I've been kind of absent from online life for a few months now. Although I doubt many people have noticed, I've noticed. The last few months have been stressful and difficult and it's been a case of functioning on reduced power emotionally, because I've been feeling depressed and exhausted and there just has not been enough gas in the tank to keep up with everything. I've missed having the energy and will to go online and read and write about my favourite things. The fact that I'm back doing it again is a little bit encouraging to me, as it seems I have at least some of my energy back.
Of course, it has been Nordic subjects that have brought me back to my blogs, especially my interest in Wallander. Henning Mankell's death has been a huge blow – although I never knew him personally, he was one of my few heroes, and was a remarkable person. We likely would still have had the Nordic noir genre without him, but how would it have looked without his creation Wallander? In his memory I've started reading the whole series again, and continuing watching the films as I was before my apparent mood disorder interrupted me. And this is probably where I begin to get back to whatever version of normality I came from. It's also not the first time.
Fandom was initially an exciting voyage of discovery for me. Wallander introduced me to a new world that I had never considered before, and I was keen to learn as much as possible about my new favourite subject. Shortly afterwards, however, I entered a difficult, stressful spell in my life, which ended in me uprooting and moving 300-odd miles. Although it only lasted a few months, while it was going on it felt overwhelming and neverending. To get through it, I hid myself in books until I had worked my way through most of the Wallander series, several of Henning Mankell's other books, and at least half a dozen other Nordic detective novels including Martin Beck, Van Veeteren and Mari Jungstedt's Inspector Knutas. I also collected the Wallander DVDs, and watched them, wishing for escape from the interminable rain of Glasgow to the wide open spaces of Skåne (where it also rains rather a lot, I'm told). Although I've never admitted it before, it wasn't family, friends, faith, my partner or medicine that got me through, it was a group of fictional police detectives from Skåne.
I know that sounds incredibly shallow, but it was either that or nothing, so I clung onto it and came out the other side. In a crisis, it's really important to have at least one thing that encourages you and makes you feel better. And yup, I guess for me that's Kurt Wallander. And I think that not only is this because of how he was written and created by Henning Mankell, but also because of the way Krister Henriksson interprets him on the screen – reassuring, trustworthy, but infinitely human.
So once again I've found myself on a rough road. This time I've actually asked for help and will be seeing a counsellor to help me work out my difficulties. I have loving and supportive friends around me, which makes a big difference. But when I need it, I also have my love of Scandinavian crime fiction to help me escape. And I have writing. Without oversharing or bitching too much, maybe writing occasional posts about how life is going might help.
Whatever I end up doing, it's good that with the help of the people and things I love I can actually see some light at the end of the tunnel again.
Once I got over my initial confusion (Wallander? Isn't that the thing that Kenneth Branagh's in??) I was really enthralled with what I saw. The characters were compelling, the scenery was amazing, the Swedish dialogue was enjoyable to listen to and - most importantly - the acting was very, very good. It was very easy to get hooked, initially on Ola Rapace's portrayal of Stefan, then also on Krister Henriksson as Kurt, Johanna Sällström as Linda, and from there the original Wallander books and some of Henning Mankell's other writings and... Well, you get the idea.
The major problem, however, was that there was NO fandom. I went looking for information on the actors and characters (for instance I searched for pictures of Ola, tried to find out what else Krister and Johanna had been in, and searched for filming locations that I recognised from the episodes) and came up with very little in English. And of course, most of the "Wallander" links and all of the fanfic I came across was for the Branagh version - most of it heavily featuring Tom Hiddleston as "Magnus". Bleh.
Several years later things have improved somewhat, due to more recognition of Krister's portrayal of Kurt and the general surge of enthusiasm for all things Nordic Noir. However, Swedish Wallander still remains a tiny fandom, even in comparison with British Wallander - which is still full of breathless fangirling over Tom Hiddleston as "Magnus". Bleh. And apart from my own love and enthusiasm for Swedish Wallander, it's this that fuels much of what I post online. I post the kind of things I would have liked to find when I first started out in fandom, because I want it to be easier for other new fans than it was for me. I share links and post screencaps, and look for news about Krister and the other actors because something as good as this deserves to be shared and be better known! And every so often I find another like-minded fan, and then things don't seem quite as lonely :)
So what have I got so far?
