post-ferie.

Jobbåret er allerede to uker gammelt, og ferien er allerede et vagt, men bra minne. Selv om det lesemessig har vært så som så (er fortsatt to bøker bak skjema). Det som reddet det fra å bli helt fadese, var Bookerprisen. Men la oss ta det i rekkefølge, i spedt litt reisetips.

529075

Jeg tok med meg ei bok på ferien (+ ipaden med kindleappen). Den heldige utvalgte ble Det feige hjertet av Javier Marías (1992). Grunnen til at det ble nettopp den var at jeg trengte å lese noe fra andre land enn de vanlige og den er på 1001-lista. Konklusjonen er at jeg burde ha valgt en annen bok. Og hadde jeg kunne min Shakespeare så hadde jeg nok gjort det, siden tittelen referer til Macbeth. Den har sikkert andre referanser også, men de tok jeg ikke. Uansett, boka handler om en mann, Ranz, som reflekterer over sitt eget ekteskap og farens mystiske fortid. Den har mange elementer som er bra, som når Ranz hjelper sin venninne å finne en partner – alt var ikke enklere før Tinder for å si det sånn og når endelig farens hemmeligheter blir avslørt. Men det er også for mye dautid i mellom de gode elementene for min del. Klarer ikke å se helt hva som er så nyskapende og god med denne at den fortjener en 1001-status. Men lest er lest.

To uker ble tilIMG_0813bragt i Denver, som er en av de byene som ligger høyest i USA og Colorado er kjent for Rocky Mountains, bryggerier og sin liberale narkotikalov. Det første jeg erfarte er at sjøsamegenene mine må være ganske sterke siden 1500 meter over havet ble for mye. Jeg klarte aldri å venne meg til høydemeterne, og det hjalp ikke med et par dager på 3500 moh i tilegg til de vanlige. Føltes som jeg konstant var fyllesyk og kondisen var elendig (men den er dog mye bedre nå, så har troa på høydetrening). Denver er virkelig en bilby, så det var vanskelig å danne seg et ordentlig bilde av byen, siden mye tid ble tilbragt i en Lyft mellom bryggerier. For er det noe Denver og Colorado kan, så er det å brygge øl. Tror vi klarte 10 bryggerier på 14 dager (kanskje ikke noe rart at man følte seg evig fyllesyk). Bildet er forøvrig fra et av favorittene, Epic Brewing. Jeg var innom kun en bokhandel, men det var også et av de beste konseptene jeg har sett; bokhandel og bar! Den heter selvsagt BookBar, og ligger i ei gate med andre kule barer og butikker. Anbefales! Selv om den var litt i det dyreste laget. Jeg plukket med meg There There av Tommy Orange og the Mars Room av Rachel Kushner. Den siste ble med meg hjem siden de nominerte til Booker-langlista ble publisert mens jeg var i Denver, og jeg ble jammen revet med i år også. Spesielt siden engasjamentet til Labben og de andre Bookerbabes er så stort!

Den første av årets Bookerbøker jeg ble f35687802erdig med var Snap av Belinda Bauer. At en ren krim blir nominert til Booker er uvanlig, så da er jo forventningene at dette jo være en bra krim! Dessverre er den under par for min del. Jeg tror det er meninga at den skal være så forutsigbar som den er, men da må jo spenningen komme fra noe annet, og det syns jeg ikke at det gjør. Uansett, den handler om familien til en dame som er drept, og fokuserer særlig på eldstemann. I tillegg foregår det ubehageligheter i nabolaget. Helt ok, men neppe Bookermateriale.

36373648Den andre ut var the Mars Room av Rachel Kushner. Hvis jeg skal beskrive denne, så vil jeg si at det er sånn som å se Orange Is the New Black. Og at serien er bedre. Jeg syns det ble for mange løse tråder og for mye hopping til at jeg likte det.

