18/12 2006 F.M. Dostojevskij: De ydmygede og sårede (1861/1959)
A classic russian novel – I think, it was my first. But grand and properly tragic. A pleasure.
12/12 Poul Ørum: Kun Sandheden (1974)
Tjo … Veldrejet nok, men jeg synes, jeg har set det før til hudløshed. Og meget 70′er-psykoanalytisk sine steder, og det klæder ingen. Men sproget er sjovt. Som om der var mindre angst for anglicismer og generel sproglig kreativitet.
9/12 Hans Scherfig: Den døde mand (1937)
Fin lille sag fra Scherfigs første novellesamling (hvis jeg har forstået det ret). Han sarkasme i skildringen af Københavns kunstnermiljø er ikke til at tage fejl af. Må se at få støvet Idealister op igen.
7/12 Anders Bodelsen: Straus (1971)
Mums. En meta-krimi. Overraskende vellykket og temmelig forvirrende.
4/12 William Faulkner: Go down, Moses (1942)
What can I say? Faulkner is Faulkner. He’s great.
3/12 Martin Amis: Time’s Arrow (1991)
It’s a good idea and Amis executes it well, to tell the story of a man’s life backwards. The birds are leaving food for the old lady to pick up, people takes toys from little children and take them to a store to exchange themfor cash, girlfriends grow increasingly cold untill they don’t notice you at all, and an affair usually starts with a slap in the face. The backwards narration is not only funny, it’s also a clever device, because you see the protagonist’s actions free of context and see him free of his past. Furthermore it adds a level of suspense, as you know there’s something in his past that hunts him, which is only gradually revealed.
The narrator is some kind of being trapped inside the potagonist’s body, who comments the story as it unravels (or rather, ravels), and who’s completely baffeled about it all. This exsistence is probably (so it thinks itself) the protagonist’s soul, and this concept of having a soul that doesn’t get the first thing about life and sees it all in reverse starts to make perfect sense. It sees how thousands of jews are brought to life inthe concentration camps, and naturally admires the work the doctors there do. If that’s the case it’s a bit less of a mystery how anyone could bring themselves to take part in the astrocities of the camps (and less so that anyone want to be doctors).
An interesting experiment, and I think it even worked quite ok.
24/11 Jasper Fforde: The Big Over Easy (2005)
Very impressive; a funny novel, which actually manages to be a crime novel as well. Unfortunately, due to my apparently very poor knowledge of English nursery rhymes, I missed out on quite a few clues and even more jokes. I think I’ll leave the rest of the Nursery Chrymes-series to the English readers and I’ll definitely declare it untranslatable.
18/11 John Fowles: The Magus (1965/1977)
I have no idea what went on on that small, Greek island, but this was a fantastic read – in all senses of the word. Highly recommended, a classic mindfuck.
7/11 Iris Murdoch: A Fairly Honourable Defeat (1970)
I think she tried to write a novel about good and evil and relativity and perhaps money and shallowness, but I felt it drowned in a rather trivial love story and drama aboput mistakes and naivity and predicatability. I don’t think the main story or theme is ever done justice, and the novel only really takes off during the last 50 pages, which is in a somewhat different and much more “action-packed” style, culinating in an over-the-top ending. The epilogue, however, was much more to my taste (the evil one getting off, and nobody thinking that he’s particularly evil). But I think I expected something more subtle, perhaps because I tend to mix up Murdoch with Drabble and Byatt (my apologies to all three of them).
I liked the division, though, into essentially two quite different parts but about the same group of people. But I despised the blurp, which (as blups tend to do for some reason) gave as the main plot something that didn’t happened until page 285. Literally. How can that happen? Why? Grrr.
25/10 Poul Ørum: Tavse Vidner (1976)
En klassisk kriminalroman fra 70′ernes provinsvillahelvede. Der var en gang, jeg slugte den slags råt, men enten er jeg blevet gammel og forhærdet, eller også var det ikke Poul Ørum på hans bedste dag (og jeg har ikke læst andet af ham, så jeg ved det ikke.) Uanset hvad, virkede formen forudsigelig, morder-mulighederne overskuelige og opklaringen træg. Det intersserede mig simpelthen ikke brændende, hvem der var morderen, og forstadsromancerne forekom mig larmende uinteressante. Ja, måske er jeg bare kommet over min krimi-fase. Jeg må læse nogle flere og finde ud af det.
23/10 Maxine Hong Kingston: The Fifth Book of Peace (2003)
Kingston skriver “vestligt”, men så alligevel ikke. Hun laver kinesisk “talk story”, som er sådan en lidt svævende, usammenhængende, meget mundtlig fortællestil., som suger den veloplagte læser ind, og sikkert keder resten ihjel. Jeg var veloplagt (og jeg vidste, hvad jeg gik ind til, for jeg har tidligere læst hendes “The Woman Warrior”), og nød rutsjeturen gennem Kingstons eget hus, der brændte ned til grunden (i virkeligheden), en fiktiv skildring af hendes 18 (virkelige) år bosat på Hawaii, og (igen tilbage til virkeligheden) hendes buddhistiske skrive-workshop-seminarer for Vietnamveteraner. Alt sammen krydret med masser af kommentarer til at hun er i gang med at skrive den her bog, og hvordan skal hun gøre det, og hvad undlader hun at tage med. Men ikke på den “clever” po-mo-måde, bare med en helt naturlig, verbal henvenden-sig-til-læseren. Kingston bliver hyldet som en af de store amerikanske minoritetsforfattere (sammen med Toni Morrisson og Alice Walker), og det er fuldt berettiget, ikke kun pga hendes emnevalg, men også (og ikke mindst) hendes skrivestil.
14/10 Lars Erik Frank & Minna Grooss: Homo (2003) (faglit.)
Hurtigt læst natbordsbog bestående af interviews med danske bøsser og lesbiske og hvordan det så er. Ikke noget opsigtsvækkende og nyt, men vigtige stemmer at få præsenteret, og lækkert layoutet.,
9/10 Naomi Wolf: Promiscuities (1997) (faglit.)
This is the classic sencond wave way of writing feminist theory. Base it on your own (in this case childhood) experiences and talks with friends. Nothing too highbrow, no long, difficult words. And it certainly works to a large extent, but the danger is of course that the level never is quite high enough and the message drowns in reminiscences about the bad old sexist days. But it’s important that feminist theory is written in a language that is accessible to non-scolars, and Wolf certainly has some important points to make about how girls are raised to become Proper Women.
7/10 Michael Cunningsham: A Home at the End of the World (1990)
Quite similar to Hollinghurst’s Line of Beauty in terms of theme and style, but less dreamy and more brutal. I like these modern novels that tells a story about a deastiny and a life without the po-mo confusion-strategies. But I like that as well…
1/10 Art Spiegelman: Maus (1986/1992)
Cartoons don’t have to be for children. This is one of the most disturbing holocaust-novels I’ve read, and it makes perfect sense that it’s a cartoon and the protagonist is a mouse. No wonder Spiegelman won the Pulizter Prize.
26/9 Don DeLillo: Underworld (1997)
American epic in the rambling style of Paul Auster. An you don’t have to like baseball to enjoy it.
