nirinia: (Default)
This, I suppose, is where I insert a really clever/witty/enlightening[/insert adjective] entry to introduce you to the ins and outs of this LJ. But there really is nothing to detail, except what you see on the first few pages. And the rest you're likely to pick up along the way – I'm fond of asides. I've spent the weekend screaming, cheering, clapping, agonising, pouring over Spivak and texting people in a dingy sports hall, watching my brother throw people around in the nationals. Which is more fun than it sounds. (He does competitive judo.)

Today, my literate partner in crime, Anette and I teamed up to make sense of Waiting for the Barbarians. It did not go well: she was in full-blown holiday mode, I got distracted by beautiful men every other minute. We got stuck on trying to figure out what to do with the recurring dreams, and in the end got nowhere. Putting our last, epic Coetzee discussion to great shame. We did succeed in getting coffee. And in considering disbanding project 'looking decent': works badly when you are up to your ears, is costly and really rather unnecessary. Save for the times when you feel like looking presentable.

You know what, new glorious friends, if there is anything you are dying to know, just ask.
nirinia: (Default)
This, I suppose, is where I insert a really clever/witty/enlightening[/insert adjective] entry to introduce you to the ins and outs of this LJ. But there really is nothing to detail, except what you see on the first few pages. And the rest you're likely to pick up along the way – I'm fond of asides. I've spent the weekend screaming, cheering, clapping, agonising, pouring over Spivak and texting people in a dingy sports hall, watching my brother throw people around in the nationals. Which is more fun than it sounds. (He does competitive judo.)

Today, my literate partner in crime, Anette and I teamed up to make sense of Waiting for the Barbarians. It did not go well: she was in full-blown holiday mode, I got distracted by beautiful men every other minute. We got stuck on trying to figure out what to do with the recurring dreams, and in the end got nowhere. Putting our last, epic Coetzee discussion to great shame. We did succeed in getting coffee. And in considering disbanding project 'looking decent': works badly when you are up to your ears, is costly and really rather unnecessary. Save for the times when you feel like looking presentable.

You know what, new glorious friends, if there is anything you are dying to know, just ask.
nirinia: (Default)
I ordered Nabokov's The Original of Laura on Sunday, and can't wait to open it. (If someone doesn't yet know, I'm a 'Nabokovian', sworn on pain of death). He is, I've reasoned, my adult Roald Dahl: articulate, wry, dark. My brother wasn't as taken by him, but we both gleefully read the passage where George gets rid of his grandmother to ours. Hold my hand, I just found an interview in Norwegian about his. Fan glee! The most charming broken Norwegian I have heard, a bit archaic. He has obviously forgotten a lot. But he speaks Norwegian! With a very peculiar accent, a mix of some Norwegian dialect I presume his mother had, and an English accent. 'Og så har jeg this tray in my lap', he is adorably bad!

One of Norway's current literary personas, one of the very few that are talked about abroad*, Dag Solstad apparently hangs out at 'Litteraturhuset' (newly built centre for literature, debates and liberal amounts of bullshit). Contemplating finding a first edition and harassing him into signing it. I don't like the man or his writings, but it could be worth something if it remains unread. Should I?

At some point last week I decided to let all serious books have some time off, and read leisurely:
Ian McEwan's Amsterdam was something of a disappointment. It reminded me slightly of Iris Murdoch's The Sea, The Sea, with which I have a rocky relationship. The reviews I've seen complain about the plot, which is reasonable enough. Though the plot is not the point here, as with so much of the fiction I read: it is the characters, the conversations, ideas, the craftsmanship. It is well-written, not quite to the standard of Atonement, but good. Very much a 'booker prize novel'.

I picked up The Rights of Desire, André Brink, on [livejournal.com profile] withered_petals's recommendation, I think. Am I totally off with the name? A response to Coetzee's Disgrace, one of my favourite books. It's explicitly referenced, and alluded to throughout: I think of it as Brink's post-colonial vision, a reshaping of Coetzee's. The same relationship of middle-aged, bookish man and young, captivating girl. The story is interesting enough, but Brink does not quite get under the skin of his protagonist. And I don't think the distance was intentional.

