This book basically snuck up on me. I merely went along reading the text what was perhaps too easily discounted by me as old woman's gossip and innuendo but became instead a serious treatise on dementia and truth, and if they ever can be satisfied. A thread of hope remained at the two-thirds mark for a resolution of this story, but madness prevailed, as did the dark. And the curtain remained between the closed window and reader as veil and welcome respite from the incessant noise we sometimes confuse as chatter.
Say what you will about Josipovici and you probably will be wrong. For Gabriel is foremost a writer who speaks with many voices though none of them prevail. His is a talent heretofore unseen and one that can never be reconciled to the person we have seen thinking, and even speaking, in our midst. Better to let him go on writing and just leave the man he is alone. ...more
Probably a better book than I am giving it credit for, but I simply thought it was a "two-star OK". I did not really learn anything new and only the lProbably a better book than I am giving it credit for, but I simply thought it was a "two-star OK". I did not really learn anything new and only the last section of four was interesting to me. Still, a good exercise in study. Reminded me of reading a required textbook though I had no need nor compelling desire to take any notes. ...more
If I hadn't discovered the writer Ágota Kristof I would never have heard of this man. Gabriel Josipovici wrote an introduction to her short memoir titled The Illiterate and I was so impressed with his comments and his style that I thought he would be a good enough writer to take a chance on reading. It is astonishing to me the number of books Gabriel Josipovici has published, not to mention the many different genres he has been involved with including both long and short fiction, plays, essays, and literary criticism. It is even more astounding to me that he is not better read and known of more widely. I believe his personal focus has been zeroed in on his own writing rather than the marketing of his good name. I respect him for this and count him as a model of professional behavior for all serious artists no matter their choice of media and expression.
On first read this slender volume of sixty pages is at once recognized as being among the highest quality of literature. Poetic, dramatic, and certainly lyrical. It is written in a manner that even seems important. Moments of dagger-like clarity bristle within a sparseness almost Beckettian in form if not also in its ambiguities. But there is something about the narrative that reminded me also of the very best of Paul Auster. Nothing in the entire oeuvre of Paul Auster even comes close to this book except for one example titled Travels in the Scriptorium which was brilliant in its execution. Much of the same foreboding tone can be found in both of these works, but in total, Everything Passes is the far superior work.
I believe that serious readers somehow find their way into understanding a worthy text. Others of us need rather to be taught how to read and devour difficult, and perhaps ambiguous, material. My position as stated for reading literature is no different than it was during my long career regarding the use and appreciation of building materials. If the product looks good from a distance it should look even better the closer one gets face to face to it. Even a repeated and focused gaze should provide the observer with an even more aesthetic value attached to the object. If it does not, then do not buy it. Most materials do not pass this extreme test and it is a sorry fact that few people do the exercises necessary to even get to this understanding of aesthetic value in art of any kind.
On my second read, less than a day later, I indeed found the book to be richer and better understood than the first time. Names seemed to matter more to me and the characters emerged from the text with more meaning for me. I actually began to distinguish between the voices speaking. Most everything that was previously unclear to me became illuminated and the ambiguity lessened in large degrees the closer I examined the text. This type of literature is easily discounted for its brevity and lack of convention. I understand this phenomenon in a most personal way. This brevity and ambiguity is the basis of my own early work found especially in my first book titled Zimble Zamble Zumble. I would bet that anyone who spends an adequate amount of time with this poetry would come away carrying an attractive bundle of feeling for the text and an understanding based on what you brought of yourself to the page. It has been mentioned to me in the past by my editor that I did create entire worlds within the confines of these short poems, and for that reason he always wondered why I would ever want to change to writing a longer form of prose when I could already succeed with so much less. Needless to say, I am tooting my own horn here. But my early work is a perfect example in light of discussing the book, Everything Passes. After reading this novel multiple times now I find I am the better for it. The aesthetic value of this work will ultimately be judged by history, but it specifically needs, and has to start, with readers like me. ...more
Gladly, it is over. I do believe that as time passes I will appreciate more my reading of this most-original book. But for now brand me burned, rightlGladly, it is over. I do believe that as time passes I will appreciate more my reading of this most-original book. But for now brand me burned, rightly forgiven, and smoldering on the stake....more
Though I did find many poems I enjoyed reading, I do not feel any larger affinity for his poesy. I eventually abandoned the book as their was nothingThough I did find many poems I enjoyed reading, I do not feel any larger affinity for his poesy. I eventually abandoned the book as their was nothing in it to keep my interest and nothing I felt worth more of my time. I am going to continue to look at Pessoa's work, and more of his poetry, but I am afraid he just does not buy me out. ...more
There was only one bit of text from this book that I deemed worthy of snatching, clipping for posterity, and it wasn't that there was a lack of words from which to find a sampling of a nugget here and there which carried meaning as well as enough weight in which to share their additional importance as sentences go on and on my page. But anyone reading this review to the end will have read the segment lifted from this very fine book.