14/9 Jeanette Winterson: Sexing the Cherry (1989)
I know, I know, I ought to be estatic, but I’m just not very keen on Jeanette Winterston. It seems to me that she’s trying a bit too hard to be clever and difficult without any real purpose. It doesn’t really work, at least, not for me.
5/9 Jasper Fforde: Something Rotten (2004)
Nice. Very good entertainment indeed, and even better than the previous one in the series. This one tied up some loose ends, and had endless masses of clever, clever puns and jokes. The idea of setting a slapstick-trap on someone you wish to find, so that you can just follow the trail of banana peels and falling grand pianos is worth all of the book, in my opinion. Brilliant. But again, I’ll wait a few books before I read the next Fforde that’s lying on my shelves.
3/9 Ian McEwan: Amsterdam (1998)
I’m afraid I don’t see why he got the Booker Prize for this one. It’s well-written and nicely constructed and all that, but I fail to grasp its oustanding quality. It felt like something I’d read before. But it wasn’t bad, no. I might use it if I were to teach British literature to teenagers. Which I’m not.
1/9 Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty (2004)
A great pleasure to read. Beautiful and calm and invoking and disturbing.
21/8 Jonathan Safran Foer: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005)
Touching and strong and not at all pathetic. But can it really be a coincidence that it is so similar to Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident …? Anyway, I was sucked into it, I liked it.
19/8 Nick Hornby: How to be Good (2001)
Exploration of the concepts of being good and that of marriage. The prose is witty, but the story as a whole quite depressing. Not bad at all, but the form, the exploration of one theme, felt a bit out of date.
14/8 Jasper Fforde: The Well of Lost Plots (2003)
Soo funny, and I’m feeling very intellectual at the same time. Fforde really know how I like it. The plot isn’t exactly strong, but as soon as you’ve come to terms with that fact, it’s a well-written joyride of gags. But I won’t read Something’s Rotten just now.
8/8 Thea Astley: Vanishing Points (1992)
I read this for the first time in my second year at university, and I had no memory of the very strong feminist plot. I’ve read quite a few novels about women leaving their husbands since then. But it’s a good, subtle and sensitive novel. Perhaps I ought to read it in another five or 10 years’ time.
31/7 Birthe Thagesen et al: Kvinder på eventyr (2003)
Fin samling af kvinders beretninger om deres eventyr i hele verden blandt alt fra fattige stammer i Afrika til rige amerikanere på et cruiseskib. God natbordslæsning.
18/7 Susanne Svendsen: Børn nej tak! (2003) (faglit.)
Interessant. Mange ting jeg kan nikke genkendende til, nogle jeg slet ikke kan.
16/7 John Fowles: The Collector (1963)
Spooky, well-written, gripping. I see why it’s a classic. About time I read it.
15/7 Haruki Murakami: The Wind-up Bird Chronicles (1994-95)
Extremely good, surprising, gripping and impossible to make much sense of. Nice.
25/6 Virginia Woolf: Between the Acts (1941)
Another novel by Woolf in which nothing really happens. Either because it has happened, or because it’s just about to happen. Nice exploration of those voids, those moments in time that are never in the novels. But in some ways a repetition of To the Lighthouse.
It’s her latest novel, and she killed herself before having made the final corrections. I wonder why, and I wonder if her changes would have mattered.
13/6 Harry Thompson: This Thing of Darkness (2005)
Brick-thick novel about Robert Fitzroy, the captain of The Beagle, friend of Charles Darwin, inventor of meteorology and manic-depressive. Set mainly in the 1830’s and -40’s, it draws an image of the time and what Britons thought about themselves, Britain’s wole in the world, and the savages they saved from ignorance. At times a bit too pedagocial in explaining what is going on, but then again, it’s not the first book I’ve read about that period of time. All in all entertaining and at times haunting, and neatly researched.
22/5 Sylvia Ann Hewlett: Baby Hunger (2002) (faglit.)
Absolutely every woman on the earth have the RIGHT to have a baby. No matter if they can produce it themselves. No matter the expense. No matter if they’re 51 years old and have four all ready. Because they want it, they should have it.
I’m afraid I’m finding it rather difficult to understand Hewletts points of view (which I haven’t produced a fair summary of above.)
21/5 Ida Jessen: ABC (2005)
Interessant fordi det er manden, der er i offerrollen, men ualmindeligt dårligt, klichefyldt og flat skrevet.
21/5 Paul Auster: The New York Trilogy (1985, 1986, 1987)
Good, and I see what the fuss is all about, but I guess I read it 10 years too late. I’ve seen the tricks before, and it didn’t feel as groundbreaking to me as it was when it was written.
14/5 Wu Ming: 54 (2005)
Nice Central European atmosphere, Cary Grant and interlocking stories. A bit difficult at times, but also gripping and very vivid.
30/4 John Sutherland: Where was Rebecca shot? (1998) (faglit.)
Good fun if you’re a Spielverderber, and I definitely am. Some of the mysteries were better than other though, as other sounded more like rhetorical questions to me. Ah, well.
29/4 David Mitchell: Cloud Atlas (2004)
No, it didn’t work for me. Some of the stories stuck, but basically, I felt cheated by the author and his breaking off the stories. I like po-mo but this didn’t feel good, and not even in a good way.
9/4 Mark Haddon: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (2003)
Touching and terrible story about a boy with Asberger’s Syndrom, and how that makes “our” world appear. Shere nightmare sometimes. Good way of putting every day life and asumptions into perspective, and very well written in a language that almost makes the plot superfluous.
6/4 Jonathan Safran Foer: Everything is Illuminated (2002)
I don’t remember the last time a novel made me laugh out uncontrollably in a public place, but this one did it more than once. It is also sad, tragic and touching, and takes a bit of figuring out at times. Extremely enjoyable.
4/4 Ian McEwan: Saturday (2005)
A thoroughly pleasurable read about age(ing), war and love, I think, but also about brain surgery and A Day In the Life. It reminded me of Ulysses (apart from the readability) in the meticulous and almost detached account of details. I wasn’t completely convinced by all of the story-line (I really dislike coincidences in novels), but the cyclic structure and the constant diagnosing took me with storm. And I read it while in London and looked up at the radio-tower.
2/4 Alexander McCall Smith: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (1998)
Probably a cosy read, if you’re into those, but I just felt tricked into reading a collection of short-stories disguised as detective-short stories. It lacked substance or purpose or perhaps both.
29/3 Jørn Riel: Du Bor i dit Navn (1976-78)
Jeg tror ikke på det med at have yndlingsbøger. Altså, man ændrer sig jo hele tiden, og at en bog er god, betyder vel til dels at den har ramt en på lige det rigtige sted på det rigtige tidspunkt. Men når det så er sagt, er den her absolut en af mine 2-3 yndlingsbøger.
25/3 Zadie Smith: On Beauty (2005)
It is a pleasure to read Zadie Smith’s neatly constructed sentences, and she describes persons, places and feeling very well. I liked White Teeth immensely, and this one was a good read as well. But story-wise I kept feeling that the story had not really begun yet, that I was reading the preliminary build-up to the story. I don’t quite know why this was, but I think that there was something slightly wrong with the structure of the story. That’s the feeling I got reading it, anyway. But it’s touching, sad and clever, and worth every penny.