While it is an interesting book, it did not sweep me off my feet like Disgrace did. There's something about it that puts me off. I'd love to write about it in an academic capacity, perhaps alongside Lolita as well as Disgrace. Or compare their post-colonial projects. I want to write a third book, alluding to both of theirs. But that's it. Oh, I did love the allusions. Very modernist, and absolutely lovely. There was one to Prufrock, 'time to wear my trousers rolled'.


* All Norwegians have a thing for the world outside: we speak of it with almost the same reverence afforded our GPs.
nirinia: (Default)
I ordered Nabokov's The Original of Laura on Sunday, and can't wait to open it. (If someone doesn't yet know, I'm a 'Nabokovian', sworn on pain of death). He is, I've reasoned, my adult Roald Dahl: articulate, wry, dark. My brother wasn't as taken by him, but we both gleefully read the passage where George gets rid of his grandmother to ours. Hold my hand, I just found an interview in Norwegian about his. Fan glee! The most charming broken Norwegian I have heard, a bit archaic. He has obviously forgotten a lot. But he speaks Norwegian! With a very peculiar accent, a mix of some Norwegian dialect I presume his mother had, and an English accent. 'Og så har jeg this tray in my lap', he is adorably bad!

One of Norway's current literary personas, one of the very few that are talked about abroad*, Dag Solstad apparently hangs out at 'Litteraturhuset' (newly built centre for literature, debates and liberal amounts of bullshit). Contemplating finding a first edition and harassing him into signing it. I don't like the man or his writings, but it could be worth something if it remains unread. Should I?

At some point last week I decided to let all serious books have some time off, and read leisurely:
Ian McEwan's Amsterdam was something of a disappointment. It reminded me slightly of Iris Murdoch's The Sea, The Sea, with which I have a rocky relationship. The reviews I've seen complain about the plot, which is reasonable enough. Though the plot is not the point here, as with so much of the fiction I read: it is the characters, the conversations, ideas, the craftsmanship. It is well-written, not quite to the standard of Atonement, but good. Very much a 'booker prize novel'.

I picked up The Rights of Desire, André Brink, on [livejournal.com profile] withered_petals's recommendation, I think. Am I totally off with the name? A response to Coetzee's Disgrace, one of my favourite books. It's explicitly referenced, and alluded to throughout: I think of it as Brink's post-colonial vision, a reshaping of Coetzee's. The same relationship of middle-aged, bookish man and young, captivating girl. The story is interesting enough, but Brink does not quite get under the skin of his protagonist. And I don't think the distance was intentional.

While it is an interesting book, it did not sweep me off my feet like Disgrace did. There's something about it that puts me off. I'd love to write about it in an academic capacity, perhaps alongside Lolita as well as Disgrace. Or compare their post-colonial projects. I want to write a third book, alluding to both of theirs. But that's it. Oh, I did love the allusions. Very modernist, and absolutely lovely. There was one to Prufrock, 'time to wear my trousers rolled'.


* All Norwegians have a thing for the world outside: we speak of it with almost the same reverence afforded our GPs.
nirinia: (Hades)
There are 20 pages left of Coetzee's Summertime, and I'm somewhat underwhelmed. Continuing the fictional autobiography begun with Boyhood and Youth, it is the final installment. The series seems to be referred to as 'Scenes from Provincial Life'. Perfectly readable as a stand-alone piece, but I imagine it will make more sense if you have read the preceding two.

I call them fictional autobiographies, because, as Coetzee states explicitly in Summertime, he does not believe in recounting his life down to every minute, embarrassing detail. The frames are true, the pictures inside are of his own making. This is his life re-imagined to fit the persona J.M. Coetzee.

It's not a novel, per se, it's a collection of transcribed interviews, conducted by a nameless biographer. Concerning Coetzee, after his (imagined) death. An interesting concept in an of itself, it's well done and well written. The characters well-wrought, and what we see of them engaging. It is all dialogue, so we get a fairly clear picture of the people speaking.

This is not a new Coetzee novel in the vain of Disgrace, not even Foe. And I made a mistake expecting it to be one, that might account for my disappointment. Not a novel, but a reflection on identity. On how multifaceted our identities are: disparaging images of one person, dependent on the seer and the events during which they met him. Adding to the five characters' statements, is the fact that we know very little of Coetzee. We know his persona, what little of it he wishes to show us. We own it, him, for we have a joint-ownership of all public people. Everyone except the condemned can know all about him.

