Thursday, March 31, 2011
Crime writer Ian Rankin shares his five favorite literary crime novels, from James Hogg’s masterpiece to Ruth Rendell. Rankin’s new novel, The Complaints, is out now.
Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner
By James Hogg
This book has been haunting me since student days. It has been an influence on Scottish literature and certainly on my own Inspector Rebus stories. Set in pre-Enlightenment Scotland it concerns a young religious zealot called Robert Wringhim. Convinced by his preacher guardian that he is a member of “the elect,” Wringhim then meets a charismatic stranger by the name of Gil-Martin who convinces him that they should dispatch anyone who has strayed from the path of righteousness. But who is Gil-Martin really? Is he the Devil, or a figment of the anti-hero’s fevered imagination? Very little is what it seems in this complex novel. Nemesis seems to be coming in the shape of two unlikely female detectives, but the fates have other plans for Wringhim. A psychological horror story, this also works as a novel of stalking, grooming, and serial killing.
By Charles Dickens
Dickens spins a yarn crammed with mysteries, unexplained deaths, blackmail plots, and courtroom drama. There’s also plenty of satire and a serious exploration of the ties that bind us all together. The main mystery concerns the parentage of Esther Summerson. A lawyer called Tulkinghorn may hold the answers, but there’s also a landlord with the all-too-apt name of Krook, a mysterious tenant called Nemo, and the enigmatic Lady Dedlock. Spinning a web to trap all of them is the extraordinary figure of Inspector Bucket. Bucket owes something to a real-life French detective of the period, Vidocq. Vidocq was a master of disguise and intuition, a man who seemed to appear from nowhere and know everyone’s innermost secrets and desires. He is, then, the template for many fictional detectives to come.
The Driver’s Seat
By Muriel Spark
When I wrote my first Inspector Rebus novel, I was supposed to be studying towards a PhD in the novels of Muriel Spark. This incredibly slim, satisfying, and surreal slice of modern gothic is my favorite of hers. Lise is a woman from northern Europe, who decides on a holiday in the south. We first meet her as the assistant in a boutique tries (without success) to sell her a non-stain dress. Lise, it transpires, is a “victim” looking for someone to end her life. She wants the fleeting fame that comes with a shocking murder. On her travels, she hopes she will meet the right man. But is she then the victim, or is she in the driving seat? The clever, subversive Spark takes the reader down a gentle but inevitable slope towards hell. Is our fate pre-ordained? How much free will do we have? Like Graham Greene before her, Spark, a convert to Catholicism, wants her readers to ponder the big questions.
The Name of the Rose
By Umberto Eco
Eco’s brilliant deconstruction of the traditional crime novel wasn’t actually published in English until 1983 (in a superb translation by William Weaver), but literature students knew it was coming. Some us wondered if the literary theorist’s first novel might turn out to be a bit dry, a bit too serious. We shouldn’t have worried. The Name of the Rose is a playful homage to Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, Agatha Christie and many others. It also manages to be an engrossing mystery in its own right and a fascinating historical re-enactment. The action takes place in a Benedictine monastery in northern Italy. The year is 1327 and a Franciscan friar by the name of William of Baskerville arrives with a young novice called Adso. They are there for spirited debate, but a series of gruesome murders takes place and William must use his intellect, learning and intuition in order to solve the crime.
By Ruth Rendell
In truth, I could have chosen any one of Ruth Rendell’s many novels, but this was the first I read. I had just left university and moved to London with the mad scheme of becoming a full-time novelist. Rendell remains the crime writer’s crime writer, never content merely to hoodwink the reader with red herrings. Often she dispenses with the “whodunit” element early on, because her real interest is in human motive and the aspects of society which make criminal behaviour possible (and sometimes inevitable). Live Flesh concerns an ex-con whose life seems to have been a series of accidents and wrong turns. Can he exert any control at all over events, or is each step of his journey pre-determined? It is a question many of the other writers in this list have wrestled with. The best crime writers have always explored not only our deepest natures but the nature of society itself. I think that’s why so many of us keep reading crime fiction.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Model Poonam Pandey to bare all if India wins WC
After Paraguay model Larissa Riquelme, who promised to run naked through the streets if Paraguay won the football World Cup, an India [ Images ]n model plans to do something alike if India beats Pakistan and goes on to win cricket's showpiece event.Cricket-crazy model Poonam Pandey says she will bare-all if the Indian team wins Wednesday's semi-final against the neighbours at Mohali.
According to reports, the city-based model, has decided to go nude in front of the entire stadium if India ends up winning the World Cup.
Claiming she is just trying to motivate the Men in Blue, Pandey said she even won't mind giving the team a private show in the dressing room if they win.
She added that she does not have qualms of even undressing in the stadium, if the law permits, and after permission from the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
What better motivation does Dhoni [ Images ] and his men need to conquer the world!
