Saturday, September 18, 2010

Can you find your way around a crime novel without a map?

Maps are a tradition in crime novels, but I rarely follow them much. I figure that if the plot loses me, or vice versa, a map won't help.

But one of the maps included with Michael Stanley's The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu proved helpful as a plot aid and a thematic reminder of the importance of borders.

The map situates Botswana in relation to its western, northern and northeastern neighbors of Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and its southern neighbor, South Africa. Botswana's proximity to all, especially Zimbabwe, figures prominently in the story.

What's your take on maps in crime novels? And when did the tradition of including them start?
================
(Michael Stanley, the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip, will be members of my "Stamp of Death" panel at Bouchercon 2010 in San Francisco, Thursday, Oct. 14, at 3 p.m. Read a chapter from The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu here.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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84 Comments:

Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

As a rule I don't really need them; I generally only refer to them in books on military history, but as I said in our discussion on 'Roseanna', it would have been interesting to plot the suspect's exact progress when stalking his prey.

btw, Peter, you never mentioned whether you'd seen that Anthony Mann film I mentioned.
Its included on one of those Warner Brothers 'Film Noir' box-sets; Volume Four, I think

September 18, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

I really like them. Usually, I don't learn much, and it slows down my reading quite a bit, going back and forth, but there's something about them that just makes the whole enterprise seem more substantial. I even like floor plans in mysteries. Mary Roberts Reinhart books had a few, I don't know if they were in everyone.

September 18, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

" I even like floor plans in mysteries"
seana, I recall thinking as I was reading a climactic shoot-out scene in a Chester Himes novel a couple of weeks back that he must have drawn a floor plan of the room, description and placement of the furniture, and the positioning and movement of the various characters in the scene, in advance of writing the scene, because the description of the shootout seemed so geometrically precise, that he would need to be aware of the likelihood, or otherwise, of the various bullets hitting their intended targets

September 18, 2010  
Blogger Stan Trollip (of Michael Stanley) said...

Hi Peter: I wonder whether there are any other places in the world where 4 countries meet. Stan Trollip

September 19, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Celtic K--

No good writer should have to draw as well, but I think they do have to work from some kind of inner map for something like this.

I remember when I was studying a bit of Russian Lit from one of my favorite professors and he said in reference to Brothers K in his inimitable Yorkshire accent, "I wonder if we wouldn't all benefit from a map of the town?" We would have, it is true.

I'm pretty good on following people in stories, but I need a lot of help imagining settings, even with the best of descriptions.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Stan,

According to my quick internet research, yep, that's the only place four countries meet. Good call.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, I have not seen that Anthony Mann film. Maybe I'll watch it after Bouchercon.

For whatever reason, as much as I enjoy the maps in, say, the Times Atlas of World History, maps in a novel are generally a distraction. Perhaps if more such maps had the political resonance of the map under discussion here, I'd consult them more often.

It was your comment on maps in the Roseanna discussion that inspired this post, by the way.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, we are of opposite temperaments when it comes to maps. Or not. Maybe I'm just more impatient a reader than you are.

They slow me down with the sort of going back and forth that you mention, and I suppose I lack the patience for that. I try to follow the map as carefully as I follow the story.

Maybe the next time I encounter a map in a crime novel, I'll make a special effort to follow it carefully -- after I've read the book.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, does your comment about Chester Himes support my skepticism about maps? Did the precision of his description render a map unnecessary? Or did it make you wish you had a map as a visual aid?

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Stan Trollip (of Michael Stanley) has left a new comment ,,,:

Hi Peter: I wonder whether there are any other places in the world where 4 countries meet.


And that's not even to mention Angola, separated from Botswana by just the narrow strip of Namibia's northeastern extreme.

Among other things, the map makes one marvel at and wonder about the stability of Botswana, surrounded as it is by such turbulent neighbors.

I have sat on the Four Corners Monument here in the U.S., where Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah meet. So I have been in four American states and two Native American nations at the same time. I can't say I have ever been been in four sovereign states at the same time. Maybe one day ...

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, I wonder if genres of fiction other than crime have frequently been accompanied by maps.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Gary Corby said...

Maps are de rigeur for the world builders of fantasy, much more so than crime. Fantasy maps can be serious works of art in their own right.

