Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Thirty-one. Not old. Not young. But a viable die-able age.

the God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (1997)

“As Estha stirred the thick jam he thought Two Thoughts and the Two Thoughts he thought were these:
a) Anything can happen to anyone.
and
b) It is best to be prepared.” 

Rahel and Estha are twins that have returned to their childhood home. Estha hasn't been there since he was sent to his father after the terrible event of their cousin Sophie Mol's death, while Rahel stayed with her grandparents as her mother was sent away as well for loving the wrong man.

The story moves between the now at the twins' return and the then with the death of Sophie Mol as the main event with a couple of twists and turns. But what really makes this book is the beautiful prose. Sometimes a mere sentence could make me laugh out loud or just sigh. It's definitely a slow-reading book. Although it's beautifully written and I enjoyed the story, I felt that there was something missing, but I cannot put my finger on exactly what. It is also a hard book to write about. But it is definitely worth a read!

The book won the Man Booker Prize in 1997 and is also August's read in Line's 1001 books reading circle.

“And the air was full of Thoughts and Things to Say. But at times like these, only the Small Things are ever said. Big Things lurk unsaid inside.”

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Poets on the run.

the Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño (1998)

“There is a time for reciting poems and a time for fists.” 

Juan Gárcia is a 17 year old, who through his diary tells the story about his meeting with the Visceral Realists, a gang of poets living in Mexico City. They usually hang around in bars, drinking and discussing books. He also falls in love with one of them, María Font, and stops attending classes at the university. Two of the most famous Visceral Realists, Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, along with a prostitute, Lupe, and Juan Gárcia,  have to leave Mexico City on New Year's Eve 1975 because Lupe's pimp has found them.

The second part of the book are eyewitness accounts from around the world, spanning from 1976 to 1996. Here we learn what Ulises Lima and Arturo Belano are up to in Mexico, Europe, Israel, USA and Africa and all the interesting characters they meet on their way.  It took some time to get used to the jumping from one eyewitness to another and piecing together the story, but once I got used to it, it became addictive.

The story is interesting, but I think you have to be really into poetry, and especially Mexican, to get everything out of this book. I usually skimmed the very detailed poetry part of the book. The rest of the book was right up my alley. Arturo Belano is the alter ego of Roberto Bolaño, and most of the characters are based on real persons (Wikipedia has a nice who's who).

I read the book as a part of a book originally written in Spanish in Bjørg's off the shelf challenge, temporarily being supervised by Hedda. I'm about a month late for the challenge as I have been a super slow reader this summer. the Savage Detectives has been on my shelf since 2011, so about time.

"Everything that begins as a comedy ends as tragedy."

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Recipes for the heart and soul.

Just showing off some of my new purchases. Recipes and remedies for whatever the autumn has in store for me. How about a Bridget Jones' Daiquiri and a slice of Really easy chocolate cake with chilli salt and tequila while trying to cure your fear of commitment by reading Blindness by José Saramago? Bring it on, I say!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Of bees and men

the Bees by Laline Paull (2014)

 Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, the lowest of the low in the hive. Flora surprises the priestesses when she can speak and produce Flow, so they give her a job in the nursery. Accept, obey, serve is the slogan of the hive and they all work hard so the Queen will rule and give birth to their beloved sisters or brothers. The Queen is the only one who is allowed to produce offspring and those who disobey or mate are instantly killed by the Fertility Police. Flora is very devoted to the Queen and does her best to follow the strict rules of the hive, but then she produces an egg.

 The book is promoted as a mix between A Handmaid's Tale and the Hunger Games. The latter part worried me, but thankfully there's only the same desire of survival. But there's the same feminist message in the Bees as in A Handmaid's Tale. I really enjoyed those parts where they hailed to the Holy Mother and danced around with penises in their mouths.

It started as a slow read for me, especially because I felt like the chapters were written poorly, but fortunately the writing got better the further I got, and I ended up really enjoying it. I was definitely fascinated by the story and the lives of bees. Another part I really liked was the dancing routines, which is supposedly something bees do.

I'm hoping this will be translated into Norwegian because I think this will be the perfect book for my sister. And if you want to save the bees and have a garden, here's a list of plants they like.

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