He deals directly with this, through the interviews called Martin and Sophie. Both academics, and colleagues of Coetzee. In short dismissing any attempts to read his oeuvre biographically (thank god! There is nothing more degrading), and making a case for his particular brand of biography.

Whether or not what we read is true, is irrelevant. It is no more relevant than the reliability of any other 'unreliable' narrator. No narrator can be unreliable, because they can only give us their story. There is only one relevant story. The point is not what parts of Summertime is true, but what the entity gives us.

To conclude this rant, I'm not gasping for breath as I finish it. Which is something of a disappointment. I know what Coetzee can do, this is not the height of it. It is an academic novel, a response, I imagine, to criticism and comments about his life and work. I might end up dealing with it in an academic setting, identity and post-colonialism, and that, I think, is how it should be treated. Not as a novel, but as an experiment, and as an answer. If you're that way inclined, I am sure the million piece puzzle 'Who is Coetzee?' is fun, as well. Summertime might help you piece together a few thousand of the parts, making you rethink everything.


And here I thought the time for literary manifestos were over. In short, it is a manifesto signed by young Swedish writers, promising to make 2010 'the story's decade'. They want story over form; it must be story, not debate or social critique badly veiled as a story. They will strive to write novels that communicate, touch, disturb and engage. To write prose inspired by the epic, not poetry. They promise never to write novels about young, shopping women; never, not even under a pseudonym, about journalists solving murder mysteries in Öland or Skåne, or any other picturesque Swedish setting.

The Swedish novel must not be mistaken for stand-up comedy. Telling a story well is much more difficult than producing puns. In short, they want to re-instate the Swedish story as a powerful and vibrant art. (This is all a very badly translated reiteration, but you will have to forgive me if you cannot read the original.)

As I see it, this is a reaction to the crime-thriller wave that has swept Scandinavia lately. Our most popular writers off the top of my head are Lindell, Mankell, Larsson and Nesbø. All crime, the other contenders are also mostly crime fiction. Or historical novels, with a distinctively non-historical thriller twist. The widely translated works, beyond Per Petterson, are crime novels. Or variations on the theme. What general fiction is published is mostly self-possessed, bad and either naive (stylistically, as in the narrator is naive) or set back to the sixties (yes, I'm getting at Roy Jacobsen). There is no avant-garde literature published or created in Scandinavia. If there is, it never makes it to the public eye.

These young writers are looking for something new. Not necessarily avant-garde, that is my desire. But I don't think returning to a story-centric narrative is the solution. Certainly not stories that are not written with an eye to style – again, style is a hang-up of mine. Though it certainly fits with the idea of thesis, antithesis. Modernism as the thesis, postmodernism synthesis, and this coming period (or era, I hesitate to call it an era) the synthesis. But then I would have to subscribe to the idea of modernism and postmodernism as to separate ideas.

Charming idea, might spark some necessary debate, will most likely not make much difference in the long run. Because I don't think these story-centric novels they propose to write will be particularly interesting.



PS: Could I ask for this as a present when I turn 20?
nirinia: (Hades)
There are 20 pages left of Coetzee's Summertime, and I'm somewhat underwhelmed. Continuing the fictional autobiography begun with Boyhood and Youth, it is the final installment. The series seems to be referred to as 'Scenes from Provincial Life'. Perfectly readable as a stand-alone piece, but I imagine it will make more sense if you have read the preceding two.

I call them fictional autobiographies, because, as Coetzee states explicitly in Summertime, he does not believe in recounting his life down to every minute, embarrassing detail. The frames are true, the pictures inside are of his own making. This is his life re-imagined to fit the persona J.M. Coetzee.

It's not a novel, per se, it's a collection of transcribed interviews, conducted by a nameless biographer. Concerning Coetzee, after his (imagined) death. An interesting concept in an of itself, it's well done and well written. The characters well-wrought, and what we see of them engaging. It is all dialogue, so we get a fairly clear picture of the people speaking.