Between the covers there are enough references to Thomas Bernhard and Samuel Beckett to pique the interests of the most discerning reader who holds the above-mentioned artists in as much high esteem as does the author Gabriel Josipovici. But there are numerous other literary mentionables present such as Swift, Shakespeare, Stevens, and Keats among other writers whose names do not begin begin or end with the letter S. I found in my brief critical research that the fault some critics have of Josipovici centered on his presumed pretentiousness and use of this novel as a vehicle in which to prove how smart he is and obviously well-read. I did not take this digressive work of Josipovici as anything but what it was. His main character Jack Tolenado is no doubt a brilliant man, an ex-University lecturer who became disenchanted with his work as do so many of us victimized and faced with a long drawn-out career. Things change. When we get older it becomes uncomfortably obvious that we are no longer in step with the younger generations and in fact we are loathe to change our own ways enough to climb again on board this swiftly moving train. Most of us who stubbornly persist in these unhappy situations turn into the sniveling crybaby bitches and mean curmudgeons older people too easily get branded as, guilty or not. I found Jack Tolenado quite enjoyable and I attempted to learn as much from him as possible on the many leisurely walks I shared in my reading of this wonderful little novel.
One paragraph was all it took Josipovici to get his message across. But the paragraph lasted for a hundred and fifty-one pages. Thomas Bernhard might even have been glad that for once another writer actually pulled the same stunt off successfully, much as Bernhard did so often himself. It is not an easy thing to do. Quite the contrary. For one, your character indeed better have a personality that can carry the bulk of the many words on every page. And of course, the writing must also be good. I found the entire experience a delight to read, though I have never been to England and had literally no frame of reference for the many parks and paths and zoos in which they were meandering through, or the many anecdotal memories Jack put forth as segments of his ongoing research of the last twenty-five years and his current ten-year attempt at finally finishing his magnum opus.
For lovers of digression and those given to enlivened activities such as listening-as-hostage to a brilliant man speak on a bevy of subjects, then this book is for you. Of course, if you already know it all, or think you know better, than this book just might not be your cup of tea. But I personally enjoyed reading this book deluged with dialogue and instruction, and I confidently knew that at any time I could shut this talking head off and return instead to that incessant egoistic monologue pressing inside my very own head.
… Most artists do not help us, he said, they hinder us, they lead us astray, they bludgeon us with noise and then leave us with nothing and less than nothing. Only a fews artists, he said, and we soon discover which ones for ourselves, have the ability to lead us inward and forward and to make us look with the eye of hope and anticipation at the world and ourselves. Left to our own devices, he said, we grow small and hard and get to hate this small hard thing and end in lethargy and despair. We need the artists who matter to remind us constantly that there are possibilities there, in the world and in ourselves, and that hard work and the deployment of energy do have their rewards....more
Truly a mysterious book beautifully written. Tabucchi certainly kept me engaged throughout. I know no more today than when I started, but at least I fTruly a mysterious book beautifully written. Tabucchi certainly kept me engaged throughout. I know no more today than when I started, but at least I felt a connection to the character Spino who wasn't afraid of the darkness. I believe this book was about looking into the unknown, not being afraid to, and in so doing still continuing to maintain a life of virtue. It is possible a second read would be beneficial for better understanding. But for some reason it doesn't feel like that kind of book for me. ...more
I felt sad when it ended, but glad I finished it. This is a lovely book for exposing one's interior, but I feel that almost anyone thoughtful enough cI felt sad when it ended, but glad I finished it. This is a lovely book for exposing one's interior, but I feel that almost anyone thoughtful enough could have written it. It is a book for all "like minds" to enjoy being friends with. And to my dismay there was really nothing new here under the sun. After completing two books of poems and now this, my study of Fernando Pessoa is over....more
Quite a charming little travelogue disguised as a novella. An original moving and mysterious adventure seemingly focused on the perpetual visiting ofQuite a charming little travelogue disguised as a novella. An original moving and mysterious adventure seemingly focused on the perpetual visiting of continually unrequited romances of dreamlike places, luxurious hotels, sophisticated relationships, and fine food. In a spirit of a likable indifference, or in the manner of swift flight from despair, the fact that nothing ever is resolved for us matters little in the end....more
Weather, such as this winter of 2014 we are presently engaged in, can flat wear us out. There are times we question how much more we might take. But the weather comes at us like waves do, and with skill and some luck we often survive. But there are times the ferocious weather comes all at once and our ending is inevitable. Those of us who survive these storms make what we can of what is left to us. For a special few it may be what is called a good life, and for the rest of us who basically survive, we live until we die.
The two main characters of this novel have both seen terrible things due to the period during WWII. Their families have been destroyed as well as their homes and every possession. This morning I was reminded on the news that these atrocities are still happening around the world and likely will always continue as long as there are human beings on the planet. There is little mystery behind the fact that we can be an awful animal at times. And it seems the violence never ends. The two main characters of this book who physically survive their personal tragedies do go on to make something of themselves, to better the planet in some way, and to each perhaps raise a couple of kids in a way that might make a difference in the world some day. But these lives, and what they made of them, will never replace for them what has been lost.