Sadly, On Beauty is yet another example of the blurp having been written by someone who either has not atually read the novel, who is determined to purposely mislead the reader into thinking that this is another novel that it is, or perhaps, by someone who takes a sadistic pleasure in revealing parts of the novel that does not take place untill its very end. None of these three reasons seem to me to be truly convincing. Please, publishers: Don’t reaveal things that take place in the novel beyond page 350, and don’t invent things that don’t happen at all. Is that so hard.
Secondly, the blurp ends with the words: ”It is also, as you might expect, very funny indeed.” No, actually, it is not. Her fist novel, White Teeth, was indeed “very funny indeed”, but this is much more serious, emotional and sad. That suits Smith and is probably a natural step beyond a debut (and second) novel, but it has, clearly, absolutely no intention of being what you would call very funny more then a very few times. So why write that it’s “very funny indeed”? In general, it’s not hilarious, you don’t laugh off any bodyparts whatsoever, and you’re not meant to either. I don’t get it.
17/3 Gustave Flaubert: Madame Bovary (1857)
Henrik Ibsen’s Et Dukkehjem (A Doll’s House) meeting Edith Whaton’s House of Myrth with, of course, Sentimental Education on top. A tragic novel about a woman who’ve read too many novels. A woman feeling trapped in a male-dominated world and in a layer of society which she doesn’t want to inhabit. I enjoyed reading it, and was not the least disappointed.
3/3 Carol Shields: Dressing Up for the Carnival (2000)
It’s no secret that I’m not very happy about short stories. I can’t say exactly why (though I’ve tried on numerous occasions), they just don’t seem to work for me. That aside, I must say that this collection was among the worst I have read. And Ireally liked The Stone Diaries and Larry’s Party, but this seemed a vague broth of vague ideas with quite a bit of numb routine added. I didn’t finish it, and books I haven’t finished can be counted on two hands. Disappointing.
2/3 A.S. Byatt: A Whistling Woman (2002)
She really is a good storyteller. I was swept through this novel, even though it is at times complicated. I like the mixture of a good, well-narrated story, a real story with consistent people and events and love and death; and of more complex threads to philosophy, science and contemporary history.
It was interesting to read a in a sense straight-forward novel like this after the Alexandria quartet, in which nothing can be taken at face value, and everything is undermined, turned around and conradicted. I appreciate both styles, but they give a different experience for the reader, and give the author different possibilities.
17/2 Lawrence Durrell: Clea (1960)
A bit disappointing, really. The quartet as a whole is a masterpiece, no doubt about that, and especially seen in relation to when it was written. Groundbreaking. But then why the need for tying the ends up nicely in the end of the fourth volume? And the story about the love between Darley and Clea going sour, wasn’t that just a repetition of the other love-stories of the quartet? And the happy ending of Nessim and Justine. No, that was over the top. Balthazar was by far the best volume.
28/1 Lawrence Durrell: Mountolive (1958)
A complete break with the structure. I have no idea who the narrator was, and which of the stories were true. If there is such a thing in that universe. Despite a bit slow start, it was perhaps the most exiting read of the three, but not as sensual and smelling of Egypt as the other two. And the last 50 pages was sheer John LeCarre. Very surprising, and close to a cliff-hanger ending. Can’t wait to see how all of those intertwining storyes are tied up in the fourth volume – or rather, if they are. There are lots of directly contradicting stories so far.
13/1 Lawrence Durrell: Balthazar (1958)
Even more sensual than Justine, and the structure is taking shape. Interesting.
5/1 2006 Lawrence Durrell: Justine (1957)
I want to go to Alexandria! In the 50′es.
The structure-idea of the quartet is interesting, so I’m thowing myself at the next one right away.
26/12 Iain Sinclair: Dining on Stones (or, The Middle Ground) (2004)
Iain Sinclair reminded me that English is not my mother tongue. The novel is a cryptic and confusing web of intra- and extratextual references, and Sinclair shows absolutely no intention of letting the reader in on what on earth he’s writing about. I started getting the drift around page 100. I like that arrogance. When it’s well-written, that is, which this is.
I almost started reading the novel again when I had finished it. I can’t remember the last time I felt that way. It has this absorbing sweep of words, atmostpheres and interlocking mutually contradictory stories that feels addictive. I hope I’ll return to this one before very long.
16/12 Virginia Woolf: The Waves (1931)
I am working my way through all of Woolf’s novels, and this is the one I’ve heard most praise of. And it certainly is meticulously written, elegant, airy, gracefull, sharp. It is.
It may be my way of reading or current frame of mind that does it, but when the text relies almost exclusively on style, and the plot is ever so slight, I think this is too long. It just failed to keep my attention captured. And I wonder why, because Ulysses managed to do it, even though that is, say, three times as long. Perhaps that’s it, that Ulysses keeps on, and carries you beyond boredom, into some odd trance-like state of acceptance and awe. Or perhaps I’ve just changed.
15/12 Pen Hadow: Solo. The North Pole: Alone and Unsupported (2004)
Judging from the title, the cover and the blurp, this is the story about a one-man expedition to the North Pole. Fine. That’s why I bought the book. So isn’t it natural for me to feel just a tiny bit cheated, when Hadow spends the first 163 pages dragging me through his childhood, boarding-school years, and a couple of failed expeditions? I want snow and ice, not juvenile marathon-preparations and dying fathers.
Well, as soon as the expedition got going, the book was all I expected, even though I can’t help feeling a tiny bit offended that he, at any time, can check his GPS and even call for a plane to come and pick him up. I guess I’ve read far too much Freuchen and Rasmussen for that. And where were his dogs??
Apart from that, the book was fine. Not extremely well-written, and the editor could have crossed out a few repetitions and supurfluous explanations, but well-researched, enthusiastic and at times gripping.
15/12 Marian Keyes: Watermelon (1995)
Keyes’ debut novel, and the novel said to have define the chick-lit genre.
Generally, the novel was quite a nice read, even though it didn’t require my full intellectual resources. The story is classic, about a woman who is left by her husband, and has to find out what to do next. In spite of the fact that the end goal and ultimate happiness seems to be conditioned by the presence of a loving (and divinely sexy) man, the novel has a truly feminist theme: Be true to yourself, don’t let anyone (men) manipulate you into filling a role you don’t feel you match, and, basically … everything will work out fine, you can do it.
Her style is predictable, and her way of being funny (which she is) repeats itself, but it’s ok for a sunday on the sofa. I won’t exactly become addicted to Keyes, but it’s not at all trash; quite skillfully written, and not the brain-dead recycling of stereptypes and predudices I had feared.
7/12 Julie Orringer: How to Breathe Underwater (2003)
Discussion on bookish.dk.
29/11 Begum Rokheya Sakhawat Hossain: Sultana’s Dream (1905/2005)
(review below for www.womenwriters.net)
Sultana’s Dream is a charming yet sharp-tongued utopia about Indian women. It was written in 1905, which adds a further dimension to the story about an India turned into matriarchy.
