Yes, yes, yes. The Americans have it all, nevermind us bottom feeders once known as the Glorioussus Conquistador’ Speciexus Europedales Grandes (just made that up, but for you history buffs out there I will have you know that once, a long-long-looong time ago, Europe was actually not that bad at inventing and thinking – now, innovation is left to the US and education to Asia, oh well).
So what is it this time? Google eBooks is what it is this time! Google has launched their very own cloud-based online e-bookstore and what is the message I get when tiptoeing my way through the digital candy store?
“The latest Google eBooks are not available for sale in your location, yet… Google is working with publishers around the world to let you buy the latest ebooks from top authors. In the meantime, you can still browse millions of free and public domain Google eBooks and read them effortlessly across your devices.”
Damn it to blitzing high waters and a splash of disturbing x-rated words!!
I want to see what’s going on, I want to get on the ebook tidal wave. I too have needs!! And I need to be updated on the services and possibilities that are out there so that I can critically, and with a diversified background, form an opinion. And I cannot do that when my whole project is being sidetracked by stupid, ancient geographical barriers and short-sighted prioritising. Yes, I am aware of the immense judicial process that goes before a project of this sorts, and yes, I know that e-books has proven to be an immense market in the US, but can we please get on the bus here!?! Is it impossible to start something of this sort up in Europe? Or am I just looking in all the wrong places? In the US there are strong pushes towards a new market: Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble etc. have all seen to it that they are in the right place, and they are pushing their agenda strong.
The difference and the exciting part with google is compatibility: the readers today are often locked to their respective bookstores, making it hard to be as flexible as one is used to, and really is a pain in the but. But Google promises to transgress all that, yey! (the excitement is fleeting, because, as previously stated, I cannot make a really and truly informed decision when I cannot be part of the fun!)
In my opinion the process of breaking e-books out in the European market (at least from where I am standing) just seems too slow. It is commendable of the few who are trying to push e-books and who really make an effort of getting the word out. But there is just one problem: they are too few. And maybe the recession has got a lot of businesses second-guessing their aggressive marketing when it comes to breaking out into full blown e-book alert. But there is a market, yes! I am the market! And I live in Europe. It’s logic and it’s simple. So get more to going with the innovation and the thinking Europe!
But don’t be fooled, I read it in Danish – although I am seriously in the mood to learn some Italian as it sounds so passionate, I make no pretense of knowing the Italian language past ‘ciao bella’- but a good language to scold someone in.
The novel takes place in Italy and reeks of Oedipal confrontation with a twist.
Come prima delle madre begins with the little boy Pietro, who is sent off to boarding school after his childhood friend Irina mysteriously dies.
He has angst – concerning his relationship with his mother, as she grows more and more distant and cold towards him, concerning his friend’s death, concerning the boys and the teachers in school, and pretty much his whole existence. He is at a turning point in his life, the shift from childhood to adulthood, and he is confused. He has terrible abandonment issues that manifest themselves when the symbiotic bond between mother and child is severed. Incidentally this takes place during the last throws of WWII and Pietro comes home from boarding school after an incident with a nearly half-dead boy leaves him to blame, and the school is also forced to close down because of the war. When he comes home, his longing for his mother is not set at ease. There is no turning back to the comforting arms, that are now drunk, drugged and caressing a man that is not his father. His innocence is being chipped off him, bit by bit, with death, abandonment, sexual debut and betrayal going through the story like rings on still water. When he finds his dead friend’s diary and letters, he is let into a world of deceit and behind the scenery of family ties.
The story’s point of view makes a shift halfway through the novel to the mother and her story. Which is interesting, because it seems like Vinci doesn’t want Pietro’s mother to go unexplained – maybe because the harsh criticism of a mother’s role would be to detrimental to the storyline – so she gives her a voice. Turns out she has had quite her own turbulent life – leaving her mother and brothers behind she goes off with a homicidal maniac to Berlin (not that she knows that at first, but he does carry a gun, so she cannot act the part of complete innocence). He ends up incarcerated, she is left pregnant with only the man’s accomplice as a ‘friend’, and somehow married off to a wealthy man like some sort of bargaining calf. Her story is as such no fairy tale, but one that rings of familiarity – you know the one; a woman, naive and victimized, is forced to make the best of it, ends up brutally cold, deteriorating from the inside and fighting hands and claws to secure herself, her position and her kin. Which is questionable, a bit tiresome, but in the end makes for a good storyline.
The main conflict – the one between the boy and his mother – has a very sinister ending. Pietro’s feelings for his mother, the nostalgic memory of comfort tied up with the very harsh abandonment, leaves him disguising his wrath as a form of pious righteousness. And in a way, the abandonment has struck so hard that he takes steps to resolve and stand up against this mother figure he no longer feels ties to that maybe he cannot foresee the consequences of.
I won’t go to much into all the nooks and crannies because I do think it is worth a read without me recounting all the details.
I sense through the translation that is is a beautiful language, very cold – in a way like Oksanen, although not as brutal, more verging on the poetic side. I would maybe have liked the ending to be maybe 5 pages longer, it is a bit too abrupt for my taste. But all in all worth a read and a debate.
Since this post will be an array of topics I couldn’t decide on what to call it. So I made it up.
