One of the most original things I've ever read, though Hummelhonung (Honey) is disturbing and difficult in its own way. There's a dangerous lack of hu...moreOne of the most original things I've ever read, though Hummelhonung (Honey) is disturbing and difficult in its own way. There's a dangerous lack of human beings in the counterposition of two twin brothers in a remote corner of Sweden.
Like salt and sugar the two old brothers are impossibile to mix together and the only thing that keeps them alive is their reciprocal hate. Each of them has a lethargic, selfish and out of time life just aiming to survive to the long wished death of his twin.
Torgny Lindgren gradually unveils the reasons of this incomprehensible competition thanks to the presence of a third character, a woman preacher accidentally blocked by a snowstorm in the house of one of the twins.
Divided between salt and sugar the woman doesn't pick a part. She tries to understand two opposite solitudes being forced to live a third and sour one.
For mysterious reasons, I have always postponed the moment in which I would have put my eyes on this book. Then my good friend Mena, who is also my fav...moreFor mysterious reasons, I have always postponed the moment in which I would have put my eyes on this book. Then my good friend Mena, who is also my favourite bookpusher, read the novel and gently nudged me to fill my gap.
I have bought a second-hand English edition of this book so that my daily language can be pleasantly affected by the splendor of the sailor's slang. This is a novel that stands in a class of its own. I wonder how it sounds like in Swedish. And in my mother tongue, Italian, of course.
In a manner of speakin', I am learnin' a whole lotta things.
Ay, if I'm not doin' it! The likes of me are payin' their debt with the likes of Long John Silver and those messmates of him.
Ain't true that I'm becomin' more and more at ease with the privateers' jargon? Mebbe. That wild bunch of scoundrels taught me how to use in a proper way terms like kneelhauling and round robin and John Silver himself show'd me how to arrange a decent barbecue on the bloody beach. Me, meself didn't know that the life and perils of a distinguish'd gentleman of fortune could have been that interestin' to read.
Death and resurrection. Shipwrecks and knobsticks. Drinkin' and amputatin'. God and capt'ns. Slaveships and brotherhood. Mr.Defoe and L'Olonnaise. Gallows and foul-mouths. 'tis what you'll find here. Naught but rum. Ay! (less)
What "The Prince" by Machiavelli could and might have been without being all that unbearably Machiavellian. The world and meaning of life according to...moreWhat "The Prince" by Machiavelli could and might have been without being all that unbearably Machiavellian. The world and meaning of life according to an amazing villain who may be half height, but is double evil too.
Great to read when you fall in hate with someone. The Dwarf will teach you to hate more and better and further. Unless you won't turn your negative mood into irony.(less)
Hjalmar Söderberg would deserve more popularity. "Doctor Glas" is a very interesting book for all those who are interested in morality and its corrupti...moreHjalmar Söderberg would deserve more popularity. "Doctor Glas" is a very interesting book for all those who are interested in morality and its corruption.
Although being written in an old fashioned style with an excessive use of an epistolary and diary form, this novel is extremely modern. I would call it postmodern in a way.
Who else in 1906 would have spoken of issues such as abortion, euthanasia, suicidal tendencies and women's rights? Furthermore showing the points of view on these topics of a physician and clergyman! The conclusion is that both science and religion give inaccurate and unsatisfactory answers.
Ok, Strindberg came first in upsetting the orthodox ones. But Söderberg made it better and in a braver way.
I've got a kind of obsession for Scandinavian literature, having lived for a little while in Norway.
And yet I have to say that Swedish literature has...moreI've got a kind of obsession for Scandinavian literature, having lived for a little while in Norway.
And yet I have to say that Swedish literature has more to offer than Norwegian one with such great novelists like Stig Dagerman, Lars Gustafsson and Torgny Lindgren.
Mikael Niemi belongs to a new generation of Swedish authors and -as I suppose from his surname, he has finnish roots.- This book is a funny and easy reading which takes place in an exotic northern land, that part of Sweden on the Bothnia gulf. It's here, among creeks and forests and not much more, that a bunch of local young guys decide to play rock 'n roll.
They listen to old vynils by Elvis and Beatles trying to play the same chords and mispronouncing the same words, building their instruments by themselves and so on.
