I'm in the middle at the beginning of writing an essay on the metafictional narrative in Moscow 2042, which is the main reason I haven't been reading or posting that much lately (that, and major migraines). I must say, I do miss reading for the sheer pleasure of it, but I am also loving all this research about metafiction.
I've got a few reviews that I haven't posted yet, so I may do that over the next couple of weeks. Otherwise it'll be a quiet month on the blog (and madness in my head).
The back says:"California, Labor Day
weekend . . . early, with ocean fog still in the streets, outlaw motorcyclists
wearing chains, shades and greasy Levis roll out from damp garages, all-night
diners and cast-off one-night pads in Frisco, Hollywood, Berdoo and East
Oakland, heading for the Monterey peninsula, north of Big Sur. . . The Menace
is loose again." Thus begins Hunter S. Thompson's vivid account
of his experiences with California's most notorious motorcycle gang, the Hell's
Angels. In the mid-1960s, Thompson spent almost two years living
with the controversial An-gels, cycling up and down the coast, revealing in the
anarchic spirit of their clan, and, as befits their name, raising hell. His
book successfully captures a singular moment in American history, when the
biker lifestyle was first defined, and when such countercultural movements were
electrifying and horrifying America. Thompson, the creator of Gonzo journalism,
writes with his usual bravado, energy, and brutal honesty, and with a nuanced
and incisive eye; as The New Yorker pointed out, "For all its uninhibited
and sardonic humor, Thompson's book is a thoughtful piece of work." As
illuminating now as when originally published in 1967, Hell's Angels is a
gripping portrait, and the best account we have of the truth behind an American
I say: I don’t really know what to say about this
because there is so much information and so many emotions to be found in this
rather short and fast read. I have never had any encounter with the Hells
Angels, and even though some of the people Thompson met during his year amongst
them didn’t fit the stereotype of what a biker is; the truth is that most of
drinking, drugs, bikes, women - a lifestyle I know little about, that everything
– and even though I was just reading about it, I still got chills down my back
when they talked about beating people up for the smallest imagined affront - or
for their race, which I suppose is a major affront – and raping women. Actually,
the entire chapter that dealt with their views on women made me sick.
no chance that I will ever read this again, and I must point out that I admire
Thompson his courage. It is a very interesting read, but also incredibly infuriating
and I shook my head in disbelief so many times that I’m surprised it didn’t
things on the short side: read it for the insight into a culture not many dare
(or even want to – or are invited to) visit. I have little interest in bikes
and bikers, and the only reason I read this was because it was a part of my 100 Classics Challenge. However, I am glad that I read it and I truly
understand why this is considered a classic and a must read.
I've been playing tourist in Stockholm, Sweden with a friend - hence the no posting. Then I had an exam today (which went great - I hope) and so I'll get back to reviewing asap. Until then, here's a picture of my new(ish) bookshelves:
GoodReads says:‘Whore and rogue
they call husband and wife:
All professions be-rogue one another'
The tale of Peachum, thief-taker and informer, conspiring to send the dashing
and promiscuous highwayman Macheath to the gallows, became the theatrical
sensation of the eighteenth century. In The
Beggar’s Opera, John Gay turned conventions of Italian opera
riotously upside-down, instead using traditional popular ballads and street
tunes, while also indulging in political satire at the expense of the Prime
Minister, Sir Robert Walpole. Gay’s highly original depiction of the thieves,
informers, prostitutes and highwaymen thronging the slums and prisons of the
corrupt London underworld proved brilliantly successful in exposing the dark
side of a corrupt and jaded society.
I say: I found this play somewhat hilarious, but perhaps for all the wrong
reasons. There were so many uncalled for insults that made me guffaw and
snicker and really wonder if Gay intended them to be funny or if I just have a
sick sense of humour.
Oh how I wish I could see this on stage.
The gist of the story is that Peachum’s
daughter Polly says that she’s married to highwayman Macheath – much to her
parents’ chagrin, so they intend to have him hanged so that Polly can inherit
whatever he owns. While in prison it is found out that Lucy Lockit, the jail
keeper’s daughter, also claims to be married to Macheath. Lucy helps him escape
and then Peachum and Lockit try to find out how to get rid of him in order to
save their daughters.