There are scant reviews of this book from which to plunder or even get some idea what others might have thought about after reading it. It seems that those who actually did read this book like it, but they never tell us why. Perhaps they cannot express themselves sufficiently or confidently enough to satisfy the ingrates among us. Or perhaps they are not willing to place themselves in jeopardy as others of us are more wont to do. I do not mind people assuming these docile postures as it places me in a position much different than these readers and I feel even more outside and apart from those just grazing along and feeling safe within the confines of the massive herd of those just like themselves.
I felt all along that this book was an exercise for Raymond Federman, and he practiced it at the expense of us all, that is, if he decided to eventually have this title published, which is obvious to me now that he did. But I am not convinced he set out to write this book in the manner in which it was written. I believe the narrator when he says he was just trying things out in order to discover whether or not he could make a novel out of his notes and letters to his friend. Seems he did. And a pretty good one at that....more
My adventure in reading this novel Pereira Declares can be summed up by the word enjoyable. Antonio Tabucchi clearly bought me out completely. I loved every word of this translation. Though I am not, for the most part, political, I do empathize with the trying times of Portugal during this period in our world history, though I do not have a personal frame of reference for my understanding. I do hate all oppression and suppression, and believe I would fight to the death of me to protect my own independence and delusions of freedom I think I possess.
Having completed the reading now of a total of four novels written by Antonio Tabucchi I have discovered an interest in visiting Portugal, especially the city of Lisbon. Whether or not that happens for me depends certainly on my age and how long I have left to live on and in relatively good health. But I do have to say that the waters, the architecture, and cafes of this beautiful country beckon me. I am not, in particular, a cafe person, but when a place-setting exists, one that I might actually enjoy, I feel somewhat romantically drawn to it. Of course, my feelings can be swiftly rebutted or contained generally as soon as a loud and awful herd of humanity enters the picture. If I am not exactly a hater in the extreme sense then I am quite close to being one. But staying holed up in my apartment is not conducive to my living a good and complete life. Then again, Tabucchi's favorite writer Fernando Pessoa promoted his personal idea for always remaining inside the mind and to do one's traveling only within the realm of imagination. I do both and cannot really say which one works best for me. I suppose there is good and bad in everything. It is unfortunate that I am mostly disappointed in anything I have had hyped to me or been overly excited about. But to be honest it is I who is the one who hypes most persistently. It is a way to make a dull life more interesting. There is little reality to really get worked up over unless you are a person such as Pereira who just loves his cheese and herb omelette and his fresh-squeezed lemonade containing vast amounts of sugar. Tonight my wife and I will be dining at one of Louisville's best little restaurants called The Mayan Cafe. The owner/chef simply prepares the very best sauces that seem to explode on the tongue and these sauces give so much pleasure at times the experience feels unlawful. And his desserts are such fabulous and sinful creations that they are without a doubt worth breaking every dietary restriction previously and voluntarily adhered to.
I find it quite daunting to pin down exactly what made this novel so much fun for me to read. It was perhaps in the relaxed tone of the narrator Pereira and his ridiculous attempts, made half-heartedly and without conviction, in hopes of acquiring a more healthy lifestyle by losing a few pounds. The way he contributed financially, and almost without question, to the two young people caught up in politics Pereira himself had no interest in. It was also his gestures, quite sweet and innocent, as he employed and paid from his own pocket wages to the young journalist, receiving almost nothing in return that he could use worth publishing in his culture page. And in these feeble efforts Pereira's true character was revealed to me as it somehow projected his rock-solid conviction for doing the right thing, no matter what. The last few pages of the book move forward in almost blinding speed as the plot quickly thickens and rises to a boil that cannot keep itself from cascading over. A book so well worth my time to read, and with momentous flavors I still am savoring. ...more
In order to be as forthcoming in the following review as possible I have to confess an affinity already acquired for most things Lee Klein. I believe he is a marvelously interesting and talented writer. And because I hold this Mr. Klein in such high esteem I am hesitant to give this book more than the four stars it certainly deserves. If I were rating this particular nonfiction on a typically noncreative site the book would garner a five star review from me because it simply blows most other critical reviews to smithereens. Lately it seems I have been using that word “smithereens” along with the word “delightful” far too often, enough times now that they are both beginning to make me sick of every overused, but perfectly good and appropriate, expression.
I have never submitted any of my own work to Lee Klein’s electronic machine via his Eyeshot website. Lee has also never had the pleasure of rejecting me in his official capacity as editor of his online journal. That is not to say he wouldn’t if given the chance, and that is also not to say that I haven’t already been rejected enough times elsewhere already in my lifetime. But his sometimes verbose rejections I believe are indeed moral. They definitely seem fair. I am of the opinion that he is extremely helpful to anyone reading and listening to what he has to say about improving a particular work. He even comes across as a humane and sensitive teacher of the first rank. But I get the sense that Eyeshot prefers “laugh out loud” stuff more than almost anything else and so I haven’t spent the time I probably should have reading his online journal in case I do ever want to submit my own seriously “unfunny” stuff. I am positive my work would not be what this editor is looking to post online. It seems, at least in reading these rejections, that these people unfortunately did not take the time to read Eyeshot’s Specific Recommendations, Restrictions, and Guidelines. It has several.
