Sunday, June 24, 2012

Reading matters

It is something of an irony that the illustration shows not merely a 'booky book' but one which was a limited special edition of Oliver Pötzsch's novel The Hangman's Daughter. Faithful readers of my blog will know that I am still in my first month of migration to e-books and so, yes, this is a book I read on my Kindle.

In an earlier post I complained that Amazon fails to replicate a normal bookshop browsing experience. I think I must revise my view in this regard. Those algorithms must be working very well; the promotional emails I receive with regularity do, in fact, suggest quite often books that really correspond with my reading preferences.

I wonder if it was the fact that my very first Kindle Edition purchase was CJ Sansom's Heartstone which moved the system to suggest that I might enjoy the historical thrillers written by the Munich author Pötzsch? He is working in the same atmospheric genre as Sansom, even if his Hangman is solving mysteries a century later than Shardlake.

Naturally it is an added pleasure to read of events distant in history but so close to 'home'. Lower Bavaria in the seventeenth century was indeed a wild place; the most important city at the time was not Munich but Augsburg, where I did in fact live for a couple of miserable years.  

Another point I must not fail to mention, the quality of the English translation. I have had excruciating experiences with novels translated from foreign languages... in particular the enthusiasm of publishers for the 'Scandinavian noir' seems to have caused them to engage translators whose work is so bad that it is almost funny. How refreshing, then, that Pötzsch's translator hardly ever puts a foot wrong, almost never writes anything which jars, irritates or distracts. Almost... describing a cheeky seventeenth-century chappie as a 'smart alec' seemed careless and inappropriate, the term having its origin in the modus operandi of a notorious black pimp in New York in the 1840s.

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