Wallander-related posts on Tumblr
My collection of episode screencaps
Vagebond's Movie Screenshot collection (scroll down the list for the first 11 Wallander episodes)
In the Footsteps of Wallander official guide to locations
Wallander fanfic not including "Magnus"
There could be a lot more here, and when I have time I'm going to put together a master list of Wallander-related links. In the meantime, if anyone out there has anything to add, please please please drop me a line!!
Not only is it pretty, but it has a long and interesting history, lots of very attractive old buildings, and of course the Wallander connection!
Skåne as a whole is just so damn pretty that it's impossible not to fall in love with the place anyway, but if you're familiar with the Wallander books and films you can barely turn a corner or go up a street without seeing something familiar. For me, this translates into a lot of squeeing, but also a lot of more quiet appreciation. And even if (heaven forbid!) you ignore the Wallander connection, there is still something deeply magical about Ystad, especially on a summer evening after sunset, when dusk is gathering over the quiet (or sometimes not so quiet), atmospheric streets. There's a special charm about this place, which still has a night watchman to keep guard over the town every night, and where you'll find some of the most picture-perfect streets in Scandinavia. There's something inherently loveable about Ystad, and about Skåne.
I miss it so much already, but already have plans to go back(!) and blogging about it on Tumblr is helping with the inevitable Fernweh** that always strikes after a trip like this. I'm also working on what is going to be a pretty huge post, to create a Wallander fan's guide to Ystad. Now, I know one of these already exists, thanks to the Ystads Kommun website, but there are quite a few filming locations that it doesn't include that I managed to track down, and I also think it'll be fun to put something together from a fan's perspective :)
* Ystad, my Beloved
** A German word-concept referring to what would pretty much be the opposite of homesickness. Literally translating to "away ache", it implies a deep and passionate longing to be somewhere far away. Cue Homer Simpson: "Those Germans have a word for everything!" (And actually I think they probably do!)
To anyone not familiar with either the Wallander books or the adaptations this probably does sound weird, and would definitely have sounded odd to me four or five years ago. However, on reading the books and seeing Krister Henriksson's beautifully nuanced portrayal of Wallander, I've come to know and love the character, and to learn a lot from him. There's a lot to admire about him:
- Courage - in spite of all the dangers he chooses to face in The Dogs of Riga, he admits that he doesn't consider himself a brave man, and is frequently afraid. Yet this is surely the definition of true courage: not a lack of fear, but the ability to act in spite of fear, and even though he doesn't seem to realise it Wallander has great reserves of courage.
- Humanity - he makes mistakes, gets things wrong, annoys or angers people, and yet is still able to do what he does. There are few duller and more alienating things in fiction than the boring invincible hero, but Wallander is neither boring or invincible, but a very believable human being. One that we can relate to more, perhaps, than his more eyecatching younger colleagues, and who is able to relate to the people that he deals with in his work.
- Empathy - The White Lioness and Sidetracked show how very deeply Wallander feels for the people he has to deal with, as do films such as The Darkness and The Cellist, where he does everything he can to help and get justice for the victims.
- Determination to do the right thing - basically the driving force behind a lot of what he does. Wallander hates the idea of injustice and will sometimes go to great lengths to get the right person behind bars. Just ask Louise Selander.
On top of this, though, I just like the guy. Of all the fictional characters I've ever come across, he's probably the one I like the most, and that counts for an awful lot. He's so well-written (and portrayed) that sometimes he almost seems real:- in fact, if you go to Ystad he does seem like a very real and important presence there. And if Ewa-Gun Westford can claim him as her soulmate and best friend, then I can claim him as my hero. He may be fictional, but he's added more to my life than I could probably put into words here.
^And frankly, who wouldn't want this awesomeness in their life? :)
Each time I saw it, I was hugely impressed with Krister's acting range and his ability to create different characters with subtlety and sensitivity. He's magnificent on stage, and has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. He's also really good at comedy. Doktor Glas is a pretty dark work, but it nevertheless has a lot of humour in it, and Krister knows exactly how to get a laugh out of the audience at the right time. He really is a joy to watch, and his voice... if it's possible to fall in love with somebody's voice, then I'm definitely in love with Krister's :)
I'm really going to miss this show, because it's been a joy having it - and its star - in London. I do hope that it gets another run sometime. It would also be really great to see Krister in something else in the West End. I believe he's expressed an interest in King Lear. Now that would be interesting! I was also lucky enough to see the Nordic Noir Film Club's screening of the The Troubled Man, at which Krister did a very interesting Q & A session. It was fascinating to hear what he had to say. In person he's very funny and charming, and speaks very movingly about Johanna Sällström as well. Altogether, I think London loved him. It would be lovely to see more of him in the future!