I found the entire book enjoyable to read, and I basically slowed myself down as much as I could while reading it to delay its ending for me. In its entirety Thanks and Sorry and Good Luck was certainly pleasurable, and I encourage any and all aspiring writers to read this book first before ever submitting anything you have written to anybody. Obviously if future submitters followed his suggestions it might give the poor guy more time to spend with his kid. This interesting collection of rejections is also a work of art, and I think enough evidence to make a case for a very strong beginning to a literary vocation. Lee Klein is a writer we are going to hear much more about in the coming years. ...more
After completing this quick read I was reminded of my very first sighting of the Chrysler Building in New York City just after coming out of the hole in exiting the subway. I immediately remarked to my companion that day that this building is the one that should really be the Empire State Building. My guide that day long ago got quite a kick out of my country bumpkin statement. But it was true at that time. The magnificence of first lighting eyes on this wildly extravagant building gave me pause to wonder what other structure in this humongous city could possibly be any more remarkable than this one I was faced with? And was not the Empire State Building the one attraction all the tourists flock to? I have since given up that feeling for the Chrysler Building and have grown rather fond of regularly seeing the Empire State Building breaking into view while heading uptown on Broadway. But Requiem: A Hallucination had the same affect on me as that first morning did in New York.
Suffice to say that this book is exactly what I have been looking for between the covers of the two Italo Calvino books I have thus far engaged in. And as dead as Calvino's writing is to me the opposite is true of Antonio Tabucchi. Now, smarter people than I could most likely explain why this is true. But I, for the life of me, cannot begin to try, other than to say I have felt my way through every page of this small gem of a book and nary felt a thing while reading Calvino. So perhaps this a quasi review of both short books, this Requiem: A Hallucination and Calvino's Mr. Palomar.
But how is it that one respected writer can make a reader feel something and another does not, when both use language in which to proceed from? Of course, in a way this is not fair, as Calvino is writing in Italian and Tabucchi in Portuguese, and both works have been translated into English by completely different translators. But even if a foul has been made how is it that the words of one may ring so hollow and the other come to break so deeply in my soul? I am wont to always return to my theory of a writer's personality (or translator's) having been present in the work and that personality being of a person I am attracted to or find extremely interesting. Antonio Tabucchi is one very cool dude. I love the way his mind works, and the people he visits with, whether true or made-up characters in a fictional world made so very real to me. And if this world is not at all of material substance it matters little to me as the dream is one I am attracted to anyway.
This was a short and lovely piece that I wish had not ended so soon for me. But as other readers and admirers of this little book have said, it is one that must be revisited and enjoyed again. In addition I also learned some interesting recipes and was also introduced to the writer Fernando Pessoa, and for that I am grateful again. And again. ...more
Gabriel Josipovici wrote an exquisite introduction to this slim volume. In his introduction Josipovici states that upon first reading Kristof’s most famous work titled The Notebook he understood immediately he was in the presence of greatness. I could not agree more with that statement as I can attest to it happening to me as well. It isn’t often enough that this phenomenon happens. Though I am amazed at how many talented writers there are, and have been, among us. Seems each week I am introduced to a writer I had not been aware of previously. But the label of greatness is kept for only the very few. Ágota Kristof is most definitely one of these specific icons we certainly must treasure and be so grateful for their willingness to write in the first place and work so diligently to perfect their craft.
I think it is also remarkable to discover later in this memoir that Kristof considers Thomas Bernhard the greatest of all examples for what it means to be a writer, especially for those persons claiming to be one. She also affirms that Bernhard never seized to criticize and denounce his country with both hate and love, but his humor in doing so remains to this day unequaled by any other, though I have to believe most of us who read Kristof are aware she can be quite funny at times herself. But it isn’t the humor that draws me so much to the writing of Ágota Kristof. Rather it is this adorableness, if you will excuse the pert term, that she maintains in the face of her story’s extremes. Though I cannot actually see her, she just feels so damn cute to me. And her personality is so to-the-point, piercingly direct in a manner that is very hard to explain. The violence in some of her scenes is so exact as to cause a shocking affect, and as I have mentioned in previous remarks I made due to Kristof, she writes a damn titillating sex scene, no less extreme in its provocation on the page.
Reading this slim, but still voluminous work was a treat just to get an inside look at the life of Ágota Kristof, in her own words, and to learn firsthand how she became a writer. Obviously, it is not enough to wish to be something or other. One must persevere, at times, and often, against great odds. But the important object to note here is that Kristof would have written no matter her success at finding, or not finding, a commercial publisher for her work. Writing was something she just had to do, of course, after she became literate enough to be coherent composing within a foreign language in a country so unlike her one of origin.
