nirinia: (Default)
I am now officially on holiday. No lectures to attend, poems to decipher or allusions to pick out. It feels glorious! Because I postponed everyone 'til after exams, I juggle appointments and do it badly. Colour-coding my filofax doesn't help when the plans are jumbled as well. What's happened since I last updated?

Was dragged to a concert with the Boys of Silver (not my translation! 'Sølvguttene' in Norwegian, literary the silver boys). Met my parents downtown to have dinner, and we ended up in Stiansen's basement restaurant. They're changing the concept a bit: the chairs were better, the lighting less harsh, the food as good as ever. But five courses was a bit much when I'd had lunch not long before. It was only half the choir, Father and I spent half the recital poking each other to stay awake or making bad jokes. But it was a beautiful overdose of holiday cheer.

My chai lattes aren't very good, all the ingredients are there, but they never turn magical.

One of my exams I never got to take at all - failed to turn in the assignment in New York –, the other two didn't go as badly as I feared. For Renaissance literature I wrote about a Herbert poem, with the text, and invented Christian symbols. For Fiction and Film I compared Mrs Dalloway to The Hours, ranted about adaptations, name-dropped theorists, and concluded that bad adaptations are not only bad cinema, but an affront to the original novel. If my lofty ideas do not get me an undeserved C I don't know what will.

I plan to spend the holidays reading, re-acquainting myself with French and trying to piece together a few Russian texts. I'm so far gone I find Russian beautiful. And I'm having gingerbread dough for lunch with Katrine.

Tried reading Roth's The Human Stain, but could not get past page 213. I hate the narration, the shifts in perspective, the endless referring of present events in a ridiculous past-tense mess. There is a handful of actual dialogues in the half I read, the rest is half-repeated by either Zuckerman or Silk. It's almost as bad as Pears' The Portrait, or Theroux's The Blinding Light. I was told on twitter that I should read Roth for the stories, not the writing. But I can't divorce the story from the writing. Should I try anything else by Roth, or will I hate the rest as well?


P.S. This turned out completely random. It's written over the course of today, in-between seeing friends, watching Boardwalk Empire and eating.
nirinia: (Default)
I am now officially on holiday. No lectures to attend, poems to decipher or allusions to pick out. It feels glorious! Because I postponed everyone 'til after exams, I juggle appointments and do it badly. Colour-coding my filofax doesn't help when the plans are jumbled as well. What's happened since I last updated?

Was dragged to a concert with the Boys of Silver (not my translation! 'Sølvguttene' in Norwegian, literary the silver boys). Met my parents downtown to have dinner, and we ended up in Stiansen's basement restaurant. They're changing the concept a bit: the chairs were better, the lighting less harsh, the food as good as ever. But five courses was a bit much when I'd had lunch not long before. It was only half the choir, Father and I spent half the recital poking each other to stay awake or making bad jokes. But it was a beautiful overdose of holiday cheer.

My chai lattes aren't very good, all the ingredients are there, but they never turn magical.

One of my exams I never got to take at all - failed to turn in the assignment in New York –, the other two didn't go as badly as I feared. For Renaissance literature I wrote about a Herbert poem, with the text, and invented Christian symbols. For Fiction and Film I compared Mrs Dalloway to The Hours, ranted about adaptations, name-dropped theorists, and concluded that bad adaptations are not only bad cinema, but an affront to the original novel. If my lofty ideas do not get me an undeserved C I don't know what will.

I plan to spend the holidays reading, re-acquainting myself with French and trying to piece together a few Russian texts. I'm so far gone I find Russian beautiful. And I'm having gingerbread dough for lunch with Katrine.

Tried reading Roth's The Human Stain, but could not get past page 213. I hate the narration, the shifts in perspective, the endless referring of present events in a ridiculous past-tense mess. There is a handful of actual dialogues in the half I read, the rest is half-repeated by either Zuckerman or Silk. It's almost as bad as Pears' The Portrait, or Theroux's The Blinding Light. I was told on twitter that I should read Roth for the stories, not the writing. But I can't divorce the story from the writing. Should I try anything else by Roth, or will I hate the rest as well?


