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… skulle være overskriften på et innlegg som jeg skulle publisere tidlig i januar. Det skulle handle om Øst for Eden (John Steinbeck, 1952), somer den beste boka jeg har lest på lenge, ja, kanskje til og med noensinne. Men jeg strevde med ordene og plutselig hadde det gått et halvt år. Kanskje det er umulig å beskrive Øst for Eden? Kort fortalt handler den om to familier, Hamilton og Trask i Salinas og foregår over flere generasjoner. Bakpå står det at de presterer å etterligne både Adam og Eva pluss Kain og Abel. Cathy er den ondeste/beste karakteren jeg har møtt – herregud for et kvinnfolk! Jeg vet at dette er en bok jeg kommer til å lese flere ganger siden jeg tviler på at man får med seg alle nyansene den ene gangen. Men tviler på at det blir den første boka jeg leser hvert år.

Siden januar har jeg lest mye, men ikke nok til at jeg er ajour med Goodreads målet mitt med 50 bøker. Er fortsatt to bak skjema. Heldigvis er det forsatt nesten ei måned igjen av sommerferien, og akkurat nå leser jeg Stillitsen av Donna Tartt (2013) for harde livet for å bli ferdig med den før flyet går til Denver på tirsdag. Ikke at det er noe vanskelig, siden boka er høyst drivende. Vedder også på at jeg kommer til å grine på et eller annet tidspunkt. Den feier seg også inn i rekken av bøker lest i sommer som handler om staselige eiendommer og rare familier.

Det be24826361gynte med at jeg leste Skjønnhet er et sår av Eka Kurniawan (2002). Historien begynner med en prostituert som står opp fra grava. Hun har levd et innholdsrikt liv, blant annet startet hennes karriere som gledespike for japanske soldater under den andre verdenskrig. Romanen inneholder mye og var særdeles underholdende. Men jeg tror jeg gjorde den store feilen og leste de siste to hundre sidene i et jafs, noe som gjorde at jeg ble lei og utålmodig. Boka hadde nok fortjent noe bedre konsentrasjon enn det jeg hadde å gi.

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Den andre boka som virkelig tok meg med storm dette året er Rebecca av Daphne du Maurier (1938). Den atmosfæren som grep tak i meg fra første setning er vanskelig å beskrive, men jeg levde meg virkelig inn i historien. Jeg ble også overrasket over hvor uventet handlingen ble, jeg hadde forventet meg litt gufs. Men at det skulle bli en kriminalroman var uventet. Jeg skal få somlet meg til å se filmversjonen av Hitchcock før eller senere. Dette er en bok jeg skulle ønske jeg leste i min ungdomstid, men heldigvis var det aldri for sent. Anbefales på det varmeste!

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Tredje boka i staselige eiendommer og rare familier var Åpne sår av Gillian Flynn (2006). Den handler om en journalist som må tilbake til hjembyen for å skrive om mord på to småjenter. Temmelig makaber bok, men hjelp så det gikk unna. Likte denne mye bedre enn Gone Girl, selv om den er lite realistisk. En miniserie er tilgjengelig på HBO Nordic – jeg skal se den når høstmørket setter inn.

 

 

Ellers bør Molde/Amerika-kvartetten til Edvard Hoem få hederlig omtale. De gikk ned på strak arm. Jeg har også klart å få en sakprosa under beltet, nemlig Min europeiske familie av Karin Bojs (2015). Interessant hvis du er interessert i slektsforskning, historie og arkeologi. Jeg leste den mens jeg ventet på DNA-resultatet og den hjalp veldig til å få plass hvor man stammer fra (som heldigvis ikke var særlig overraskende).  Er også overrasket hvor lite nytt jeg har lest – fikk nok en real overdose i fjor med hele Bookerlista og litt vel mange norske. Jeg har faktisk bare lest en 2018bok, og det var Macbeth av Nesbø. Vi får se hva Booker kommer opp med i år, er litt avventende, men det er jo umulig å ikke ble engasjert når man leser det Labben skriver. Jeg kommer garantert til å kjøpe noen bøker på min Amerikareise, så vi får se hva som får bli med i kofferten hjem (jeg gjetter noe nytt og noe Daphne du Maurier).

 

seven.

the Goddess Chronicle by Natsuo Kirino (2008)
“My name is Namima – ‘Woman-Amid-the-Waves’. I am a miko. Born on an island far, far to the south, I was barely sixteen when I died. Now I make my home among the dead, here in this realm of darkness. How did this come to pass?”
 Namima and her older sister by a year, Kamikuu, are of one of the noblest families on the island of Umihebi. Their grandmother is the island’s priestess and when Kamikuu is 6, she is taken from the family to follow her grandmother’s role, while Namima is to become the outcast of the island. Because her sister is yin, she has to be yang, and has to take care of the dead and live at the funeral place and not see anyone.

