The other day I got the urge to learn to play tennis. There are some tennis courts close to my home so this means all I need is a tennis racket. So what do I do? I go online and on to a search-and-compare site to find tennis rackets. I type in tennis racket, click go, and…. I don’t know, maybe I am a bit naive, but when I think tennis racket I actually think about the bat with the oval frame strung with nylon which is used in the physical, outdoorsy sports activity. What I found was a bunch of Wii and Playstation games with accessories, and a couple of designer tennis socks. But then again, why on earth go online when you have a sport shop specializing in sporting equipment 2 streets away? What’s with the lack of common sense (read laziness)?
Stille dager i Mixing Part
I was reading Erlend Loe’s latest novel ‘Stille dage i Mixing Part’ (Quiet days in Mixing Part) when this thought sprung up on me again. In one of the first pages is printed the exchange between two parties (a norwegian woman, and a German couple with a house for rent). Now, the town in which the German couple live in is called Garmisch-Partenkirchen and, due to the lack of English skills by the German couple, they run it through a translation program into English, and the town ends up being called Mixing Part. Being that English is not a force with the elder generation of the German-speaking population, this passage is funny in an ‘aw’-kind of way. The fact that blind trust is being put into a translation engine just says it all about our relationship to these new devices. We often forget to reflect and keep a critical sense when we get dazzled. Not that it is a decidedly bad thing, I mean, why not Mixing Part? Common sense out the window or laziness?
The novel is narrated from Bror Telemann’s point of view (Telemann for short) and with a massive amount of the novel riding on dialogue the reader has much more room to imagine scenes and expressions. Basically the couple are having a marital crisis which they resolve one summer holiday in Germany (kids and all) by having affairs, one at a physical level and one on a (slightly disturbed) emotional level. It is so clear through the dialogue that this couple have been at a stand still for too long, their conversations are bland and their outbursts are not really outbursts. The famous mid-life crisis label could easily be put on Telemann, but for the fact that I don’t get the feeling he is consciously unhappy in his life, he seems more out of sync with his life. His greatest passions in life are theater and Nigella (the sensuous chef) concocted by, and played with in his fantasy. His obsession with seeing everything as theater distances him away from his family and reality to a point where he is up shit’s creek with only a toothbrush (you will get this if/WHEN you read the book, believe me it’s funny and gross).
Telemann is also a kind of ‘I’m more intellectual than thou’ type of person, which makes his nonsense and actions even more hilarious. Your everyday non-hero with a side order of unreliable narrator. It’s like Loe wanted to give the stuck-up a beat-up. And he does it so well 😀