This is not a new Coetzee novel in the vain of Disgrace, not even Foe. And I made a mistake expecting it to be one, that might account for my disappointment. Not a novel, but a reflection on identity. On how multifaceted our identities are: disparaging images of one person, dependent on the seer and the events during which they met him. Adding to the five characters' statements, is the fact that we know very little of Coetzee. We know his persona, what little of it he wishes to show us. We own it, him, for we have a joint-ownership of all public people. Everyone except the condemned can know all about him.

He deals directly with this, through the interviews called Martin and Sophie. Both academics, and colleagues of Coetzee. In short dismissing any attempts to read his oeuvre biographically (thank god! There is nothing more degrading), and making a case for his particular brand of biography.

Whether or not what we read is true, is irrelevant. It is no more relevant than the reliability of any other 'unreliable' narrator. No narrator can be unreliable, because they can only give us their story. There is only one relevant story. The point is not what parts of Summertime is true, but what the entity gives us.

To conclude this rant, I'm not gasping for breath as I finish it. Which is something of a disappointment. I know what Coetzee can do, this is not the height of it. It is an academic novel, a response, I imagine, to criticism and comments about his life and work. I might end up dealing with it in an academic setting, identity and post-colonialism, and that, I think, is how it should be treated. Not as a novel, but as an experiment, and as an answer. If you're that way inclined, I am sure the million piece puzzle 'Who is Coetzee?' is fun, as well. Summertime might help you piece together a few thousand of the parts, making you rethink everything.


And here I thought the time for literary manifestos were over. In short, it is a manifesto signed by young Swedish writers, promising to make 2010 'the story's decade'. They want story over form; it must be story, not debate or social critique badly veiled as a story. They will strive to write novels that communicate, touch, disturb and engage. To write prose inspired by the epic, not poetry. They promise never to write novels about young, shopping women; never, not even under a pseudonym, about journalists solving murder mysteries in Öland or Skåne, or any other picturesque Swedish setting.

The Swedish novel must not be mistaken for stand-up comedy. Telling a story well is much more difficult than producing puns. In short, they want to re-instate the Swedish story as a powerful and vibrant art. (This is all a very badly translated reiteration, but you will have to forgive me if you cannot read the original.)

As I see it, this is a reaction to the crime-thriller wave that has swept Scandinavia lately. Our most popular writers off the top of my head are Lindell, Mankell, Larsson and Nesbø. All crime, the other contenders are also mostly crime fiction. Or historical novels, with a distinctively non-historical thriller twist. The widely translated works, beyond Per Petterson, are crime novels. Or variations on the theme. What general fiction is published is mostly self-possessed, bad and either naive (stylistically, as in the narrator is naive) or set back to the sixties (yes, I'm getting at Roy Jacobsen). There is no avant-garde literature published or created in Scandinavia. If there is, it never makes it to the public eye.

These young writers are looking for something new. Not necessarily avant-garde, that is my desire. But I don't think returning to a story-centric narrative is the solution. Certainly not stories that are not written with an eye to style – again, style is a hang-up of mine. Though it certainly fits with the idea of thesis, antithesis. Modernism as the thesis, postmodernism synthesis, and this coming period (or era, I hesitate to call it an era) the synthesis. But then I would have to subscribe to the idea of modernism and postmodernism as to separate ideas.

Charming idea, might spark some necessary debate, will most likely not make much difference in the long run. Because I don't think these story-centric novels they propose to write will be particularly interesting.



PS: Could I ask for this as a present when I turn 20?
nirinia: (Default)
I am so, so broke. And I need to buy art. This art, and so much else. I need an apartment with blank walls, a blank canvas to fill with other people's ideas. Living alone, surrounded by someone's art.

On a literary note Youth is disappointing. I don't expect it to improve. Coetzee's too indulgent, some reviewer wrote; there might be something to that. There is such a thing as too much angsty, internal monologue (re Pears' The Portrait, that godawful monologue). A monologue is difficult to write because you must keep the reader's attention with only one character, only one set of tools. And while Youth is not badly written, it does not hold my attention for longer than thirty pages at a time. The aspiring artist, no doubt Coetzee himself, struggling with no longer being the cleverest and finding that cleverness is not all, is not interesting in himself. No progress, no conflict, a complete stand-still.