 

 

 

36047860Tredje boka var jeg heldigere med. Anna Burns har skrevet en veldig bra fortelling om konflikten i Nord-Irland. Milkman er et herlig portrett av en ung jente som blir stalket av en notorisk mann med samme kallenavn som romanen. Jeg var usikker i begynnelsen om denne var noe for meg; det gikk tregt og jeg klarte ikke å få noe oversikt siden omtrent ingen har navn, men blir kalt ting som third brother-in-law og second-oldest-friend (hjelper heller ikke at alle har hundre søsken). Men etterhvert så løste det seg, og fortellerstemmen er virkelig herlig. Anbefales!

 

h%qoZCeRRqa+2jAHxdXE4gI tillegg til Denver, så ble Toronto besøkt på min Amerikaferd. Mitt første møte med Amerika var nettopp Toronto for ganske så nøyaktig 10 år siden, og det ble et herlig gjensyn. Jeg gjorde ikke stort annet enn å vandre rundt, besøke bryggerier (ja, her kan de også brygge øl) og suge til meg storbyen. Utgangspunktet for hele turen var å få med seg the National i Toronto og det var en fantastisk konsert! Jeg tok meg også tid til litt bokhandling, fant en fin bokhandel uten air con, og der ble Jamaica Inn av Daphne du Maurier (sa jo det) og the Book of Illusions av Paul Auster med hjem. Hun bak kassa anbefalte en fin, men sliten bar med fantastisk bakgård som et bra lesested. At puben het the Cloak and Dagger var jo bare en bonus. (Husker dessverre ikke hva bokhandelen het, men den ligger et par innganger lengre ned i gata på samme side). Det eneste negative med Toronto var tordenværet som gjorde at jeg ble et helt døgn forsinka på hjemveien og måtte overnatte på et strømløst hotell. Men i etterkant er det jo sånne ting som gjør at man får en god historie å fortelle.

50618Og takket være tordenvær, så ble også flyet såpass forsinka i New York at jeg fikk lest ferdig the Book of Illusions (2002) før flyet tok av. Boka handler om en forfatter som mister hele familien i en flystyrt og som i sorgen finner et prosjekt som holder han i live. Prosjektet handler om å skrive om en ukjent filmregissør, som er antatt død. Men etter at boka er publisert får han mystiske henvendelser. Boka var underholdende, men jeg har nok lest litt for mange lignende bøker til å la meg sjarmere helt. Og slutten var helt forutsigbar.

 

Post-ferie innlegg done! I tillegg til Bookermania, så leser jeg også August Is a Wicked Month av Edna O’Brien, for å balansere det nye med litt klassisk. Skal prøve å oppdatere bloggen litt jevnligere. Og få lest noe norsk 2018. Gleder meg til Stavanger om ei måned!

february/march.

Another short summary of the latest books I have read. Two very good ones, one so-so, and one that disappointed despite having the prettiest name and cover. An interesting note is that the two débutantes chose to write in English, and not their native tongues. And then I might have a new author amongst my favourites.

7. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford (2004)
Tags: non-fiction, state of the nation, war and travel, biography, usa

 “The Mongols made no technological breakthroughs, founded no new religions, wrote few books or dramas, and gave the world no new crops or methods of agriculture. Their own craftsmen could not weave cloth, cast metal, make pottery, or even bake bread. They manufactured neither porcelain nor pottery, painted no pictures, and built no buildings. Yet, as their army conquered culture after culture, they collected and passed all of these skills from one civilization to the next.”

Genghis Khan (1162-1227) was the man who united the Mongols and then created an enormous empire. This book gives a thorough account of his life and what happened to the empire after his death. Definitely entertaining and I learnt a lot (like that the empire crumbled as the black plague spread). Definitely a good pick if you want to learn more about the Mongols. I read this in the beginning of February as a part of Ingalill’s biography reading circle where that month’s topic was men with moustaches.