Ágota Kristof is a treasure just as Thomas Bernhard is a treasure, and it is with great gratitude and satisfaction that we have both their work to share among us and to have exampled a good bit of writing from. There are still a few books written by Ágota Kristof left to be translated from French into English. It is my hope that this occurs sooner rather than later as I am unfortunately running out of time. And I am confident in my solemn sadness that I am not alone, but rather inclusively stirring, in my sinking ship....more
First it is a fantasy, brutal but fun, about a couple of lies and a boy named Tobias Horvath who changes his name to Sandor Lestor because of something terrible he thinks he has done back in his country of origin. A couple noteworthy events for me early on were that Sandor does not much like babies period, and he is tired of sex for fun. He wants only the woman he loves named Line, who just so happens to also be his half sister. But unsurprisingly she is not available and hasn't anyway any idea of their familial relationship. Line simply remembers their time together as young students in the same class. Sandor also almost desperately wants to be a famous writer and upon his certain success return to his original name of Tobias Horvath. But, no doubt, this is a sad story about resorting to an un-resortful life. It is a fantasy about love and failure, of whether being rich or poor is remarkable enough, or even if acquiring an education really matters. So almost anything I might have to say about this book would spoil the already too-short read which I have to say I really loved. But allow me a different tack.
It is hard to know how near to death, or what scrapes the common lad has had with the grim reaper, but what I do know is the awful dread and sick feeling that comes with being in the face of it. Of course, my brush with darkness can easily be discounted by those having had a real consequence. But let me tell you, it was the very first time in sixty plus years of living that in a fitful dream I died, and I didn't like it. Not one bit. All the countless times I have come near to dying in my dreams I have awakened with a start, relieved that I escaped that finality, an ending for me that felt so real and certain one day to come. For years I have held to my theory that when that moment came in the dream, when I saw or experienced my own dying, the actual end would come for me as well. But here I am, still kicking, and none the worse perhaps for the wear. But all day this frightful dream has stuck with me, gnawing at me, needling me in dreadful ways. Not one moment has passed today that I am feeling both grateful to still be alive and somehow aghast at how quickly my end might actually arrive. But because my dream-death was due to an accident, a mistake on my part, of me not following my gut when I knew damn-well better, something that has become a sort of trend for me it seems these days, it is that I also feel guilty and ashamed. It has been the strangest experience for me living every minute today with the feeling of my own death as if it really happened. And it weighs heavily on me as well for all the many times throughout my life as a carpenter, traveler, drug and alcohol abuser, promiscuous adventurer, outdoorsman, and general sinner that I have escaped serious injury because of my carelessness or ignorance in my denying a dangerous situation. I imagine it must be that immature feeling for thinking one is immortal.
The dream began as a simple hike through the woods accompanied by my youngest adult son. If others were with us I do not recall. I remember hiking on what might resemble a wooded ski trail, sort of like the trails cut out of the woods for cross-country skiing, but it wasn't winter, and there was no snow this time of year, but I could see the approaching hill being such that we would be attempting a climb of stunning proportions. I also knew we were hiking backwards on the trail, as nobody would ever climb this particular hill on snow skis. It was definitely meant to ski down on and not climb. I even found it a bit unbelievable that anyone could actually successfully ski down it and not be killed. But here I was climbing this enormously steep hill with my almost thirty year-old son. The entire trail was loose, grainy sand and it was very difficult to get a proper footing and make any headway considered plausible. In this dream I was physically crippled a bit just as I am in real life due to a fall from my cabin roof three years ago. My knee was not surgically repaired for such athletic activity as this particular hike and climb, and it has not the strength other knees have, and in addition, no lateral movement at all. It is insane to think I would even have attempted a climb like this outside of a dream. And I remember thinking these thoughts in the course of events throughout my dream. Ultimately it became impossible for me to continue trudging uphill and I remember thinking, and perhaps saying aloud, that there would absolutely be no way to climb this hill in winter when ice or snow was covering it. We returned home, wherever that was, and consulted an acquaintance or friend there who suggested we take what amounted to a sled ride down the same steep hill for the reason I suppose to familiarize ourselves over what we may have missed from not conquering it from climbing up from the bottom.
Now it was winter, or the surface at least had been prepared to slide belly first along the track of ice. At first the downhill ride was enjoyable, slowly gaining speed and feeling the snow scraping against my clothes just as I did in the old days as a small child. But then the speed increased to such degrees that I began to get nervous and feel I was losing control of my sled. My son was also belly-first sliding ahead of me and seemed to be holding his own. I panicked a bit and for a moment froze in my thinking over what I might do to get myself back on track. Rounding another curve hell-bent for speed and preparing to head down what I thought to be the worst part, my body, almost spontaneously, left the track and flew off the side of a steep cliff. Next thing I knew I was preparing for another ride, realizing my previous mistake, more than confounded by how I did not die from the previous great fall, knowing this time that to successfully maneuver my way down I would have to wrap my arms around what now appeared in my dream as a track raised slightly above the surface of the snow. I held on for dear life as it reminded me of a roller coaster ride, which I hate, and successfully, almost naturally, I made my way to the bottom of the hill without incident. It was then, at the bottom of the hill, that I knew something was not right. All of our gathered crowd was looking at each other in a very strange way and my stomach knew something critical was missing and it felt like it might be me. Intuitively I was impelled to ask them if it were I who was really dead? They all nodded solemnly in agreement. My wife was present, standing there and looking at me lovingly. It was obvious my son could still see me clearly, but soon I noticed that for him my form was beginning to fade. My wife could still see me clearly but we both knew I would never be physically in our lives again. I had become a mere spectator of life. I remember having this dire sense of extreme responsibility to watch over and protect both my wife and son but I did not know how I would be able to do so without a body, with no hands, and a now-fading voice.