I don't have a map in my first book, because ancient Athens is well known and it doesn't take much to place the major features in-story, but the second will have a map, and probably so too the third.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

A map for fantasy makes sense. Perhaps maps are equally useful for fiction about unfamiliar areas or for historical fiction in which place names and political boundaries may be different from today's.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Rob Kitchin said...

The Dell paperback series published 577 novels between 1943-1952 that included a map on the back flap (so-called mapbacks). There's a bit about the series at:
http://bigthink.com/ideas/21509 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mapback

My sense is that the maps were considered integral to aiding the reader understand the mystery (I know I kept refering back to the two maps in the Michael Stanley novel - I think it helps if the book is set in an area of the world you're unfamiliar with - I used an atlas recently with Robert Wilson's Instruments of Darkness in West Africa).

I keep meaning to find out more about the Dell Mapbacks, but haven't got round to it yet.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

"Did the precision of his description render a map unnecessary?"
Peter, in that instance, it served to bring home to me, even more than usual, the craft involved in writing a novel, and the planning, and mapping out in advance, the scene which seems to play out so effortlessly on the printed page.

In that instance, while, as you say, the writer doesn't need to be able to draw, a simple 'plan' such as basic room drawing, tables, chairs locations, etc, unbroken line representing movement of characters; broken lines to represent movements of bullets, etc, etc, could help greatly in the planning and plotting process for that particular scene

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Brian Lindenmuth said...

I haven't yet read the comments so I hope this hasn't been addressed.

I've got to be honest. I can't think of many crime novels with maps. I disagree with it being a tradition.

We're not talking about fantasy after all.

I could go through my shelves and have a hard time finding a crime novel with a map but could find dozens of fantasies that do.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

I'm with Seana on this one, I love maps in books of all kinds. Hell, I love Atlases. Maps of real places are great, but things begin to fall apart when there are maps of imaginary places. I used to read a lot of fantasy novels when I was kid and the maps in those are bloody shocking. I remember reading The New York Times bestselling Shanarra books by Terry Brooks and the map there had places like Northland, Southland, the Westron Mountains etc. which must have taken all of five seconds to think up.

Speaking of reading atlases has reminded me of an old Stephen Wright joke:

"I read the dictionary once. It turns out the Zebra did it."

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Rob, thanks for those links. Those Dell Books look like a series worth collecting. Some of those covers are gorgeous.

My tentative guess was that maps might have been more common in whodunnits and other puzzle mysteries, but even Hammett got a map in the Dell series. (I've put the links into handy, clickable form here and here.)

I agree that maps might help a reader picture an unfamiliar word. I frequently consulted the maps in The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu. The U.S. edition of the book includes three maps, by the way: The one I discussed in the post. another of the more immediate area around the camp, and a plan of the camp itself.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Peter, that room plan for 'Rope' is the kind of thing I was thinking of for the Himes, although given the room in his novel, a basic two-dimensional drawing would be sufficient.

As for the Hammett, any relation to Eddie Izzard, I wonder?

Rob, thanks for great link

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, it was Seana who wrote that an author should not need to be able to draw. I don't want to claim credit for her observation.

Once again, I had not thought of maps and diagrams as aids to composition of a novel. Perhaps your observations will change the way I read certain scenes, visually and geographically precise ones especially.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Brian, I am reading one of Cara Black's novels in preparation for Bouchercon. It includes a detailed map of Paris, with the area of the novel's setting highlighted. The Girl WIth the Dragon Tattoo either includes maps, or the translator (Steven T. Murray a.k.a. Reg Keeland) wishes it did. He thought the maps so important that he made copies available to readers. "They make the plot much easier to follow!" he wrote. Some of Mankell's novels include maps and, if my memory serves me well, so do some of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe stories.

So maps are a tradition in crime stories, all right. The questions are how widespread the tradition was, where, when and for what types of stories.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, thanks for that excellent Stephen Wright joke.

Hmm, maybe maps are such a tradition in fantasy novels that publishers sometime take a cavalier attitude to their preparation.

And I have the Times Atlas of World History as well as an atlas of the ancient world. I have a soft spot for attractive maps. I just had not previously thought of the various ways they can work with stories and even help in their composition.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, a basic diagram might be sufficent inside the book, but the projections and the color enhanced to covers of "Rope" and of "Nightmare Town."

