You can read the wonderful first two chapters, skip the Gnostic, self-conceited/borderline fascist bullshit that is the rest, and move on to some of HYou can read the wonderful first two chapters, skip the Gnostic, self-conceited/borderline fascist bullshit that is the rest, and move on to some of Hesse's better books, where similar problems are explored way more profoundly....more
The book has its flaws, the biggest one being the one-dimensional characters, but its main idea and sense of hopelessness are conveyed very well. TheThe book has its flaws, the biggest one being the one-dimensional characters, but its main idea and sense of hopelessness are conveyed very well. The quote from 'The Hollow Men' in the beginning pretty much sums it up:
In this last of meeting places We grope together And avoid speech Gathered on this beach of the tumid river… This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper.
There's an old joke about bai Ivan (in Bulgarian bai is an honorary form of address towards an older person), the man who knew everyone. Different verThere's an old joke about bai Ivan (in Bulgarian bai is an honorary form of address towards an older person), the man who knew everyone. Different versions exist in other countries as well, but I prefer the Bulgarian one, so here it is:
Bai Ivan was a janitor in a big factory. One day the boss said to his employees that he wanted everyone to be extra diligent tomorrow, because the prime minister would be visiting the factory. On the next day the prime minister arrived and the boss began showing him around. Suddenly the prime minister stopped, as he noticed bai Ivan wiping the floor nearby. "Bai Ivane, my friend!", greeted the minister. "How are you?" The two embraced each other and engaged in a friendly conversation. Bai Ivan's boss was surprised, but didn't say anything. After a while the prime minister went on with his visit, which turned out to be successful. Some time passed and the Bulgarian factory was about to make a huge deal with the US government. The president of the United States would come personally to discuss the final terms. Again, the boss told his employees to behave and do their jobs. Before the president's arrival, helicopters appeared and began circling the building. There snipers, dogs, bodyguards, lock, stock and barrel. Finally, a motorcade of twenty vehicles approached and the president got out of a fancy SUV. While he was being shown around, the president noticed bai Ivan, who was coming out of a larder and was covered with dirt and cobwebs. "Bai Ivan!", the president exclaimed. "What's going on, old buddy?" The two embraced and kissed each other on the cheeks. They talked for some time, and then the president went on to sign the deal, agreeing to favourable terms for the Bulgarians. The boss was astounded, but again he didn't say anything. A few months later he decided to go to the Vatican for the Pope's Easter message. As a sign of gratitude towards his best employee, the boss invited bai Ivan to come with him. So they went to Rome and were standing in the crowd gathered in front of St. Peter's Basilica, listening to the Pope's message. As the Pope was talking, his eyes suddenly widened and he exclaimed: "Bai Ivan! Come here, my child, join me while I deliver my message to the people." Bai Ivan looked at his dumbfounded boss, who only managed to nod, so bai Ivan went to the Pope, who embraced him and kissed him. After a while bai Ivan went back to his boss, but some worried people had gathered in a circle around him. Bai Ivan made his way through and saw his boss lying unconscious on the ground. He managed to bring him round and asked him what had happened. "Bai Ivane", his boss said, "when it turned out you were friends with the prime minister, I accepted that. When the president of the United States rushed to embrace and kiss you, I somehow accepted that too. Even when the Pope invited you to join him just now, I was able to stomach it. But when some Japanese tourist standing next to me pointed at the Pope and asked me who that guy next to bai Ivan was, I just couldn't take it.
If you wonder what bai Ivan's story is and how comes he knows all those important people - well, this book is a take on that....more
Once again we have a tired Patrick, an annoying, nosy Erika, couples with broken dreams of grandchildren, devIf you've read one, you've read them all.
Once again we have a tired Patrick, an annoying, nosy Erika, couples with broken dreams of grandchildren, devastated people making coffee or cleaning the house with mechanical movements, a victim from Fjällbacka who moved to Göteborg and returned, not willing to talk about his past, Melberg who thinks the simplest answers are the right ones (and contrary to reason he is wrong as usual), and so on. Some passages actually seem like they were outright copy-pasted from the previous books.
Now, this is not necessarily bad. Fans of the series would know what to expect and probably would not be disappointed by the repetition. The real problem was that this time even the crime investigation, which didn't really lead anywhere, wasn't particularly interesting. The dénouement, which was revealed in a couple of pages and without much connection to the investigation, was reminiscent of a previous one and not fulfilling at all. ...more