It seemed we all were gathered together in a room for some time. The group was conversing pretty much as nothing had happened, at least it was obvious to me that life had gone on without me. What struck me the most in my feeling of shock at being a dead man surrounded by the living was how much my wife actually did seem to love me. She wasn't sobbing or sad I was gone, but still she was treating me as if I was much a part of her life as I always had been, but with the knowledge that though she could still see me she would never know me again physically. Of course I began to wonder about the other men in the world who would find her attractive and begin flirting or courting her and offering her attentions that I no longer could provide. Almost immediately in my dream a certain man I cannot recall the name or what he looked like did indeed hit on her and she promptly refused his advances. But I knew in my heart while considering my dilemma as a harmless spirit that one day she would be vulnerable to an advance. At some point in her life she would need someone, and the right man might speak to her in the proper setting and win her heart that I knew would be lonely and aching for something besides her constant aloneness. I reasoned that at that point my spirit life would most likely end.
Within minutes of my realization that I was dead, and the acknowledgment of all present that indeed I was, I felt my son, unlike his mother, quickly losing his connection to me. He could not see me as clearly as I knew my wife still did. At the instant the stranger was hitting on my wife my son was beginning to leave with another group of men that I remember as having a very strong personality for a leader. The new gang leader reminded me of the actor Gary Oldman still playing the scary and dangerous character he has portrayed often in films such as True Romance. I wanted to warn my son that he was beginning to go down a very dangerous and slippery path by following this sick man and whatever scheme he had talked my son into participating in. This group was heading away on this mission when I left my wife and her persistent suitor to follow behind my son and somehow devise a way in which to protect him. Every step for me seemed to portend a bad ending for the adult child I had loved so much and cared so deeply for.
The attitude prevailed within this group of criminals that they were on a job that was supposedly a sure thing. A piece of cake. I watched them as they approached a very nice home and were preparing to enter it illegally. A break-in to steal valuables was all I could think of. I just knew this was a murderous setup, that something terrible was about to happen concerning guns and other violent weapons. Here my son, in his own way, was going to make a mistake similar to what his father had done and his life could very well end or certainly be altered in ways unimaginable to me. The dread of this portending danger was killing me again. It was then I awoke from the nightmare of my life.
There was much for me to consider in my dream. I cannot say I enjoyed myself. I am certain I would rather read about it happening to someone other than myself. ...more
Pretty much a complete bore and a book a person with absolutely nothing better to do with one's life would read. That person is not I. A disappointingPretty much a complete bore and a book a person with absolutely nothing better to do with one's life would read. That person is not I. A disappointing read that never got me out of the ditch. And if the book did get better later on perhaps old Stanley should have started there....more
He says to me, "We're all dying of one thing or another. That's what all the experts say, anyway." "What else do they say, the experts?" "That the world is fucked. And that there's nothing to do about it. It's too late."
My wife and I have an English Golden Retriever, a cream-colored animal, a thoroughbred of the dog genus, handsome, smart, dignified, with nary a mean bone in his body. Still a pup, he loves to play and wrestle hard, but at two-and-a-half years old now he is gradually maturing. But he isn't the typical humanized domestic pet. He moseys around the house to whatever room we might be in in order to check-in once and a while, but rarely does he hang out with the two of us, that is, my wife and I, we being leftovers and the extent of our family at home these days. We believe we are witnessing again, in doggy world lingo, an only-child syndrome. A situation in which there is perhaps too much togetherness within our present family of three, and the dog-child ends up needing more space and sense of its own separateness, as in protecting his precious autonomy. My wife, at times, thinks perhaps Bob doesn't like us, or is pouting, or even as our own human son for a time exhibited, an awful, erratic teenage attitude. But I think Bob the dog is simply letting us know he is an animal, that he likes being an animal, and though he appreciates being fed and looked after by us two-legged people he has no desire to be moulded into some anthropomorphic version of a lap dog we see other dog owners seemingly so proud of and comfortable with. Golden Retrievers are known to be people-dogs, loving and tender, a true friend for their entire life span. Bob is one cool character, though a bit aloof, and his adoptive parents are too, in the sense we are friendly enough to acquaintances but have no great desire to be best friends and hang out together. Our dog, as they say, has taken on the personality of his owners. And that anecdote related above is basically how I felt while reading this wonderful trilogy written by Ágota Kristof.
To be more forthcoming I would describe the novel as being brief sentences erupting from a fragmented mind. It is a trilogy that easily takes one in, seamlessly connects the reader emotionally, and generates a momentum and desire to read through to the end. Great story lines, but still none you can really count on. There are lies aplenty here, with fictions enough to get us everywhere we need to go. But it isn't always where we want to be. I much rather preferred the first book, The Notebook, to the last two. However, I did enjoy very much the second book titled The Proof. By the time I got to book three it was both understandable and disconcerting to me for it to be called The Third Lie. But what is a serious and addictive reader to do?