All in all it was a rather entertaining
plot, although I was annoyed by the interrupting songs after every few seconds
of dialogue. Songs are always annoying when read, but they were short and
witty. One thing that really annoyed me was the abundance of ‘wench’, ‘slut’, ‘hussy’
and other such degrading terms for the female characters. It was told from a
very male chauvinistic point of view, which I found a tad grating (but could
almost overlook considering how long ago it was written).
In my passionate research google
search I found a few versions of this on YouTube, so I may
well sit down and watch one of them someday.
Baksidan säger:En man i trettioårsåldern försöker starta om i en ny stad.
Han arbetar en tid som lärare, men när han oväntat får ett arv säger han upp
sig för att istället ägna sig åt ett filosofiskt projekt. Uppgiften visar sig
vara övermäktig. Han försjunker i grubblerier, blir deprimerad och tappar så
småningom helt kontakten med det omgivande samhället. Och en dag tar arvet
slut. Efter en period av misär och utanförskap får han dock chansen att komma
tillbaka, då han erbjuds ett jobb på en bokhandel. En sista chans, som inom
kort ska förvandla en ansvarskännande medborgare till mördare.
Jag säger: Jag plocka upp den här pga. titeln då jag, som
huvudpersonen i historien, känner ett starkt förakt för Paulo Coelho och ville
egentligen veta anledningen till varför någon skulle vilja mörda honom.
Utöver det att han skriver avskyvärda böcker.
Boken börjar med att
berättaren låter oss veta att han ”möjligen
är en ond människa, men jag är inte sjuk. [...] Den här skriften är således
ingen dåres försvarstal och inget försök till urskuldande. [...] Juridiken ger
samhällets version av brottet, detta är brottslingens.” Sedan får vi veta
varför han väljer att inte fortsätta som lärare, hur han hamnar i sin
depression och förlorar tron på samhället och dess invånare.
Det är väldigt mycket
existentiella tankar som han grubblar på; samma tankar som jag själv haft och
som ofta leder längre och längre bort från samhället. Han försöker förgäves
hitta en lösning på sina problem och det är först när han blir nästintill
hemlös som han lyckas slå dem åt sidan och bara ”leva”. Efter ett drygt år av
någorlunda harmoni läser han Alkemisten
av Coelho ”som med de mest tillåtande ögon var den mest sliskigt romantiska,
pretentiöst kvasireligiösa smörja” han någonsin läst och bestämmer sig för att
mörda honom så att författaren inte kan lura några fler människor med sina
Jag måste erkänna att
jag skrattade gott och igenkännande i hans arga beskrivningar och hat mot
Coelho. Det var roligt att läsa om en protagonist som är (någorlunda) påläst om
filosofi kritisera Coelho från en intelligent ståndpunkt – och med lite humor.
Även det faktum att han kritiserar folk som säger att det är deras ”personliga
åsikt” att tycka om något provocerade fram särskilt fördömande. Trots detta
måste jag säga att jag inte enbart gillar novellen för att jag håller med
berättaren, utan mest för att han presenterar sina argument och handlingar på
ett tydligt och klarsynt sätt.
Nej, jag tycker inte att mord är en acceptabel lösning,
men jag förstår hur han hamna där.
Detta är Vahlquists
debut och jag ser framemot att läsa mer av honom i framtiden.
First published: 1884 Original title: Á Rebours Original language: French Translation to English by:John Howard Page count: 18
The back says:A Rebours, Against the Grain or Against
Nature in English, is an 1884 novel by Joris-Karl Huysmans. Anti-hero Jean Des
Esseintes despises the bourgeois society he lives in and withdraws into the
aesthetic and artistic ideals that he has created.
the novel would be rejected by both critics and public, Huysman declared:
"It will be the biggest fiasco of the year - but I don't care a damn! It
will be something nobody has ever done before, and I shall have said what I
want to say...” The novel did receive great publicity on its release, but even
though it was heavily criticized it also became influential with a new
generation of writers and aesthetes.
Goodness me, how I have struggled with this short little novel. It was so dull
it kept putting me to sleep after a couple of pages, so I turned it into my cannot-go-to-sleep-so-I-shall-read-this-as-I-know-it-will-put-me-to-sleep
novel for about 3 months.
