Thursday, 25 November 2010

eighty.

At the Edge of Light by Maria Peura (2005)

Kristina, 12, lives in a small town on the Finnish-Swedish border in 1979. She knows more dead people than alive. Almost all were suicides. Those who are left are barely alive, drinking too much and looking for ways to escape the village. She has a boyfriend, Kari, and they spend their time smoking, drinking and hoping that the train would run them over when walking on the tracks.

Such a dark, twisted novel and very typical Finland. The mix between real world and Kristina's imagination was confusing, same with the mix of past and present. I probably should read it one more time, maybe things get less confusing then. What I do know is that the writing was definitely very good in the beginning and then it all got really confusing, and guessing the end was easy. But Maria Peura has a lot of potential, and I will definitely be reading books by her in the future.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

seventy-nine.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (1987)
"Once the plane was on the ground, soft music began to flow from the ceiling speakers: a sweet orchestral cover version of the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood". The melody never failed to send a shudder through me, but this time it hit me harder than ever."
Toru is reminded of a girl he loved a long time ago, Naoko. She was the girlfriend of his best friend who killed himself very suddenly at the age of 17. Naoko and Toru meet again when they are at university and they start taking long walks all over Tokyo. Naoko is not dealing well with the death of her childhood boyfriend and after sleeping with Toru she ends up in a sanctuary.

This book is full of lonely messed-up beautiful people reaching out to other lonely beautiful people. And so much death. But also love. And a fair amount of popular culture and sex. I had Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles stuck on my mind while reading.

"I trudged along through each day in its turn, rarely looking up, eyes locked on the never-ending swamp that lay before me, planting my right foot, raising my left, planting my left food, raising the right, never sure where I was, never sure I was headed in the right direction, knowing only that I had to keep moving, one step at a time."
Murakami has been on my book-shelf for years and yet all the wonderful things I have heard about his writing, I never picked him up until now. And how much did I like him? I just ordered two more books by him off Amazon.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

seventy-eight.

Sleepwalking Land by Mia Couto (1992)

A young boy and an old man are walking on a road in the war-torn Mozambique. The man, Tuahir, found the boy, Muidinga, in a refugee camp when the boy was sick and no one else wanted to help him. They seek refuge in a burnt-out bus full of dead bodies and one suitcase. The suitcase contains notebooks from one of the dead passengers, Kindzu. Muidinga reads a few pages for Tuahir every night and the incredible story is the one thing they have to look forward to with days filled with war and hunger.

The story about Tuahir and Muidinga is sad and reminded me a lot of the Road by Cormac McCarthy. Kindzu's story is strange and reminded me a lot of the War of the End of the World by Mario Vargas Llosa. It was a story that was hard to follow because of the mix between real time and dream time; what was real and what was imagined? I didn't quite grasp the African superstitions and traditions, which made it hard to understand what was really going on.

ps. I need to take a break from war-themed books. Too bad war seems to be the main theme in books from Africa (and yes, I'm perfectly aware why that is). Feel free to recommend.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

seventy-seven.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (2010)

The Berglunds met at university in Minnesota. Patty was a very talented basketball player who moved to Minnesota to get away from her family on the east coast. Walter is very concerned about mother nature, but he also goes home every weekend to help his mother run a motel while watching his father drink himself to death. He lives with a very attractive musician, Richard Katz, and Patty has always loved him, but she chooses Walter because he is so sweet (and Richard is such an asshole).

This has been one of the most anticipated books of the year and it doesn't disappoint. It is a very slow-moving train, but you know it's going to crash, you just don't know the effects of the crash yet.

My favourite part? The three pages about my favourite band, Bright Eyes. The book is using every major and minor event in America in the past ten years. I would recommend reading this now as I think it will be a very difficult and different book to read in twenty years.

But what is really to be learnt from this book is this; keep your cats indoors.

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