Come to think of it, it is very much in the tradition of Hamsun's Hunger. Starving, broke artist, writing nothing, doing nothing, ideas of what life should have been like 'if only'. While I hated it with a passion, it was an important book. This, just, meh.
nirinia: (Default)
I am so, so broke. And I need to buy art. This art, and so much else. I need an apartment with blank walls, a blank canvas to fill with other people's ideas. Living alone, surrounded by someone's art.

On a literary note Youth is disappointing. I don't expect it to improve. Coetzee's too indulgent, some reviewer wrote; there might be something to that. There is such a thing as too much angsty, internal monologue (re Pears' The Portrait, that godawful monologue). A monologue is difficult to write because you must keep the reader's attention with only one character, only one set of tools. And while Youth is not badly written, it does not hold my attention for longer than thirty pages at a time. The aspiring artist, no doubt Coetzee himself, struggling with no longer being the cleverest and finding that cleverness is not all, is not interesting in himself. No progress, no conflict, a complete stand-still.

Come to think of it, it is very much in the tradition of Hamsun's Hunger. Starving, broke artist, writing nothing, doing nothing, ideas of what life should have been like 'if only'. While I hated it with a passion, it was an important book. This, just, meh.
nirinia: (Default)
My parents both read and enjoyed Stieg Larsson's Millenium series, and have urged me to read it for some time. I finally cracked them open during Easter, and finished the first one, Men Who Hate Women (Män som hatar kvinnor, in the original Swedish) in two days. They're very good crime novels, a genre I don't read other than as a guilty pleasure – in the shape of Cornwell –, and during Easter. Apparently a weird Norwegian tradition, stuffing our faces with crime fiction once a year.

Somewhere along the line I read a list of some sort, and had an epiphany of sorts. The difference between "arty", high-brow fiction (represented currently by Bolano) and straight-forward, plot oriented crime, romance and YA novels is inherent in their lists. Bolano would ramble on, listing everything he could think of, including a digression and digressions from digressions. Larsson, and most writers, do not. They write their short, sweet, to the point lists and move on. Their language is not exceptional, it is functional. Bolano doesn't bother with paragraphs, or introductions. Larsson painstakingly, not always very elegantly, introduces his characters.

I'll have to continue this later, I have a day in which to properly research and write an English Civilisation paper on WWI and its implications for the Empire.

Morgenbladet never fails me, and alerted me to The Literature Police a book, plus supplementary website about Apartheid censorship. It is a bit difficult to navigate, but there are scans of actual reports. I found one of Coetzee's The Life and Times of Michael K.
nirinia: (Default)
My parents both read and enjoyed Stieg Larsson's Millenium series, and have urged me to read it for some time. I finally cracked them open during Easter, and finished the first one, Men Who Hate Women (Män som hatar kvinnor, in the original Swedish) in two days. They're very good crime novels, a genre I don't read other than as a guilty pleasure – in the shape of Cornwell –, and during Easter. Apparently a weird Norwegian tradition, stuffing our faces with crime fiction once a year.

Somewhere along the line I read a list of some sort, and had an epiphany of sorts. The difference between "arty", high-brow fiction (represented currently by Bolano) and straight-forward, plot oriented crime, romance and YA novels is inherent in their lists. Bolano would ramble on, listing everything he could think of, including a digression and digressions from digressions. Larsson, and most writers, do not. They write their short, sweet, to the point lists and move on. Their language is not exceptional, it is functional. Bolano doesn't bother with paragraphs, or introductions. Larsson painstakingly, not always very elegantly, introduces his characters.

I'll have to continue this later, I have a day in which to properly research and write an English Civilisation paper on WWI and its implications for the Empire.

Morgenbladet never fails me, and alerted me to The Literature Police a book, plus supplementary website about Apartheid censorship. It is a bit difficult to navigate, but there are scans of actual reports. I found one of Coetzee's The Life and Times of Michael K.
nirinia: (Default)
I finished Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello a few days ago, and it has been bothering me ever since. It is part a collection of essays (written by Costello), part narrative of her travels by her son and herself, part resume of talks she has given. It ends rather confusingly with what I find the most interesting chapter, where Costello finds herself in some sort of limbo. She must write a statement to pass through the gates. But she is given no guidelines, and does not know what it is she will move on to. A board analyse her answers, and deems her claim of being excempt from belief faulty. Writing is not a legitimate profession, not the way she puts it to them.

