Stikkordarkiv: short stories

This is How You Lose Her – Junot Díaz

Ikke boka som har vært hyllevarmer lengst, akkurat, men med over et år på hylla bør vel denne utgaven av This is How You Lose Her likevel greit kvalifisere til Bokhyllelesing 2018 sitt januartema: Gult omslag. (Resten av innlegget blir på engelsk, siden boka ble lest på engelsk.)

I must admit that had I noticed that This is How You Lose Her was described as a «collection of stories» rather than a novel, I would probably have left it on the book-sharing table at the bookblogger meetup. And I would probably not have started it now, even if I hadn’t left it. But I did. And since I brought it along to read on my way to London – the only book I brought, seeing as I knew I’d be purchasing books enough once there – I decided to stick to it in any case. The book was finished on the tube from Heathrow, so the timing was pretty good, though I must admit that I pushed through the last half knowing that if I didn’t finish before aqcuiring new reads I would probably have to log it as dnf.

So. A collection of stories, they say. And so it is. However, I found it a weird collection. At least four of the stories are about the same family (or at least uses the same names, the narrator, Yunior and Rafa – his elder brother – and the same basic plot), which ought to please me, I guess, since my main gripe with short-stories is that I don’t get to know enough about the characters. However, I’m not so sure I wanted to know quite so much about these characters, so that’s a hitch. On the other hand, the story I liked best (and which I would recommend, despite the coming gripe), Otravida, otravez,  ended a bit too abruptly for me. I want to know what happened next! And yes, I can quite see why the author would leave it open-ended, but I still want to know.

On the whole there are positive things to say about the book. Some of the insights into the plight of immigrants are both poignant and illuminating (to those of us privileged enough to not have been in that situation for generations). The language is frequently quoteworthy. The casual sex and infidelity, though, that just gets too repetitive for me. And some of the stories are written in second person narrative (echoing the «you» in the title) and I may have mentioned before that I HATE second person narrative? It may be meant to connect the reader to the story, for me it does the complete opposite. In the end, as mentioned, I finished mostly out of defiance (and lack of other reading options) and gave it a lukewarm two stars on Goodreads. Still, it had its moments, and I’ll end with a quote from the story I most recommend, Otravida, otravez, page 66:

Ana Iris once asked me if I loved him and I told her about the lights in my old home in the capital, how they flickered and you never knew if they would go out or not. You put down your things and you waited and couldn’t do anything really until the lights decided. This, I told her, is how I feel.

I left the book in a phone booth by Christchurch Gardens in London, if it gets logged its journey can be followed on Bookcrossing.

Biler og dyr – Helle Helle

helle_bilerOm ikke noe annet godt kommer ut av denne nordiske utfordringen, kan det i hvert fall se ut til at jeg har oppdaget to nye favorittforfattere. Jeg må lese mer av både Jonas Gardell og Helle Helle for å være sikker på at de fortjener en plass på listen, men de ligger begge godt an så langt.

Jeg liker jo ikke egentlig noveller en gang. Hovedproblemet mitt med noveller er at akkurat når jeg begynner å interessere meg for historien er den slutt. Det er forsåvidt til en viss grad et problem når det gjelder Biler og dyr også, for jeg hadde gjerne lest en roman per historie, men samtidig funker det bare så sinnsykt bra det Helle Helle gjør med sine små utsnitt av noen historier at det umulig går an å klage.

Les den!

Smakebit på søndag: Biler og dyr

helle_bilerJeg begynte på Helle Helles Biler og dyr i går uten å vite at det var en novellesamling. Og så jeg som normalt ikke leser noveller. Jaja, like greit forsåvidt, for de er ganske gode, selv om jeg ved slutten av hver eneste føler behov for å lese mer av den historien heller enn å begynne på en ny. Nettopp det er grunnen til at jeg sjelden leser noveller.

I alle fall, her er en smakebit fra novellen Globryllup:

– Ja, ja, siger hun. – Det er da en sød kjole.
– Den er fra Israel, siger jeg.
– Selvfølgelig. Det er i Israel, du bor.
– Nej, siger jeg.
– Er det ikke?
– Nej. Jeg bor i Randers.
– Nåh. Jamen, det ene kan vel også være lige så godt som det andet, siger Britta.

(Side 22)

Flere smakebiter finner du på Flukten fra virkeligheten.

PS: I anledning av at denne bloggen snart er ti år gir jeg bort bøker. Se forrige innlegg.

The Ladies of Grace Adieu – Susanna Clarke

The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke has been on my to-read list for quite some time, basically since I discovered it was out, I suppose. I did rather love Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and was eager for more. From that point of view, The ladies of Grace Adieu was a little disappointing.

My first objection is hardly Clarke’s fault: I really do not like short stories. As usual, just as I was getting really interested in a story, it was over. I like a book I can really get my teeth into and which takes days, even weeks to finish unless you are in the happy position of being able to drop everything else for 10 hours upwards. So though the stories were good, they were too short.

Other than that, well, I guess I’m not so much interested in fairie- lore as just appreciative of «magical» plot devices. Had I been really into fairies and magic in a of its own, I suppose I would have been more interested, but I’m not.

Saying that, the book is still pretty great, just not quite I’d hoped for. Clarke handles language beautifully, changing tone, syntax and spelling to suit the supposed time of the narrative, and held me transfixed for minutes (until I got to the end of the story and had to start again with a different set of characters).

Ok, so I really don’t like short stories. Why do I keep reading them, I wonder?