There is really nothing for me to say to expound on anything gifted others have already said about this trilogy. For me, there was something very enjoyable in reading it and also it was discomfiting in a perverted sort of way. I absolutely loved the sex scenes, and they seemed to be little enough, though they were placed just where they needed to be. I also think it helped that this particular woman wrote them. I loved that, and she made me wish for more indiscretions involving her characters. But that is not at all what the books were about. If a reader is looking for an aggressive war novel there is plenty of that going on, but the story comes at you as collateral damages instead of gallant, patriotic victories we seem to be so inundated with today.
There is a distance to cross in this master work. But there is also a gap in it that cannot be bridged. The book is most certainly a tender love story that remains for me aloof. Just as Bob the dog is the most loving animal on the planet he steadfastly protects his sacred space. I have to believe The Notebook Trilogy does so too.
I go to bed and before falling asleep I talk to Lucas in my head the way I have for many years. What I tell him is just about what I usually do. I tell him if he's dead he's lucky and I'd very much like to be in his place. I tell him he got the better deal, that it is I who is pulling his greater weight. I tell him that life is totally useless, that it's nonsense, an aberration, infinite suffering, the invention of a non-God whose evil surpasses understanding....more
Really, the music today in this Starbucks makes me want to destroy something. I am sort of stuck here as my Subaru is being worked on over at the Big O, a couple blocks away. Big job. New shocks, tire rotation, wheel alignment, oil change. You know, almost regular maintenance for an automobile with nearly 150,000 miles on it. Anyway, I ordered a mocha grande, gave them a name to call out when it was ready, and finally, fifteen minutes later, I go up to check on what could possibly be taking so long and there on the counter it sat. At least I thought it was mine. The person behind the counter said it was a mocha for somebody with my first name. I mentioned that it would have been nice if someone had informed me. The person remarked that a yell was made, but perhaps I didn't hear it. I have been back sitting here at my little square barstool table after another fifteen minutes have gone by and have yet to hear a yell out of anybody, least of all a barista, and there have been plenty of customers since me, so I think the rather grumpy employee was lying to me. Just like Gaute Heivoll may have been lying to me as well. But it doesn't matter to me if Gaute was telling me a tale because this book was supposed to be a work of fiction anyway. I am not at all positive that these related burns actually happened and do not really care. Gaute made them real enough for me.
The book is actually heart-wrenching with his personal memoir content regarding his dying dad and his own struggle over what to do with his life. The narrator has the same name as Gaute Heivoll so I suppose we can imagine this is a true story with some made-up shit in it. There is plenty of pain to go around the bowl and get it going with a very good spin. We get to know all the neighbors and their personal crosses they bear. And somehow we are getting to at least the surface personality of the criminal who is never revealed until late in the book, but you know all along who it is and I think this is also on purpose. I am of the opinion that Gaute Hovill knows exactly what he is doing, as in his being a supremely gifted writer with a masterly plan.
Something tells me this novel is a parallel bit about being an only child and how the pressures to make something of oneself might ignite a burn that can become unmanageable. It may be that a mental illness or dis-ease develops and exacerbates an already difficult situation. The reader is kept from knowing what exactly happened to the most tragic character of all the many collected in this book. It is never made clear what happened to this once kind and considerate person that fueled his eventual becoming into a dangerous pyromaniac. Parents can sometimes cause more harm than good, and the damage is usually done in the spirit of love and adoration. I know firsthand what it is like to love someone too much and to care even a bit too exorbitantly for their happiness. It is quite hard to let go. To live and let live. But one must, or else perhaps have to live with possibly unseemly consequences.
In the end I realized this was a book of memory, about a certain time spent in the history of a small town called Finsland. A story about a boy who lost even himself, who hung onto a memory of his own perfection, a boy who even his parents no longer knew, and the journey some of us must make between a past time remembered and a life lost in its clouding over. It is obvious to me that Gaute Hovill is a born poet as there are enough beautiful sentences to prove his gift for stringing along words. But it is one of the saddest books I have ever read, and it is simply because of this: There is little in its completion that might redeem the lives that seem to still be lost grappling out in its frontier. But isn't that the truth. ...more
I did not enjoy this third part of the memoirs of Elias Canetti as much as the first two, but nonetheless a very well-written book. Too much reportageI did not enjoy this third part of the memoirs of Elias Canetti as much as the first two, but nonetheless a very well-written book. Too much reportage in this third, name-dropping the norm, but still the ending was well worth my time....more
Another great segment in the trilogy. It was rewarding to read as Canetti matured. The next, and last book, should be a knockout as he becomes the wriAnother great segment in the trilogy. It was rewarding to read as Canetti matured. The next, and last book, should be a knockout as he becomes the writer he has worked so hard to be. This was a man who read everything he possibly could and his self-study was remarkable in its expansive ideal. ...more
The first of three memoirs covering the life of Elias Canetti. So wonderfully written, much more superb than the writing of Vladimir Nabokov and his SThe first of three memoirs covering the life of Elias Canetti. So wonderfully written, much more superb than the writing of Vladimir Nabokov and his Speak, Memory. Typically, childhood memories are not my cup of tea but Canetti kept me engaged and extremely interested in what he had to say. ...more
Start with a mind-altering trip on LSD and then morph into a sermon on the ills of Christianity regarding witchcraft, Jews, negroes, and the persecution and torture of them all, the affects of evil in the world and how it is justly depicted in our modern art whereas the angelic can only be guessed at artistically and you have yourself one hell of a lot to think about here. And all of it coming from a madhouse by either a very sane person or one who is also mad. Better than any recent movie I can think of.