Finally, a letter is quoted. From the wife of a nobelman whose name I've forgotten, discussing a letter her husband sent to a mutual friend. Google tells me this letter is authentic, and that the husband wrote of his inability to write. Which is a central theme in the book; Costello does not write, has not written for a long time. Except for a final confession of sorts, addressed to her sister. I wonder if she is dead, in the final chapter. I think she might be. Or perhaps it is simply her vision of what it would be like to be dead, her worst fears. I certainly prefer thinking that death is the end.

It is well written, not like Coetzee as I've encountered him in the other books I've read. It reads like Costello, not Coetzee. Which is a tremendous achievement. My uncle expressed something very interesting the last time we spoke: surprise at my judging a book by how it is written, as opposed to what is written about. I've never questioned it, it comes naturally to me.

Despite my conviction, I wonder what brought this book about. What inspired him to write this book? Some of the lectures reproduced in it have been published before, as pieces in their own rights. And I forgot to comment on the animal rights lecture, or part of the book. I found it longwinded and tiresome, and it seemed a bit rushed. That might owe to the fact that it was, Costello is not supposed to have thought her arguments through. It was at times very philosophical – unlike Coelho, he doesn't present common knowledge as groundbreaking philosophy, he puts thought into it.

Those YSL shoes I posted about will not become part of my wardrobe in the forseeable future, I'm sad to report. Vogue tells me they cost 1450 pounds, which I'm sure will translate to roughly 15000 NOK. Please, shoe deity, let there be good rip-offs. Or let them be on sale at Harrods next january. My D&G's originally cost somewhere along the lines of 6000 NOK, I got them for 2000.
nirinia: (Default)
I finished Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello a few days ago, and it has been bothering me ever since. It is part a collection of essays (written by Costello), part narrative of her travels by her son and herself, part resume of talks she has given. It ends rather confusingly with what I find the most interesting chapter, where Costello finds herself in some sort of limbo. She must write a statement to pass through the gates. But she is given no guidelines, and does not know what it is she will move on to. A board analyse her answers, and deems her claim of being excempt from belief faulty. Writing is not a legitimate profession, not the way she puts it to them.

Finally, a letter is quoted. From the wife of a nobelman whose name I've forgotten, discussing a letter her husband sent to a mutual friend. Google tells me this letter is authentic, and that the husband wrote of his inability to write. Which is a central theme in the book; Costello does not write, has not written for a long time. Except for a final confession of sorts, addressed to her sister. I wonder if she is dead, in the final chapter. I think she might be. Or perhaps it is simply her vision of what it would be like to be dead, her worst fears. I certainly prefer thinking that death is the end.

It is well written, not like Coetzee as I've encountered him in the other books I've read. It reads like Costello, not Coetzee. Which is a tremendous achievement. My uncle expressed something very interesting the last time we spoke: surprise at my judging a book by how it is written, as opposed to what is written about. I've never questioned it, it comes naturally to me.

Despite my conviction, I wonder what brought this book about. What inspired him to write this book? Some of the lectures reproduced in it have been published before, as pieces in their own rights. And I forgot to comment on the animal rights lecture, or part of the book. I found it longwinded and tiresome, and it seemed a bit rushed. That might owe to the fact that it was, Costello is not supposed to have thought her arguments through. It was at times very philosophical – unlike Coelho, he doesn't present common knowledge as groundbreaking philosophy, he puts thought into it.

Those YSL shoes I posted about will not become part of my wardrobe in the forseeable future, I'm sad to report. Vogue tells me they cost 1450 pounds, which I'm sure will translate to roughly 15000 NOK. Please, shoe deity, let there be good rip-offs. Or let them be on sale at Harrods next january. My D&G's originally cost somewhere along the lines of 6000 NOK, I got them for 2000.

Disgrace

Dec. 28th, 2008 11:17 am
nirinia: (Default)
Coetzee's Disgrace has been filmed by Steve Jacobs, and is screened in Norway now. With Malkovich as Lurie, the leading role. Malkovich as Lurie! I'm doing a very fangirly squee. This appears to be a good review, at least they've grasped much of the book.

