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I slept for eight hours last night, stayed awake for 3 1/2 hours then took a six hour nap. Now I'm almost ready for bed again. An hour or so ago I drove to the corner store - one minute away - picked up apple juice, Fresca, and cat food, and came home so exhausted that I was shaking. I'm still feverish. It really sucks when you're alone in the world and there's no one to take care of you when you're sick.

I read in bed last night until I was struggling to keep my eyes open, but finished the second in Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo's Martin Beck series. This was The Man who went up in Smoke, from 1966. Sjowall and her partner Wahloo are often credited as the forerunners in Scandinavian noir crime fiction, and I am inclined to agree. I love the immense amount of detail and character development in these books, the dreary mind of their protagonist, his search for meaning when life and his job seem pointless. Martin Beck is a very flawed character - an early Kurt Wallander or Harry Hole. He never feels well, he has a low boredom threshold, his marriage and his relationship with his children are both tenuous, his co-workers irritate him, he smokes too much. One of the things that makes the Martin Beck novels as unusual as they are is that whole chapters go by with no plot development because absolutely nothing is happening in the case, but yet Sjowall and Wahloo manage to keep the reader's attention by their descriptive paragraphs, and by having their protagonist suffer the pangs of wondering if anything is ever going to happen, just as the reader is doing. All in all it was an excellent mystery with an unforeseen conclusion. I am planning to continue reading the series bit by bit.

I've only read about thirty pages today; I started Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind. I don't know what to make of it yet. It seems an odd tale, but I'm interested to see where it's going.

Good night, all.


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