Here, by the way, are some of the problems that confront map makers.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

sorry, Peter, regarding the Himes, I was just thinking that given the nature of the scene I just thought he may have had to draw it out for his own benefit to help plan the logistics of the scene properly.
I wouldn't want it, or any other such plans/maps, to be included with the novel.

But when you do get to see that Anthony Mann film, you'll see what I was getting at regarding my comments about liking to see a map of the 'Roseanna' suspects street movements while the police were tailing him

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Which Mann film was it again?

September 19, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

'Side Street'

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. I'll likely visit the video store today. I'll keep you posted!

September 19, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Its included on the box-set 'Film Noir Classic Collection: Volume 4', along with a bunch of nifty and largely little-known noirs; 'Tension' and 'Where Danger Lives' are especial favourites of mine, so you might want to 'go the whole hog' and check out the lot

September 19, 2010  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

As a reader, I love maps. As a writer, I have provided them, partially because I'm dealing with 11th century Japan, and things have changed a lot since then, and partially because I thought my readers would want them. (They do!) The maps have been a huge nuisance to research and draw by hand, and eventually, the book business being what it is, I stopped doing them.
Mind you, none of my publishers have offered to have the maps done professionally, even though I assume many British publishers do as a matter of course. And if I'm not mistaken, Cara Black's maps are professionally drawn and provided as part of the publishing package. I'm a tad bitter about this.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, I've rented a few movies from the collection. I should make myself a checklist and work my way through the entire set.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I think the box-set has commentaries on each of the eight films
(although not all by Eddie Muller)

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I.J., as a reader, the more unfamiliar and remote a setting is, the likelier I am to want a map, especially if the setting is a city and the urban layout is particular to the book's culture and period. Diagrams and maps are useful for stories set in your Heian Japan or Robert van Gulik's T'ang Dynasty China, for example.

And if I were an African or Asian reader unfamiliar with the layout of medieval and Renaissance European towns, say, I would not know by habit where the church or the market or the leper colony would be. I might appreciate a map to accompany a novel set in such a period.

I'm no author, but Gary Corby's comment above seems very much to the point. He said he did not include a map with his first book because ancient Athens' features are well known and because it does not take much to situate them in story.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, I discovered to my surprise some time back that not all the commentaries are by Eddie Muller. The one non-Muller commentary I remember was inferior.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Peter, Glenn Erickson's (sp) commentaries are usually worth listening to, and I think he might have one or two on this set; perhaps appropriately for films noir, his commentaries tend to be somewhat manic, and he packs a lot of detail into them

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. I'll look fo rhis commentaries.

The one that disappointed me after I'd heard a commentary or two by Eddie Muller was by William Friedkin. I remember it as consisting of too many boring anecdotes about people Friedkin would refer to by their first names or diminutives.

I'll take an knowledgeable, enthusiastic outsider like Muller over a name dropper like Bill Friedkin any day.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

A friend worked with Friedkin and he's considerably less complimentary about him than you are!
But I'll always have 'To Live And Die In LA', which happens to be one of those very rare cases where I thought the film was better than the book.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I won't judge his work as a director by his commentary. I'm sure he's not the only self-important name dropper in Hollywood.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

I think in some ways, I think of maps as just another form of illustration. They can be rather charming just in and of themselves.

There's also a kind of confidence you get from a map of a story that is going to take you on a long journey. You sort of know where you are in a story and how far you are from, say, Moscow, in a different kind of way than just reading a chapter heading like "St.Petersburg, 4PM".

And some people may not like this, but a city map gives you a sense of alternate possibilities. Sure the killer threw the victim off the bell tower, but why didn't he just walk over to the bridge and drop him off with a stone around his neck? Stuff like that. In some ways it enlarges the world of the story, even though much of it may not ever be used.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, did you look at the maps in the links Rob Kitchin posted? Those are more than just charming.

I suppose a densely illustrated map of a city such as Paris might give a sense of alternate possibilities as well: My god, how can anyone solve any mysteries in a city this size?

September 19, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

howsabout a map of The Minotaur
(failing that, a suitable size length of thread?)

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Gary Corby said...