P.S. This turned out completely random. It's written over the course of today, in-between seeing friends, watching Boardwalk Empire and eating.
nirinia: (Default)
Kings of Convenience's 'Me In You' has been on repeat since Sunday afternoon, and I'm not sick of it yet. It is barely there in the background, blocking out the to-do list in my head. I've finished Volpone, am halfway through The Tempest, the fiction and film essay only lacks a paragraph of theory, read Greene's The Third Man on Saturday – why do I worry at all? Because it is all lackluster. I had fun with the introductory course for all of five minutes yesterday, when I wrote that 'literary science is a science of abstractions'.

But the introductory lit. course is good for one thing: people watching. There is one boy in particular, who is an endless source of amusement. He wears faded purple pants, cornered me at the McEwan sining to talk about Coetzee (though he had only read half of Disgrace), knows everything, and does not stop talking. His favourite Shakespeare character is Othello, played by Laurence Fishburne. He spent the summer mowing his parents' lawn, now works at an olive oil shop. I'm told he introduced himself, added that he has a flat at Majorstuen (expensive neighourhood), 'and would she like to have a coffee?'

We exchange Ole stories. I wonder if he's as full of himself in bed? Though he isn't quite as legendary as Rapunzel: A tiny, black-clad man with peculiarly well-kept hair down to his arse. He tends to flick it over his shoulder and caress it in lectures.
nirinia: (Default)
Tony Blair rumoured to be up for the bad sex award. A fitting sortie. (The extract quoted on Reading Copy is disgusting, he deserves it.)

Have had a supremely uninteresting weekend. The final wisdom tooth was torn out on Thursday, Friday I spent watching Dexter season three and eating painkillers. Yesterday I went with my parents to close up the cottage for the winter, and to marvel at autumn. Today I made muffins, read three and a half pages of Jonson's Volpone and finally saw Ingebjørg again.

Sharper than languid summer, less washed out than winter's pastels. Coats, gloves, scarves. Wind throwing leaves around in circles. Nor does it hurt that I can perch on a bench to watch beautiful men draw their coats tighter against the wind, hair ruffled, hurrying past. Autumn is dramatic, with strong winds, crashing waves and storms. It means great plays, new books, the booker prize and colours. God, autumn makes me romantic.

Now I have an urge to see the Lord of the Rings trilogy again. I suspect it dissipates when I get through the first Extended Edition.
nirinia: (Default)
In more literary news, I am fascinated by the hypertex-like novel on Spotify, called 'Hurt'. Have a look at it in Spotify, Don't Let Go. From googling it, I see they call it an interactive audio novel. Which is not a bad name, I suppose. This just reinforces my feeling that literary theory is making a terrible mistake in not taking the internet into account.

Ian McEwan is in Norway in two weeks time, and Anette and I were devastated when we missed out on tickets to his reading at Litteraturhuset. But he's doing a reading/signing event at Tronsmo as well, so we'll get to see him after all. We're getting there at noon, armed to the teeth with coffee, books and sonnets so we can be productive while we wait. The Booker Longlist has been announced, I have not read any of them, but have heard of a good deal. There appears to be a lack of the usual outrage. 13 more books on the 'read!' list.

The Paris Review is always worth a quick read; poor Wilson writes wryly about discovering cynicism today. Have a look if only to pick out the allusions in the final paragraph – I love anyone who indulges in useless allusions, it means I can, too.
nirinia: (Default)
In more literary news, I am fascinated by the hypertex-like novel on Spotify, called 'Hurt'. Have a look at it in Spotify, Don't Let Go. From googling it, I see they call it an interactive audio novel. Which is not a bad name, I suppose. This just reinforces my feeling that literary theory is making a terrible mistake in not taking the internet into account.