This 2005 edition is charmingly illustrated by Durga Bai. But although I like the illustrations, frankly I am not sure that they work in favour of the text. When I first received the book, I took it to be a children’s book, and the illustrations may not encourage the sceptic reader to read on. But apart from that, the illustrations support the text’s childish charm with their at once naive and intricate patterns.
The novella is about the experiences of the narrator, as she (perhaps?) dozes off, while ”thinking lazily of the condition of Indian womanhood”. She meets another woman, Sister Sara, who tells her of how her world is organized. Sister Sara’s world is in fact opposite from the one our narrator lives in. The purdah still exists, but it is the men who are locked up and deprived of their rights. The women have invented a way of intercepting the rays of the sun and producing water from the cloud, and hence all work can be limited to a few hours a day. No one is hungry or has to be criminal. In short, the women co-exist in peace and utter merriment.
In Ladyland, as Sister Sara’s world is called, the traditional gender roles are thus retained, while turned around. One gender is strong, intelligent and rational, and the other is weak, dumb and irrational. But in Ladyland the former are the women and the latter men, and this is presented by Sister Sara as a perfectly natural condition. The point being, of course, that these characteristics are culturally produced, not biologically.
After a tour of Ladyland, including a visit to the queen, our narrator is returned in an air-car (another of the women’s clever inventions), and wakes up from her dream.
Sultana’s Dream is a strong vision of a society in which much of the world as we know it is turned upside down. It suggests that a complete change, not to say revolution, is indeed possible, if only the oppressed (in this case women) stand by each other and decide that they are the strong, intelligent and rational ones. The gender roles only exist as long as we acknowledge them, and if we start questioning them, we might build not only a different, but a better world.
However, men are not taken much into consideration in Sultana’s Dream. They are the reason for everything bad and evil, and once they are removed, all is well. The effect of this argument can only be to dig the gulf between the sexes even deeper, and I personally doubt that to be a wise strategy. In fact, the question remaining is whether Sultana’s Dream taken literally is actually a nightmare. Wouldn’t most feminists of today prefer a world in which men and women live equal and side-by-side, instead of a hostile matriarchy? I think so.
But the nightmare only materialises itself if Sultana’s Dream is taken to be a serious manifesto, instead of a tongue-in-cheek experiment. I read the novella as the latter, a refreshing experiment with gender roles and all those aspects of society that its inhabitants invariably take for granted. I read it as a challenge to look at my own society of today and try to rid myself of those ties we are so used to, that they have become invisible.
And thus, Sultana’s Dream is a 100 year old classic feminist utopia, but still thought-provoking and topical. Which is of course in itself rather thought-provoking.
28/11 P.D. James: The Murder Room (2003)
I don’t like coinscidences in crime novels. And it really seems quite undated that a hard-core police commissary should be shocked of a sex-club. Really. Consenting adults.
Apart from that, The Murder Room is a true P.D. James novel. I like her novels, or at least the 10+ I’ve read, as they form a part of the good old-fashioned tradition of British sleuths. This one was good, solid and occasionally creepy. Which is even more of a reason to be bothered by those “easy way out”’s that she employs. It’s not ok to write off the most creepy part as a coincidence in a crime novel. That’s not P.D. James’ level.
9/11 Karen Joy Fowler: The Jane Austen Book Club (2004)
This novel reminds me of Carol Shields. It’s a novel which can be read both as a simple story about love and life and all that, and as a more complex postmodern exposition on reading, literature, life and all that. I quite like that, but I feel sorry that the publishers obviously have chosen only to deal with the segment liable to buy the first novel, and has dressed it in a
cover suitable for chick-lit or a cheap romances.
The novel is about Jane Austen, or her six novel, or the impact they have made on six people gathering to discuss the novels. And it’s about those people, their lives, the stories they tell, and perhaps most importantly, the stories they don’t tell. The novel itself is inspired by Jane Austen’s works. For instance, it has a happy ending, which always strikes me as improbable, being a cynicist. But Fowler comments on that herself, that it is in line with Austen, and being a postmodernist, I can’t remain angry with an interfering author for very long.
The novel closes with a series of questions for further discussion of the Austen novels – of course phrased by the six characters. This works both as a tongue-in-cheek remark on reading and fiction, but could also easily be used in earnest for a Jane Austen Book Club. It also has quotes from other authors about Jane Austen and her influence on them, and qoutes from Austen’s memoirs.
I guess it leaves me a bit confused about this mix of pomo-features and book-club-inspirational material, although I like the idea. On the whole, I thought the novel entertaining and occationally thought-provoking, but not exactly a masterpiece. But I guess it would be rather tiresome if all novels were.
6/11 Jasper Fforde: Lost in a Good Book (2002)
Extremely entertaining, sharp, witty but most of all nerdy novel about a female literary detective (yes, that’s a job) by the name Thursday Next (daughter of Wednesday Next, of course). The novel places itself precisely between the Terry Pratchet’s discworld-novels, P.D. James’ crime novels about Cordelia Grey and The Oxford Companion to English Literature. The literary sleuthing continues over a span of (until now) four novels, of which this is the second, but I had no problems following the plot, except for the occational confusion that goes with reading a sci-fi novel set in 1985 – and other times. I’m a fan.
1/11 Julian Rathbone: Homage (2001)
Basically a well-cut crime novel pulling all the right clichés of the genre, including a middle-aged private eye, divorced, former alcoholic and all. But the clichés are used consciusly, at times almost mockingly.
Rathbone and his protagonist Kit Shovelin are conscoious both of the cliché on which the genre is dependent, and of the fictional America the British Kit is moving in. In Kit’s mind, as I presume in most first-time visiting Europeans, America is littered with fiction. Kit’s monologue is filled with references to “this is where they shot it out in “Vertigo”", that is the pier where “Falling Down” ended, and “this is where Mrs. Doubtfire lived”. The non-fictional America of the novel is fictional, or impossible to separate from the web of fiction it has been spun into by other fictions – as indeed the novel itself is a further example of. Kit is almost haunted by memories of films he has seen, and had the novel been less tied down by the restrictions of the crime novel genre, he would have had trouble remembering which was truth and which was fiction.
The novel is an enjoyable homage – to use that word – to the “fictional” America we all know, and most of all to the genre of the detective novel, which it proves is not yet outdated.
25/10 Emma Tennant: Pemberley (1993)
This is nothing less than a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, given to me by the most generous Ms. Bookish… And yes, it has been an interesting insight into a genre that I usually keep away from, but it will also be a good reason to not going anywhere near it again. The novel is intended to be a continuation of P&P, but is does not succeed this in any aspect, be it language, style or action. I hope that others have enjoyed it more than I did.
21/10 Knut Hamsun: Markens Grøde (1917)
Gribende skildring af det simple liv i naturen og det moderne samfunds indtrængen. Helt fortjent at den udløste en nobelpris. Mere her.