The Minotaur lurks in the Flatiron Building, at 175 5th Ave, New York, where these days it gobbles up hapless authors.

(Sorry, couldn't resist...)

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That Minotaur is a beneficent monster, I think. It has belched up some crime novels on an unsuspecting world.

September 19, 2010  
Blogger Stan Trollip (of Michael Stanley) said...

I have to say, Peter, that the Times Atlas of the World is my favourite!

Stan

September 20, 2010  
Blogger Stan Trollip (of Michael Stanley) said...

I J Parker mentioned the publisher making the maps for Cara. We decided to have a local graphic artist make ours in Johannesburg so we could monitor and tweak as necessary. Yes, we paid for it, but it was very little.
Stan

September 20, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Thanks, Peter. I read his post, but hadn't clicked on the links. They're wonderful.

September 20, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Although the giant eyeball, was definitely a logo with room for improvement...

September 20, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Stan Trollip (of Michael Stanley) has ...:

I have to say, Peter, that the Times Atlas of the World is my favourite!


You know, I don't think I have any regular atlases at home, just historical atlases. I like to browse the atlases at work, though, occasionally as an aid to dreams of travel.

September 20, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, I found the eyeball adorably creepy, if a bit loud. If an eyeball that size were spying on me through a keyhole, though, I'd surely get a feeling, and rather quickly, that I was being watched.

September 20, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Stan, in re maps, publishers and the like, I'm an outsider to publishing, but I have heard authors observe that they are expected to pay for editing that a publishing house would have paid for fifteen years ago.

September 20, 2010  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

Re Minotaur: if the benevolent creature has indeed spewed up some fine mysteries, do we assume a heavy diet of unsuspecting authors caused its tummy troubles? :)

September 20, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Better than having the unsuspecting authors vanish down the beast's gullet, never to be seen again.

September 20, 2010  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Tor is headquartered in the Flatiron Building. That Minotaur is churning out SF, not mysteries.

September 20, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Of course, when I said Minotaur, I meant, of course, The Labyrinth, inhabited by said (mythical?) monster.
How many of you managed to spot the (alleged) deliberate mistake?

September 20, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Linkmeister, are you saying Gary couldn't find his U.S. publisher without a string tied to his finger?

September 20, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I spotted the mistake, but I knew you meant the place where the Minotaur dwells, and not the creature itself. Gary has already told us where the minotaur lives.

September 20, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Peter, is it safe to say that The Minotaur was the original bullshit artist?

September 20, 2010  
Blogger Gary Corby said...

The joke about me needing a string tied to my finger to find my publisher is, unfortunately, true.

The first time I was to visit Minotaur, I'd been told to go to the Flatiron Building. No one told me an address or street number; everyone assumed it was well-known. So I got the general direction and left my hotel, in search of a building that looked like a flat piece of iron. How was I to know Americans call a triangular prism a flatiron?

I am blessed with perfect direction in the way some people have perfect pitch, so I rarely carry a map even in strange cities. I walked straight to the right place, had no idea I was there because a triangular prism clearly is not a flat piece of iron, and so walked past the building three times before finally finding a native who pointed to the big thing at my back.

September 20, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Celtic Kagemusha said...
Peter, is it safe to say that The Minotaur was the original bullshit artist?


Safe for you to say it, maybe.

September 20, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I think I have only now figured out why the building is called the Flatiron Building. Its footprint has something like a flatiron's shape, but who the hell ever looks at a building from the top? Shall we start a campaign to restore sanity to New York's streets and rename it the Wedge Building?

September 20, 2010  
Blogger Pat Miller said...

I always appreciate maps in books where the locale is as much a character as the protagonists. This is certainly true for Donna Leon's Venice and Stieg Larsson's island in his first book. I also agree that a map in Roseanna would have been a plus, especially as it was one of the first Scandianvian crime novels I read and I had no familiarity with the terrain. Crime writer, Deborah Crombie, uses the talents of Laura Hartman Maestro to create the beautiful illustrated maps that have accompanied several of her more recent books. These do a wonderful job of setting the scene, especially as the location is a crucial element of all her books. Detailed descriptions of places can recreate them for a reader of fiction but can also play havoc with the pace of the story, which for crime fiction, can be a big problem. Maps may slow down the reading process (I personally don't have a problem with that, being a slow reader anyway) but they can also inform more quickly than words so that the action isn't hampered. Give me a map any day (I hope publishers are taking note!)

