cultural personalities from an ancient time that I cannot relate to. This makes the book dated, like a ghost from the past. The drugged fuelled drama is sadly not and it’s probably more current than ever.

Why there is a market for such books as this beats me. I liked the setting just as much as I enjoyed the scene of Natsuo Kirino’s “Grotesque”. Another award-winning crime author, whose book encompassed a corporate woman turning to prostitution for excitement and an ailing model making her money as a sex worker. It also brings my attention to another “instantly forgettable” novel, called Panic, by an equally decorated author of “modern-crime”.

If it isn’t a page turner like Stieg Larsson’s masterful Millennium Trilogy or a book that I keep on going back to for inspiration like anything by Ibsen or Dickens, I won’t like it.

There are few Stieg Larssons around , that’s for sure. They are hard to find. If a book is adorned with praise, suffering from gravity’s pull due to the weight of all its awards, it is almost certain to be something mundane when it comes to modern crime fiction.

Agatha Christie. Now that was a master of the “whodunit”.And such class.

And that’s exactly the missing link in the crime department of todays literary world, class and the ingenuity to craft a clever plot, that takes the brilliant grey’s of Hercule Poirot to solve.

Do I really need to know that the main protagonist of Michelet’s book has fungus on his testicles?

Does it bear any relevance to the story? No it doesn’t and therein lies my problem with this book. I cannot help but to feel that 200 of the 303 pages of this story were excessive.

If the book is a psychological study of the inner cranial workings of this fictional “Thygesen” I suppose it is a success. For all that I know it could be Michelet’s inner mechanics that are on display, communicated through the fictional character. Whatever it may be it certainly isn’t flattering.

Yet Michelet proves brilliant with masterfully built sentences such as ” Spritens massemord i øverste etasje hadde ført til at det var en del tomme rom der” and “Det var en klasse der pensum var enkel og eksamen mulig å greie for selv den mest lusete taper: undergang.”

I just wish that there were more sentences like the ones above, sadly they are far between.

To say that ‘I’ve been mainly suffering through these 303 pages would be an understatement.

I hope that novel number two from Michelet proves a better read.

 

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