18/10 Karen Blixen: Den Afrikanske Farm (1937)
Et stemningsmættet blik ind i en tid og et samfund som jeg formoder der ikke er meget tilbage af nu. Bogen skildrer Kenya på randen mellem det vi kalder civilisation, og den oprindelige befolknings kultur og tankesæt, i en tid hvor den hvide mand og hans irrationelle handlinger stadig blev set på med mild undren og megen morskab. Blixens skildring af de indfødte og hendes liv som plantageejer er et dokument fra en tid hvor der var en stor og indlysende forskel på sorte og hvide, og det var helt legitimt at udbrede sig om det. Selvom kulturforskellene er himmelråbende, omtaler Blixen aldrig kikuyuerne, masaierne, somalierne og araberne med andet end forundring, interesse og mest af alt respekt.
Jeg har ikke set filmatiseringen, og undrede mig over hvor historien i den dog er fundet henne, for bogen består af enkeltstående noveller og helt korte småhistorier. Sidste afsnit giver dog lidt Hollywood-stof, med bankeråt, flyhavari og lutter grædende afrikanere, så jeg går ud fra at filmen er bygget på bogens sidste 50 sider. Jeg er jo næsten nødt til at se den nu.
13/10 Jonas Gardell: En Komikers Opvækst (1992)
En frygteligt virkelighedstro bog om en svensk provinsby-opvækst med angst, mobning, hieraki og kikset tøj. Dejligt at ikke alle romantiserer børn og barndom. Godt tænkt og godt skrevet.
Desværre virkeligt dårligt oversat. Der er altså ikke noget der hedder frostflager! Vel i gennemsnit en decideret fejl pr. to sider, og det kan virkelig ødelægge læseoplevelsen.
4/10 Doris Lessing: The Golden Notebook (1962)
Very impressive, and to be recommended especially to anyone who’s into novels with lots of frames and layers.
Perhaps The Golden Notebook is just another novel about a writer suffering from a writer’s block. I usually find those a bit tedious, but this is really elegantly and interestingly written. Anna Wulf (nee Freeman – how about that for a symbolic former last name) is dealing with her writer’s block and a general feeling of disintegration by keeping four different notebooks. A red for her experiences with the Communist Party, a black about “Anna Wulf the writer”, a blue as a conventional diary and a yellow for fictional writing. All are a sort of meta-fiction, as the writer (already three sets of frames here: Doris Lessing writing about Anna Wulf who is writing) is conscious that she writes and of how and what she writes. We are taken through the different notebooks in turns, and inbetween this is a consecutive text called Free Women, which turns out to be the novel Anna finally takes up writing at the end of her writer’s block. I think, because it is not entirely clear whether this is the case or if we are dealing with yet another frame. Furthermore, we read the parts of the notebooks at different points in time, so that some piece in one notebook may be written because of a event which is only described later, when we get to read another notebook. Thus the time-line gets quite tangled up too.
Interested in frames and meta-fiction, the yellow notebook was my favourite. Here Anna (still of course within the frame of the novel) writes a novel about a woman called Ella – who is of course a writer. It is first presented in a very large chunk, so that the reader almost forgets that this is a novel within the novel. Later, it turns into what one could call “reported fiction”. Instead of normal text, it is reporting what would happen further on in the novel, sometimes as a resume, sometimes as a few lines and pieces of dialogue and description. Ella is of course based on Anna, and inspired also by actual events in Anna’s life, and thus the actual novel and the one Anna is writing is mixed up – even sometimes by Anna herself.
I picked up The Golden Notebook partly because I wanted to read more by Lessing, but mainly because the novel is said to be “bible of the Women’s Liberation”, and I’m interested in that period of women’s fiction. My edition (Panther, 1974) opens with a preface by Doris Lessing herself who says that she never meant it to be specifically about “the sex war”. And I must say I agree; that is not by far the most prominent theme. The fact that that is how it was received whan it was first published in 1962, indicates that women at that time really needed novels dealing with the experience of being a “free woman”, living on her own, supporting herself and so on. Interesting that novels are also shaped by their time that way around.
19/9 Michael Cunningham: The Hours (1999)
There. I finally read The Hours, even though it’s been on the list since it was pulished. At that time I had only just read Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway for the first time. Since then, I have re-read that, /and/ seen the adaptation for the screen on The Hours, which prompted innumerable people not otherwise interested in modernism (but perhaps interested in Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, Julianne Moore and Claire Danes) to read The Hours, and then Mrs. Dalloway.
I didn’t like the film particularly, I think mostly because of the… excess of emotion which spluttered from the screen. It seemed to me a little overdone, too emotional, too /American/, in the arrogant European sense of the word. The book has got ecxactly what I missed in the film. It is quiet, downtoned and subtle. It is detailed, sensitive and sometimes feels closer to poetry than prose. I liked it immensely. The language and style is meticulous, occationally slipping into the second person singular. A sort of a new, updated version of Woolf’s style. Sort of. Definitely a homage.
To read a book after you’ve seen the film is always a different experince from just plain reading the book (or seeing the film for that matter), because you have to read it not for any suspense it may have, but to see how they have adapted it and what they left out. In a way, reading the book behind the film becomes only about analysing the film. At least, I find it hard to distract from. Reading The Hours is a doubly odd experience, the book being the one behind the film The Hours, which I’ve already seen, but also being, in a way, based on, or a remake of, or at least strongly referring to Mrs. Dalloway, which I have read several times. So seeing the film was also seeing how they had dealt with Mrs. Dalloway and with the life of Virginia Woolf. Then reading the novel behind the film which dealt with Mrs. Dalloway and Virginia Woolf is – almost confusing. What a mix of meta-layers.
Anyway, I enjoyed reading it, but am curious as to how it would have been had I not read Mrs. Dalloway and not seen the film. Ah, well, you can’t have your cake and eat it.
9/9 Georges Perec: En Mand der Sover (1967)
Nærmest hypnotisk novelle skrevet i 2. person om en ung mand der pludselig en dag holder op med… alt, synker ned i apatien og vandrer rundt i Paris’ gader. Han befinder sig i en slags drømmetilstand, som stream of consciousness-stilen understreger fint. Historien er en gentagelse af Bartleby the Scrivener, som han selv gør opmærksom på, og minder i øvrigt om Dedalus’ og Bloom’s tur gennem Dublin.
7/9 Virginia Woolf: Jacob’s Room (1922)
Woolf is a very unique writer with a style of her own. Jacob’s Room was published in the same year as James Joyce’s Ulysses which she read and reviewed and wasn’t too thrilled about. In comparison, Jacob’s Room is much more elegant and much less pretentious, ambitious and mythical. It’s strength is its simplicity, its dream-like panorama of people, feelings and unfinished sentences. I had almost forgotten how interesting modernism is, I’ll try not to make that mistake again.
5/9 J.G. Ballard: The Drought (1966)
Dystopian novel about a drought which brings out the animal in the humans. Ok story-line, but it never fully succeeded in encapturing me.