After the final performance of Doktor Glas, I did the fangirl at the stage door thing again and waited for a final chance to see him. While a few of us were waiting, watching the Ben Whishaw fangirls waiting at the Coward Theatre opposite, a couple of ladies, who I think were American tourists, passed us. One asked the other who we were waiting for, so her friend asked me.
"Krister Henriksson," I said.
"Kris-ter Hen-riks-son? Sorry, I've never heard of him. Or her."
As they walked away I tried not to burst out laughing. What got me wasn't just the way she pronounced Krister's name like Mr Burns saying "re-cy-cling?" (from the Simpsons The Old Man and the Lisa, very funny episode!) but also the "or her" bit. I suppose I could have said "Wallander", but I'm not sure they would have heard of him either. Oh well.
Anyway, I got to meet Krister again. Definitely worth waiting for (I have to say I would wait all day for Krister!) as once again he was lovely in person. He spent a long time talking to the people who waited for him and having photos taken, and was just friendly and funny and awesome. What a guy ♥
I almost never post pictures of myself on the internet, but I couldn't resist this one of me with Krister. I'm giggling like a loon, which is probably why he's smiling at me :-D
As we Scots say, Haste ye back, Krister! :)
Read on FFN
Read on AO3
I'm also planning on updating my Martin Beck fic in the near future, and just trying harder to get The Assignment finished. I hate leaving stories hanging for too long!
I've posted some of the pictures at my Tumblr blog, and a good few on Panoramio. The hard task now is deciding which I want to have printed for my walls. This is a strong contender:
as well as this:
Ultimately, though, it's just lovely to have so many reminders of a great trip. I hope I'll be back there soon!
It's been good to get through all the photos, but now I really need to get back to writing. I've signed up to pimp my beloved fandom on smallfandomfest, so I have to have something ready by April 30th. I also need to get on with The Assignment and The Men From Stockholm. The longer I leave them, the guiltier I feel, but on the other hand I'm relishing the thought of all this writing!
In the meantime, for easy access, I'm going to post links to the fics I have so far, so read on!
( Read more... )
Whereas I might have been willing to give the Branagh adaptations a try (in spite of their liberal interpretation of the books), the Hiddleston fangirls that have overrun that corner of the fandom have completely put me off. It's telling that an awful lot of the Tom Hiddleston stuff that I see thrown around is also from the other things he has appeared in, like The Avengers, but still ends up tagged with "Wallander" and "Magnus Martinsson". (As an aside, I think I actually prefer him as the unpleasant Loki than as the BBC's grossly inaccurate portrayal of Martinsson, but that's still not saying much.) He gets a disproportionate amount of attention because he's young and (apparently some people's idea of) pretty. But I still don't get what's supposed to be so damn attractive about the guy, and I guess I never will.
On another note, the "Martinsson" he plays is NOT the Martinsson of the novels, who is a married family man. He begins the series as a young offcer, but over the course of the books he ages, has several children and in Firewall even
I put it to you, then, that "Magnus Martinsson" is an impostor. Just an irreverent thought!
It's not all bad on Tumblr, though. I found this nice picture of Krister Henriksson and Henning Mankell on set together. There are also some really pretty pictures of Ystad. And once I get on Tumblr and start spamming it with Swedish Wallander all will be right with the world! >:-D
Five First Dates - Dates Four and Five, and the Epilogue
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It took a lot of persuading from Linda for Wallander to agree to go on another date after the debacle he had had with Agata. It was three weeks before his colleagues at the station had stopped sniggering and teasing him about it. Even Chief Holgersson, who he had expected to take a dim view of his date with a suspect, had stifled a smile or two during her rather excruciating interrogation of him. He wasn't ready to trawl the newspaper for another potential train wreck of a date.
In the event, though, it was an acquaintance who had set him up on a blind date with a woman who was, apparently, the "perfect match" for him. Beautiful, intelligent, not too young but not too old either: she sounded too good to be true. Wallander was sceptical, but secretly curious about this woman. In his experience there was always a catch with a woman that perfect.
( Read on... )
Date two, in which all Hell breaks loose.
Wallander shifted from one foot to the other. She was late and he was getting cold. Meeting on the seafront was now seeming like less and less of a good idea, especially in Ystad in April, when the weather could be unpredictable to say the least. He pondered morosely that perhaps he wasn’t the only one with cold feet: she might have changed her mind about coming.
( Read more... )