Comment • reviews • Nordic Noir • whimsy
Welcome to Secret Library, in which authors share with us books that don’t get the attention they deserve. There are very few rules that are given to participating writers – just a list of writers that are too well-known for their work to be ‘secret’. Sometimes, there’s a bit of to-and-fro on email before the final three are confirmed. I hope that that discussion is part of the fun of whittling down what might be quite a long list. So it’s all been rather good fun and all very warm and consensual. That all ends today.
We welcome Lilja Sigurdardóttir, whose book Snare is just out – indeed, this is the last stop on the Snare blog tour. Lilja is an award-winning playwright and crime novelist…and today she brings controversy with her secret library selection. I am of course referring to her third choice. It’s rather fashionable to curl the lip at Mr Brown’s output, but whether or not you like his books, the fact that he has inspired others to write (and indeed to read) is powerful stuff. Over to Lilja and her choices:
The Eddas are Icelandic books probably written on vellum sheets in the 1200s, and are still best-sellers today. Beat that! The Eddas, be it Codex Regius or Snorri Sturluson’s Edda, contain descriptions of Iceland’s old religion, poetry, the Völvas’ prophecies and descriptions of heroic battles. These writings are probably the ones that have had the most influence on me, not as a writer but as a character. The Hávamál part gives guidance on how to live, preserve your honour and treat your friends so that is a useful as self-improvement. But the parts that tell the tales of the old gods: Ódinn, Freyja, Thor, Idunn and their kind are fabulous fun and inspirational. The remarkable thing is the big parts of the Eddas with original spelling are perfectly readable to Icelanders today as the Icelandic language hasn’t changed that much.
Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin
The title of this is Secret Library, right? I came across this book as a young woman and it had a great impact on me. The stories in the book were written for an anonymous collector’s secret library in the forties, and are basically rather explicit descriptions of all kinds of sex, beautifully written and mixed with all that stimulates the senses, music, spice, jealousy, opium, fantasies, perfume, tears, wine, laughter, dreams, dancing and love. I was wondering some months ago if the stories had aged well or not, and a reread suggests that they actually have. They still are rather provocative, both beautiful and dangerous at the same time and sometimes written from an unusual point of view.
The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
I could name any of Dan Brown’s books and it is for a specific reason. Dan Brown was the reason for me writing my first crime novel, as I entered a competition by one of the Icelandic publishers called ‘The New Dan Brown’. But there is another reason why I name him, and it’s because he has a great narrative rhythm. I am very interested in the rhythm of a story and have been trying to create my own kind of rhythm in the Reykjavík Noir Trilogy. You can see it clearly in Snare: I use the short chapters, switch between points of view and increase and decrease pace to create this effect. I like it when thrillers have something like a heartbeat underneath.
What a thought-provoking selection! Thank you Lilja. It just remains to say – check out Snare here or take a look at the reviews elsewhere on the blog tour (we’ll review it here on this blog in the coming months). See you soon.