8. Drop City by T. Coraghessan Boyle (2003)

 Tags: books you should read, sex drugs and rock’n’roll, war and travel, 1001 books, books about the arctic, usa

A community of hippies are forced to leave their property in California after too many encounters with the police. Where can no one bother them? Alaska. So they pack everything they own, including goats, into an old bus and set off. Meanwhile, in Alaska, Sess Harder has lived alone for years running a trap line by a remote river, but now he’s getting hitched. How will they get along with hippies as neighbours?

I loved this book from the first page and I never wanted it to end. It’s hilarious, sad and violent. I think I have discovered a new dirty old man to add to my favourites, and I’m thrilled that he has written so many books to discover.

9. Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekbäck (2014)

 Tags: crime and mystery, sweden, historical novels, books about the arctic, state of the nation, supernatural

‘Wolf winter,’ she said, her voice small. ‘I wanted to ask about it. You know, what it is.’
He was silent for a long time. ‘It’s the kind of winter that will remind us we are mortal,’ he said. ‘Mortal and alone.’ 

 Swedish Lappland, 1717. A family has just moved to Blackåsen from Finland. Then one day when the girls are out looking after the animals, they find a dead man. It looks like an animal has torn him up, and people speaks of the devil, but Maija is convinced that this is done by a human. But who?

I liked the book for the story, the setting and the characters. The writing is also good. But there are too many loose ends towards the end of the book, so I was left with too many questions at the end to really enjoy it. 

 

10. Wildalone by Krassi Zourkava (2015)
Tags: family and self, crime and mystery, supernatural, bulgaria, not impressed, sex drugs and rock’n’roll

Thea is a talented Bulgarian pianist who has just started at Princeton, just like her sister did 15 years earlier. But her sister never graduated, as she died at Princeton, and then her body was stolen from the funeral home and hasn’t been found. Thea loves Princeton, and she quickly meet the man of her dreams, but there is an air of mystery surrounding him.

This book was just too much. I got 50 shades of grey vibes from the Thea’s love interest and the mix of modern life and ancient Greek myths was exciting until the point when it just got too much. I had to read the end several times, and I still don’t get it. It was also too easy to guess what was going to happen. And apparently this is the first book in a saga… No, just no. 

Now, if only I can finish Gösta Berling’s Saga before Easter… It’s good, but I can only handle it in small doses.

norsk på norsk.

(A summary of the Norwegians books I have read this autumn. You better hope Grimnes and Haavardsholm will be translated into a language you know, or learn Norwegian, because you’re missing out.)

Jeg, i likhet med de fleste norske bokbloggere spurtleser norsk 2014 litteratur på tampen av året for å nominere til Bokbloggerprisen. Og takket være fantastiske eBokBib, så har jeg hivd meg på. Det er heftige diskusjoner rundt omkring om hva som er lesverdig og ulesbart. Mine to absolutte anbefalinger er Skåden og Haavardsholm.

42. Kaoshjerte av Lise Forfang Grimnes (2014)
  Tags: young adult fiction, family and self, supernatural

 Lise har skrevet en engasjerende ungdomsbok om Minja som har Pippikrefter og våkner opp en dag på slutten av sommerferien full av blåmerker og husker ingenting. Bestevennen Josef er sporløst borte, og da hun begynner å sette brikkene sammen, så oppdager hun at hun har vært på jakt etter sin ukjente bestemor. Jakten fører henne til ei liten bygd hvor bestemora er avvisende, folk merkelige, men i det minste så er det iallefall en kjekk gutt der. Bygda har mange hemmeligheter, og snart blir Minja trukket ned i mørket.

 Perfekt ungdomsbok, men for meg ble det litt for forutsigbart siden jeg fort skjønte mye av tegninga (men så er jeg heller ikke i rett målgruppe). Men masse pluss for at historien er spennende, traff rett i hjerterota og at den inneholder så mye fra eventyrverden. Hvis denne finner veien til skolebiblioteket, så skal jeg pushe den på ungdommene. Håper Lise fortsatter å skrive! (Og nei, jeg gidder ikke å bruke inhabilkortet selv om jeg har fått minst to klemmer av Lise.)

