For me, one of the wonders of exceptionally wonderful writing is its ability to take something I’d would just steer clear of in real life, and transform it into something I can read with deep interest. This is even truer in Crime Fiction due to its sometimes graphic nature.
Before getting into the meat of it, yes, what I’ve just read was Crime Fiction and not Mainstream literature, in case you’re wondering:
“Kropp himself seated at a large table at the head of the room, trying for smiles and patience and genial common sense. But the crowd would not have logic or patience on its side, only heat and hurt. One by one they would stand, awkward men and women who’d felt fine and flashing moments before but now, in the spotlight, tripped over their words and lost the threads of their accusations. A disordered atmosphere, the crowd blurting accusations that trailed into nothing or were overheated or roamed off the point [ ].”
For Crime Fiction this is not your usual run-of-the-mill sentence. It works by bringing me away from my own world and into the one Discher built. This is not mere intellectual transportation, but it made me feel off kilter, and out of joint. Hirsch, the book’s main character, is not very talkative. Although the novel is not in first-person narrative, through this sentence we can “see” Hirsch. True to form, Discher is not very keen on personal description. By using this kind of sentence structure and, I’d say, “lyrical” description, we see and sense a different kind of narrative.
Discher has the ability to use an economical and sparse style that allows him to set a scene to absorb the reader, though here the terseness often draws attention to itself. Dialogue-wise he’s also up there with the best. The characters, especially Hirsch, behave much more differently from Americans than do the Swedes in those Stieg Larsson books. For those of us not accustomed to this it feels rather odd. On top of that the re-imagining of The Queen’s English provides a very specific Australian flavour, which to my European ears was very appealing.
This is my first foray into Australian Fiction. I’ve been hammered by my reader friends to read Peter Temple, but I thought I’d start with someone not so well know and discussed: Garry Discher, and I’m glad I did. This doesn’t mean I won’t read Temple, but I’m saving him for another occasion.
Writing of this quality does not come along every day.
And thus ends 2014.
NB: I’ve taken half a star because of the book’s moronic title: “Hell to Pay”. For goodness’ sake! I could come up with two or three better titles myself.