Stikkordarkiv: boktolva

Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann – Jonas Jonasson

jonassonSå har jeg altså endelig også lest om hundreåringen som ‘klev ut genom fönstret och försvann’. Siden boka nærmest er blitt geniforklart i enkelte kretser er jeg ganske fornøyd med at jeg klarte å lese den med relativt åpent sinn. Som regel gjør slik hype at jeg enten ikke klarer å få begynt på ei bok i det hele tatt eller at jeg tror på hypen og blir skuffet fordi boka ikke lever opp.

Hundraåringen er blitt omtalt som en ‘humrebok’, og humre gjorde jeg. Jeg lo til og med høyt minst en gang. Persongalleriet er (stort sett) sympatisk, det gjelder ikke minst Allan Karlsson – hundreåringen selv – som etter et mer enn gjennomsnittlig begivenhetsrikt liv havner  på gamlehjem i en alder av 99 og bestemmer seg for at det nå kan være nok, nå vil han dø. Men det å dø sånn uten videre er ikke så lett, så etter noen måneder, på sin egen hundreårsdag, faktisk, klatrer han altså ut vinduet og begir seg ut på et nytt eventyr.

Halvveis forsøkte jeg å sammenfatte boka for min bedre halvdel, og endte med å karakterisere den som en blanding av en Arto Paasilinna-bok og Forest Gump. Det høres kanskje litt merkelig ut, men det fungerer aldeles utmerket som underholding.

Å andra sidan låg ju Spanien i utlandet, precis som alla länder gjorde, Sverige undantaget, och efter att ha läst om utlandet i hela sitt liv vore det inte så dumt att få uppleva det på riktigt någon gång.

(Side 76) Og der ligger kanskje kjernen i min omtale av boka: Dette er lett underholdning. Visst humrer man, visst finnes det spark til øvrigheta og til A4-livet og visst kan man sikkert dra ut en og annen (om enn ganske banal) livsvisdom av det hele. Men jeg føler liksom ikke at jeg sitter igjen med noe særlig etter endt lesing.

Det er da heller ikke noe krav, så ikke la deg skremme av det. Boka anbefales absolutt som f.eks. ferielektyre, eller som et feelgood avbrekk i hverdagen om du vil.

London – Edward Rutherfurd

london_edward_rutherfurdI’m finally done! And the reason it took so long is really none of Rutherfurd’s fault (well, except in writing such a thick book, though I’ve read worse), but simply because life, really.

Anyway, I liked it. I felt I learned quite a bit, which is nice, though I must admit my head is not made for remembering dates, so I got confused several times and had to search backwards to a page with a date on it. Several people on Goodreads have complained that since it spans such a lot of time and events there is no time to get to know the characters, but I found that to be a minor problem – and I do tend to dislike being rushed on to a new set of characters just when I’ve gotten interested in the present set. This is why I’m not a major fan of short-stories. But Rutherfurd’s trick is to stick to a few families, and to give them somewhat hereditary traits – not just physical, but also of temperament – so that one the whole you can tell from the name of a character whether he/she will be a «hero», a «villain» or someone bumbling but generally well-meaning for example. Well, towards the end the families intermarry and intermingle and it all gets somewhat complicated, but by then I was hooked anyway, and there was still a sense of «I will root for you since your grandfather was so nice» or perhaps «I will root for you since your father was so shitty».

I had one small, but niggling quarrel with the book, though. I may have mentioned that I’ve learnt pretty much all the history I know from novels, which makes this a perfect fit. And more than anything, I love the little daily-life details. The «how a Roman forged coins», for example. Interesting stuff, I tell you. But I need to trust the author, I need to believe he (or she) knows what he (or she) is talking about. And therefore passages such as this one throws me:

But Dame Barnikel was happiest of all when she was brewing ale, and sometimes she would let young Ducket watch her. Having bought the malt – «it’s dried barley,» she explained – from the quays, she would mill it up in the little brewhouse loft. The crushed malt would fall into a great vat which she topped up with water from a huge copper kettle. After germinating, this brew was cooled in throughs, before being poured into another vat.

