I like this post "Juicy back stories on famous biologists" at a blog that’s new to me but which I think is called Neatorama.
"In most textbooks it seems like scientists just waltz into their labs, fiddle around for a bit, then wait for the Nobel Committee to call. Sadly, the road to discovery is rarely that simple, and speed bumps pop up constantly. Call it historical context or call it dirt; there’s always more to the story."
Featured biologists are Mendel ("Give peas a chance", groan), Darwin, Rosalind Franklin, Albert Hofmann and Leonard Hayflick (father of "biogerontology", the study of how cells age).
Thanks to Norm alias Uriah Robinson of Crime Scraps, I have just finished Roseanna, the first of the Martin Beck series of books by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, written in 1965. The book is readable and compelling. A murdered girl’s body is dredged up from a canal at the start of the book. Over the ensuing year or more, policeman Martin Beck and his colleagues tenaciously investigate until the girl’s identity, and then that of her killer, are found. The book is spare and focused, and utterly compelling in an unglamorous, uncompromising way.
I’ve read a great deal of crime fiction in my time, and although the "mystery" element is almost absent in this book, I found it completely absorbing. Beck is unromantic but realistic, both in his personal/family life and in his work. It is also educational to be reminded what it was like for us before straightforward international phone calls, faxing, emailing and the internet.
Highly recommended — and as Norm predicted, I’ll now have to read the next nine books in the series (one of which, The Locked Room, is reviewed at Crime Scraps). Norm has also written a succinct analysis of all ten books here.
Henning Mankell, Karin Fossum and Lisa Marklund are all superb present-day Swedish crime-fiction authors who write in the tradition established by Sjowall and Wahloo — plot-driven books that convey plenty of sociopolitical comment along the way. For me, the combination of police procedural with "placeism" — the details of everyday life that create an authentic and true voice — is what makes reading all these authors such a rewarding experience.
The edition of Roseanna I read is published by Harper Perennial. This edition has an excellent introduction by Henning Mankell (author of the Wallender series) about his love of the Sjowall/Wahloo books; and at the end are interviews with the authors and another analysis of the books, as well as a list of all the books in the series, all for £6.99. I was very impressed and wish that one found these additional items in books more often, to provide context for interested readers.
I’ve applied a new design to Petrona, partly because I find these Typepad white backgrounds hard to read and partly in response to this comment from Shameless.
Please let me know what you think — is this more legible? Are the links clearer?
If you are a ‘basic’ Typepad user like me, the design options for your blog are limited, unless you pay them more money each month. My current design options are more limited than the free service offered by Google’s Blogger Beta, which is ironic as I moved over here from Google in the first place to be able to "tag". Now you can do more on Google than you can on Typepad where you have to pay.
Oh well, I’m assured by a lovely Typepad expert I happen to know that Typepad will upgrade fairly soon. Hope so.