44. Forvandlinger: Fabler: Fabler av Aage Storm Borchgrevink (2014)
Tags: not impressed,  supernatural, family and self, sex drugs and rock’n’roll
Her er en bok full av moderne fabler om det norske folk. Det åpner med at Kongen har fått hale og horn, og må flytte opp på loftet i Slottet og fortsetter med partifyll, ungdomsfyll, utroskap og vold. Fablene er godt skrevet, og jeg lar meg lett rive med. Den beste er uten tvil den siste. MEN, så: det forbanna etterordet. Når det plutselig går fra fabler til virkelighet og den forferdelige dagen i juli 2011. Mitt store spørsmål er selvsagt hvorfor. Hvorfor måtte disse fablene knyttes opp til terroristen? Det var ingenting som sa meg at det var dette det handlet om når jeg leste dem, og selv om det var mye som var realistisk, så var det altfor mye urealistisk til at jeg tolket fablene som troverdig. Kunne ikke fiksjon bare være fiksjon, og essayet vært gitt ut for seg selv? Da hadde denne boka falt mye bedre i smak hos meg.

45. Til Nuuk av Espen Haavardsholm  (2014)
 Tags: books about the arctic, books you should read, family and self, war and travel

Espen Hå skal til København på besøk til sin barndomsvenn Klaus og familien hans. På toget støter han på en annen bekjent fra barndommen som gjør Københavnsbesøket meget ubehagelig. Det hjelper heller ikke at Klaus er lagt inn på psykiatrisk avdeling og hans kone, Sara, vil at Espen skal finne ut hvorfor. Sara er inuitt og ekteparets tvillinger er musikere som skal til Nuuk for å holde konsert. Mens Espen er i København så møter han mange kjente, funderer over livet og litteratur og leser seg opp om Grønland.

Jeg ble sugd rett inn i historien og det ble en fantastisk leseopplevelse. Boka virker veldig selvbiografisk og reflekterende uten at det gjør noe. Skildringene er så fine at jeg fikk lyst til å sykle rundt i København.. Vendepunktet i historien er både dramatisk og hjerteskjærende, og boka har så mange høydepunkt at det er vanskelig å velge et. Masse pluss for at den er full av kunnskap, særlig om Grønland. Den minner meg på at det er på høy tid å lese Profetene i Evighetsfjorden av Kim Leine og En Afrikaner på Grønland av Tété-Michel Kpomassie, og ikke minst å reise til Grønland. Boka seiler opp som en av favorittene på nominasjonslista mi. Anbefales!

Så to gode og en ikke fullt så god. Får se hvor mange flere jeg rekker før fristen, har mange på lista over bøker jeg vil sjekke ut. Apropos det; hvorfor kan ikke eBokBib ha en vil-lese-liste funksjon? Altfor mange bøker å huske på, og jeg er for lat til å notere de ned. 

(Kjenner at det er lenge siden jeg har skrevet langt og saklig på norsk, sikkert fullt av skriveleifer).

eleven, thirteen, sixteen: george smiley

by John le Carré (1961-1963)

 George Smiley was a British agent during the war. When a man he had interviewed for the agency is found murdered and the agency doesn’t do anything about it, he decides to leave. Before he leaves, he is determined to solve the case. The case is a tricky one and involves German agents on British solved, and one of them manages to run off to Germany.

After leaving the agency, he is asked to look into a murder at a religious private school. The wife of one of the professors was found murdered after she had written to a Christian newspaper’s advisory column about fearing for her life. The victim believes that her husband will kill her, but he has an alibi for the time of the murder.

A spy should always be out in the cold, because that means that no one takes notice of him.  When the circle of Leamas’ agents is killed one by one in East Germany, all signs lead to the leader of the East Germany’s secret agency. As it turns out, he is the one who ran the operation in Britain a few years earlier. Leamas decides to infiltrate the East German agency, but first he must make himself interesting enough for them to recruit him.

