Mariel's Reviews > Garden, Ashes

Garden, Ashes by Danilo Kiš
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May 19, 12

bookshelves: my-love-life
Recommended to Mariel by: I clicked on a bunch of book links and landed on garden, ashes and it was a book miracle
Recommended for: There's more to life than books you know
Read in May, 2012, read count: 3

The realization that I was able to control my dreams, channel them in a particular direction by my choice of reading matter or by thinking certain thoughts before going to sleep, resulted in an explosion of my darkest impulses. In fact, I was living two lives (not a trace of bookishness in that), one in reality and the other in my dreams, which produced in me an extraordinary and sinful joy.

I am dreaming this. I am dreaming this. I want this. I loved Garden, Ashes and I am on my third reading. I want to keep on reading it until I learn its terrible power of thrilling happiness edged with the ache you can already feel behind it to head it off too early, waking up too early. Well, it is just power, maybe, of the now and the future and past don't exist in its wake. If you can keep on pretending, if you have the juice. I could paint it on my eyeballs or put it in my pocket. If I have the juice... It could be called up whenever you need it like a dark demon with a name to be said three times. Stage, unreality, dreams. The autobiographical cloud grounded sister would sob her heart out when something she loved was over (I know the feeling. I don't really love something unless I prematurely mourn its passing) until she learns to no longer notice what she cannot change. Andi doesn't have that. Andi and his father have costumes and walking one foot before the other in a double dream world. This happened, this won't happen, this will happen.

Eduard Scham is the father figure tethered to the front of the horse cart. Dragged behind all the kinds of shit and mud, the Wandering Jew persona to the world and the head of the family for as long as he can disappear behind it. If you could willingly hide behind someone's illusion for as long as you wanted it to last. Oh, their times were hard. Dream or perish. Taste the food in your mouth or starve. What kind of a position are any of those? The victim, the martyr, kicked under. It's not my fault. I could see him moving forever to meet new people to trot out the old sob stories once the old audience has lost the fresh horror (or is that sympathy?) in their eyes. The new, the show, the surprise. It's the knowing your place. How long can you kick yourself under? Andi could freeze frame a moment between the acts to get a glimpse of the real father. If it could have lasted as a deliberate together act. If you could walk inside your own memory and light every thing to see if anything changes you could change the past. Relive, rejoice, revive. Too late. There's another word I was looking for. Oh yeah, it is read. Andi's living this way pulled at every vessel in my body. You know, if you think with your heart. If you could imagine the others you could taste it on your mouth. Maybe it was every cell of my body or something. It hurt. When you're sick sometimes you're vital organs hurt when there is something else wrong with you. It's sort of a way of telling you that something is wrong. Eduard puts on a show. What's wrong? Migrate with the birds in the depression season. Return to sender all letters. Did he use morse code of the animals in the great wide wood? I could see every leaf on every tree. Or was it really every tear drop and not rain drops on the leaves? Dreams are the brain's way of teling you something is important, right? A tiny cell in a ghetto. Kicked under isn't like giving in to the current when you're held under. Strings trailing behind and the sign doesn't say just married it says I'm migrating with the wildebeasts and you know they say those are probably extinct. Someone let go. He could still be in other books, though, if you could dream it hard enough. Heads of family on other heads. Was it all really about the father, anyway? Funny how you start talking about things when you meant to talk about something else. I was having a really good dream and I tried to get back to it.

Geoff's review is one of my favorites I've ever (re)read on goodreads. It was one of the few times I had to thank someone on goodreads for writing their review after I finished reading a book that absolutely did me in. Geoff says he tells everyone he knows to read Garden, Ashes and they don't take him up on it. I know there are a lot of other wonderful books in the world. But this one is really special and if you need a special book about what it feels like to write history and your speck of life dust in it through will of dreams and grief and passion and lust for making every thing count and how doing both rips you in two and you don't even want to stop because it can feel like in Garden, Ashes... You could make it last forever, you could pretend it to be real. Read Garden, Ashes. I'm no good at this so please go listen to Geoff.
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Comments (showing 1-27 of 27) (27 new)

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message 1: by Magdelanye (new)

Magdelanye " If you can keep on pretending, if you have the juice. I could...If you could willingly hide behind someone's illusion for as long as you wanted it to last.... Migrate with the birds in the depression season.
Dreams are the brain's way of teling you something is important, right? "

GR is functioning now almost as a dream layer with a stronger thrust into reality.Thanks for this review, tho I intuit I will not like this book for the very reason you love its vividness.

I have no wish to be transported into the consciousness of anyone who embraced their victim status. I am threatened by this attitude and root it out in myself.

a question, When you say Oh yeah, it is> read.
is this supposed to be> reaL ?


message 2: by tim (new) - rated it 5 stars

tim I could have sworn I liked this review long before because it is the very reason I'm now reading this book. Oh well, better late than something or other.


Mariel I deleted and reposted six of my reviews last year I was "prejudiced" against... I try not to do that anymore but I used to do it a lot.


message 4: by Miriam (new)

Miriam tim wrote: "I could have sworn I liked this review long before because it is the very reason I'm now reading this book. "

Join the club.


Mariel There is! Sean and Emilie I persuaded to read this soon. It's Mariel's day on gr.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Migrate with the birds in the depression season.

Okay, I'm reading it next. I was going to use it to split up the two Carringtons, but this review struck me with a yearning urgency I need right now.


Mariel That makes me quite happy. :)


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm glad. I want "what it feels like to write history and your speck of life dust in it through will of dreams and grief and passion and lust for making every thing count and how doing both rips you in two and you don't even want to stop."


Mariel That's what it is! And more, more, more.


