Posts Tagged: books

Literary hit or bust

Sometimes when you defy your inner voice it can be incredibly rewarding. And sometimes its just the opposite…. and sometimes it’s a mix of both! 🙂

Example A: Me.
I go to the library on a regular basis. Sometimes its a quickie, when I return books or pick them up, making sure not to look over at the quick-loan-suggestion-shelf and resisting the urge, nay commanding my legs not to walk up to the first floor to literary nirvana. Because I really don’t have time to indulge my good ‘bad habit’. I have responsibilities! But the other day I defied both defense mechanisms and went over to the quick-shelf AND walked the stairs up to the first floor. Initial result: 5 books in various sizes, huge smile, ecstasy (those who get a kick out of buying something, anything, will know exactly what I mean). Digested realization process: panic, nervous smile, performance anxiety (what the hell was I thinking?!! I already have 2 loans at home! When people see them on my coffee table they will go “ooohh-aaahhh, you read THAT much”, and I’ll have to go “yeah, pfff, of course, no prob, it’s a passion”, while 007-silently vamoosing over to the computer and hauling a summary of each and every book, just in case somebody asks. And it’s not cool to return a book without reading it!! what’s the point then?!)

Various library books

Ensuing scene: I start on one book, realizing it’s not really me. How do I know? I fell asleep in my chair. Alright, next one: even worse, it does nothing for me, it’s about a guy who decides to go hermit and picking up a long lost love for painting by doing a mural in his new establishment; a lighthouse! Yawn, zzzzzz…
Conclusion: I have decided to just let go of these two books and hope the next 5 will be better. Not so much panicky anymore, because really, is it that serious? It’s a book. But yes; in a way it is! I checked out Hildegard by Anne-Lise Marstrand Jørgensen a couple of weeks ago, and only had 50 pages to go when time was up and I had to return it. And now I will never know how it ended!!
Sub-conclusion: I have to stop being Mrs. Goody Two Shoes and just defy return deadlines (even though that really goes against my deep faith in the whole library ideology, I just can’t do it).
All in all, the risk of loaning books in bonanza mode is not counterbalanced by the enlightenment these books could offer. To top it off, I had a temporary memory loss vis-a-vis the many books on my table at home and bought 2 books that I just have to read immediately: BaldursdĂłttir’s “Karitas uden titel” (Karitas without title) and Wassmo’s “Et glas mælk, tak” (A glass of milk please).

Wassmo and BaldursdĂłttir

I give up trying to understand myself and my compulsive desire to drown in books. I feel like Scrooge McDuck swimming in his coins (fact: I want a tank of books I can swim in!)
If anyone has a good tip on how to center oneself a bit more, or a good mantra to stay focused when in a library, drop me a few lines.

Darling River by Stridsberg

I have just spent the day with Stridsberg’s newest addition to Swedish contemporary literature, Darling River.

Me, engulfed in Darling River

Make no mistake, this is no fuddy duddy, school girl crush, chic-lit reading, as the Danish cover might have you believe (and this is not a critique of the cover at all, I love it for the very reason it plays with childishness and pink, blurry tones). This is hard core abandonment, wrapped in sexual frustration, topped with a language that crashes into the reader’s imagination, leaving it sore and a little less happy. Yet again (as with Drömfakulteten) Stridsberg’s language and composition is thorough and crisp. The novels’ subtitle is ‘Variations of Dolores’, and is both an homage to Nabokov’s Lolita (Stridsberg’s point of inspiration) and a variety of females in different acts of life – mother, child, animal, used, abused, terminated, dead. She has divided the novel into five main sections: Destiny, Time, The Mirror, The Sickness, The Loneliness, and within these, different variations of Dolores try to survive and search for some remote sign of intimacy.
Dolores (or Lo) and her father spend their nights driving around in his Jaguar, him looking for prostitutes, her going off with full grown men down by Darling River, both of them trying to fill the void Dolores’ mother left when she packed her white suitcases and left a stranger, a house where she can find nothing, and her child. He feeds Lo sweets, cigarettes and alcohol and waits in the distance for her to complete her ‘business’ with men she calls brothers, whom she feels empathy towards because they try to buy absolution with undersized dresses and tears. She lives of the affection they give her in return for her body, and when her body changes, their visits lessen until one day there is no one left but her father. This child, that never was a child and never could grow out of being a child, is left sick, overeating on sweets, and lacking the one thing she has craved more than anything.
The novel is brutal to say the least, and it is not just from the obvious fact that we are dealing with a child who is being abused, who lives a distorted child’s life, and has lost all contact with reality, but also because reality itself seems to be a misplaced term. The language performs in a way to conjure up an image of distortion. My schematized reading has been put to a test as these characters fade in and out of each other. I have to be honest, some of the times it doesn’t seem to matter if I am reading about one Dolores or another, it is the language, the pictures it invokes, that touches me. Nature and woman is bleeding, everything is pus and sickly, and it translates onto the pages and punches you in the face.
It is worth your while.

Theme: Africa & Literature

I was complaining about my lack of knowledge in African literature the other day, and hey presto, this pops up: http://www.bok-bibliotek.se/bokmassan/teman/ . It is the Swedish Bokmässa (book fair) on September 23-26, and I am contemplating a visit. I have only been to one book fair, which was last year in Forum, Copenhagen. And although it was extremely crowded and sweaty, it was really fun to browse around the different publishing houses and see what people were writing these days. Plus, Sweden is not such a bad place to be in 🙂 If you have any tips on African literature that is a must-read do tell. I am almost finished with Adichies’ ‘The Thing Around Your Neck’, and I can’t wait to get started on her previous book. It really is a good compilation of short stories. Too bad it will be over so soon.