Des Esseintes moves into a mansion outside
of Paris and spends his days wasting money and being a bore. He glues emeralds and
diamonds on a turtle because he wants to.
He’s that type of brat.
Then he spends a great deal of time
talking about his extravagant parties with prostitutes, the minute details of
how he decorates his rooms (wall to wall carpeting on the second floor so he
doesn’t have to hear the servants walking around), and has long, intricate
monologues about literature. This was the only part that I found entertaining –
well, as long as he was talking about people I knew or had heard of – but he
did take it a bit too far. I fear this is what I sound like when I talk about my favourite literature.
Unfortunately he suffers from one ailment
after the other and thence has to talk about the various remedies he takes. At the
end of the novel he gets so sick he cannot even keep his food down.
Gasp. Horror. Why.
More than anything this novel is about
decadence and snobbery to the nth degree. Although I must admit to a bit of
jealousy since it is my dream to retire to some obscure place away from people
and just spend my days reading; I hope I shall never become des Esseintes. It was
all just too much, and too much for the sake of being too much. Huysmans may be a
gifted writer but it was all lost in the tedium and abundance of opulence.
A little goes a long way.
Supposedly this is the
novel that leads to Dorian Gray’s
downfall, but it’s been years since I re-read that last and perhaps it’s time I
2/5 because it bored
me to sleep and I didn’t really get that much out of it (apart from a few poets
and writers I had never heard of).
First published: 2004 Original title:Boken om Blanche och Marie Original language: Swedish Translation to English by:Tiina Nunnally Page count: 258
The back says:In 1878, Blanche Wittman was committed to
Salpetriere Hospital as a hysteric and placed in the care of the famous M.
Charcot, who regularly displayed her, in a cataleptic state, before a public
audience. Over time, the nature of her participation in these demonstrations
changed; she graduated from patient to assistant and on leaving the hospital,
was hired by Marie Curie to work in her Paris laboratory. On 17 February 1898,
radium was discovered and Blanche's exposure to it necessitated the amputation
of all her limbs, save one. As for Marie, her husband and collaborator Pierre
was weakened by illness and subsequently killed having wandered in front of an
oncoming horse and cart. Following this, she embarked on an ill-fated love
affair, which, in 1911, almost cost her the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Using
Blanche's notebooks - 'The Book of Questions' - Enquist deftly weaves fact and
fiction in a powerful tale of scientific discovery, death, art love and the
extraordinary relationship of two remarkable women at the dawn of a century of
tremendous change. The Story of Blanche and Marie was shortlisted for the
Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.
I say: I read this in Swedish for uni, but would have gotten around to reading it
eventually as I’ve seen the title quite a few times. However, I’m not sure I would
have finished it if it weren’t for the fact that we’re discussing it tomorrow.
It just didn’t grip me at all.
At the moment we are discussing faction
(novels that are a combination of facts and fiction) and this is a typical
factional novel. The narrator tells us that he has found Blanche’s notebooks
about love, and then proceeds to retell her story with quotes and rather
annoying comments of his own. I’d never heard of Blanche, but of course knew
who Marie Curie was, and at first I thought this was going to be an interesting
read, but it turned out to be surprisingly boring and I am going to blame it
all on the writing because both women lived very fascinating lives - Marie won
the Nobel Prize twice and Blanche went from being a ‘hysteric’ treated by J. M. Charcot to working for Curie and
ended up losing all of her limbs bar her right arm (which is how she kept her
diaries) - but Enquist’s writing was so disjointed and dreary it made them both
Which is a feat in itself.
The narrator kept harping on about the
notebooks and how Blanche was searching for the meaning of love, and then inserted
Marie’s life and affair and now she’s in England hiding with the suffragettes
in London, and here is Blanche at the hospital being hypnotised, and now a
quote from Einstein about Marie, and oh dear Freud apparently stole Charcot’s
work, and here’s Blanche left alone in a wooden box on the floor...
It was all just too much for me.
Having said that I did learn a bit more about
Curie and Charcot and the historical facts were interesting; it was the
fictional parts and the presentation I had a problem with.