September 20, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Pat, I hope the publishers take note of Laura Hartman Maestro's name. Thanks.

September 20, 2010  
Blogger Pat Miller said...

More information about the collaboration between the author and illustrator is available on the Deborah Crombie's website:
http://www.deborahcrombie.com/the-maps

September 20, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Many thanks, and here is the link in handy, clickable form.

For anyone who has followed this thread, the link leads to an interesting explanation of an author’s collaboration with her mapmaker/illustrator.

September 20, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

I like maps a lot. Could have used them in the Stieg Larsson series and I did not see them in the editions which I read.

I did, however, rely on the handy Google search engine to look up the location of several cities and areas.

And could also use them in some of Indridasson's books, especially in "Hypothermia," where Erlander drives to 14 cities, towns or lakes in one paragraph!

However, again Google came in handy.

The Dell covers are stunning. Some of the back covers, in my opinion, could have been the front covers.

September 21, 2010  
Blogger Pat Miller said...

Some time back I read about Stieg Larsson's maps for the first book of the Millennium Trilogy that weren't included in the English translations. You can download them here: http://www.sallysfriends.net/nest/the-missing-map-from-tattoo/
I was fortunate to discover this before I started reading the series. The maps were very helpful at the time, but if you are reading the books after seeing the films they may not be as useful.

September 21, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, I don't know if I'd want a map for a paragraph that mentions 14 cities, towns or lakes, at least not right away. The sheer number of destinations is probably the point.

If those front covers were back covers, the titles, the author's names and other front-cover matter such as blurbs might cover up details of the maps. Back covers might be better places to display them in all their glory.

September 21, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Pat, do the movies do a good job of situating the various locations in relation to one another? Do they show the characters getting plausibly from here to there?

September 21, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

I actually like the use of the back cover for maps. I'm a fan of better usage of back covers in general. For instance, The Believer Magazine, uses the back cover for the table of contents, which I think is brilliant.

September 21, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I like the back cover for the table as contents. I also like the table on the front, where many journals put it. That bespeaks a no-nonsense approach.

Your comment has me thinking of how publishers and designers might best use back covers. Well-chosen excerpts, perhaps?

September 21, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

If I could think up these things, I suppose I would have a nice career in the book jacket design world.

It would be nice, though, if someone could come up with an idea that uses the unique features of a book as opposed to an ebook.

September 21, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That's a tough assignment. A book's qualities are inherent and not easily subject to definition. Hold a book in your hands, and you're experiencing those qualities.

September 21, 2010  
Blogger Pat Miller said...

I've seen the first 2 films and they seem very true to the books. 4 stars from me.
I think the effect of distance was created by Michael Blomqvist always looking like he hadn't had a decent sleep in months! It convinced me. I haven't explored the reviews of the films yet but I'm interested, too, in what people who haven't read the books thought about the films. This website has Google maps for the locations used in the films: http://maps.thefullwiki.org/The_Girl_with_the_Dragon_Tattoo

I wish someone could give me a good explanation as to why perfectly good (excellent, award-winning) non-English language films/TV have to be remade in Hollywood.

Regarding placement of maps in books, I prefer maps that are on the end papers. This makes it easy to refer to while reading rather than having to bookmark a page of the text.

September 21, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

End papers are a good place for maps -- until a library jacket covers up parts of the end papers.

I have read "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" but not yet seen the movies. I have noticed that some detractors said the movie version of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" did some trimming that the novel could have used.

September 21, 2010  
Blogger Pat Miller said...

While reading a library book with end paper maps, once you get your bearings you can look inside either the front or back cover when you need orientation. If it's too difficult to access the maps easily, I make a photocopy or print out a Google map and use it as a bookmark.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo had a lot of plot lines in it. The filmmakers had to determine which ones were crucial to the overall story and which could be discarded, always a difficult decision. Even while I was reading the book, I wondered if I was actually reading several books at one time. Some of the minor story lines are used for character development, so this is where I suspect viewers of the film could feel a bit deprived if they hadn't read the books. Still, I thought the acting was very convincing, keeping in mind that she is a very extraordinary fictional character. Using someone like Lisbeth (who would seem perfectly suited to a science fiction novel) in a book about contemporary social issues was risky, but it certainly seems to have worked. In films it can be a bit harder to suspend your disbelief but I think they did a good job of it.