Ian McEwan is in Norway in two weeks time, and Anette and I were devastated when we missed out on tickets to his reading at Litteraturhuset. But he's doing a reading/signing event at Tronsmo as well, so we'll get to see him after all. We're getting there at noon, armed to the teeth with coffee, books and sonnets so we can be productive while we wait. The Booker Longlist has been announced, I have not read any of them, but have heard of a good deal. There appears to be a lack of the usual outrage. 13 more books on the 'read!' list.

The Paris Review is always worth a quick read; poor Wilson writes wryly about discovering cynicism today. Have a look if only to pick out the allusions in the final paragraph – I love anyone who indulges in useless allusions, it means I can, too.
nirinia: (Default)
Amazon reviews are always interesting, the majority of reviewers never seem to agree with me. And I never read them before I purchase, but look at them to compare when I'm finished reading. Most of you know that my guilty literary pleasure is Patricia Cornwell's Scarpetta series. I had to read something undemanding in-between part one and two of Anna Karenina.

The Scarpetta Factor is unlike the other books in the series. It's focused on the characters rather than the mystery, which I prefer. Which is why I so rarely read crime, and why Cornwell But looking at the amazon reviews Cornwell's fans appear to hate it. It does deviate from her usual form, but I prefer this. Her characters aren't bad, and she is finally letting them take control.

The writing is better than usual, as well. It's even elegant at times. Cornwell introduces characters and plots seamlessly, the dialogue is good and from what I can tell it is fairly realistic. One of the things I enjoy about her is her ability to capture emotion (I am rather tempestuous myself, and don't believe anyone can be as flat as people are occasionally portrayed). While it is not always beautifully written, she does deal with emotions and they are important.

Now I can't decide whether to move on to DeLillo's Underworld, or go back to Tolstoy. Decisions, decisions, which a minute will revise.
nirinia: (Default)
Amazon reviews are always interesting, the majority of reviewers never seem to agree with me. And I never read them before I purchase, but look at them to compare when I'm finished reading. Most of you know that my guilty literary pleasure is Patricia Cornwell's Scarpetta series. I had to read something undemanding in-between part one and two of Anna Karenina.

The Scarpetta Factor is unlike the other books in the series. It's focused on the characters rather than the mystery, which I prefer. Which is why I so rarely read crime, and why Cornwell But looking at the amazon reviews Cornwell's fans appear to hate it. It does deviate from her usual form, but I prefer this. Her characters aren't bad, and she is finally letting them take control.

The writing is better than usual, as well. It's even elegant at times. Cornwell introduces characters and plots seamlessly, the dialogue is good and from what I can tell it is fairly realistic. One of the things I enjoy about her is her ability to capture emotion (I am rather tempestuous myself, and don't believe anyone can be as flat as people are occasionally portrayed). While it is not always beautifully written, she does deal with emotions and they are important.

Now I can't decide whether to move on to DeLillo's Underworld, or go back to Tolstoy. Decisions, decisions, which a minute will revise.
nirinia: (Default)
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I had to answer this, if only to get away from postcolonial theory for a while (not that I haven't been distracting myself adequately all day, anyway).

I know I've mentioned before that Patricia Cornwell is my dirty literature secret. I enjoy the feeling of reading something that, quite literally, transpires like a film. Or I occasionally turn to fantasy, along the lines of George R.R. Martin (only one book left to read, before I have to wait for him to publish) – he is surprisingly good. For a girl who is entirely disillusioned with fantasy, and prefers Pratchett (another light read), this was enlightening. Not so much the 'a chosen one saves the world', season with romance, a pinch of tragedy, spectacular magic, two and a half likable bad guys and a hefty dose of sword-fighting. And DeLillo is always good for light reading: dark sarcasm is thrilling. Or Austen, light and fun, the closest I get to chick lit.

Poetry is always a good choice, adjust poet according to level of brain death. Short story collections never fail. Bolaño's The Last Evenings on Earth is beautiful. Bolaño in general is a beautiful, disturbing vortex. Or I pick up a book about narratology or modernism, but I'm told that's something of a quirk. What do you read when you need something light?
nirinia: (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

I had to answer this, if only to get away from postcolonial theory for a while (not that I haven't been distracting myself adequately all day, anyway).

