I enjoyed this photographic book, where Andrew Birkin - Jane's brother and famed collaborator with Stanley Kubrick - has snapped a lot of pictures of...moreI enjoyed this photographic book, where Andrew Birkin - Jane's brother and famed collaborator with Stanley Kubrick - has snapped a lot of pictures of Jane, her hubby Serge Gainsbourg and their children, friends and animals, in a variety of scenes, all quite family-oriented and hence not often public and drab. It's a labour of love, this book; clad in plastic with postcards and a badge included, it's sweet. Still, I'd have loved more text and more pictures to accompany this, but that's just me.(less)
Simple, sweet and short: a story of a 15-year-old boy who reminisces 30 years later, of a party he attended with a - seemingly - more attractive frien...moreSimple, sweet and short: a story of a 15-year-old boy who reminisces 30 years later, of a party he attended with a - seemingly - more attractive friend and what happened there. From the short story:
She stood out of the way, letting us enter. “There’s a kitchen in the back,” she said. “Put it on the table there, with the other bottles.” She had golden, wavy hair, and she was very beautiful. The hall was dim in the twilight, but I could see that she was beautiful. “What’s your name, then?” said Vic. She told him it was Stella, and he grinned his crooked white grin and told her that that had to be the prettiest name he had ever heard. Smooth bastard. And what was worse was that he said it like he meant it. Vic headed back to drop off the wine in the kitchen, and I looked into the front room, where the music was coming from. There were people dancing in there. Stella walked in, and she started to dance, swaying to the music all alone, and I watched her.
This was during the early days of punk. On our own record players we would play the Adverts and the Jam, the Stranglers and the Clash and the Sex Pistols. At other people’s parties you’d hear ELO or 10cc or even Roxy Music. Maybe some Bowie, if you were lucky. During the German exchange, the only LP that we had all been able to agree on was Neil Young’s Harvest, and his song “Heart of Gold” had threaded through the trip like a refrain: I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold. . . .
The music playing in that front room wasn’t anything I recognized. It sounded a bit like a German electronic pop group called Kraftwerk, and a bit like an LP I’d been given for my last birthday, of strange sounds made by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The music had a beat, though, and the half-dozen girls in that room were moving gently to it, although I only looked at Stella. She shone. Vic pushed past me, into the room. He was holding a can of lager. “There’s booze back in the kitchen,” he told me. He wandered over to Stella and he began to talk to her. I couldn’t hear what they were saying over the music, but I knew that there was no room for me in that conversation.
Worth the short read. It's nostalgic without being sappy.(less)
Henrik Bromander's books are often on the border of fiction and non-fiction; they're about human life at the core, where Bromander rarely seems to car...moreHenrik Bromander's books are often on the border of fiction and non-fiction; they're about human life at the core, where Bromander rarely seems to care about the big, bombastic stuff that often make the core of the twists and turns of other persons' novels. This is conversations, between the self and between people. Inner thoughts, controversies, boredom, war, politics, poetry, Morrissey and hate.
I love Bromander's use of space in his stories. Even if there's violence in a lot of his tales, there's still reflection in nothing, in very well-used pauses where human existance lies, whether it be through his expression of depression, of protest, side-tracked stories of other people's lives - as with Genet's life as displayed in this book - he does this very well, and it makes the tempo of the book work excellently.
The main character in this book, Erik, creates a fanzine that's published in the book. That's also excellent, as are the views into his psyche where politics, love, sexuality, crime and art are concerned.
In all honesty: two pages into this book, not knowing anything about Chabon or the contents of this book, I felt this was most probably written by an...moreIn all honesty: two pages into this book, not knowing anything about Chabon or the contents of this book, I felt this was most probably written by an American pretending to be English, born and braised.
While Chabon can obviously write well, the book works as a whole piece, but I tended to get interrupted by the details really bothering me as every dialogue sounded as though Chabon had _really_ wanted to be Arthur Conan Doyle, writing about Sherlock Holmes; the title of this book is a reference to a Sherlock Holmes story.
The mystery in itself is plain and simple: where's the parrot? An old detective tries to solve everything.
A light, quick read, but painful and really, Conan Doyle's stories are infinitely better.(less)
At first, I thought I'd never get through this book. That's before I actually opened it. But when digging into it, reading it all took me three days,...moreAt first, I thought I'd never get through this book. That's before I actually opened it. But when digging into it, reading it all took me three days, which says something about how quickly this tome is read. The sentences are short, the language simple and not too staged. Even if one hates Norén and his ways, you can dig this. I mean, he doesn't paint a picture, but uses simple words that anybody can understand, and describes the purchase of a jacket and his crumbling marriage in about the same way. All in all: an interesting, not very pretentious delve into the mind of Norén, and if I were to describe the style of this, I'd say it's a mixture of Bodil Malmsten, Montaigne and Kenneth Williams.(less)
This is a collection of interviews with David Foster Wallace, which is published posthumously. DFW does these interviews either face-to-face or by e-m...moreThis is a collection of interviews with David Foster Wallace, which is published posthumously. DFW does these interviews either face-to-face or by e-mail (which he perfers, as he refers to himself as a "five-draft man").