September 21, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I have read "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" but not yet seen the movies."
Peter, I got the impression, a few threads or so back, that you would be giving "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" a wide berth.
This being the case, are we to assume 'sell-out' on your part, or, 'purely in the interest of research, guv'

September 21, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Pat: But what does one do when the library jacket is taped or otherwise fastened over the end papers?

Even some partisans of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" say the book could have used editing -- editing from which it was insulated by the author's death. Circumstances may have forced the movie makers to do what the book's publisher perhaps should have done: trimmed it.

That's not as harsh a criticism as it may seem. Amid all the hoopla, people forget that Stieg Larsson was a first-time novelist prey to all the problems any such writer might run into.

I remember noting after I saw the movie "Watchmen" some of the trims the movie makers had to make -- and some of the clever ways they dealt with this necessity.

September 21, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, I was not giving the Larsson phenomenon a wide berth as much I was expressing my normal skepticism of hype.

I was naturally aware of the phenomenon, and I read "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" last year because its translator was on my panel at Bouchercon.

I do have some curiosity about the movie because it apparently trims some of the fat that even some fans conceded marred the book.

September 21, 2010  
Blogger Pat Miller said...

Being a former librarian I really shouldn't be suggesting this, but if you do it very carefully it shouldn't be an issue (public library books aren't meant to become museum pieces): If the jacket covering is taped to the book, carefully untape it and remove the board from the fold. Photocopy the map and replace the jacket exactly as it was using new tape if necessary. If the library has made the jacket indestructible first photocopy the portion of the map that is visible and then from the other set of end papers (at the back of the book) photocopy the remaining bit of the map on the reverse of your photocopy. Sweet!

I thought Larsson's books and the films were good entertainment. They didn't set the world on fire for me (like Peter Temple's Truth did) but if they did for other people then I think that's great. The more eager readers there are out there the better. We live in a world fueled by hype but history will set the record straight. Meanwhile I'll continue to read, looking for honesty, beauty, insight and some good laughs.

September 21, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I knew you had been a librarian, and I confess to surprise at your suggestion. I shall take it under advisement, however. And the suggestion that one photocopy a portion from the front and the rest from the back is a fine alternative.

During the recent hype about Jonathan Franzen here, someone wrote, in essence, "What are we fighting for? People are talking about a book. This is a good thing."

September 21, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

I'm not getting into another discussion of the Larsson trilogy,suffice it to say that the movie version of TGWTDT was riveting.

Some plot points were edited out, which is good for a movie audience.
Reading is different; one can go off on some tangents or learn more about a character. Also, a book delves into a character's thoughts which a movie really can't do very well. Everything is visual. Viewers have to see action, not thinking.

The acting was good in the movie. Noomi Rapace is stellar as Lizbeth Salander, tough, courageous, brilliant, yet a survivor of abuse who is bruised and vulnerable in her own way.

Am glad the movie was edited, though I liked the book and just went off with the author and characters.

The movie is very hard-hitting and direct, no time for mulling over anything, as in the book.

September 22, 2010  
Blogger Pat Miller said...

Kathy, your comments are spot on. I couldn't agree more.

September 22, 2010  
Blogger Pat Miller said...

Peter, I did say "very carefully". However, it may be better all round, for libraries and readers alike, if maps were placed in that nether region between the endpapers and the frontispiece. Most maps that are published in novels these days tend to be either on the endpapers or tucked in somewhere after the title page. I don't know enough about book manufacturing to know if placing them in front is a workable solution. Just a thought.

September 22, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, some comments in this thread discuss trims that the filmmakers made in the movie version of Watchmen. I imagine that some of the trims in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo were, similarly, subplots that could not easily be accommodated in a movie.

September 22, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yes, there often are blank pages in that nether region. I assume this has something to do with the way the pages are folded and cut -- that the number of pages is always divisible by four or eight or sixteen, which means some will often be left blank.

September 22, 2010  

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