Re: RARA-AVIS: UK: Mina, Turnbull

From: Joy Matkowski (
Date: 25 Aug 2002

Karin, I liked Mina's Exile even more and I'm looking forward to the third. On the basis of your review, and in anticipation of police procedural month, I ordered the Turnbull book.
    Re dialect, I didn't find impenetrable any BritNoir except The Crust on Its Uppers, which was so dense I couldn't have figured out what to ask a question about, so I gave up. Irn Bru came up a lot, confusingly, but somebody else asked about it and was answered. (It's apparently a lot like Moxie, which is on my Christmas present list.)
    In a Manchester-set book I read, there was a sentence that stopped me. I couldn't make note of it at the time because I was reading in bed and rendered immobile by a cat, but I'll go back and find it. The word in question could have been a typo; I've learned that British books have at least as many errors as American books.
    Otherwise, I kind of went with the flow. Most strange words and terms I got the drift of from context. I don't recollect any dialect that came across as demeaning.


K Montin <> said:
> Garnet Hill, by Denise Mina, is set in Glasgow. It's not a police
> procedural or typical amateur detective story. A woman wakes up one day to
> find her boyfriend murdered in her living room. At first she's a suspect,
> but even after she isn't anymore, she continues her own investigation into
> who killed him and why. Her best friend is a tough, leather-wearing
> motorcycle-riding counsellor in a battered women's shelter. (In a
> restaurant, the waiter tells her she's sexy. She says "Get us a fucking
> waitress." When the protag says she was rude, she says, "Well I guess the
> important lesson for him to learn is that I'm a fucking rude woman and he
> should stay out of my way.") There is a theme of doctors' sexual
> exploitation of patients, especially mental patients, and another theme of
> the aftereffects of incestuous abuse. Not exactly a happy ending, but
> there's a light in the distance. I'll definitely look for her other books.
> I think this was her first. Colloquial Glaswegian--keep Al's address
> Peter Turnbull's And Did Murder Him is a Glasgow police procedural. A
> heroin addict who lives in a squat with a bunch of other heroin addicts is
> found murdered in alley. It's a pretty good plot. The action follows the
> three shifts of detectives and their bosses over the days that it takes to
> solve the crime. For once, I had a good idea whodunnit before it was
> officially revealed, but that probably means I was supposed to, because
> usually lousy at figuring them out.
> Having just read three books by Scots all set in Glasgow, I've been
> thinking about the dialect transcription problem. These three authors were
> all very light on the "phonetic" transcription. Occasionally a character
> would use an expression like "dinnae" but for the most part, the spelling
> was fairly standard (although in one book they say och and in another
> auch). References were made to some people's accents, but examples weren't
> given. For instance, in Report for Murder, Lindsay Gordon doesn't sound
> Scottish to another woman who also comes from Ayrshire, and it is
> that occasionally she reverts to speaking with the accent she had picked
> at Oxford but dropped. But if you haven't a clue what an Ayrshire accent
> sounds like, you won't find out here. In And Did Murder Him, one of the
> characters is posh but the others aren't, yet only the vocabulary gives it
> away, not the pronunciation.
> I like a few indicators of accent, although I know that it can be
> condescending when done wrong. It's educational. Someone mentioned Mark
> Twain: he actually explains in the preface to Tom Sawyer, I believe, that
> not all his characters sound the same because he has taken pains to
> represent about 14 different dialects (can't check the exact number right
> now). That's a real feat, and valuable historically.
> It's not true that only "lower class" people's accents are marked:
> occasionally you'll come across someone who says "gel" for "girl," for
> instance, although an author's criterion for indicating a pronunciation as
> nonstandard is probably "different from mine."

# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
#  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 25 Aug 2002 EDT