Disgrace

Dec. 28th, 2008 11:17 am
nirinia: (Default)
Coetzee's Disgrace has been filmed by Steve Jacobs, and is screened in Norway now. With Malkovich as Lurie, the leading role. Malkovich as Lurie! I'm doing a very fangirly squee. This appears to be a good review, at least they've grasped much of the book.
nirinia: (Default)
I said I'd spend my time reading, but it's slow going at the moment. The Life and Times of Michael K, by Coetzee – dubbed "the inpronounsable", by grandmother; we're both loath to use a name we can't pronounce properly – is a slow read. Another naive narrator, a type that doesn't particularly interest me. As a review on amazon said, the novel lacks development. Ideas show their heads occasionally, and that's the end of them. Thwarted dreams, how expendable one person, how unnoticed a pair of people can be. In particular in South-Africa. What I loved Disgrace was the language, the disgust it brought forth in me. Michael K, refered to in the book simply as K, turns out to be resourceful despite of his being slow, "dull". Another glaringly obvious theme. I haven't gotten far enough to form a well-rounded opinion, this far it seems an unrealised work. It's an early work of his, which might account for this feeling of mine. (I really should stop reading early works of writers I'm not acquianted with, they put me off them. Like Murdoch, for instance.)

This could lead on to a discussion of themes and what I belive them to be a reflection of. Those thoughts aren't ready to be divulged yet, they need time to simmer. And be properly phrased.

For my daily puppy-fix, without the teeth. My arms no longer look like that of a recovering SI-er, but doggie has discovered what fantastic toys my collarbones make.
nirinia: (Default)
I said I'd spend my time reading, but it's slow going at the moment. The Life and Times of Michael K, by Coetzee – dubbed "the inpronounsable", by grandmother; we're both loath to use a name we can't pronounce properly – is a slow read. Another naive narrator, a type that doesn't particularly interest me. As a review on amazon said, the novel lacks development. Ideas show their heads occasionally, and that's the end of them. Thwarted dreams, how expendable one person, how unnoticed a pair of people can be. In particular in South-Africa. What I loved Disgrace was the language, the disgust it brought forth in me. Michael K, refered to in the book simply as K, turns out to be resourceful despite of his being slow, "dull". Another glaringly obvious theme. I haven't gotten far enough to form a well-rounded opinion, this far it seems an unrealised work. It's an early work of his, which might account for this feeling of mine. (I really should stop reading early works of writers I'm not acquianted with, they put me off them. Like Murdoch, for instance.)

This could lead on to a discussion of themes and what I belive them to be a reflection of. Those thoughts aren't ready to be divulged yet, they need time to simmer. And be properly phrased.

For my daily puppy-fix, without the teeth. My arms no longer look like that of a recovering SI-er, but doggie has discovered what fantastic toys my collarbones make.
nirinia: (Default)
I'm spamming friends pages as procrastination. Does it help if I'm slightly sorry?

I finished Coetzee's Diary of a Bad Year a week or so ago. It is primarily interesting for its somewhat experimental qualities: the three-way narrative. A collection of essays, or "opinions", the writer of these and his secretary. The story is not particularly well-written, and gets no better towards the end. If anything it takes a turn for the worse. But I think it safe to argue that in this particular case ("in this particular ..." is stolen directly from the lecturer of Am. Lit.), the story itself is not the focal point. The effects this split narrative creates, is.

The opinions are the most interesting part. My favourite brand of old, eccentric man with a pen. The relationship between the three characters is flat, predictable and static. The way the three are put up against each other is immensely fun. I experience Alan, the secretary's boyfriend, as an uneducated idiot that does not grasp a word of what he has read. Alan, and his secretary to a degree, think the same of the writer (which may be a personification of Coetzee). And I imagine that a lot of readers must agree with them. An old, feeble man with a miserable life, typing up his worthless opinions for a publisher in Germany. So, unless you enjoy opinionated old men, postmodernism and juxtapositional narratives, this is absolutely not for you.
nirinia: (Default)
I'm spamming friends pages as procrastination. Does it help if I'm slightly sorry?

I finished Coetzee's Diary of a Bad Year a week or so ago. It is primarily interesting for its somewhat experimental qualities: the three-way narrative. A collection of essays, or "opinions", the writer of these and his secretary. The story is not particularly well-written, and gets no better towards the end. If anything it takes a turn for the worse. But I think it safe to argue that in this particular case ("in this particular ..." is stolen directly from the lecturer of Am. Lit.), the story itself is not the focal point. The effects this split narrative creates, is.