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
“The sign on the road to Pripyat, the town where the workers of the nuclear plant lived.”
The bridge of death
“After the explosion at Reactor 4 the people of Pripyat flocked on the railway bridge just outside the city to get a good view of the reactor and see what had happened.
Initially, everyone was told that radiation level was minimal and that they were safe. Little did they know that much of the radiation had been blown onto this bridge in a huge spike.”
They saw a beautiful rainbow coloured flames of the burning graphite nuclear core, whose flames were higher than the smoke stack itself. All of them are dead now – they were exposed to levels of over 500 roentgens, which is a fatal dose.
P.S.: note that the photo above is made from 2 different photos (top photo of the reactor and bottom photo of the bridge in Pripyat joined together)
“Deserted secondary school near Chernobyl, Illinsty, Ukraine. Dec 1995 0.96.07.01.19”
Left: “One of the five schools of Pripyat, each teaching about 1000 children. The schools have remained relatively intact considering the problems with looters eight years ago. I guess books don’t hold much value to the poor. “
Right:”At a 20th anniversary Chernobyl exhibit on Capitol Hill.”
“Children will never run here again.”
On the left: “Stairs on the creche/kindergarten near the center of Pripyat.”; on the right: “Broken doll on top of a corner cupboard in one of the rooms in the creche/kindergarten in the center of Pripyat.”
“Nursery in the creche/kindergarten”.
”Child’s big toy car in one of the rooms of the creche/kindergarten”. Notice the number plate of the car – 1984. It must be manufactured 2 years before the accident.
The note says “Rabbit”. I love those old-school soviet style drawings.
“Hay stuffed toy”.
“Pripyat funfair was due to be opened on May 1st. The Chernobyl disaster happened April 26th.
No one ever managed to ride the ferries wheel. It remains one of the most irradiated parts of Pripyat since the disaster, making it still dangerous today, 22 years on.”
“Bumper car ride in the amusement park in central Pripyat, it was to be opened on the May 1st celebrations of 1986, five days after the accident”
“Ferris wheel control or ticket booth in the amusement park .. I’m sure the plush teddy bear was placed there later by someone looking for an emotional photo, but it’s interesting also to document the later attempts of using the accident to achieve certain media goals.”
“Found just outside the surgery in the hospital. This hospital received many of Reactor 4′s first victims for treatment immediately after the explosion. The hospital itself however was already exposed to huge amounts of radiation.
Every rescue worker who attended the initial explosion was killed by radiation poisoning.”
Olympic athletes must have been training here for the 70′s/80′s. The pool is really huge – this place must’ve been the best around.
“Pripyat, ghost city abandoned after chernobyl catastrophe, has grown to a forest. nature takes over and invades and collapses human creations the views remind some apocalipthic films like I am a Legend; Views from highst building in town, a former Hotel“.
“Radiated Apartment Building”.
The Government have left us – “From what I saw inside, I’d presume this was the local government building. There was a political event scheduled for a few days after the explosion and there are many pamphlets and banners still inside. “
“These extremely well preserved posters are the last evidence of what the city’s inhabitants were like. I’m unsure of the details but I believe these men were politicians”.
We can see hammer and sickle on the roof.
Left: “Dismantled sofa-bed in one of the apartments in the 16 story residential apartment”
Right: “Elevator call button in the 16 story residential apartment building facing the central square of Pripyat.”
“Electrical junction box in the 16 story residential apartment building”
Left: “Sofa under an open back window in one of the apartments in the 16 story residential apartment building”
Right: “Broken ceiling light fixture in one of the apartments in the 16 story residential apartment”
“Newspaper used as a backing to glue the wallpaper in one of the apartments in the 16 story residential apartment building facing the central square of Pripyat.”
Newspapers title: “Pravda” (Truth) – the official propaganda newspaper of the Soviet Union
Newspapers date: “Wednesday, 25th of May 1983”
Articles title on the left: “Africa fights and builds”
Other title at the bottom: “Land owners”
Translations from the top to bottom:
“Happy to provide service from 11 to 20 (?)
Lunch from 14 to 15”
“Saturday from 9 to 17
Lunch from 13 to 14”
“400m away from the reactor (max allowed)” “2.0 rt being off-scale of the reader-device. average radiation level of a non contaminated area: 0.010 rt/m2″
Two more reactors, no. 5 and 6, capable of producing 1 GW each, were under construction at the time of the disaster.
“These whikeers-fish survived and devolped countermeasures against the deadly radiation levels of the contaminated water in the rivers surrounding Chernobyl. we didnt there to have a splash with them but we fed them big chunks of bread that were guzzled in the blink of an eye !! “.
If you want to read real stories of Chernobyl survivors you should definitely check: Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster