Friday, September 18, 2009

Chronicler of the Winds

It is a long way from Ystad in southern Sweden to an unnamed coastal city in Africa, from a middle-aged detective to a 10-year-old street orphan, but it is a leap that Henning Mankell makes more adeptly than you might anticipate in (the horribly titled) Chronicler of the Winds.

Over nine nights, as the orphan Nelio slowly dies from gunshot wounds, he relates his life story to the baker José Antonio Maria Vaz and we gradually find out how his short life reached this point. The earlier years of Nelio's short life are horribly familiar from news stories and other accounts of children caught up in Africa's many conflicts, but once he makes his way to the unnamed city – which knowing Mankell's background as the director of that city's Teatro Avenida can only be Maputo in Mozambique – the story takes some interesting and intriguing turns.

The way Nelio's life is recounted in segments, while José and the rest of the city continue on with their struggle to survive, works well; providing a grounding for some of the more fantastical elements of the story. However, some of it just doesn't ring true and I couldn't understand why José would quit his job to become a (wholly ineffectual) teller of Nelio's story.

It is interesting that this book was written midway through the Wallander series (although not translated until much later) and I can only imagine what some of Kurt's devotees would make of it. Not surprisingly the publishers went for a much softer, more feminine cover design – presumably hoping to avoid getting too many complaints from the disgruntled single genre readers.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

MBV Music

Apologies for the lack of posts lately. Everyone at GoH mansions has been laid low by various bugs, viruses and poxes for the last few weeks. It also hasn't helped that any spare time on-line always seems to disappear into the black hole that is my current favourite website – mbvmusic.

If I told you it was a music site that had free mp3s, videos, cover art, news, links and reviews you probably wouldn't be that impressed. And probably quite rightly point out that there are already many very fine publications who already meet all or some of these needs.

It is hard to say what is so brilliant about it, but the six superhero music nerds who run it have been almost solely responsible for all the new music that I have heard this year. And, even more impressively, I have heard a lot of new music this year. Outstanding finds so far include Son Volt, Wild Light, The xx, Fulton Lights, Young Galaxy, The Raveonettes and The Very Best.

Song for Sunday

Young Galaxy – Come and See