Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Klumpigheten Redux av Gunnar Blå (3/5)

Publiceringsdatum: 2009
Antal sidor: 179

Baksidan säger:
Möt några av de egendomligaste karaktärer som den erotiska litteraturen har gett upphov till: fruktdrottningen, kvinnan med fittan i nacken, skådespelerskan med löskroppen. 

Möt också den ensamme, impotente, onanerande mannen i all hans svaghet, storhet, svagsinthet: Gunnar hälsar till mamma.

Dessa språkligt-erotiska strategier utgör en litterär initation som leder läsaren tvärs igenom kåtheten, skrattet och äcklet till en outtalbar, mystisk kunskap om människans villkor.

Klumpigheten redux är inte bara ett omtryck av Gunnar Blås debut från 1999; den innehåller tolv opublicerade bonusnoveller, en inledningsessä av Aase Berg och en hel hög underbara originalillustrationer av Fabian Göranson.
 

Jag säger: Ja, vad säger man om dessa historier annat än att de var oväntat obehagliga att läsa. Jag tycket inte att jag är speciellt lättäcklad, men fy fan vad vissa berättelser fick mig att ifrågasätta varför jag ens fortsatte läsa.

Ja, varför?

För att de är välskrivna, ibland lite roliga och alltid – ständigt – häpnadsväckande. Trots att jag visste att något äckligt var på väg ville jag veta hur äckligt det skulle bli. Jag har ingen aning vart Blå fått allt ifrån, men då några av hans karaktärer i en berättelse pratar om Georges Batailles Ögats Historia misstänker jag att influenserna ligger där.

Precis som med Bastille, kommer jag troligtvis aldrig läsa några mer av Blås erotiska verk.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Irrbloss av Linda Hallgren (3/5)

Publiceringsdatum: 2015
Antal sidor: 12
Baksidan säger:
I en nedsliten lägenhet ligger en äldre man för döden. Mellan honom och den sista vilan står gammal skuld, och en ovälkommen gäst.

Jag säger: En kort historia som lät mer intressant än den var. Detta just för att den var så kort. Vi får aldrig veta vad som mannen gjort i sitt liv för att gästen, Irina, ska besöka honom medan det finns antydningar till varför Irina är där.

Jag vet inte, det hela var så fragmenterat att det föll lite platt.

Med det sagt så tyckte jag verkligen om Hallgrens prosa; vackra och poetiska fraser som jag läste om flera gånger och ville spara för framtida bruk. Jag kommer hålla utkik efter något längre från Hallgren. 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Min enda syster av Doris Dahlin (4/5)

Publiceringsdatum: 2015
Antal sidor: 19
Baksidan säger:
En syster som tar allt och en som ständigt får stå tillbaka. Redan från början är det så. Inte ens en lång missionstjänst i Afrika, bort från den slukande systern sätter stopp för det. Men med en överlevnadsstrategi utvecklad under en livstid finner hon på råd, systern som levt i skymundan. 

Nutid och tillbakablickar i två systrars liv vävs intrikat ihop till en väv med stark spänning som tråd. Hämnd kan se olika ut, och här är hämnden frigörande och sorglig på samma gång.


Jag säger: Åh, vilket oväntat bra slut.

Medan jag läste tänkte jag hela tiden att det inte var så synd om systerns som berättar historien; att syskon alltid bråkar och den äldsta oftast får offra mycket. Hon är över 80 år och fortfarande bitter och när hon går igenom det som hänt känns det lite barnsligt av henna att inte kunna släppa det, speciellt med tanke på att hon dedikerat sitt liv åt att hjälpa andra.

Och sedan kommer slutet.

Hämnden är så otroligt fin och ljuv och poetisk att jag genast ändrar allt jag tänkte om henne. 

Hon är en hjälte och en förebild.  

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

The Queen of Spades by Alexander Pushkin (3/5)

First published: 1834
Original title: Pikovaya Dama
Original language: Russian
Translation to English by: H. Twitchell

Page count: 16
The back says: The Queen of Spades (Russian: Pikovaya dama) is an acclaimed short story by Alexander Pushkin about human avariciousness. Pushkin wrote the story in autumn 1833 in Boldino and it was first published in literary magazine Biblioteka dlya chteniya in 1834. It was turned into the opera The Queen of Spades by Tchaikovsky.

I say: This is a short story that didn’t really do it for me.

Hermann is a German who likes to watch others gamble without taking part himself. One night, one of the gamblers tells him of his grandmother who once lost everything during a card game, only to later win it back with a secret of three winning cards. Hermann becomes obsessed with the secret and finds a way to wring it out of the old lady, and then...