MILLER: What were you intending to do when you started this book?
DFW: I wanted to do something sad. I’d done some funny stuff and some heavy, intellectual stuff, but I’d never done anything sad. And I wanted it not to have a single main character. The other banality would be: I wanted to do something real American, about what it’s like to live in America around the millennium.
MILLER: And what is that like?
DFW: There’s something particularly sad about it, something that doesn’t have very much to do with physical circumstances, or the economy, or any of the stuff that gets talked about in the news. It’s more like a stomach-level sadness. I see it in myself and my friends in different ways. It manifests itself as a kind of lostness. Whether it’s unique to our generation I really don’t know.
On using pop-cultural references in his writing:
MILLER: Are you trying to find similar meanings in the pop culture material you use? That sort of thing can be seen as merely clever, or shallow.
DFW: I’ve always thought of myself as a realist. I can remember fighting with my professors about it in grad school. The world that I live in consists of 250 advertisements a day and any number of unbelievably entertaining options, most of which are subsidized by corporations that want to sell me things. The whole way that the world acts on my nerve endings is bound up with stuff that the guys with leather patches on their elbows would consider pop or trivial or ephemeral. I use a fair amount of pop stuff in my fiction, but what I mean by it is nothing different than what other people mean in writing about trees and parks and having to walk to the river to get water a 100 years ago. It’s just the texture of the world I live in.
On being furry:
DFW: I’ve never had a beard. I’ve tried periodically to grow a beard, and when it resembles, you know, the armpit of a 15-year-old girl who hasn’t shaved her armpit, I shave it off.
Q: I mean, when you have something like the oil rigs “bobbing fellatially”—
DFW: Yeah, except that’s exactly how they look. [Laughs]
Q: Do you read reviews of your work
A: It’s tempting to. It’s also tempting to try and eavesdrop on people who are talking about you and don’t think you can hear them. But you almost always get your feelings hurt if you eavesdrop like this. It’s the same way with reviews. It took me a while to figure out that reviews of my work are not for me. They’re for potential book-buyers. I have a nice tight established circle of friends and associates I can send stuff to and get honest critical response that helps me make the stuff better. By the time the stuff is published, though, anything I hear about it amounts to me eavesdropping.
And, to finish off, a quote from an interviewer to DFW:
Anyway, I remember you once actually answering your phone by saying not “Hello” but “Distract me,” which struck me as the truest way to put it—when you pick up the phone, you’re leaving the submersion of good writerly concentration.
This is not a badly written book. The form is good, and it stands up. It breathes quite well.
Two main characters, a heterosexual couple, exist in a po...moreThis is not a badly written book. The form is good, and it stands up. It breathes quite well.
Two main characters, a heterosexual couple, exist in a post-apocalyptic America that quickly turns into a kind of Lord of the Flies-cum-Oryx and Crake universe, propelled by a brother, whose terrorism is a little interesting.
Sadly, I felt the book continually tried to impress, rather than move and join, the reader. Getting to where they are, socioeconomically, is never really explained, more contrived:
At the time, Frida imagined herself describing the moment. Maybe to an old friend or to her mother. Or online, as she used to do until their last year in L.A., before electricity became too expensive, before the Internet became a privilege for the very few. She had once kept a diligent online record of her life; she’d had a blog since she’d been able to write. Her brain couldn’t just let that habit go, and in her head she said, There I was, naked, my hair falling over my shoulders. But he didn’t care! He had become immune to my nakedness. The phrase was so silly, so melodramatic. Immune to my nakedness. But it was true. Cal wasn’t looking. And all at once she understood: no one was looking.
Things are supposed to feel natural, but the dialogue is forced:
She kept her eyes on the shovel. “How deep do you need to go?” He shrugged. “Deep enough.” She rolled her eyes. She hated when he offered vague, poetic answers to her questions. “Sorry.” “I didn’t get my period,” she said. Why had she just blurted it out like that? He looked at her carefully for a moment, as if willing himself to recognize her. “How late?” “Too late. Thirteen days. You know I’m always on time.”
And oh, how sad we are:
Like his wife, Bo wore a gold band on his left ring finger. So they’d been out here awhile, Frida thought, long before the world really went to shit. Hilda and Dada had given Frida their rings as a wedding present, but she and Cal had sold them not long after.
I heard people talk of how the book was great at ending wonderfully. I don't really think it did. Sadly, the best thing about this book, to me, is the cover. Otherwise: please read something else, like the mentioned books, or just don't.(less)
Så sammanfattar jag Henrik Bromanders första roman, som har stramare tyglar än seriemediet, till materialet...moreFrisk luft. Mänsklighet. Fantasi. Ärlighet.