23/8 Margaret Drabble: Jerusalem the Golden (1967)
Drabble er skarp i sine observationer af spændinger og magtkampe mellem mennesker, og det har hun åbentbart altid været. Dog sluttede romanen på et sært tidspunkt, netop som problemstillingerne for alvor blev alvorlige. Men måske var det en pointe i sig selv…
22/8 Patrick White: The Vivisector (1970)
An oddly compelling mixture of Dickens and Faulkner. A modern bildungsroman of a full 600 pages about a poor boy becoming a succesfull painter. How romantic can you be? But White, who received the Nobel Prize in 1973 as the only Australian ever, maintains a distance which saves the novel from pathos and melancholy. Actually, the vivisector may be White himself, not its protagonist Hurtle Duffield. My only regret is that the pulp on the back revealed events taking place as late as page 350. How cruel. (more here)
22/7 J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005)
Pyha! Ikke ligefrem en børnebog. God. Ret så god, faktisk, selvom plottet var noget rodet, og Ron og Hermionie var mere i baggrunden end de var i de andre bøger. Og sikken slutning…
11/7 Herman Bang: Ludvigsbakke (1896)
Vekomponeret roman om snobberi og overfladiskhed hos det bedre borgerskab, afspejlet i den lille Frøken Brandt, der ikke passer ind på nogen af de hylder der er hende tilgængelige. Minder en smule of The House of Myrth, men helt uden melodramaet.
11/7 Luis Landero: Den Magiske Lærling (1999)
Landero er en af Spaniens store nye forfattere, men det ser ikke ud til at han er udgivet på engelsk – endnu. Den Magiske Lærling er en fin lille historie (på 450 sider) om en stille kontormand der pludselig bliver hvirvlet ind i den virkelige verden. Romanen handler nærmest om vaghed og vildrede som vovemodets anitese. Fordi Matías ikke kan sige fra, indvolveres han i et erhvervseventyr hvor han selv spiller rollen som den visionære leder, alt imens han i hemmelighed længes efter den vante hverdag. Romanen er velskrevet, med lejlighedsvise pust af den magiske realisme. Dog er sproget i den danske oversættelse til tider ualmindeligt knudret og med helt nye ord som f.eks. en “friturebar”. Om dette er resultatet af en dårlig eller loyal oversættelse er svært at sige. Men jeg tror mest på det første.
29/6 Peter Legård Nielsen (red.): Når Mænd Elsker Mænd og Kvinder Elsker Kvinder (2003)
Omfangsrig antologi af danske noveller og uddrag af romaner. Til fælles har historierne et homoseksuelt tema, og det er så også eneste røde tråd. Der er 44 historier skrevet over 160 år, og de er sat op i alfabetisk rækkefølge efter forfatternavn. Således kan man gå fra en historie fra 50′ernes varme somre om et nært venskab mellem to uskyldsrene piger direkte til en 90′er novelle om S/M i Ørstedsparken. Det kan godt give nogle sjove kontraster.
Denne opstilling får det hele til at virke lidt tilføldigt og fragmenteret. Jeg ville have foretrukket en historisk eller tematisk opdeling – evt. med en kort introduktion hist og her. Som det er nu, og med mit relativt ringe kendskab til dansk litteratur, føler jeg mig ikke specielt meget mere oplyst og indført i den danske litteratur. Lidt ærgeligt, for ideen om sådan en tema-antologi er som sådan god.
20/6 Knud Rasmussen: Den Store Slæderejse (1932)
Klassikeren fra Knud Rasmussens store slæderejse langs Canadas nordkyst, fra Grønland til Sibirien. Undervejs kontakter han så mange forskellige eskimo-stammer som muligt og indsamler deres sagn – før det er for sent; han har den hvide kulturs indflydelse lige i hælene. Det er svært helt at gennemskue hvor han stiller sig i den diskussion. Han er utroligt begejstret og respektfuld overfor de gamle eskimoiske kulturer, men synes ikke meget mindre begejstret over missionærstationer, handel og skoler. Men uanset, en dejlig samling sange, sagn og beretninger fra den hvide ørken.
15/6 A.S. Byatt: Sugar and Other Stories (1987)
A thoroughly well-written collection of short-stories. I always feel a bit at loss with these short pieces of fiction. Why are they so short? But still, A.S. Byatt does it very well, within that perplexing genre.
9/6 Natasha Illum Berg: Floder af Rød Jord (1999)
Smukt skrevet og inspirerende lille bog om forfatterens liv og oplevelser som storvildtjæger i Kenya. Sanselig men også argumenterende om at slå ihjel og om at være kvinde i et ekstremt mandsdomineret miljø.
7/6 Reidar Teigen: I Kano fra Larvik til Nilens Kilder (1956)
En rigtig eventyrlig rejsebeskrivelse om to unge mænds tur til Mombasa i en kano, stort set kun udrustet med spejderånd og ungdommeligt vovemod. Skrevet med åbent sind og begejstring over mødet med de kulturer, der dengang var meget mere fremmede end de ville være i dag.
2/6 Ruchir Joshi: The Last Jet-Engine Laugh (2001)
No, I wasn’t very thrilled with this one. Firstly, I found it difficult to follow. Not because of the leaps in time and space (I usually like that kind of thing immensely), but because of all of the Indian words used. When Rushdie and Ghosh do that, the meaning of the words are still clear. But in this case, whole sentences in different Indian languages were left unexplained, and left me to think whether this novel was meant for an Indian audience only.
Secondly, it seemed in a way insecure. As mentioned, it leaped in time and space constantly, shuffling between 1930, 1985, 1995 and 2030 and Calcutta, Bombay, Paris, Berlin, Siberia and so forth. The idea is fine (and it has been done before), but I don’t think that Joshi succeeded in making the leaps seem inevitable or natural to the narrative. Without being able to pinpoint the precise reason, I felt that the leaps were at times… artificial; done only to show that it was possible.
Thirdly, the sci-fi part of it irritated me enormously. In the scenes from 2030, it seemed that Joshi sometimes suddenly remembered that he was describing the future, and plunged into descriptions of futuristic details which, to me, seemed incredibly unrealistic. 2030 is not that far away. Furthermore, these inventions and devices were explained in details in a way one would never do about one’s own age. People living in 2030 are not living in the future, they are of course living in their own present time, and see it as such.
However, the story/ies were good, definitely, and I liked most of the ideas. But I am able to pull my arms down, as we say in Danish.
21/5 Jakob Ejersbo: Superego (2000)
Da Ejersbo hittede med Nordkraft, genoptrykte Gyldendal selvfølgelig hans novellesamling. Og den er bestemt heller ikke dårlig. Novellerne er velskrevne og rammer de forskellige sprogtoner godt. De er bare så korte. Det er som om de fleste aldrig rigtig når længere end til en skildring af et miljø, men det er måske også meningen.
18/5 Flann O’Brien: The Third Policeman (1940/1967)
I finally finished reading Brian O’Nolan’s surrealist novel. I took me a while, mainly, I think, because I was not prepared for the odd mix of absurd humor and nightmarish atmosphere worthy of Ishiguro. A dream-like plot, poking fun at academics and breaking with most conventions such as time, space and lineary storyline. An interesting read, but not entirely gripping. (more here)
10/5 Bom & Bjerke: Udslag. Hverdagsfeminisme i det 21. århundrede (2002)
Udslag er endnu en af de (ny-) feministiske bøger der er blevet udgivet gennem de sidste par år, i noget der ligner en opblomstring af kvindebevægelsen og en protest mod den karikatur feminister så ofte bliver tegnet som. Denne bog beskriver det forfatterne kalder “hverdagsfeminisme”, og gør det sprudlende velskrevet og lige på kornet uden at lægge fingrene imellem. Men seriøsiteten er ikke til at undgå, og argumenterne er ikke blot velformulerede men også -dokumenterede. Det er forfriskende og effektivt at se feminismen formidlet uden hverken skyld-mudderkastning eller konspirationsteorier om Onde Mænd, og jeg tror at denne bog især har sin force hos kvinder der ikke er så læst ind på emnet, men også de mere tørre akademikere som undertegnede kan have stor glæde af den.