I cannot say more because that would be spoiling it for anyone who wants to read it. However, you should be able to guess it because it is quite obvious and that is the reason why I wasn’t that impressed with this story. Pushkin was building up to something that could have been magnificent if it were a full novel, but as a short story it left me with a feeling of meh. 

Monday, 10 August 2015

The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon (4/5)

First published: 2012
Page count: 176
The back says: 'this is my book and i am writing it by my own hand'

The year is eighteen hundred and thirty one when fifteen-year-old Mary begins the difficult task of telling her story. A scrap of a thing with a sharp tongue and hair the colour of milk, Mary leads a harsh life working on her father's farm alongside her three sisters. In the summer she is sent to work for the local vicar's invalid wife, where the reasons why she must record the truth of what happens to her - and the need to record it so urgently - are gradually revealed.

I say: The best part of this story - what actually makes this story - was the underlying tone of foreboding in Mary’s retelling of her live. We know that something bad happens somewhere along the line, why else would she be so adamant to defend herself tell her story.

And so the question becomes: what has she done?

However, before we even get there we get to know Mary; free-spoken, bold, brass and without a sense of propriety. I really liked her while she was on the farm, a place where her sassiness fit in, but as soon as she moved into the vicar’s house I found it somewhat unlikely that she would take the tone with him that she did. Or that the household would react to it the way they did. I don’t know, maybe there was more charm to Mary than I noticed that excused their mirth in her demeanour. 

Or maybe I’m just old and grumpy... 

Regardless, the way this is written, in Mary’s own trepidant and sometimes incorrect words, gives it that realistic feel you could never get with a narrator. It also allows for her to explain herself, her actions and what led to the reason she is documenting her life. I have to admit that even though I did see then end coming, it came in ways I had never imagined...

4/5 for this quick and engaging read.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (3.5/5)

First published: 1894
Page count: 126
The back says: Saved from the jaws of the evil tiger Shere Khan, young Mowgli is adopted by a wolf pack and taught the law of the jungle by lovable old Baloo the bear and Bhageera the panther. The adventures of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi the snake-fighting mongoose, little Toomai and the elephant's secret dance, and Kotick the white seal are all part of Mowgli's extraordinary journey with his animal friends.

I say: I had no idea that this was a collection of short stories as I had only read the story about Mowgli as a child, so I am glad that I decided to read this once and for all.

Surprisingly, the most famous story about Mowgli was the one I liked the least.

Children’s versions of books are usually sparser than their adult counterparts, but it was still a bit of a surprise how detailed, and at times graphic, it was. Even though it was told in a somewhat captivating way, it kind of bored me. I had very little interest in Mowgli and his animal friends and their feud.

The other stories are “The White Seal” about a white seal searching for a beach where humans are unable to kill them. Again, this was contained graphic descriptions of men clubbing and skinning seals, as well as seals fighting each other.

“Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” is a cute tale about a mongoose that saves himself and his humans from two vicious snakes.

“Toomai of the Elephants” is about a boy who wishes to see elephants dance, something which they say no man has ever witnessed.

“Her Majesty’s Servants”, which was my favourite story, is about different camp animals talking about the roles they play in war. It was humorous and insightful, and I will be reading it again at some point.

All in all it is a good selection of fables that all have that important moral lesson to them. Although somewhat gruesome, I suppose that is the true nature of the jungle. 

Kipling won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907, and this is a reminder that I really should get on with that challenge.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh (3/5)

First published: 1930
Page count: 224
The back says: An impoverished novelist clinging to the fringes of high society, Adam Fenwick-Symes takes on the job of a gossip columnist for the Daily Excess so that he can afford to marry his aristocratic fiancée, Nina Blount. Adam is soon thrown headlong into the frantic, jazz-fevered whirl of endless costume parties, treasure hunts, sports-car races and other hedonistic pursuits of the Bright Young Things of the twenties Mayfair. But as the Younger Set exercise their inventive minds and vile bodies in hunting furiously for new and greater sensations, cracks in their glittering armour begins to show...

I say: The synopsis made this novel sound far more exciting than it was, and even though I wasn’t expecting that much I felt a tad disappointed; probably because I felt it could have been so much better.

So much funnier.

There are a few parties in the beginning of the novel that were humorous, and I did giggle here and there. However, as the novel progressed what was meant to be funny turned a bit dull. Like Adam’s meeting with Nina’s father, Colonel Blount; the first meeting was comical with the Colonel not understanding who Adam was or why he came. By the second and subsequent meetings it just became tiresome. Yes, he was a confused old man, but you can only read the same joke so many times and still find it funny.

