Tre sekunder and my writing class

I have just finished reading the fifth book about Ewert Grens; Tre sekunder (or Three Seconds, as it’s called in its English translation), written by the two Swedish crime novelists Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström.

Now, what to say about it? The story is scary. But the whole novel is slooooow up until a certain point where the adrenaline just explodes and it gets intense for 100 pages or so.  Just to slow down again. I’ve read the four books prior to this one and I’ve enjoyed them all. The books all have different themes (trafficking, incest, death penalty, people living underground and now drugs and police informants) and as a reader I truly believe the research the authors have done. Even though many events seem unlikely and foreign, I believe Roslund&Hellström when they tell me they base their books on real people and real events.

But reading this fifth book of theirs wasn’t as enjoyable as reading the others. I hated the language in which they let sentences run on and on and on with commas instead of breaking them up with punctuation marks and capital letter. I found strange passages where people didn’t behave in a logical manner. One example is when a man opens an envelope and takes out five different objects. He places them in a row in front of him. He takes the first three objects and looks at them properly. Then makes a phone call. And waits for an answer. Then, and not earlier, he glances at the fourth object. He takes it up, realizes what it is and goes to check if it functions. This means leaving his office for a bit. Then, and not earlier, he looks at the fifth object and states what it is. He checks to see what information he can get from it. Now, this is not what people do. If one gets an envelope with five objects in it, one takes them out and states what they are before making phone calls and leaving your office to check one object’s functionality. Right?

And the whole book is written in third person but in two or three places the perspective changes and the characters starts to think of themselves as “I” in a way I find disturbing.

So, where the other four books like this when it comes to language and writing technicalities? I don’t know. I know I didn’t curse my way through the pages (as I partly did with Tre sekunder). But I haven’t taken them out from the bookselves to check. It could be that the other books are more properly written, but honestly I think it’s a result of me having another mindset. I read texts in another way now. I’ve always been a grammar police, but with my classes in Creative Writing, I’ve also started to pay more attention to perspective, to plots, to descriptions of people and the settings, and other foundation stones of fictional work.

Reading has become a different experience to me now. And I hope it means that I’m learning new things. Or at least that I’m bringing old knowledge back into the light.

I wonder how taking a photography class focused on visual communication will change the way I look at pictures?

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2 responses to “Tre sekunder and my writing class

  1. As far as the envelope and the objects in it go, I think that’s actually a fairly realistic response, depending on the character. Methodical people will look at all the objects before deciding on how to deal with it (make the call, check the device, etc), but most people aren’t methodical. I’ve definitely opened presents and packages and been derailed by the first thing I opened.

    • You’re right! I can see that happening with gifts. And to people that are not methodical.

      Come to think of it, my reaction comes from the fact that this happens to a very methodical person. And it’s about his job. And that it goes against his persona to act like that.

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