The fact that this book was written in 1969 and could have been written yesterday is astounding to me. There was a point last night I had to stop reading as the blood-letting (historical in fact) was overwhelming to me. We just do not know the trouble we humans have caused in the world, and the narrator says it is only going to get worse as we move out in our exploration and colonizing of space.
It was the beginning of the winter of 2014 when my wife and I began watching the brilliant Showtime series titled The Tudors. Among the many talented actors in the made-for-television event were Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Henry Cavill, not to mention the recently deceased Peter O'Toole. The show followed the reign of England's King Henry the Eighth. There were numerous changes in his kingdom throughout his many years in power but, not counting his six wives, the many gruesome public executions struck the loudest chord for me. The torture chambers extracting confessions leading to wrongful judgments in complicity, and the many ways to carry out these punishments, left little to the imagination. It was awful subjecting ourselves to this violence on our television, but it still felt as if it were a fiction, a movie, and not really true. Upon reading this second book in the trilogy of The History of Bestiality I came across many of these same exact instances and historical facts I learned from the TV. One of the executions on TV was of the King's cook who poisoned the Bishop (who, if memory serves, was actually an enemy). The cook was slowly lowered alive, spread-eagled and face up, into a large vat of boiling oil. So preposterous was this execution that I really did not believe they actually did this sort of thing. But then I read the same accounting in this very book! The actions of the king and others I was reading about throughout our gruesomely violent history of crimes against humanity became all too real for me and I had to put the book down for a spell. It was just too much to bear. Prior to this horrid feeling I was perfectly comfortable in my chair watching, I thought, an interesting, though gruesome, fiction. But to learn of all these terrible injustices brought down upon innocent peoples throughout the world and the history of humanity I was aghast at my own delusions and denials I had safely hidden my better self in. As charming as Jonathan Rhys Meyers was in his portrayal of King Henry the Eighth, my wife and I were both still horrified by his dozen or more tortures and public executions which included even one with a severely drunken headsman mutilating the neck, shoulders, and head of one of his sorry victims (actually the ill-favored King's right-hand man at the time) before an attendant took over for the oft-aimed inebriated axman to finish and successfully complete the awful deed. To make matters even worse I read this very morning in the novel that King Henry the Eighth actually ordered from the throne more than 70,000 executions during his reign on this bit of green crust called England.
I truly think this novel would make a great film. With the right actors it would be one of the richest, most rewarding films ever. Even the grounds and gardens of the bughouse are wonderful. The narrator's home. All the abundant nature. Including a hedgehog that made countless appearances. I even did a little bit of research today and learned that in 2006, McDonald's changed the design of their McFlurry containers to be more hedgehog-friendly. Previously, hedgehogs would get their heads stuck in the container as they tried to lick the remaining food from inside the cup. Then, being unable to get out, they would starve to death. And then what about all the other maladjusted, but brilliant and extremely bent personalities in this book? Wonderful wonderful. And that is how I am reading it. As a film. I think the Coen brothers would do it justice. Even Quentin Tarantino might make something out of it worth watching. And either one of these film-making teams could do the screenwriting as well.
Jens Bjørneboe produces numerous questions throughout his fictions. There are never any answers. He reports historical truth. His characters drink the wine and find pleasure where and when they can. There is little hope in the world of Jens Bjørneboe, and all our wishing in one hand produces nothing but shit in the other. He continually presents in his work a position of dissent, and a stance he demonstrates as historically heretical and generally punished by torture and execution. The violence and injustices can be tiresome at times, and in fact might wear a person down. These are novels most readers would not delve into and probably explains their commercial scarcity. These same careful and casual readers would rather sing carols and hear praises made to some holy name. Sort of helps me to understand better now the popularity of the world's current Catholic Pope. Very little of this reading was easy, but most of it was good. And if given enough time I would do it again, just like we humans do over and over in a world that hasn't really changed. ...more
Without a Stitch is not a frivolous book though the focus is primarily on the main character’s sexual awakening and her adventures that followed. TheWithout a Stitch is not a frivolous book though the focus is primarily on the main character’s sexual awakening and her adventures that followed. The novel also makes its point to center on sexual prejudices by use of many examples of perversion (not all sexual) and a bit of good old derring-do. With his own eyes German culture with its bigotry and racism is also visited and shown more so near the end of the book. Though written originally as a commercial endeavor to enable Jens Bjørneboe to get on with his master work The Moment Of Freedom Trilogy: " Moment Of Freedom " , " Powderhouse " And " The Silence ", the attention the courts gave to this pornography, by outlawing and banning it, gave an even greater opportunity for Jens Bjørneboe’s voice of protest to be heard even more loudly. Though not my normal fare, this book did offer moments of interest beyond the sexual nature of the book. And it was obvious Jens Bjørneboe was present not only on the page but in the room....more