I know I've mentioned before that Patricia Cornwell is my dirty literature secret. I enjoy the feeling of reading something that, quite literally, transpires like a film. Or I occasionally turn to fantasy, along the lines of George R.R. Martin (only one book left to read, before I have to wait for him to publish) – he is surprisingly good. For a girl who is entirely disillusioned with fantasy, and prefers Pratchett (another light read), this was enlightening. Not so much the 'a chosen one saves the world', season with romance, a pinch of tragedy, spectacular magic, two and a half likable bad guys and a hefty dose of sword-fighting. And DeLillo is always good for light reading: dark sarcasm is thrilling. Or Austen, light and fun, the closest I get to chick lit.

Poetry is always a good choice, adjust poet according to level of brain death. Short story collections never fail. Bolaño's The Last Evenings on Earth is beautiful. Bolaño in general is a beautiful, disturbing vortex. Or I pick up a book about narratology or modernism, but I'm told that's something of a quirk. What do you read when you need something light?
nirinia: (Default)
The Widows of Eastwick, 164 pages in, is a disappointment. Is this all, Updike? Three half-wrought widows returning to the scene of their crimes? The three widows, Alexandra, Sukie and Jane are all strong characters, but they come off as though Updike holds them back: There are opinions there, thoughts, things we never see.

I see from Amazon reviews that his prose is beloved. I disagree. There is so much needless description. Two characters go to Egypt: two pages of description of the weather, the sand, the pyramids and the camels. Served to me by a bland narrator. A bit of dialogue, and more description. In the same style. Description is fine if it is innovative, central to some point, in free indirect style or otherwise interesting. This is simple recounting of scenery. Updike, I do not need the streets of Eastwick mapped out in prose. A map will suffice if you think we need to know the minutia of sidewalks.

The entire thing is narrated by an unspecified third person, so unspecified he has no personality. Why not let Alexandra narrate? (The main character shares my name. It is quite eerie reading.) She is certainly opinionated enough to be interesting, but Updike's narrator is flavourless. He emulates an all-seeing film camera: the scenery painted in the back, the dialogue referred in painful detail. I don't want to be told that the trees are blooming: I want to read Alexandra's thoughts about how beautiful the trees are when they bloom. 'Sukie, look! The tree I left Joe in. Remember? I don't think they bloomed then, but they sure are beautiful. All pink and lovely.' Not two pages of stage direction.


Well, if nothing else, literature studies has forced me to articulate my tastes. I can now pinpoint why, exactly, Updike does not woo me. I'm not giving up on him, the Rabbit novels are reputedly powerful. Not that this is as awful as I'm making it out: it's an easily read, perfectly good book. It's just not what I expected from Updike. Unremarkable, but decent.
nirinia: (Default)
The Widows of Eastwick, 164 pages in, is a disappointment. Is this all, Updike? Three half-wrought widows returning to the scene of their crimes? The three widows, Alexandra, Sukie and Jane are all strong characters, but they come off as though Updike holds them back: There are opinions there, thoughts, things we never see.

I see from Amazon reviews that his prose is beloved. I disagree. There is so much needless description. Two characters go to Egypt: two pages of description of the weather, the sand, the pyramids and the camels. Served to me by a bland narrator. A bit of dialogue, and more description. In the same style. Description is fine if it is innovative, central to some point, in free indirect style or otherwise interesting. This is simple recounting of scenery. Updike, I do not need the streets of Eastwick mapped out in prose. A map will suffice if you think we need to know the minutia of sidewalks.

The entire thing is narrated by an unspecified third person, so unspecified he has no personality. Why not let Alexandra narrate? (The main character shares my name. It is quite eerie reading.) She is certainly opinionated enough to be interesting, but Updike's narrator is flavourless. He emulates an all-seeing film camera: the scenery painted in the back, the dialogue referred in painful detail. I don't want to be told that the trees are blooming: I want to read Alexandra's thoughts about how beautiful the trees are when they bloom. 'Sukie, look! The tree I left Joe in. Remember? I don't think they bloomed then, but they sure are beautiful. All pink and lovely.' Not two pages of stage direction.