But before that happens, she has to take care of the basket of leftover food from Kamikuu, and although the island is poor and starving, the food is to be thrown off the cliff every night and that’s Namima’s job. One day, she meets another outcast, Mahito, and he begs for the food for his mother who is pregnant, and if she doesn’t give birth to a girl, his family will remain outcasts. She falls in love, breaks a lot of rules, becomes pregnant and decides to run away with him.

This book wasn’t anything like I expected from the woman who has written some of the goriest books I have read (Grotesque, Out and Real World). Because this is just beautiful. I really felt the unfairness of the island’s rules, and then the shock of what came next. I really enjoyed the rest of the tale and especially that part when Namima became a wasp, and the story of Izanami and Izanaki.

I discovered after reading the book, that it is part of a wonderful series called Canongate Myths (least informative webpage ever?), which retell ancient myths and are written by quite a few well-known authors. I have already put a number of them on my wish list, including Jeanette Winterson, Ali Smith, Margaret Atwood and A.S Byatt.  What I miss, and have tried to google, is the background of the story. I found the story of Izanami and Izanaki, but I’m really curious about the island and what time it is set.

forty-six.

the Ten Thousand Things by Maria Dermoût (1958)
Felicia returns to the spice garden in the Moluccas where she spent her childhood together with her infant son. Her grandmother is as strange as she was when Felicia was young. She refused to call her Felicia because she disliked that her parents had given her a happy name when they didn’t know if she was happy, and therefore called her just granddaughter.  She has a curiosity cabinet full of strange things which she collects for Felicia’s son. And then there are the three little dead girls who play in the sand.

From there the story moves on to other people on the island, both native and visitors. It is a strange tale, dealing with indigenous beliefs and superstitions meeting the European traditions. But it turned out to be another  beautifully written book which left no significant impression on me. I can’t quite put the finger on why or how, but I had a hard time concentrating on the 208 pages. I guess I just get lost in the prose.

I became curious about this book after reading about it in Wild by Cheryl Strayed; it was one of the books she read on the Pacific Crest Trail. 

I have another similar book, the Tea Lords by Hella S. Haasse, and I’m hoping that one will be better, because it’s interesting to read literature from the former Dutch colonists.

seventy-five.

the Shining by Stephen King (1977)
 Jack Torrance is the winter caretaker of the Overlook hotel, high up in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado. He brings his wife, Wendy, and their 5 year old son, Danny and they will spend the winter in solitude. But Danny is not a normal boy, he can read minds and see the future, and he has very bad visions about the hotel.

Poor Danny and his visions! He tries to keep them to himself as his father really need this job so he won’t start drinking again and his parents won’t get divorced. When coming to the hotel he meets the cook who is leaving for the winter, and the cook explains to him how he has the shining and that the terrible things at the hotel can’t hurt him because they’re just images of the past.

I was surprised how complex the book is, there’s a lot of background information on the characters and family drama, and the hotel’s history is also interesting. But I also like how it doesn’t explain everything, the events at the end are still a bit fuzzy, but there’s no way I’m reading this book again.

I read a few Stephen King books in my youth and then I stopped because they really frightened me. Yet, I think the Shining is the most frightening of them all. I got a few nightmares thanks to this. And about ten times worse than the film adaptation. I need to see the film again, just to compare it to the book.

seventy-four.

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver (2010)
It’s all over, I’m not going. I can’t spend a year in the Arctic with that lot. They arrange to ‘meet for a drink’, then give me a grilling, and make it pretty clear what they think of a grammar-school boy with a London degree. Tomorrow I’ll write and tell them where to put their sodding expedition.”

Jack Miller is joining an expedition to Gruhuken, Spitsbergen in 1937. The expedition will consist of five men and they will spend a year in the Arctic. But the expedition has bad luck from the start, and only three men end up going. And the captain of the sealing boat they’re hitching a ride with, refuses to go all the way to Gruhuken.

Yes! A ghost story from the High Arctic is exactly what I needed at the darkest time of the year. This book had me right from the start and I couldn’t put it down. I’m glad I read this (and reading the Shining) in a house full of people and dogs instead of alone in my small apartment. 

I didn’t just like the book because it was scary, I really enjoyed the historical background and the details from how to take meteorological readings and using a wireless to the description of the (fictional) Gruhuken. And the pictures from Svalbard! 