It's the kind of novel about music as an interpretation of life that you can really appreciate if you have read The Commitments by Roddy Doyle or The James Dean Garage Band by Rick Moody.
Moreover you will surely learn something on how people used to live in Sweden during the 60s and the 70s far from the big cities, apparently in the Middle of a Nowhere Land.(less)
Despite its not really intriguing title, this novel confirms the talent of Lars Gustafsson. This great Swedish novelist can create an interesting stor...moreDespite its not really intriguing title, this novel confirms the talent of Lars Gustafsson. This great Swedish novelist can create an interesting story even from the most apparently plain plot.
A Tiler's Afternoon is perhaps not one of the best things Gustafsson has ever wrote, but it's an excellent proof of how common people, in common places living common situations may have something to tell us if narrated in a proper way. (less)
This book is one of the best kept secrets of the post World War II journalism. Furthermore it's one of the few examples Stig Dagerman left us as a jou...moreThis book is one of the best kept secrets of the post World War II journalism. Furthermore it's one of the few examples Stig Dagerman left us as a journalist before committing suicide.
Dagerman took the decision to travel through the destruction of Germany in the fall of 1946. In two months he visited the most important German towns finding and narrating stories for his Swedish newspaper.
As a foreign correspondant, Dagerman shows an excellent attitude in getting daily stories from the people he met during his travel through streets filled with ruins or extremely crowded trains. At the same time, the Swedish novelist never loses the capacity of putting these stories into a wider texture, evocating the contrast between the powerful and arrogant Reich led country and the demolished and miserable country Germany has become.
Summer is coming and I'm finally winning over my Larsson prejudice.
Being a big fan of the Swedish literature that was once seen as a subterranean phen...moreSummer is coming and I'm finally winning over my Larsson prejudice.
Being a big fan of the Swedish literature that was once seen as a subterranean phenomenon (at least in Italy) I was somehow disappointed when Stieg Larsson got that hype. I know, I know this is very snobbish of mine, but I bet it happens to many other people around. Perhaps it's more common with music. It's kind of disturbing when your best kept secrets pop up in daily conversations. Of course it may be stupid talking about an "underground literature" just like it's silly labeling some music as "indie", but still it was rewarding playing the bookpusher game.
That sensation became even worse when apparently every single crime fiction book coming from Sweden was reaching the top of the selling charts. The name of the author was unimportant.
Now, after exactly 148 pages of this opener of the Millennium trilogy, I have to admit how Stieg Larsson deserved at least a part of his success. This book is captivating, somehow funny and it gently tickles your brains without asking you to overthink. It reminds me some crime fiction novels I used to read when I was a young adult, the episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock presents" as well as a match of "Cluedo". The idea of printing a map of the Hedeby island as a crime zone... well is very naive.
Even not recalling by personal memories most of the Stockholm that Larsson writes about (originally one of the main reasons behind my decision of picking this book up) I like the (winky) characters and even consider the plot kind of plausible.
Curiously enough this novel doesn't look that "Swedish" or "Scandinavian" to me. Not yet. And this capacity of staying out of those labels is a part of its worthiness. Let's read what will come next: updating required.
Update: Ok, now I'm done with this book. Well, what I could add more? From page 150 or something to page 500 or something there is plenty of that explicit sexual violence that I was expecting by the reviews I had read and Larsson knows how to put it in the storyframe using a rather convincing technique.
Still there are some other aspects that could have written in a better way.
For instance, I've found quite odd the idea of not separating in a more skillful and effective way the two parallel stories of Mikael Blomqvist and Lisbeth Salander. One can be pretty sure there will be an intersection between these two plots sooner or later, but just leaving a blank line every now and then for that long passing from Mikael to Lisbeth and back without any logical rhythm left me sceptical.
Just for being overpedantic, I also have to notice how some parts of the book look like copy&paste from catalogues like in the whole page it takes Larsson to talk about the extrapowerful Mac of Lisbeth Salander. For what use he gave us all those informations about the Ram, GB memory available, visual Nvidia and so on? Ok, she's a bloody pitiless hacker, but come on, are we in an Apple store?
Anyways, I guess how I will read the 2nd book as soon as possible, so poor Stieg managed to create a successful story.
PS: May I say that the English title of the novel is awful?(less)