Unfortunately.

Apart from that, most of the characters did amuse me, even though I found it hard to like them – not that I was meant to. They were all flaky and their ridiculous decisions and shenanigans made for great satire. I feel the same way about Vile Bodies as I did with A Handful of Dust; I enjoyed the prose and wit, but the end of the novel was a let-down.

3/5 and I will pick up more of Waugh’s work when I come across it. 

Thursday, 30 July 2015

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran (3/5)


First published: 1923
Page count: 128
The back says: Kahlil Gibran’s masterpiece, The Prophet, is one of the most beloved classics of our time. Published in 1923, it has been translated into more than twenty languages, and the American editions alone have sold more than nine million copies.

The Prophet is a collection of poetic essays that are philosophical, spiritual, and, above all, inspirational. Gibran’s musings are divided into twenty-eight chapters covering such sprawling topics as love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, joy and sorrow, housing, clothes, buying and selling, crime and punishment, laws, freedom, reason and passion, pain, self-knowledge, teaching, friendship, talking, time, good and evil, prayer, pleasure, beauty, religion, and death.

I say: This is going to be a short review because I’m not even sure what to say because I was so disappointed in this. People have always passed it on as this really profound work, and maybe I would have agreed if I had read it as a teenager, but now it merely felt contrived and self-important.

Ugh.

A prophet has been in some land for 12 years and as his ship arrives to take him home the people ask him for advice on different aspects of life. Yes, there are interesting thoughts in here that warrant further discussion, but I just couldn’t get over the way it’s written. I would have preferred it if the premise was that he left the people with a book of his thoughts rather than them asking him just as he is about to depart; and him lecturing them right then and there. How much of it are they really going to remember?

Meh.

I’m giving this 3/5 because it was worth reading even though I didn’t really enjoy it. 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Relentless Poems Jeff Bezos (3/5)

First published: 2014
Page count: 32
The website says: Poems by Russell Bennetts, Daniel Bosch, Andrea Cohen, Tom Daley, Katie Degentesh, Leontia Flynn, Benjamin Friedlander, Drew Gardner, Nada Gordon, Kirsten Kaschock, Rauan Klassnik, Daisy Lafarge, DW Lichtenberg, Sharon Mesmer, Teresa K. Miller, K. Silem Mohammad, Jess Mynes, Lance Newman, R.M. O’Brien, Eirikur Örn Norŏdahl, Joseph Spece, Ken Taylor and Laura A. Warman.

I say: I had no idea who Jeff Bezos was prior to reading this, and once I googled him it all made a lot more sense; he is the founder and CEO of Amazon.com. It all also made a lot more sense when realising that he did not write the poems, but all the more confusing when trying to figure out if he is the inspiration, the subject, or the reason for these poems.

I’m not sure I want to know as I am not sure it even matters.

Although I did not like all of the poems, this is a very thought provoking and witty collection that’s put together in very skilfully. It’s beautiful and funny satire that doesn’t merely focus on Bezos but, of course, the empire his built and how society reacts to it. The first poem No End begins:

Peddlers are selling
silence in an empty

house. There’s no
end to what they’ll sell:

nothing ends until
supply & demand

demands it must.
[...]

A lot of the poems follow along the same clever lines, but some probably went over my head – or I just didn’t like them. Either way, I will be returning to this again and again for giggles and inspiration.

You can download a copy here!

Unfortunately I cannot add all the poets' names as a lable, so I'll merely add the editor, Russell Bennetts. No harm intended. 

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis (2/5)

First published: 1991
Page count: 416
The back says: Patrick Bateman is twenty-six and works on Wall Street; he is handsome, sophisticated, charming and intelligent. He is also a psychopath. Taking us to a head-on collision with America's greatest dream - and its worst nightmare - American Psycho is a bleak, bitter, black comedy about a world we all recognize but do not wish to confront.

I say: Such. Effing. Tedium.

Ugh.

I had to force myself to finish this. Why? Because I kept waiting for something magnificent.

It never came.

What I got was pages and pages of designer names, ridiculous conversations, and misogynistic violence and gore. The only shocking part of this novel was how utterly dull and pointless I found it. Psychopathic Wall Street guy kills and dismembers people in between talking trash with his equally shallow friends and obsessing over The Patty Winters Show and other random pop culture. Though I do realise that this is satire, a so called ‘black comedy’, which is saturated in inane violence for the sheer shock factor of it all, it merely left me deflated and counting the amount of pages left until I was done with it all.

Meh.