“Fear of the dark. Until I came here, I thought that was for children; that you grew out of it. But it never really goes away. It’s always there underneath. The oldest fear of all. What’s at the back of the cave?”

seventy-three.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843)
Ebenezer Scrooge is a grumpy and greedy old man who doesn’t believe in the Christmas spirit. Then one night, the ghost of his business partner, who has been dead for seven years, haunts him. And for the next three nights he is haunted by three spirits; Ghost of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas to Come.

My first Dickens! It was a quick read on my Kindle, and because I have heard/read/seen the story in many versions before, my heart wasn’t really into it.

thirty-three.

the Ritual by Adam Nevill (2011)

“And on the second day things did not get better. The rain fell hard and cold, the white sun never broke through the low grey cloud, and they were lost. But it was the dead thing they found hanging from a tree that changed the trip beyond recognition.”

Four English men in their late 30s, Luke, Hutch, Dom and Phil, are trekking in a remote area of Swedish Lapland. They decide to take a short-cut because of the bad condition two of the men are in. Then they find a large animal slaughtered in the worst way and hung high up in a tree. Not long after they come to an old abandoned building where they decide to spend the night. They quickly realise that the building has been used for some kind of ancient worship.

When Luke wakes up the next day after a very strange dream, he discovers that his friends have all been sleepwalking and all of them are in a state of shock. But this is just the beginning of the horror that only one of them will survive.

The beginning of the book didn’t impress me, but that was mainly because of horrible writing style. But it definitely gets better throughout the book. I really liked the twist when the story was most exciting, and I was also relieved because I couldn’t take one more minute of terror. This book would be perfect for the big screen. I will save Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill for the next time I want to be frightened again. But that won’t be any time in the near future as I’m sure I have enough nightmare material for a year now.

I will end this with two things from the second part of the book which was my favourite:

1. A Norwegian black metal band.

2. “Hearts torn out for the sun God in Mexico. Wretches ritually strangled and buried with their masters in ancient Britain. Simple people accused of witchcraft, pressed under stones and set alight in pyres of dry kindling. Commuters gassed in the Tokyo subway. Passengers flown through the side of buildings in jets full of fuel.
If only we could all stand up. All of us who have died unjustly for the Gods of the insane. There would be so many of us”

thirty-one.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

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A ship rescues a man drifting on ice in the Arctic. The captain writes home to his sister to tell her the strange tale of the man named Frankenstein. Frankenstein claims that he gave life to a horrible manlike monster who killed several of his family members because he refused to make a mate to the monster.
I have spent my whole life believing that the monster was named Frankenstein and now I know the truth. It took me forever to read the book, probably because I didn’t find the narrative of Frankenstein interesting at all until the first murder happened. And I finally started to enjoy the story when the monster started to speak. His story was far more interesting than Frankenstein’s, although I must question the way he learnt to read and write without being discovered, considering his size and all. Frankenstein certainly didn’t get any sympathy from me, but neither did the monster.
I haven’t seen any film adaptions of Frankenstein yet, and I doubt I will ever dare to do it on my own either as I imagine them being scarier than the book.

sixteen.

De døde by Vidar Sundstøl (2009)


This is the second book in the Minnesota trilogy, and it is really hard to write a review of it without spoiling the first book.

Lance Hansen is out hunting deer with his brother, Andy, for the weekend. The relationship between the brothers has never been easy and the only thing they really do together is this annual hunt. But this time, the hunt turns into a paranoia and a struggle between life and death.

I enjoyed this book more than the first. Probably because it was so thrilling and the only thing I didn’t like about it was the lenght – 175 pages is way too short. The third book in the trilogy is out in May, and I can’t wait to find out what happens in the end.

fifty-five.

Cold Earth by Sarah Moss (2009)


Six archaeologists are on Greenland trying to solve the mystery of why the Vikings disappeared from the island. An outbreak of a pandemic disease is spreading panic at the time of their departure to Greenland. As the dig is starting to uncover bodies, Nina is having nightmares about dead Greenlanders in the camp. And then the rest of the archaeologists are sensing them too.

This book frightened me. Isolated camp, ghosts and a pandemic. I couldn’t put it away and even when I did for a few minutes, it was always in my mind. And even now when I have finished it and the daylight is back, I still have a nervous feeling. Or more like an Arctic chill. I’m really glad I was attracted to the shiny cover at the airport in Trondheim.

I really liked the letter as a writing style, mainly because it took a long time before I realised it was written as letters. And this one of the few books where I’m satisfied that you never get all the facts, you have to guess what happened. What really happened to the Greenlanders, anyway?

Dear Hollywood; please make a brilliant film out of this book.