Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Hard Boiled Language

We listened to a "book on tape" while traveling to and from Knoxville. I'd never done this before -- it had never occured to me to do something like this, and after this experiment I'm not sure I'll do it again -- but Anne knew people who did this all the time and wanted to try it, and she'd picked one up from the library for our ride.
The book was Phantom, a Norwegian detective novel by Jo Nesbø, and the ninth and latest in the "Detective Harry Hole" series (though we knew nothing of any of this before listening). It was riveting, and exhausting -- driving twelve hours each way through heavy rain, trying to concentrate on both the road and the story -- and it lasted for the entire trip down and back, the Sunday drive to Jim Thorpe and back, and an hour or two at home Sunday night. (I though I was going to die on the way down when, after several hours and several CD's -- there were 13 of them, but I didn't know that until later -- Anne puts in the next CD and the narrator said "Part Two...")
The story was a classic hard-boiled crime drama: former detective Harry Hole, back from Hong Kong after several years away, is in Oslo to help clear the son of his ex-girlfriend of a drug-related murder he may or may not have committed (she was the one great love of his life, and the boy, now a junkie, was once his surrogate son). This investigation drags him into Oslo's seamy drug underworld, and onto a collision course with the Russian mob, with brief forays into government and police corruption, including possible double-agents among his ex-colleagues. Plenty of violence, some doomed romance, and enough plot twists to keep the suspense level pretty high for more than twenty four hours. Two thumbs up!
There was one weird thing though: it was a translation of course, with a British actor doing the narration. He would do the mobster voices in a heavy Russian accent, but otherwise it was impeccable British English. Until... personal and place names were still in Norwegian, and the narrator would do those with near-perfect (to my untrained ear) Norwegian pronunciation. After a while I was hearing those Norwegian names in my sleep -- I woke up this morning with the word "Trondheim," with rolling "R" and a dead stop between sylables, as my morning earworm. Was it even in the book?
This was the same thing that happened to me as I researched Ireland.  I managed to drive Anne crazy with my constant joke of an Irish brogue, but in truth the sounds and cadences of the diifferent place names started to get to me, and the words started to show up in my dreams. A lilting language, dancing quick...
Parting gift: here's a neat website of one American expat's experiences and insights, living in the Netherlands, Spain and Ireland.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ten Years

Happy Mother's Day!

Today is also an anniversary of sorts: it's the tenth anniversary of my first blog post. It seems so long ago now, but that's only because it is... Anne and I have been together for more than five years now, and it seems like just yesterday in comparison, though in truth that point is closer in time to that first blog post than this one. Time is a funny thing, and time perceptions in our memory are probably logarithmic...

Knoxville: That's where we were this week. Travel day Wednesday and Friday, and Thursday in town for Emmi's commencement ceremony - she graduated last summer, and her official "cap and gown" walk down the aisle rolled over to this year. Beautiful day, and we had a great time hanging in K'ville, going to the commencement and having dinner with her old advisers afterward. Exhausting, rainy drives before and afterward though, and we spent most of a rainy day yesterday just recuperating.

It's a beautiful day today, and we're going up to Jim Thorpe, for a Mother's Day celebration with Anne's family.