Så sammanfattar jag Henrik Bromanders första roman, som har stramare tyglar än seriemediet, till materialets fördelar. Bromanders främsta styrka är, tycker jag, att han framställer vanliga personer som har helt vanliga tankar - och jag menar att personernas tankar inte är annat än kringelkrokiga, precis som vanliga människors tankar är.
Johan är i huvudrollen, en mobbad pojke som växer upp och börjar kroppsbygga i tonåren; det börjar lätt men eskalerar.
Även om intrigen är enkel, föll jag för Johans tankevärld, och beskrivningarna kring den och allt som händer. En kan verkligen vilja att det ska gå bra för Johan, trots att han gör fel. Och han gör rätt, som vilken människa som helst.
Som vanligt är Bromanders beskrivningar av händelser och övergångar väldigt subtila och kraftfulla. Språket som används är enkelt, och blir, i samband med att en snabbt kommer in i huvudpersonens huvud, väldigt kraftfullt. Flera gånger under läsandets gång kom jag på mig själv med att jag inte kunde lägga ifrån mig den här boken.
Boken kunde ett par, tre gånger kännas som om den stod stilla, men det varade inte länge, utan gick vidare med styrka. Rekommenderas varmt till alla. Bromander är ungefär lika välkommen i roman- som i serieform, och jag menar alltså att han är en av sveriges nu bästa författare.(less)
This is a well-written first novel in a planned series of three, where young William Avery from England appears in India, under The Company, i.e. The...moreThis is a well-written first novel in a planned series of three, where young William Avery from England appears in India, under The Company, i.e. The East India Company. The year is 1837, and at the start Avery gets orders to follow an older, morose and eccentric man, Blake, in order to find a poet laureate, Mountstuart.
This is an adventure along the lines of Indiana Jones, Agatha Christie, Rudyard Kipling and Arthur Conan Doyle. The language is spot-on and the action is thrilling; the tempo holds throughout the book, and I really wanted to find out what was happening next.
All in all: an adventure, almost veering more towards the young adult way than towards older persons, but it's a well-researched book, recommendable to all who like the above.(less)
This book is in Swedish, but yes, I'm reviewing it in English.
It's not very pretentious, which is one of its fortés, but it lacks in the dialogue, whi...moreThis book is in Swedish, but yes, I'm reviewing it in English.
It's not very pretentious, which is one of its fortés, but it lacks in the dialogue, which feels strained and forced at best. The interchanging between the four characters is well executed, and I am a sucker for reading about characters roaming around Stockholm; it's well done.
Just like Grytt, I have also worked in the Swedish Social Services - actually I've changed Grytt's network password once, fancy that - and I recognise that "Alpen" and "Eken" are actually words from within the Social Services that refer to a registry system and a half-way house, respectively. Grytt has herself worked for a recovery facility in Västberga, Stockholm.
All in all: entertaining, real, yet the dialogue should have been more well-written, and I also think the book slacked some where pace in concerned almost half-way through the book.(less)
Simple sentences and not trying too hard - at creating interesting, complex characters and a good plot - made this book roll, and it was a very quick...moreSimple sentences and not trying too hard - at creating interesting, complex characters and a good plot - made this book roll, and it was a very quick read. A step away from what's drab in bad, older crime novels, which can at times read like a blueprint of the innards of a prejudiced mind. This one was interesting until the end.(less)
This turned out to be a straightforward trip into paranoia and horror as the lead character looks for an apartment, finds one and then meets the neigh...moreThis turned out to be a straightforward trip into paranoia and horror as the lead character looks for an apartment, finds one and then meets the neighbours. And more happens; that's just the start.
This is a relatively short novel, and as such, it does surprisingly well when being scary. I don't usually read horror stories, but this is more than that; it touches on a base human level where we don't want to disturb our neighbours yet still don't want to lose integrity.(less)
I actually won this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway, which I am grateful for.
However, the vast array of weirdness that - to me, and all of my opi...moreI actually won this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway, which I am grateful for.
However, the vast array of weirdness that - to me, and all of my opinions of this book are naturally subjective - envelops this book is just too much for me. I'm no stranger to experimental, other and new ways of thinking, but this should have been rewritten, edited and generally reined in much more; an editor was definitely needed.
I don't hate this book. It's got some things going for it, in terms of being experimental; it's a tool for trying to better yourself and doing good things, which is naturally good and loving, but where it falls flat are, among other things, when it contains texts that have been repeated throughout the book for no apparent reason (other than bad editing being the case), no references wherever are used when quasi-scientific claims or just plain nonsense is stated as fact.
The book is too experimental for its own good - I can't see somebody using it to feel better while feeling bad - and it's got some weird anti-feministic bits and a very strange references to Africans thrown in.