Sunday, 27 May 2012

twenty-nine.

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh (1993)

“Society invents a spurious convoluted logic tae absorb and change people whae's behaviour is outside its mainstream. Suppose that ah ken aw the pros and cons, know that ah'm gaunnae huv a short life, am ah sound mind, ectetera, ectetera, but still want tae use smack? They won't let ye dae it. They won't let ye dae it, because it's seen as a sign ay thir ain failure. The fact that ye jist simply choose tae reject whut they huv tae offer. Choose us. Choose life. Choose mortgage payments; choose washing machines; choose cars; choose sitting oan a couch watching mind-numbing and spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fuckin junk food intae yir mooth. Choose rotting away, pishing and shiteing yersel in a home, a total fuckin embarrassment tae the selfish, fucked-up brats ye've produced. Choose life. Well, ah choose no tae choose life. If the cunts cannae handle that, it's thair fuckin problem. As Harry Launder sais, ah jist intend tae keep right on to the end of the road...”

 Mark (Rentboy, Renton), Simon (Sick Boy), Daniel (Spud and Francis (Franco, Begbie) are mates in Edinburgh, Scotland. The book follows them and others through using drugs, withdrawals, getting clean, scheming, partying and the deaths of their mates. 

Having attempted to read Glue before, I wasn't really looking forward to Trainspotting. And the sole reason is the Scottish accent 90% of the book is written in. It was a struggle at first, I had to read aloud to myself (and then laughing because I really sounded ridiculous) the first couple of pages, but then I got used to it. But still it was not an easy book to read. The other reason for this is that the chapters are not really related to each other so it always took a while to figure out who the narrator was and how much time had lapsed since the last chapter.

It's not a pleasant read, although the situations the boys find themselves in at times can be hilarious. The scenes dealing with piss and shit had me almost gagging, while the violent scenes made me pull a shocked grimace. But still I can't call this book more than okay. Maybe it's because it had too many narrators with too many nicknames and I was in a more or less confused state while reading. Or maybe it was simply the language which ruined it for me. 

It was made into a film in 1996, and although I remember the film as funnier and easier to follow, I'm not sure if I want to see it again because of that too disturbing toilet scene. The book is also followed by Porno and then Skagboys, which was just released. But those are not on my list of books to read. 

This was May's read in Line's 1001 books reading challenge, to see what other Norwegians think of it, go here. If you enjoyed this book, you definitely should check out Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr, which is, in my humble opinion, a thousand times better and shocking. 

Friday, 18 May 2012

twenty-eight.

Wife of Gods by Kwei Quartey (2009)

"She clashed badly with Bedome’s head priest—name’s Togbe Adzima—over this trokosi business. Have you heard about it, Inspector Dawson? These women they call trokosi? Supposedly wives of the gods serving at a shrine as penance for a family crime? They’re often brought to the shrine as girls as young as nine, and once they reach puberty, the fetish priests begin to have sex with them."

Darko Dawson is a CID inspector in Accra, Ghana. He is called out to a small town, Ketanu, to solve a murder. A medicine student, Gladys, was found murdered in the forest between Ketanu and a even smaller community. Gladys was going around to small communities to inform about AIDS. The local police has already suspect a young boy, Samuel, who was infatuated with Glady, for the murder, but Darko isn't convinced.
 Quartey has done a great job with making Dawson an interesting detective. He has some real anger issues and a bad marijuana habit. And the fate of the trokosi, AIDS and the divide between traditional and modern Ghana are some of the things that make this book work. I'm not so convinced by the writing, and the whole plot was kind of see-through. But it really had a great ending which won me over. This is the first book with Darko Dawson, and I will definitely be reading the next one as well.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

twenty-seven.

Happiness is Possible by Oleg Zaionchkovsky (2010)

"Suddenly I was swamped by the noise of the city, as if someone had jacked it up to full volume. Leading the acoustic assault with its screeching and howling was a trolleybus, followed by a tumultuous herd of invisible cars, roaring and snarling in every possible register. Birds' wings started clapping, music stared playing, invisible crowds of people started babbling and scraping their feet. We were in Moscow."

A writer is residing with his dog, Phil, after his wife, Tamara, suddenly divorced him. Yet, he sees her and her new man all the time. He is struggling with writing his next book and spends his days wandering around Moscow, going to the datcha and drinking too much alcohol. In this way he meets many interesting people who gets a space in his narrative.

I'm torn between really liking this book and it being just an okay read. I really enjoyed reading it, but then an hour later I can't hardly recall anything from it. Does the writer even have I name? I can't remember. But I know that I read most of it with a smile, and sometimes even laughed out loud. Because the old writer's observations and stories are funny.  And somehow it moves, but slowly, forward. But I guess I'm really not that impressed.

This was the first book of the year published by And Other Stories which I started subscribing too. There's something special seeing your name in the back of the book and knowing that my book is special because it's numbered.

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