Well, if nothing else, literature studies has forced me to articulate my tastes. I can now pinpoint why, exactly, Updike does not woo me. I'm not giving up on him, the Rabbit novels are reputedly powerful. Not that this is as awful as I'm making it out: it's an easily read, perfectly good book. It's just not what I expected from Updike. Unremarkable, but decent.
nirinia: (Default)
Did not read a single page today, did not do much of anything at all. And now I feel utterly blah. Day off, you're doing it wrong. I'm close to chucking all these silly exams out the window, it's not like I will ever use my degree, anyway. Tea is sure to help.

I did do one thing, I finished The New York Trilogy – more Auster, I'm involuntarily binge reading. Post-modern detective stories, in typical Auster meta-fictive mode. The first and the last are definitely the highlights, the middle one feels too much like the first to be interesting. It's interesting enough, but with all the meta, and the speculation about the arbitrary nature of language, it was timed very badly. This is what I try to fill my skull with, from dawn til I throw the book at the wall. The final book, "The Locked Room", is the best of the three (I read them in one volume, I think that's mainly how it's published, currently). But I think they're better read separately; as one volume it's a bit too much. It's very Auster, very noir and post-modern. I suspect that, if I'd read it at any other time, I would have loved it.
nirinia: (Default)
Did not read a single page today, did not do much of anything at all. And now I feel utterly blah. Day off, you're doing it wrong. I'm close to chucking all these silly exams out the window, it's not like I will ever use my degree, anyway. Tea is sure to help.

I did do one thing, I finished The New York Trilogy – more Auster, I'm involuntarily binge reading. Post-modern detective stories, in typical Auster meta-fictive mode. The first and the last are definitely the highlights, the middle one feels too much like the first to be interesting. It's interesting enough, but with all the meta, and the speculation about the arbitrary nature of language, it was timed very badly. This is what I try to fill my skull with, from dawn til I throw the book at the wall. The final book, "The Locked Room", is the best of the three (I read them in one volume, I think that's mainly how it's published, currently). But I think they're better read separately; as one volume it's a bit too much. It's very Auster, very noir and post-modern. I suspect that, if I'd read it at any other time, I would have loved it.
nirinia: (Default)
Auster's The Brooklyn Follies is very vry, and a delight. A man who is depressed about not dying any more, moves to Brooklyn to do nothing. How much more Auster does anything get? Nathan Glass is no longer dying, and finds unexpected raison d'être in companionship with two equally depressed men. I, predictably, loved it. There is something about depressed, middle-aged men and novels I cannot resist.

On a more serious note, this felt very much like Auster light. It is depressing in its own sense, but not as depressing as he can be. It even ends cheerfully!

Exams (or finals to Americans) are hitting home, again, as usual. Everyone else panicking eventually gets to me and I'm already sick of hunching over theory (most notably Said, Spivak, Bhabha, Foucault). In a futile attempt to cheer up I threw on a dress, had champagne, and tottered around in the YSL's. It did not work out. But Saturday was fun. Anette and I had a pre-party ('vors', I really ought to introduce the idea of 'vors' once and for all, and just refer back) here, and attended a house-warming party fashionably late. We plotted how to grab titled, beautiful British men over red wine. Someone compared me to Susan in the Disney version of Narnia, a second person picked up on it, people agreed. Riiight. I blame the wine and the make-up. Another party full of students, which mean you introduce yourself to people by 'Alexandra, English language and literature, more or less. You?'
nirinia: (Default)
Auster's The Brooklyn Follies is very vry, and a delight. A man who is depressed about not dying any more, moves to Brooklyn to do nothing. How much more Auster does anything get? Nathan Glass is no longer dying, and finds unexpected raison d'être in companionship with two equally depressed men. I, predictably, loved it. There is something about depressed, middle-aged men and novels I cannot resist.