I have spent the previous month reading about George Smiley, one of the most famous character in crime and mystery novels. Even after three books, it is hard to paint a picture of George, except that he is peculiar looking and his wife left him. He is definitely a character that manages to go unnoticed. And in the Spy Who Came in from the Cold he is only mentioned, and it is hard to understand which role he played in the infiltration of the East German agency.

I have yet to discover why John le Carré is such a popular writer. I found the first book incredibly hard to read because of the language. I wanted to find my red pen and rewrite a lot of the sentences. The plot didn’t make the reading easier and in all three books it seems like too much is left out for us readers who haven’t spent time working as a secret agent. Luckily the language improved in the second book and I hardly had no complaints when I came to the third book, and I guess it will continue to improve in the rest of his work.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold must have been a great read when it was published in the height of the Cold War drama. It gives a good picture of the Cold War, and I really liked the British Communist Elizabeth Gold and how brainwashed the East German Communists were. I’m fortunate because I have just taught the kids about the Cold War and especially Berlin, so I had no problems with the setting and background. If you are interested in reading this, you should at least read about the Cold War on Wikipedia at some point so you understand the background of the book.

What I really cannot fathom is that not only one, but three of the George Smiley novels have made it onto the 1001 books you must read before you die list (insert some rant about male experts and male readers and their thirst for action here). Surely there must be better books to put on the list. Because I need to read books in a chronological order, I must endure all the George Smiley books in order to cross off Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Smiley’s People. Let’s hope that Smiley grows on me.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold was March’s read in Line’s 1001 books reading circle

four.

Fear and Trembling by Amélie Nothomb (1999)
 “Ancient Japanese protocol stipulated that the Emperor be addressed with “fear and trembling”. I’ve always loved the expression, which so perfectly describes the way actors in Samurai films speak to their leader, their voices tremulous with almost superhuman reverence. 
So I put on the mask of terror and started to tremble.”
Amélie is excited about spending a year in a Japanese firm. She was born and lived in Japan until she was 5, but her parents were Belgian. The big Japanese corporation turns out to be a culture shock for Amélie, with its hierarchy and secret codes of conduct.

The book makes an attempt at being funny, but it didn’t make me laugh. I also found it to be shallow and too many things and words were repeated for a novel of just 130 pages. How about finding some synonyms for beautiful and blunder? But this may be the translator’s fault. I also wished the author would take a look at Japan outside the workplace as well, as I think that would maybe make it more interesting. I found the section about how Japanese women should behave to be the most interesting in the book. How this book got to be on the list of 1001 books you should read before you die is beyond me.

But I have high hopes for the film, as I think there is so much potential which can be played out on the big screen.

forty-four.

All Dogs Are Blue by Rodrigo de Souza Leão (2008)
And what if a blue dog really existed? It would be fucking amazing to have one. And if it had a puppy, would it be born blue, too? If he could bark and eat, what would a blue dog eat? Blue food? And if he got ill, would he take blue medicine?”
The narrator is a schizophrenic who is a patient at a psychiatric hospital in Brazil. He spends his days thinking, and conversing with his imaginary friends, Rimbauld and Baudelaire.

I had a hard time following the train of thoughts of a mad man. What was real and what wasn’t? There were parts, mainly stand-alone sentences which I really enjoyed reading, but most of the time I kept counting the pages I had left to read. Thankfully, it’s just a mere 109 pages long.

I have a feeling that this is a book you’ll either love or hate. Or rather, understand or not getting the point. And I’m definitely one of those who don’t get it.  

thirty-eight.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1963)
(first published in 1980)
Ignatius J. Reilly spends his days eating junk food, writing notes and screaming obscenities at the telly and his mother. After a series of unfortunate events which puts his mother in debt, he has to go out in New Orleans to look for a job.

Is it possible to like a book if you hate the main character? I really disliked Ignatius, and I know I should feel sorry for him because of his obvious mental state, but I just can’t. His obnoxious character annoyed me so much that I was at several occasions tempted to give up. I often skimmed the parts which were all about him, and especially his notes and letters. But luckily the rest of the characters made this book worth the read.