1/5 Adam Thorpe: Shifts (2000)
A great collection of short stories all revolving around work; how work influences people’s lives, identities, deaths, even. Gripping. Much more than most other short stories I recall having read.
29/4 Zadie Smith: White Teeth (2000)
Sarcastic, sharp and wonderfully funny novel about a group of (immigrant) people in London in the 1970′es, 80′es and 90′es. Her style of writing is very close to that of Salman Rushdie, even down to a basic theme involving doubles, parallels and a pair of (Bangladeshi) twins. The story jumps in time, very elegantly, and does it telling unbelievable (and yet not so) stories, in a meticualously well-written language. A really, really good novel.
21/4 Liza Marklund: Paradiset (2000)
Mit første møde med den svenske krimi-dronning. Velskreven, absolut, men over en læst der efterhånden klinger lidt for velkendt i mine ører. Henning Mankell, Leif Davidsen og Jan Guilleau bruger nøjagtig samme skabelon, og selvom det er både underholdende og medrivende, forekommer det også en smule letkøbt. Den obligatoriske kærlighedshistorie manglede da heller ikke, men klang hult og tvungen.
Til Marklunds ros skal siges, at håndværket er i orden, ingen løse ender og halve afslutninger, omend kærlighedshistorien blev afviklet noget overfladisk. Og så banker Marklunds hjerte for de udstødte, for vorldsramte kvinder som systemet ikke kan hjælpe. Al respekt for det, og for hendes formidling af det gennem en utraditionel genre.
18/4 Karen Blixen: Syv Fantastiske Fortællinger (1935)
Translated from its English original ”Seven Gothic Tales”. I don’t know if Blixen read Joyce, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t read Rushdie. However, these two authors come to mind, as I plough through endless layers of frames, sub plots and odd little asides. Very, very, charmingly “modern”.
18/4 Fiona Maddocks: Hildegard of Bingen. The Woman of Her Age (2001)
One more biography, despite my dislike of the genre, and this one happily proved a good read. Fiona Maddocks present the life and deeds of the celebrated nun of the 12th century with becoming academic coolness. An interesting peek into the life of extraordinary woman and her times.
14/4 Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman
An Autobiography (1935)
I very seldom read biographies, or auto-dittos for that matter, and this one did not encourage me to read any more. However, read from a literary point of view (instead of out of curiosity about personal detals, of which there was a lot. And I mean a lot. And I definitely mean details. Cut from old diaries. Long lists of expences. Horrible.) it became almost amusing to read, especially with Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled fresh in my memory. Remarks such as “Then, quite unperturbed, I took up the thread of my discourse, and finished it.” (p. 226) could easily be attributed to the self-deceiving Mr. Ryder, and to his protagonist-colleague of When We Were Orphans by the same author.
Gilman was an important person within the history of hysterical women, of feminism, and of socialism, but she should have written her autobiography much shorter. And perhaps even made use of an editor.
12/4 Juan Rulfo: Sletten Brænder (1953)
Faulkner comes to mind when reading Juan Rulfo’s collection of short (some of them very short) stories about life on the Mexican plain where everyone seem to be miserable, poor, dirty and dying. Two years later, Rulfo wrote his only other book, the novel Pedro Paramo, which has become a classic of magical realism.
8/4 John Grisham: The Firm (1992)
However posh and po-mo I would like to be, it took me about 2 1/2 pages to be completely carried away by this novel. I haven’t read anything by him before, but I rightly suspected him to be one of those skillfull writers who make me hit that point of oblivion, cancel all appointments and just indulge in the carefully constructed suspense and fast (but not too fast) moving plot. I am addicted to reading novels which require thinking, but once and again I suspect that I am still at heart an ackward teenage girl wearing braces and emptying the library shelves of crime fiction.
John Grisham may belong to a genre of literature looked down upon, but regardless of his lacking prestige, he reads to me like, simply, a good writer. The narrative is fluent, the plot intelligent, and I have the feeling that it can be read by readers on many levels; that you can choose to pay more or less attention to the plot or the conventions and stereotypes of the genre, and not be disappointed no matter which style of reading you choose.
1/4 Leonora Christina Skov (red.): De Røde Sko. Feminisme nu. (2002) (faglit.)
Interessant og bredspektret antologi om feminisme i et utal af sammenhænge og vinkler. Velskrevne, letlæste, intelligente og ikke alt for lange indlæg. Bestemt anbefalelsesværdig.
29/3 Nina Björk: Sirenernes Sang. Modernitet og køn (1999) (faglit.)
Fin gennemgang af modernitetens historie i et køns- eller kvinde-perspektiv, uden den agressivitet der kendetegnede Nina Björks første bog: Under det Rosa Täcket, på godt og ondt. Akademisk, men uden at være højtravende.
25/3 Margaret Atwood: Alias Grace (1996)
Carol Shields’ superb postmodern novel The Stone Diaries comes to mind, as Margaret Atwood intertwines historical accounts with fiction, alternating voices and confusing renderings of truth, memory and narratives. (Incidentally, Carol Shields is a middle-aged female Canadian writer, just as Atwood.) Very post-modern; very much up my alley. And of course it features a woman in the Victorian period being shut up in a madhouse. They seem to seek me out…
The mix of historical sources and fiction, and the fact that both are equally “false”, as the historical sources differ in versions of the same events, was fascinatingly represented. But also the ending was nice and sharp, with its comment on women’s possibilities in the 19th century: When Grace Marks is pardoned after 29 years in prison, she is offered marriage – an offer which she has no option but to accept, as she has no skills to sell, and is to old for prostitution, as she herself reflect. She is thus once again imprisoned, this time in a marriage.
An engaging and thought-provoking novel, and a good read. Yum.
16/3 Marilyn French: The Women’s Room (1978)
Der står på forsiden at “this novel changes lives”, og det vil jeg faktisk ikke afvise. På de mere end 600 sider kommer romanen godt rundt i alle kroge af kvinders vilkår, og ender faktisk meget pessimistisk og nedslående. Og nok er det ved at være længe siden at bogen er skrevet, men med den nylige rundspørge i Danmark der viser at 25% af befolkningen mener at en kvinde selv er ude om voldtægt hvis hun er udfordrende klædt (med alle forbehold for den slags undersøgelsers legitimitet), står den meget aktuel. Samtidigt er den velskrevet, medrivende, og tegner et skarpt billede af både de Amerikanske forstader i 50′erne og universitets- og hippie-verdenen i 60′erne. Helt sikkert en af de store feministiske romaner, og uden at være unuanceret, omend til tider klædeligt agressiv.
