Wednesday, 26 May 2010

what kind of reader am i?

I like dirty, old, preferably dead, men. Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll? Yes please. Charles Bukowski, J.G. Ballard, Arto Paasilinna, John Fante, Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, William S. Burroughs and so on. Crash by J.G. Ballard is the book that has left the biggest impression on me. I drew, however, the line at the complete works of Marquis de Sade. It took me about 8 months to get through it, had to put the book down after a few pages and leave it for days as it was just too disgusting. I actually gagged while reading 120 Days of Sodom.

I spent my whole adolescence reading books written by young females, trying to relate. And I did relate. Francesca Lia Block, Elizabeth Wurtzel, Janet Fitch, Camilla Gibb. These days I prefer books written by non-English female writers. Books banned in China. Japanese female writers that are bad-ass; Natsuo Kirino, Hitomi Kanehara, Banana Yoshimoto. Chick-lit is too predictable for me. I do however buy the Shopaholic books by Sophie Kinsella if I come across them in a second-hand store. After reading the last sentence in Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell (which I got for free with a copy of Cosmopolitan), I threw the book at the wall because it was so bad.

What I do not read is science fiction and fantasy. The exception is J.R.R. Tolkien and books meant for children. Anything taking place elsewhere than on our planet is definitely out of the question.

I try to read more than 5o books every year. Yet my reading list is close to a 100 books at all times. Instead of buying souvenirs when I'm travelling, I buy books. And then there is Amazon with cheap books and cheap and fast delivery. I try to read as varied as possible, different genres and authors from all over the world. I often read more than one book at the same time and try to read something every day. And as I'm very close to becoming an English teacher, I'm trying to get better at analysing and promoting literature.

When I get filthy rich, I'm going to have a library and a cat named Lucifer.

Monday, 17 May 2010

twenty, twenty-one.

White Fang (1903) and the Call of the Wild (1906) by Jack London

One book, two novels. White Fang is follows a wolf pup of some dog heritage from he is born in the wild and tamed by men. While the Call of the Wild is about a dog being kidnapped from his home in California, brought into the Canadian Arctic and turns his back to men in favour of wolves. White Fang is a detailed description of how the nature works and how interactions between animals, and also between men and animals can shape the animals. The morale is if you treat someone badly, they will be bad and if you treat someone well, they will be good.

Having read the stories and seen the films as a kid, I was surprised how brutal the stories actually are. Most of White Fang is a bloody fight after one another with always someone being slashed in the end. While the Call of the Wild went in the opposite direction, from good to violent. I liked how the stories were narrated by the animals themselves, rather from a human perspective. Thanks to the amazing description of the Arctic, I'm already missing home after one day in the south.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

nineteen.

A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif (2008)

This work of fiction is based on the 1988 plane crash that killed the President of Pakistan. Who killed him? Was it the boy who had been arrested a few weeks before for attempting to kill him? Was it the man next in line? The wife? Tapeworms? Or the Americans? Or maybe it was the curse from a jailed blind woman?

This book is a brilliant picture of a corrupt developing country's army in the 1980s. The paranoia, assassination of enemies of the state, scandals and hope. The way the Americans interfered with developing countries during the Cold War are also portrayed. And there is even a guest appearance of Osama bin Laden. It is a witty tale with a very serious background.

I chose the book because of the title and the cover when it showed up on my Amazon's recommended for you page. And I'm glad I did.

Speaking of Amazon, I just placed my 14 book-yay-school's-out-forever-order, which should arrive when I graduate. It has everything from Russian classics, other classics, the beat generation, old and new crime, contemporary fiction and a two volume edition of 1001 tales from Arabian Nights. Looking forward to a summer of reading.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

eighteen.

Den senile landmåleren by Arto Paasilinna (1991)
(Elämä lyhyt, Rytkönen Pitkä)

Originally written in Finnish, translated to Norwegian, hopefully to English one day. A cabdriver picks up a demented old man one day and together they go on an adventure into the Finnish north. At last, after a lot of drunkenness and debauchery, they end up at farm owned by the old man's friend from the Winter War. The friend is tired of being a farmer so they plan to leave the farm, but destroy it completely before departure.

Arto Paasilinna is one of my favourite authors. He has written over 30 books, but only a very few are available in other languages than Finnish. I'm therefore seriously thinking about picking up a book in Finnish and read it with a lot of help from my Finnish-English dictionary and grandma as a summer project. The Year of the Hare and the Howling Miller have been published in English and I highly recommend both of them. Paasilinna manages to capture the Finnish people and nature with a touch of magic realism in a brilliant way. And the books are hilarious, yet often have a more serious message between the lines. This man deserves a Nobel Prize in Literature!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

seventeen.

Himmelblomsttreet by Gert Nygårdshaug (1995)

This is the sequel to Mengele Zoo. Another book that should be translated into other languages. The book opens with a Norwegian, Jens Oder or Yensho as he is known to the Brazilians, coming back to a Europe in war to fulfil the great plan. But something goes terribly wrong and he watches his friends being crushed in the coffins they have been hiding in on a ship when arriving at a harbour in Portugal. He is then captured and brought to a monastery somewhere. Then the book goes backwards to Amazonas where he had started up an organisation that collects seeds from the plants in the rain forest and analyse and save them for the future. But as in Mengele Zoo, the village where the sampling take place is destroyed by multinational corporations. And then Yensho meets Mino, the eco-terrorist.

It took me a while to get into the sequel, but once I did, I read the remaining 350 pages in one sitting. Loved it as much, or perhaps even more, than Mengele Zoo.

Thursday, 6 May 2010




I swear I have a system.

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