(Page 524) Except barley (or any grain) won’t germinate after it’s been milled. In fact, «malt» isn’t dried barley, it’s barley that has germinated and is then dried, and there is a crucial difference. «Dried barley» is just a grain whereas the germination means the «malt» is bursting with sugars which is what the yeast later feeds on in the process that actually makes alchohol. What happens after you mill is quite rightly that you add hot water to the «coarse flour» (called «grist»), but that water is meant to extract the sugars (and partly set off enzymes that convert even more of the starches into sugars to be extracted, if you want to get really technical) in a process called mashing.

And I know it’s a very, very small detail and not at all important to the story, but it grates, and it makes me wonder where else he’s tripped up and which details I now think I’ve learnt turn out to be less than accurate.

But let’s return to happier thoughts, because I really did like the book, and end with a quote which is really a much better representation of Rutherfurd’s skill:

And so with confidence he could give his children these two important lessons: «Be loyal to the king.» And perhaps profounder still: «It seems that God has chosen us. Be humble.»

By which, of course, he really meant: be proud.

(Page 787)

Go Tell it on the Mountain – James Baldwin

Phew. Done. Now, perhaps I can stop humming that bl**dy song every waking hour.

Well.

Go Tell it on the Mountain was picked as this month’s read for our bookclub by the simple expedient of pointing randomly into the shelves at Krambua* which are furnished with second-hand books. Not a bad result, really, it could probably have been much, much worse (I wasn’t at that meeting, so I don’t know what else is on those shelves, but I’ll check next time).

It’s James Baldwin’s first novel, and a good read. The quotes on my copy says he knows the Harlem language, which I have no reason to doubt. It’s almost always easier to point out what I don’t like about a book than what I do, so excuse me if this is a bit lopsided, but here goes: For one thing, I had a hard time keeping apart the events happening in Harlem and the events happening in «the south». The first setting is immensly urban, the second, as far as I can tell, is supposed to be rural. The pictures in my head, though, were mostly a sort of mix-up with a bit of spagetti western clap-board towns thrown in for good measure. The latter I take full responsibility for, but I feel Baldwin has to shoulder some of the blame for not making the settings distinct enough. Though it could be argued that he was doing it on purpose to show that nothing really changes and you can take the boy out of x, but never the x out of the boy or something. That would not sit well with the blurb on my copy claiming Baldwin deals with the old generation versus the new generation and the change in values, however Balwin can’t be blamed for the blurb, and I think the blurb-writer was a bit off in any case, it seems to me the old generation and the new have a lot in common and it’s down to individuals to make change. So there is that. The second quarrel I had is that I felt the novel ended somewhat prematurely. Perhaps I just didn’t understand it, but, well, I sort of wanted a bit MORE to happen. Like some of this change, which is in the air the whole way through, but which doesn’t really materialise.

Still and all, I gave it four out of five stars on Goodreads.

And I’m ticking off all sorts of things: A new to me author makes it the first book in my Boktolva, and surely, surely it can be called a classic? Well, it’s a 1001 book, so I call it a classic. And I guess I’m a bit early for black history month, but it seems a fitting read to celebrate the second inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama (who I have great hopes for now that he doesn’t need to worry about reelection).

Boktolva 2013

boktolva2013I et par år har jeg fulgt med på enligt O sin boktolva, og når hun nå setter i gang med en ny runde i 2013 slenger jeg meg med. Det passer bra, for jeg har mange hyllevarmere som er skrevet av forfattere jeg har lyst til å lese, men ikke har lest ennå, og jeg har en aldri så liten, vel, ikke kjøpestopp, men kjøpebrems i 2013. Her er tolv av hyllevarmerene:

  • Will Self
  • John Green
  • Catherynne M. Valente
  • Sara Granér
  • Stefan Merrill Block
  • Frode Grytten
  • Monica Fagerholm
  • Frank Herbert
  • Anna Fredriksson
  • Sofi Oksanen
  • André Gide
  • Jonathan Franzen

Men jeg lover ikke at det blir akkurat disse tolv jeg leser…