Wednesday, 24 September 2014

who was Harriet Burden?

the Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt (2014)

 Harriet Burden; struggling artist, mother of two and the widower of Felix Lord, a famous art dealer. Fed up with the sexist art world, where a man is more likely to get praised than women, she plots a project where a man should play the role as the artist behind her art. The unfolding of Harriet Burden and her project is done after Harriet's death by a professor Hess through a number of interviews and Harriet's notebooks.

Harriet chose three very different men for her maskings project. The first was a black gay man, the second a young man, and the third was an already quite famous artist, Rune. The project went well until Rune, and no one believed that Harriet was behind it all.

I have been having a hard time with this book and I think I finally can put my finger on why. I think it's because it simply became too technical for me. It is written in a very scientific way with footnotes and references to both fictional and real work. For people interested in psychology and neuroscience, this must be a great read, but I'm not. And that's why I couldn't really enjoy this book, despite it being well-written (especially towards the end) and I rather enjoyed the feminist approach.

The Blazing World is on the Man Booker Prize 2014 long list, the first year the prize includes American authors as well. This was the first book out in Clementine's Booker reading circle, and I'm excited to read the short list in the coming year. And this will not be the last Hustvedt I read, despite not quite getting into this book.

4 comments:

  1. Bra det blir mer Hustvedt. Alle sier at What I loved er best - så den blir også min neste - tror jeg - hvis jeg makter å bryte bibliografitvangen - jeg burde jo egentlig starte med den første. Når det gjelder Blazing hørte jeg lydbok - og jeg tror det var et sjakktrekk, for ikke bare slapp jeg å slite med å skille de ulike stemmene (jmf Clementine) men jeg la heller ikke merke til fotnotene - og alt det som normalt ville virket avbrytende og teknisk ble borte. Puh!

    (Nå, synes du den burde vært på kortlista?)

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    Replies
    1. Jeg har jo ikke ører for lydbøker, så det får være slik. Men jeg syns ikke alle stemmene var problemet, var vel heller det altfor tekniske språket. Kortlista skal jeg uttale meg om når jeg har vært igjennom alle bøkene, altså neste år.

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  2. Flott innlegg.
    Virker som om vi hadde ganske lik leseropplevelse her. Jeg er ikke så utrolig interessert i alle temaene Hustvedt tar opp i boken, og boken kom mer til live mot slutten av boken.. Ellers veldig enig i hva Ingalill skriver over, tror lydbok sikkert er uvanlig fint med denne boken.
    Det virker jo som om det er flere virkelig gode bøker på Shortlisten i år, jeg gleder meg til å lese dem!

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    Replies
    1. Ja, det var mot slutten at det ble en god bok. Jeg har fortsatt ikke lært meg å like lydbøker, så aner ikke hvilket format som passer bra. Kortlista ja, skal straks åpne oktoberboka :D

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