The opinions are the most interesting part. My favourite brand of old, eccentric man with a pen. The relationship between the three characters is flat, predictable and static. The way the three are put up against each other is immensely fun. I experience Alan, the secretary's boyfriend, as an uneducated idiot that does not grasp a word of what he has read. Alan, and his secretary to a degree, think the same of the writer (which may be a personification of Coetzee). And I imagine that a lot of readers must agree with them. An old, feeble man with a miserable life, typing up his worthless opinions for a publisher in Germany. So, unless you enjoy opinionated old men, postmodernism and juxtapositional narratives, this is absolutely not for you.
nirinia: (Hades)
I used to write about literature, didn't I?

McEwan's Atonement, Morton's The House at Riverton and The Secret Garden (I haven't read it, but judging by the dust-jacket it's one book with different names), Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale. None of them are badly written, Atonement is at times heart-breaking, but they are all very much the same. Old, dying, remorseful lady confessing her sins. Or the sins, or secrets of others. A new genre, perhaps? Dignified Romance Novels? Bedside reading for the educated housewife. Aimed at Lit. students with time off.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Markh Haddon. I think some mad psychiatrist/acquaintance/colleague of Father recommended it, when she heard what I study. It is easy-going, naive postmodernism about a fifteen-year-old with Asbergers. From what little I know of the disease, the character is accomplished. Other than that, it is unremarkable. The writing is uninspiring, the technique a replica. A more childish version of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Did Haddon read Postmodernism 101 while writing it?

Coetzee I've commented on, and still love. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) was surprisingly good. A thoroughly unreliable narrator and no plot to speak of makes for a very interesting read. Toni Morrison took me aback when I started her Sula. Another one of those tedious black novels, I thought. Never have I been more mistaken. The story is compelling enough, but her writing is fantastic. Poetic, insightful, striking, and oh, the characters. She is entirely deserving of her Nobel Prize.

"Daughters of distant mothers and incomprehensible fathers (Sula's because he was dead; Nel's because he wasn't)" (Sula, p. 52). Sometimes what is implied is all the more powerful because it is not written.

Next on the list is DeLillo's Falling Man, another fictional account of 9/11. The other DeLillo book I bought was way over my head. He wrote it after finishing a master in maths and physics, apparently. I hope that excuses my thick-headedness.
nirinia: (Hades)
I used to write about literature, didn't I?

McEwan's Atonement, Morton's The House at Riverton and The Secret Garden (I haven't read it, but judging by the dust-jacket it's one book with different names), Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale. None of them are badly written, Atonement is at times heart-breaking, but they are all very much the same. Old, dying, remorseful lady confessing her sins. Or the sins, or secrets of others. A new genre, perhaps? Dignified Romance Novels? Bedside reading for the educated housewife. Aimed at Lit. students with time off.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Markh Haddon. I think some mad psychiatrist/acquaintance/colleague of Father recommended it, when she heard what I study. It is easy-going, naive postmodernism about a fifteen-year-old with Asbergers. From what little I know of the disease, the character is accomplished. Other than that, it is unremarkable. The writing is uninspiring, the technique a replica. A more childish version of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Did Haddon read Postmodernism 101 while writing it?

Coetzee I've commented on, and still love. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) was surprisingly good. A thoroughly unreliable narrator and no plot to speak of makes for a very interesting read. Toni Morrison took me aback when I started her Sula. Another one of those tedious black novels, I thought. Never have I been more mistaken. The story is compelling enough, but her writing is fantastic. Poetic, insightful, striking, and oh, the characters. She is entirely deserving of her Nobel Prize.

"Daughters of distant mothers and incomprehensible fathers (Sula's because he was dead; Nel's because he wasn't)" (Sula, p. 52). Sometimes what is implied is all the more powerful because it is not written.

Next on the list is DeLillo's Falling Man, another fictional account of 9/11. The other DeLillo book I bought was way over my head. He wrote it after finishing a master in maths and physics, apparently. I hope that excuses my thick-headedness.

October 2012

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