On a more serious note, this felt very much like Auster light. It is depressing in its own sense, but not as depressing as he can be. It even ends cheerfully!

Exams (or finals to Americans) are hitting home, again, as usual. Everyone else panicking eventually gets to me and I'm already sick of hunching over theory (most notably Said, Spivak, Bhabha, Foucault). In a futile attempt to cheer up I threw on a dress, had champagne, and tottered around in the YSL's. It did not work out. But Saturday was fun. Anette and I had a pre-party ('vors', I really ought to introduce the idea of 'vors' once and for all, and just refer back) here, and attended a house-warming party fashionably late. We plotted how to grab titled, beautiful British men over red wine. Someone compared me to Susan in the Disney version of Narnia, a second person picked up on it, people agreed. Riiight. I blame the wine and the make-up. Another party full of students, which mean you introduce yourself to people by 'Alexandra, English language and literature, more or less. You?'
nirinia: (Hades)
Idiot that I am, I read Heart of Darkness first. I thought we were discussing that on Friday, but we're not, we're talking about Beloved (Morrison). Three hundred pages to get through tomorrow, then.

Studying literature at a university that haunts the bottoms of ranking lists does not make for good employment prospects. I have no more than two semesters left to finish my BA, which means I must make a decision. As I see it, I have three options: finish my BA, then run off to Oxford to start over and get a proper education; study medicine and specialise in surgery; study law. Do either of the three, then go into the Diplomatic Corpse. Or I can put it all off another year by applying for the Military's intensive Russian course – Russian and espionage, I'm sure I'd enjoy interrogating people in Russian. And Russian is rather fun.

The elimination method, eliminating the ones that mean I will have to go improve my grades, leaves literature at Oxford and law. I would love to go all out and run off to Oxford, but then what will I do when I'm done? Sensibly, law is a great option. Anette is equally depressed about her situation, so we drink coffee and sigh. Or make Hilde panic about her bachelor's thesis, due in two semesters. Poor thing, I don't think she ought to be around me.

Joining Mother for a dress rehearsal of Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage ("Blodig Alvor", in Norwegian) at Nationaltheatret tomorrow. Hoping it will have me in stitches by the first act. I need some fun to take my mind off all the reading, and the general despondency of attending a crappy university.
nirinia: (Hades)
Idiot that I am, I read Heart of Darkness first. I thought we were discussing that on Friday, but we're not, we're talking about Beloved (Morrison). Three hundred pages to get through tomorrow, then.

Studying literature at a university that haunts the bottoms of ranking lists does not make for good employment prospects. I have no more than two semesters left to finish my BA, which means I must make a decision. As I see it, I have three options: finish my BA, then run off to Oxford to start over and get a proper education; study medicine and specialise in surgery; study law. Do either of the three, then go into the Diplomatic Corpse. Or I can put it all off another year by applying for the Military's intensive Russian course – Russian and espionage, I'm sure I'd enjoy interrogating people in Russian. And Russian is rather fun.

The elimination method, eliminating the ones that mean I will have to go improve my grades, leaves literature at Oxford and law. I would love to go all out and run off to Oxford, but then what will I do when I'm done? Sensibly, law is a great option. Anette is equally depressed about her situation, so we drink coffee and sigh. Or make Hilde panic about her bachelor's thesis, due in two semesters. Poor thing, I don't think she ought to be around me.

Joining Mother for a dress rehearsal of Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage ("Blodig Alvor", in Norwegian) at Nationaltheatret tomorrow. Hoping it will have me in stitches by the first act. I need some fun to take my mind off all the reading, and the general despondency of attending a crappy university.
nirinia: (Default)
Diving headfirst into The Heart of Darkness, and Ali's Brick Lane for two classes. Wish me luck, I'll post when I come up for air (and white wine to celebrate the near-summer feel).
nirinia: (Default)
Diving headfirst into The Heart of Darkness, and Ali's Brick Lane for two classes. Wish me luck, I'll post when I come up for air (and white wine to celebrate the near-summer feel).

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