And yes, it is an absurd tale with some very interesting characters. All my sympathies went to Mrs Reilly and I also found her friend, Santa, hilarious. The rest of the characters make the story interesting, but some of them I found as annoying as Ignatius himself. The ending certainly made me think. And it almost made me root for Ignatius.

This was July’s book in Line’s 1001-books reading challenge.

seventeen.

Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid (1985)
 Annie John grows up in St. John’s, Antigua. She is a smart girl, but also naughty which makes her popular amongst the girls in her new class. Annie loves her mother, but she is very strict, so Annie has to hide and lie about things like playing with marbles and spending time with the very dirty Red Girl at the abandoned lighthouse. 
Although it is fun to read about Annie’s adventures in Antigua, I was disappointed when I finished it. Was this all? I kept expecting a turning point somewhere and it all seemed too fragmented. And reading the Wikipedia page, I found the reason why; the chapters were published as stories in the New Yorker before they were put together in a book. And when you read them as individual stories they make more sense than a novel. They are witty and Annie’s world is an interesting place. But I just wish this book would be more than it is. 
I blame my high expectations on the fact that it is on the list of 1001 books you should read before you die. It made it onto the list in 2008 after the list in 2006 was criticised for having too many dead old white men. I do see the point of a more diverse list, but I know a lot of other books I’d have put on the list instead of Annie John. I have the Autobiography of my Mother on my shelves, so I will give Jamaica Kincaid another chance later on. Her newest novel, See Now Then, also seems intriguing. 

fifteen.

Norwegian by Night by Derek Miller (2013)
Sheldon Horowitz is an 82 year old Korea veteran American Jew who has come to Norway to be taken care of by his granddaughter Rhea. Rhea and her boyfriend, Lars, live in an apartment block in Tøyen and one day after they have gone out, Sheldon witnesses the murder of their Serbian neighbour and has to escape with her son.
The title caught my attention and in the beginning it was interesting to read a book set in Norway and see what a foreigner would make of our country. But the more I read, the more annoyed I got. First of all, the plot is really weak. At any point, Sheldon could have just gone to the police, and the reasons why he didn’t make no sense. But my main beef with the novel is Sheldon himself, and especially Sheldon’s flashbacks and imaginary friends who didn’t do anything for the story. A contester for the most annoying narrator I have come across prize. And finally, all the loose ends. Why did the Kosovars want the kid? And what exactly was the link back to the Balkan wars?  

fifty.

the Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (1996)
“Films are for everyone, collective, generous, with children cheering when the cavalry arrives. And they’re even better on TV: two can watch and comment. But your books are selfish. Solitary. Some of them can’t even be read, they fall to bits if you open them. A person who’s interested only in books doesn’t need other people, and that frightens me” 
 Corso is an agent who finds rare books for others and he isn’t afraid to cross the line in order to satisfy his customers. But this time he has two hard cases; he has to find out if a piece of a manuscript is a part of the original The Three Musketeers by Dumas and find the original occult book called The Book of Nine Doors of the Kingdom of Shadows. But the cases are more complicated, mainly because he is nearly killed by a man who looks like the crook in the Three Musketeers. And then there is the young girl who protects him and says she is the devil. Are the two cases connected?
This book had all the ingredients to be a book after my tastes. But having all the correct ingredients is useless when you cannot follow the recipe. My biggest beefs are the language and the horrible editing. It might have been the cheap Kindle version, but almost all sentences lacked punctuation and even some words seemed to be missing. And although it has a great, yet very predictable, plot, the writing style ruined it. How can you make something exciting so boring?
I’m surprised that it has survived four editions of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, but I suspect it is only because it mentions other books and authors in such academic ways. If you plan to read the Three Musketeers you definitely need to do that before reading this one as it is full of spoilers. 
One good thing: Some noteworthy quotes about books and reading. And a lot of other people seem to love it, but it wasn’t for me.   

ps: the film version is called the Ninth Gate and is starring Johnny Depp and I have higher hopes for it than the book.