Thursday, 28 June 2012

thirty-three.

the She-Devil in the Mirror by Horacio Castellanos Moya (2000)

Olga María is found dead, murdered in front of her children. The daughters think the murderer looks like Robocop. Laura, Olga María's best friend, can't understand who'd want to murder her, and she unravels the investigation, Olga María's secrets and the violent history of El Salvador. 

Because despite the fact that Olga María is the devoted wife and mother, she has had a few affairs. Some Laura knows about and some are revealed to her by the police and the private investigator who is hired by Olga María's sister.  

This has all the ingredients to be a great book, but the fact that the entire book is a one way conversation between Laura and someone, really ruins it, at least for me. And especially the fact that she says my dear about twice on every page. If only this had been written differently, it would be great.

But this book got me interested in El Salvador's history. And the fact that this book was from El Salvador is the reason why I finished it and didn't throw it away.

And what the hell was that last chapter?

Monday, 25 June 2012

This is the reason I love receiving mail from &OtherStories!
Third book this year out of four. Will read it after epic summer adventure.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

thirty-two.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1877)

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

 Anna Karenina is the unhappy wife of Karenin and the devoted mother to their son. But then she meets Count Vronsky who takes her by storm and she gives up her family and her place in society to be with him.

The extended family of Anna are also important characters in this excellent 800+ pages long Russian classic. I fell in love on the first page and the love lasted until the last page. Or maybe not entirely until the last page, because all the religious doubt was too much. 

My favourite character must be Levin, a friend of Anna's brother and the suitor of his wife's sister. I can't really pinpoint why, but he seemed like a sincere character all through the book. All the other intrigues in the extended family and their friends' lives are all so excellently explained. The only thing I was really curious about was what Dolly's daughter had been doing with the raspberries. It must be something naughty as it wasn't in the book! 

I'm sure there's so much to be said about this book, but the most important thing is that I loved it so much that it will be up there amongst my favourite books. I'm also excited about the new film version which comes out later this year.

This was June's book in Line's 1001 books reading challenge, to see what other Norwegians say about it, go here.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

school's out!

And the long summer holiday is ahead. It will be spent in aeroplanes, trains, buses, cars, boats and hotels in Iceland, USA and Canada. Not sure how much time will be spent reading. I'm taking one book, the Secret History by Donna Tartt which is the next one in Line's 1001 challenge, and my Kindle with me and will try not to fill up my suitcase with books. But I definitely buy books as souvenirs so I will come home with quite a few I'm guessing.

I'm currently reading Anna Karenina which is to be written about tomorrow in Line's 1001 challenge. I'm also reading a long (909 pages) and very confusing book from a Faroese author, but haven't opened in weeks, and a short book from an El Salvadorian author but it's written in direct speech and it's really annoying to read. But both books are from such exotic places that I can't give them up. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that if my booklog seems quiet, it is because I'm somewhere on the road. I have made a travelogue, an ache for distant places, so hopefully I can turn it into something interesting.

Happy summer everyone!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

thirty-one.

101 Reykjavik by Hallgrímur Helgason (1996)

Hlynur is 30+, unemployed and lives at his mother. His daily routine is something like this: wake up late, drink too much coca cola, eat cheerios, smoke, watch porn, go out, stumble home or elsewhere drunk and repeat. But when Lolla, his mother friend and worse, rumoured girlfriend, moves in, Hlynur is forced out of his comfort zone.

I don't think I have ever hated someone in a book as much as I hate Hlynur. He seemed like the worst pathetic guy you could come across. He was okay in the beginning of the book and then he just turned into a prick. And I actually threw the book into the wall a couple of times but had to pick it up and continue hoping that he would die a terrible death at the end, hopefully by his own hands. I was really disappointed when he was still alive at the end. I also started skimming a lot midway because I couldn't deal with his thoughts. I sincerely hope that the author meant for him to come across as the biggest jerk.

It's funny that the main character can ruin a book so much. Because I loved the rest of the characters and the setting, but not Hlynur. And when the book is about him, I just can't like it. 

If you're curious what Hlynur did, you have to read it yourself and judge because I don't think I can get into it without raging. And yes! It's amazing that I can feel this way about a stupid character in a book.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

thirty.

Big Sur by Jack Kerouac (1962)

“And in the flush of the first few days of joy I confidently tell myself (not expecting what I'll do in three weeks only) 'no more dissipation, it's time for me to quietly watch the world and even enjoy it, first in woods like these, then just calmly walk and talk among people of the world, no booze, no drugs, no binges, no bouts with beatniks and drunks and junkies and everybody, no more I ask myself the question O why is God torturing me, that's it, be a loner, travel, talk to waiters, walk around, no more self-imposed agony...it's time to think and watch and keep concentrated on the fact that after all this whole surface of the world as we know it now will be covered with the silt of a billion years in time...Yay, for this, more aloneness” 

 Jack Duluoz, Kerouac's alter-ego has passed 40, is tired of fans who break into his house, and he seriously needs to take a break from alcohol and drugs. So he borrows his friend Monsanto's cabin in Big Sur to spend some weeks in solitude. But the death of his beloved cat sends him on a binge. So Jack soon finds himself out and about in San Francisco and Los Gatos, but although the nights are awesome with sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, the days are spent in nervous agony and Jack's nerves are failing him.

This is the saddest Jack Kerouac I have read. The way Jack is struggling with depression and reality is getting more and more evident by the pages. He also steals his friend Cody's mistress, Billie, and they spend some mad weeks together, and Billie wants them to get married and Jack to be the father of her son, but Jack is sure that the son is the offspring of the devil. It's more the language rather than the events that makes this book so sad, I'm in love with Kerouac's style.
“But I remember seeing a mess of leaves suddenly go skittering in the wind and into the creek, then floating rapidly down the creek towards the sea, making me feel a nameless horror even then of 'Oh my God, we're all being swept away to sea no matter what we know or say or do”
My reason for picking this book up now, is that in a little more than a month's time, I'll find myself in Big Sur. I'm hoping it will be as beautiful as Kerouac describes it, and I'm sure there will be some nights with too much wine as well. There's a film adaptation coming out later this year, along with an adaptation of On the Road. I will also throw in a recommendation of the album One Fast Move or I'm Gone by Jay Ferrar and Benjamin Gibbard. It will be on heavy rotation on the road from San Francisco to Big Sur!

Blog Archive