Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Barnvakten av Sofie Trinh Johansson (4/5)

Publiceringsdatum: 2015
Antal sidor: 20
Baksidan säger:
Sextonåriga Sandra är gravid och har bestämt sig för att föda sitt barn och ta hand om det på egen hand. Men pengar är ett problem. Ett erbjudande om att sitta barnvakt mot generös ersättning kommer som en skänk från ovan. Pojken hon ska sköta om heter Benjamin och sägs vara lite annorlunda, lite blyg. Och det stämmer. Benjamin är inte som andra barn.

Jag säger: Oj, det vore fel att påstå att berättelsen var oväntad, för jag visste ju att det skulle hända något ”utöver det vanliga” innan jag ens börja läsa. Det som jag blev så glad över var att det ”oväntade” blev prick så: oväntat.

Och rysligt.

Vi lullas in i en berättelse om Sandra som är barnvakt åt Benjamin som till en början är blyg, men sen gör lite underliga saker, så vi vet att snart kommer det något stort. Vanligtvis brukar jag kunna förutspå vad som ska hända, och även fast jag kände på mig ungefär vad som kunde tänkas hända här med, blev jag helt paff när klimaxen kom.
Fy.

För en så kort berättelse hinner Trinh packa in väldigt mycket detaljer och spänning. Jag vill, och kommer, läsa mer av hennes verk. 

Monday, 14 December 2015

Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton (5/5)


First published: 1941
Page count: 288
The back says: London, 1939, and in the grimy publands of Earls Court, George Harvey Bone is pursuing a helpless infatuation. Netta is cool, contemptuous and hopelessly desirable to George. George is adrift in a drunken hell, except in his 'dead' moments, when something goes click in his head and he realizes, without doubt, that he must kill her...

I say: This is another classic that I probably never would have read had it not been for my 100 Classics Challenge.

I think...?

I tend to refrain from reading the synopsis, so I had no idea what this would be about other than suspecting some form of drinking.

Yay!

Unexpectedly, this broke my heart. 

Over and over again. 

Mercilessly.

And I loved it.

I adored it and I cannot wait to re-read this.

The novel starts with George entering into one of his ‘dead’ moods, in which he remembers that he has to kill Netta. It takes a while for him to remember who she is, but once he does, he does on to plan tow it is to be done. When he snaps out of his ‘dead’ moods, he cannot remember what happened during them so he continues life as usual. Life being following Netta and her gang around Earls Court o their daily and nightly drinking sprees. None of them work and through Netta take advantage of George who has a little bit of money saved up.

He is in love obsession with Netta and it’s all very sad and would be pathetic if not for his gentle and kind nature. Instead of thinking George a fool for lending giving Netta money that he’ll never see again, I thought her the ultimate bitch for continuing to take advantage of him.

However, that only lasted until he had one of his ‘dead’ moods when he realized that he must kill her.

5/5 because I felt every emotion I ever want to feel while reading this, and even though the end was not what I had hoped for, it was what I had expected. 

Friday, 11 December 2015

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (4.5/5)

First published: 1966
Page count: 343
The back says: On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues. 

As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.

I say: I bought this years ago as a part of my 100 Classics Challenge, but put it aside as I don’t really enjoy reading about real crime (at least I don’t think I do and therefore always avoid the genre). Picture me surprised when I actually enjoyed this so much I had to stop myself from reading all night when I had to go to work the following morning.

I should have called in sick.

I am not sure how to review this without discussing the murders, which I don’t want to do. They were horrible and I didn’t enjoy reading the detailed description of how they had been committed, but it had to be told.

Ugh.

Capote writes as if he was there and it reads more like a story being told than a report; the narrator being friendly and familiar with the surroundings and people.

