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Author Talk: David M. Smith in Conversation with Doug Moe

1863 Monroe St
Madison, WI 53711
OVERVIEW

About the book

In The Red Handler—a Monty Python-esque sendup of Nordic crime fiction—we learn about a fictional, deceased Norwegian author named Frode Brandeggen. His body of work consists of 15 short “micronovels” starring a private detective and crime-fighting hero, the Red Handler. With their clichéd invocation of crime fiction tropes, any one of the Red Handler stories would be a prime candidate for the annual Bulwer-Lyton Bad Fiction Contest.

The second part of the book comprises nearly a hundred pages of endnotes by an (also fictional) annotator, a German named Bruno Aigner. In the endnotes, we learn most of Brandeggen’s life story, including his unhappy career arc as an author; his debut novel was a more than 2000- page work of experimental fiction that (in Aigner’s words) makes “Joyce’s Finnegans Wake...look reader-friendly.” The biter commercial failure of this debut is what led Brandeggen to do an artistic 180-degree turn and compose cheap crime fiction, or as Brandeggen himself put it: “Crime fiction for the gentleman who loves crime novels, but hates reading.”

Having won lavish praise from Norwegian reviewers, Johan Harstad’s unholy marriage of Mad Magazine with Jo Nesbø will leave readers in stitches.

 

About the author

David M. Smith is a translator of Norwegian literature and Norwegian language instructor at UW-Madison.

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