My prize book packet has arrived. I was not to be kept in suspense for long, even though it stated that it could take up to 4 weeks after the draft to receive the books. They came on Tuesday already. And so, with no further delay, may I present to you:
Book packet from Lindhardt & Ringhof
What we have here is Michael Katz Krefeld’s ‘Protokollen’ (The Protocol), Charlotte Weitze’s Sværmeri (Romance) and Martin Hall’s Kinoplex. Now, I don’t like to sound ungrateful, but I highly doubt I will be reading the second one, and most certaintly not the first (with a text on the back introducing the plot like so: A car bomb kills twenty three at a fashionable restaurant in Copenhagen center. Everything hints at a terrorist attack, but no one has yet to take responsibility. It just reeks to much of tabloid literature for me to want to use time analysing it), so if you are in the neighborhood or want all of a sudden to spend 80,- on coffee at Ricco’s downtown on me (and you) in order to get your hands on them, you know where to buzz. But the third one intrigues me. So not getting that one, I will however be happy to share what it’s like when I’ve read it.
In other happy news I have finally submitted my translation of a youth novel from English to Faroese to the publishers. I am looking forward to seeing the bloodbath (or as a Faroese would say: grindadráp) that will or will not come hailing down on paper when they look through it. Joke aside, it is really nice to have it off my shoulders, and there is something to be said about completing one task before going on with the next. So I gave myself a well deserved time off consisting of a bubble bath, candles, a book, some tea and chocolate, I mean I went all girly on myself. And now it’s back to business, this time cramming my brain in exam mode, steering towards the best 15-pages internship assignment that has ever entered KUA’s premises. It will change the meaning of assignments, people after me are going to go: “You did what? Nooo man, where have you been, that’s not how you write internship assignments, that is such a B.J. entry.”
Anyhoo, I have also been contemplating a blog challenge for myself. It has nagged my that my entries are so sporadic, even though I told myself I would never let the blog run my day, and only write when I felt I had something to share. This will still be the case, but I have been toying with the idea of structuring myself a little more. So I’m thinking of making a booklist to follow and hence write about. I have been around different lists, you know the classic ‘100 titles you must have read otherwise you are the most ignorant person on the face of the earth’ and ’80 titles that are so fantastic, the content must be so too’. But most of them are constructed by someone who is either totally eurocentric (aka – French, English, German literature, with a hint of colonial travel to the darkest pits of Africa or the most erotic parts of the Middle East – also know as the Orient of that genre) or americentric (with a very high emphasis on the individual struggle with…. drumroll please…. the individual! – in national settings). So I am going on a literary voyage across the world, trying not to leave any stone unturned (with the slight downside that I only speak so many languages, so original works in Aramaic and Russian are out unless translated). Aaaand, I will not only be reading novels, but would love to broaden the field with poetry, biographies, comics, etc. If you have any good suggestions, wether heard through the grapevine or read yourself, I would love to hear about it. I am hoping to compile this list so that come the turn of the year, I can go right onboard project “Read and blog your way through the world”.
I am now on day 3 A.B. (After Book fair), and up until today I haven’t had the strength to do anything other than bike home from work, eat and go straight to bed. Yeah, yeah, I know; ‘Stop your whining!’ And I will… after this post. Le reason: I have been totally consumed by this years book fair event in Copenhagen, BogForum 2010, as part of my internship. It has been hard, and my feet are pretty much revenging themselves times 10, but it was also tons of fun. Last year I went there as a ‘reporter’ and book magazine distributor, so I had ample time to browse around the stands and look at books, readings by authors and people. But this year I was pretty much at one with stand 96, for all but forty five minutes on the last day at the last hour of the book fair (and I still managed to blow of some cool hard cash on must-have books bought at the speed of light – no fuzz, just do!).
I have met every person and type under the sun and talked to people who are passionate about books and publishing. And best of all: I got to be a part of the book fair in a wholly different fashion than last year, which was incredibly rewarding. Firstly, I got to be in charge of e-reader/e-book communications, which basically meant that I was the go-to-person if people had further questions regarding our offer to make e-books, and how the readers function and such. And secondly, I really noticed a progression in accumulated knowledge and ease with the whole question of self-publishing, business procedures and customer relations, which in return kicked up my confidence meter a notch or two. I got to meet a lot of the people who publish their own books, who all do it for different reasons. I don’t know really how to explain it all in words, I am just left now these past days with a buzz. Immensely tired, but with an unmistakable buzz.
So for lack of words (since I spent my quota for the year on those three days), I will just do the lazy-woman’s version and let the pictures do the talking.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you wanna win the lottery, buy a ticket!! (ok, confession, that’s not true, I don’t say that, but Julia Roberts says it in ‘Eat, Prey, Love’, so soon everybody is gonna say it, so I might as well start the first wave in Denmark).
Anywayyyy: I’ve won a bookpacket in MEGA litt’s booklottery!!!
The thing is, I don’t know which one, because I guess they randomly select between the names and packets, plus they won’t say or be more specific than just ‘you won, congrats’ (very secretive indeed, wonder why) but I am keeping my fingers crossed for some of the packets, and very uncrossed for others.
My winning number is 18 – you can see it here – yey, big smiles, applause, a-thanka-you, bow, exit – and the bookpackets are here.