Mariel I didn't realize you were quoting me. Shan's Mrs Dalloway quotes this review. I almost couldn't place where and it wasn't long after I wrote it. I try not to remember, now.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Haha...well, at least you agreed with yourself. That's not such a bad thing. I am sometimes horrified when I come across things I have written in the past, and I doubt it's just because I know I wrote them.


Mariel I find that hard to believe.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

I've been writing for a long time so it's inevitable.


Mariel I will have selective memory from now on!


Szplug Outstanding. Lee Klein suggests that everybody read it too—or at least, all those who aren't in thrall to plot.


Szplug Ah, Grossman! That's another of your favorites of whom I've got to introduce myself at some point. And while Lee may be so gunning, as he doesn't possess the Dustin disdain and Aes rhythm—not to mention Turtle tales—it'll remain you alone who's dancing with Popsicle Pete.


Szplug I keep any and all secrets in the strictest of confidence, save for those simply too big and juicy not to share. But thanks, Mars—when I was a kid, I lived twenty-four seven in my beloved mint green Fonzie shirt, so I'd like to think I know a thing or to about being cool. Sit on it, Dustin!

I keep sliding over Grossman's books when seeking new fare, probably because I bought all that I own of his in one shot and, hence, they've become buried together on one of the more forlorn of my shelves. Time to dig out the spelunking gear, I wager...


message 18: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Mariel wrote: "A secret? Don't tell anyone. You all get my coolness points. I'm impressed by much and you (and Miriam, tim, Sean and my other gr favorites) have."

Have what?! I deny it, whatever it is! It's not my fault! I wasn't even there!


Szplug I think I'm going to try to slip this in (cue that oldest of records greeting needle on the Happy Days intro juke) through the cracks of my current romp amid the shenanigans of ancient Rome.


Mariel (I'm not ignoring you I just am feeling that weird thing about me and comment threads again that I hope goes away soon.)

If you read it now or later I hope you will find a book to love. I felt like I had felt something really special so if you feel anything at all like that that'll be cause for me to smile.


Szplug It's a dreary mental companion, that's for sure, one whose plagued presence you will hopefully soon be rid of. I hope your hand is healing up quickly too—it sounded like you cut it pretty good.

I'm at one of those points where books are simultaneously highly appealing in their promise and rather blasé in their effect—hence the lack of recent reviews. I have a feeling, though, and against the subject matter, that Garden, Ashes will be just the ticket for those temporal meltdown blues.


Mariel Yes, it was rather bloody. I'm healing fine now and has the last of the dreaded trips to the doctor (HATE those! And with the wrong book it is so much worse than even bad airport reads).

I've had the same problem. I read a string of ho hum or outright awful books back to back. I don't think I really like Slaves to Solitude as much as being grateful it wasn't as excruciating as Hotel World (don't believe those five stars! Paul Bryant was for once dead on the money. TORTURE. So so so bad. It killed my love of reading for days).

I hope you love Garden, Ashes. It was magic for me. I loved Hourglass too though the phrases I wrote about it remain on my iPod and never in a review nearly a year later.


Szplug Glad to hear it's healing for you. And thanks for the warning about STS—I noticed that you and Esteban have a very interesting and succinct exchange about it...

It's not even really the quality of the books in my case—The Pale King, for instance, was very good. And yet, despite the remarkable and resonant things that DFW achieved within its unfinished form, when I muse about it all that strikes a chord within me are its irritations; all I find myself expounding upon are the conceived negatives. I'm combing through it to find the chaff and discard the wheat—and the latter can be found in abundance inside of TPK. It's the obverse of my SOP, and in any event, I've no desire to sort it all out in words.

So I'm hoping that GA will do the trick—and that it so powerfully affected yourself and others, like Tim and Lee, gives me confidence that it will.


Mariel I wouldn't call that an exchange as much as me shadowing him. :)

I feel distanced from Dfw myself. There were parts inside Broom of the System that sat too much on the shoulder when it shouldn't be like that. And maybe this is unfair but the angry fans on here and elsewhere influenced me to give him less slack, in hindsight. Not for ij because that was before gr.

I am in a slump again myself. I think I'm giving up on Sorrentino once and for all. It's not worth it. Whatever happens I hope you get out of yours!


Szplug It's an enigmatic pair of comments, the more so in light of the lack of any review on Esteban's part. I quite like it!

And DFW's fans and derogators can certainly drain your reserves quickly. The thing is, I found the first half of the book to be sublime, while in the second there's a pair of chapters, in particular, that have been increasingly sticking in my craw with elements that I found frustrating. Now, more was cut from the novel's published form than was included, so that configuration is really of an editorial bent. I suppose that, in the end, it's that very unfinished form that took away the fifth star: if certain characters had received more time, if there was a greater coherence and end purpose to it all, it might very well have stood as the best thing DFW wrote.

What's more, I cannot determine why I'm fixated upon these comparatively minor shortcomings at the expense of the plenty that I marveled at—the festering and sullen result of my current state of literary blechitude, I suppose. Here's hoping the combination of Syme right now, and potentially Kiš in the future, will get me back on track.


message 26: by Ema (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ema I loved the poetry in this novel... I too will read Garden, Ashes again, but not too soon, as I have a huge pile of books waiting. Until I feel I've made some progress, I won't be at peace with myself.

I recommended this book to some friends, but unfortunately they weren't impressed. I was surprised they didn't like it and since then I started to doubt their tastes (before that, I had analyzed my tastes and decided they were all right, eclectic as they may be).


message 27: by Ema (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ema Unfortunately I don't have a review for Garden Ashes, I'm sorry you will be disappointed... I will definitely write one when I read the book again.


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