10/3 Weihui Zhou: Shanghai Baby (2000)
Jeg kan simpelthen ikke finde ud af om den er helt utroligt sjusket skrevet, dårligt oversat, eller bare repræsentant for en kultur, et skriftsprog og en skrivestil der er meget langt fra det jeg plejer at beskæftige mig med. Muligvis det hele. Måske især det, at jeg ikke ved om, eller i hvilken grad, min kritik er berettiget, gjorde det til en lidt svær og lidt irriterende bog at læse. Men den gav unægteligt et nyt syn på livet som det også kan leves i Shanghai. Og … den var sådan set ikke kedelig. Bare … mærkeligt skrevet.
3/3 Michael Larsen: Slangen i Sydney (1997)
Det er meget, meget længe siden jeg har læst en dansk krimi, endsige en dansk bestseller. Og jeg blev advaret mod at denneher var klichefyldt og “nem”. Men det synes jeg egentlig ikke. Den var ganske stereotypisk til tider, især i skildringen af personer og deres forhold, men der var gjort virkelig meget ud af researchen, og den var absolut velskreven. Problemet var bare, at al den research om slanger og gift og naturvidenskabelige indsigter aldrig rigtigt var berettiget. Det virkede faktisk mest som om det var med som fyld; som om Michael Larsen havde læst Jan Kjærstads trilogi og prøvede at gøre ham kunsten efter, uden til fulde at have forstået hvad det er Kjærstad gør. Og plottet… Et krimiplot skal være stramt. Der må gerne være tilsyneladende uforklarligheder, men de må ikke bare afskrives som uforklarlige. Dem var der en hel del af her, og alt, alt for mange løse ender og nemme deus ex machina-løsninger fra forfatterens hånd. Som om han pludselig opdagede at han var ved at ramme de 400 sider, og var nødt til at lukke og slukke. Jeg er glad for at den kun kostede mig 20 kr.
1/3 H.C. Branner: Rytteren (1949)
Gribende og velkomponeret lille roman om død, kærlighed og magt. Intet mindre. Skønt – på en foruroligende måde.
27/2 A.S. Byatt: Possession (1990)
Had I wanted to read poetry, I would probably have chosen something else than a novel to read. Had I wanted to read Victorian (-style) poetry, I definitely would not have chosen a novel published in 1990. I must admit that I skipped some of the lengthier epic (-ish) poems. Apart from that, the novel was very good indeed, as it better be, having received the Booker Prize. But Byatt is a very skillful craftsman, to a degree which makes the novel a bit too predictable at times. But nice allegories, parallels and po-mo reflections on reading, authorship, and the industry og biographies. And women’s role in the Victorian period. Which I just may be a bit fed up with, for the time being. Not her fault.
22/2 Kazuo Ishiguro: The Unconsoled (1995)
Romanen bryder med de fleste gængse konventioner indenfor roman-genren. Der bliver hele tiden manipuleret med tid og sted og rum, og læseren bliver hele tiden stresset af skift i fokus, og lange uvæsentlige underplot og detaljerede monologer om hvadsomhelst. Den mindede mig om Ulysses, og var også omtrent ligeså murstens-lang. Forskellen er bare, at Joyce ændrer skrivestil for hvert kapitel, og det bryder monotonien kærkomment. Og det sker altså ikke i The Unconsoled… Den var lige lang nok. Christel er ved at skrive et spændende speciale om den.
20/2 Frederic Tuten: Tintin i den Ny Verden (1993)
Ideen er meget sjov: Tinin bliver voksen. Både fysisk og følelsesmæssigt (han vokser og bliver forelsket), men hans verdensbillede bliver også pludselig mere nuanceret. Men den er godtnok også ret flydende, med masser af afstikkere til andre personers detaljerede livshistorier osv., og slutningen er helt igennem syret. Men min manglende begejstring kan skyldes at jeg ikke har læst Tomas Mann’s Trolddomsbjerget, hvis persongalleri bogen bygger på. Hvorfor ved jeg ikke, men det er måske også indlysende når man har læst den. Alt i alt en lidt underlig læseoplevelse.
9/2 Ian Fleming: Dr. No (1957)
Overraskende velskreven spændingsroman. Jeg forventede billigt pulp, men bogen var på mange måder mere dybdegående og medrivende end filmene – også filmatiseringen af Dr. No, som jo var den første James Bond-film.
3/2 Estrid Ott: Ingas Finnmarkstogt (1953)
En pigebog når de er bedst. Om tre spejderpiger der rejser rundt i Finnmarken, der er under genopbygning efter 2. verdenskrigs bombninger. Den er lidt anstrengende med alle de aabenhjertige, rødkindede, uskyldige pigebørn, men indenfor sin genre er den sød og helt sikkert opbyggelig.
31/1 Herbjørg Wassmo: Karnas Arv (1997)
Herbjørg Wassmoe er en virkelig dygtig håndværker. Hun skriver fantastisk medrivende, og spiller på samtlige strenge. Der er kærlighed, vold, passion og drama og store armbevægelse over hele linien, koblet med den vilde norske natur. Den er et fint tildsbillede, men også ret letkøbt. Ikke så dybsinding, men hurtigt læst.
28/1 Edith Wharton: The House of Myrth (1905)
Fart over feltet! Medrivende roman om den stakkels, stakkels Lily Bart som det går så grueligt galt i high society New York i starten af 1900-tallet. Men den romantisk-pladrede indpakning til trods, er den især en super kynisk skildring af single-kvinders eneste, behårde job: at finde en rig mand mens de stadig er smukke. Svagheden er nok den store vægt der bliver lagt på Lily’s opdragelse. Hun er åbentbart fuldstændigt ude af stand til at ændre sig, også selvom hun godt selv kan se at det er eneste udvej… Lidt irriterende morale, og også ekstremt rørstrømsk slutning. Men afgjort a good read.
24/1 Günther Grass: Cat and Mouse (1961)
Gosh, den var kedelig, da. Kort roman. Fint skift mellem 1. og 3. person og den slags, og underspillet homoerotik, men lidt for underspillet, lissom. Meget fin personlighedsskildring, der var bare så meget _kedeligt_; lange beskrivelser, kluntede udpenslinger. Det er (vistnok) GG’s 2. roman; den første var The Tin Drum, som han refererede til 2 gange, helt ekstremt kluntet. Æv. Gider helt sikkert ikke at læse Dog Years; den tredie bog i den trilogi-udgave jeg har. Ind på hylden med den. Tin Drum skulle jo være klassikeren indenfor (europæisk) magisk realisme, men den var altså også lidt for langtrukken til mig. I hvert fald af en nobelpris-vinder at være. Jeg har nok bare læst for meget Salman Rushdie…
23/1 2005 Peter Freuchen: Min Grønlandske Ungdom (1936)
Dejligt at læse en så fordomsfri udlægning af mødet mellem civilisation og oprindelige folk. Gribende beretning om polarlivet i en tid hvor der ikke var Gore-tex og helikoptere. Og nogle meget skarpe og spydige kommentarer til den danske bedrevidenhed.