The only reason this doesn’t get the full 5/5 is because I felt that Capote added a lot of unnecessary information, such as letting us know, in depth, what the people in the town were up to after the murders. Yes, I understand that they are a part of the story, I just had no interest in them.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Vi hade hemorrojder allihop av Zhao Zhiming (4/5)

Publiceringsdatum: 2015
Antal sidor: 42

Baksidan säger: På ett nästan komiskt sätt skildrar Zhao Zhiming det blodiga allvaret på landsbygden för längesedan. Dåtidens vardagssaker som i sig är tragiska blir absurda när de betraktas med dagens moderna ögon. Med ett vardagsspråk och en allvarlig, nästintill kall attityd, som om man talar om något vetenskapligt, beskrivs det vulgära. Novellen berättar om människors relationer och växlingen mellan det kalla och varma i dessa. Det är en realistisk text men har inslag av övernaturliga ting som blir till en sorts logik utan vetenskapligt stöd och som bidrar till en onormal atmosfär där ödet spelar en viktig roll. 

Zhao Zhiming skriver om sådant som många funderar över: familjen, relationer, öde, moderskärlek. Men han sätter in dessa klassiska teman i nya, extrema situationer vilket ger dem ett nytt liv.


Jag säger: Beskrivningen ovan säger nästan allt utan att egentligen säga någonting alls. Det tog ett tag att komma in i berättelsen pga. Zhimings detaljerade språk. Det kändes som att läsa en rapport om livet på landsbygden, men när jag väl vant mig kunde jag förstå varför Zhiming valt att skriva så;

ja, jag kunde tro mig förstå.

På något sätt blir det absurda i berättelsen mer så när det återberättas som fakta och profetian ses som en sån självklarhet att karaktärerna självmant ser till att de händer. Det var många tragedier som framfördes på ett komiskt sätt som fick mig att stanna upp i skrattet och tänka efter.

4/5 och jag läser gärna mer av Zniming i framtiden. 

Monday, 7 December 2015

The Drowning of Arthur Braxton by Caroline Smailes (4.5/5)

First published: 2013
Page count: 385
The back says: An urban fairy tale from the acclaimed author of 99 Reasons Why.

Arthur Braxton runs away from school.

He hides out in an abandoned building, an old Edwardian bathhouse.

He discovers a naked woman swimming in the pool.

From this point on, nothing will ever be the same.
The Drowning of Arthur Braxton is an unflinching account of the pain and trauma of adolescence and of how first love can transform the most unhappy of lives into something miraculous. It is a dark and brooding modern fairy tale from one of our most gifted writers.

I say: I cannot believe I waited this long to read this, especially since I love Smailes.

But there you go...

I’m not even sure what to say about this novel because it blends together so many different genres in such a perfect way it confuses me. It’s like taking the best elements of different types of candy you somewhat like and mixing them together into a delicious cake.

Yes, pretty much like that.

If it weren’t for that dreadful thing called work I would have finished this in one sitting, but alas, we must make money to pay for the books we love. There was a sense of foreboding from the moment Arthur entered The Oracle – the bathhouse - but not in the usual overbearing way, but languorous enough to give me time to ponder different explanations as to how Delphina, the naked girl, came to be there, and how the story would end. Arthur himself didn’t really interest me that much, and that is probably because he was a rather self-centred teenage boy, but I was still engrossed in his journey. Yes, he disappointed me – as teenagers always tend to do – but the attempt at redemption lessened my annoyance. 

However, a few years before we even get to Arthur and Delphina, we meet Laurel, a teenaged girl who gets a job working as a receptionist in The Oracle for three water healers. Hers is a sad story reminiscent of the protagonists in Smailes’ previous novels Black Boxes and In Search of Adam, and because I love tragic characters I found myself in love with her most of all.

Sigh.

The novel is described as modern fairy tale and I didn’t even like fairy tales when I was a kid, which is why it took me so long to read it, but like I said in the beginning; it’s the combination of several different genres that made me like this; a little fairy tale, a bit troubled youth novel, a portion Greek tragedy, and a dash of Tom Stoppard as Samuel Beckett with the two old men talking nonsense.

4.5/5 because although I loved the different styles in which it was written, Arthur was a bit too much for me.