Saturday, November 17, 2007

Google whack

Jag sitter här och jobbar på boköversättandet (som jag inte vill blogga om egentligen, men det här är för monumentalt att avstå), och letar efter en rolig översättning på begreppet halverektion. Nej, det är inte en sån bok - jag sa rolig översättning, inte schekshig. Haver jag inte hört uttrycket "stoffe" funderar jag, men google ger mig i första hand bara tusen människor som kallar sig så. Men finns stoffe borde även halvstoffe finnas och vara lättare att hitta, resonerar jag, och googlar. NADA.

Alltså, det här inlägget blir en grym google whack. Är inte det vad varje bloggare drömmer om?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

2 x Irish fantasy

My sister and her family came over from Ireland for my father's interment, and being a nice and generous person she came bearing gifts. I got agar-agar flakes and ground almonds among other things, and my kids got books. Now, I won't be writing about That's Not My Dinosaur, except to say that it is a riveting read indeed and the recipient of this tome loves it dearly, but about Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer and The Alchemyst by Michael Scott. These are both Irish writers, but we must feel kinder towards mr Colfer because apparently he used to be a teacher at my niece's and nephew's school. Please take a look at his web site there and note the expression " In 2001 the first Artemis Fowl book was published and he was able to resign from teaching"... do I detect a note of triumphant joy? Those darn kids.

Anyway, I'd been wanting (albeit in a passive way, which means I went to no great efforts to get the book myself, more let the thought of it idly pass my mind now and then) to read Artemis Fowl for aaaaages because I knew the writer was Irish, and this kindled my Erin-go-bragh (sic! har har) spirit. So I was very pleased to get this at least, the intended recipient hasn't got into the spirit of things at all yet what with being all caught up in Ellis Peters and what-have-you. So I read it. And I think my daughter will enjoy this, because it's clearly aimed at her age group. There's action, and dwarf farts, and a heroine (YAY to that actually!). But a literary masterpiece it certainly is not. It reads a bit as though Colfer really wanted it to be a film script. I don't dispute that it might make a fine film, but novels should be more than strings of dialogue peppered with one-liners. Nonetheless, I'll look for and read the sequels to see if the storytelling improves (after all, there is a huge difference between Harry Potter 1 and 7 for example - not that HP is to be seen as the ultimate good model or anything). And after all, I'm not the target audience, so so what, eh? I do appreciate Colfer's imagination though. To have the Faeries as a technologically advanced underground species is definitely new, and I did love that the police squad is LEPrecon.

Oh, the story is, for those not in the know, that Artemis Fowl is a twelve-year-old criminal genius hell-bent on restoring the family fortune, and he means to do this by kidnapping a fairy and asking a huge ransom.

The Alchemyst now. Again, my daughter will enjoy this, since she is to young for bookish sophistication. For an adult it's quite a dreary read, re-using mythological characters and stapling events. For someone who watches too much Stargate the approach is less than fresh, unfortunately. The first page or so is great though.... oh God, now the baby is being much too difficult for coherent thought. Idea is, in brief, that the alchemist Nicholas Flamel is still alive with his wife, guarding the Book of Abraham, a powerful spell book. Twins Josh and Sophie are unwittingly drawn into affairs when Flamel's enemy dr John Dee steals the book and kidnaps Perenelle Flamel. Turns out the twins may be the ones referred to in an ancient prophecy, so now they are hunted too by the ancient beings that want to rid the world of humans. And this is my biggest gripe - the prophecy says something about "the two that are one" and twins of different sexes surely have never been one. This also reads like a wanna-be film script, or rather the script to one of those never-ending Aussie youth TV-series.

Oh it's taken me an age to write even this disjointed post (thanks a lot Minimus). Depressing is what it is.

The Missing by Sarah Langan

This is a horror novel. I've had my obligatory horror phase of course, the Stephen King and Dean R Koontz stage of literary growth one often goes through in one's youth. Now I'm too old. I didn't finish this one, because I could see where it was going, and it wasn't to a good place. I'm just too old and too much of a mother, things like this give me angst. But on the other hand that is endorsement and a good review, because that is the whole point, surely.

So the story is that something infects people in a small town in Maine, turning them into some sort of beast-like, carnivorous, cannibalistic creatures. Nasty. Langan is good at introducing us to the main characters and making them believable. I recommend this if you're into this sort of thing, but beware of major carnage, dudes. I flipped to the last few pages so I know. Not at all pretty.

Anyway, if you read this and you want it, it's up for grabs. If I ever get my Bookcrossing arse in gear that's where this'll end up...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Flippancy recanted

My husband's books are not all meaningless crap.

Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections

Oh Lord, it took me forever to finish this. This has got to be the thickest book I've read since the final Harry Potter - of course, they couldn't be more different. Like, LOLZ. The Corrections has substance, character depth and emotion to a much greater degree than Harry Potter can ever really display. My husband got me this for my birthday (11/10, so you can imagine... I finished it about ten days ago maybe. This is slooooow reading for me. Then again I am no longer permitted to read while nursing, so there is less time.)

Jonathan Franzen apparently (I'd never heard of him before to be honest, woe is the uncultural bog in which I dwell) writes for The New Yorker, and it shows. I once stumbled upon a copy of The New Yorker at a time when I was clearly much too young to appreciate it, but I retain a memory of an awfully wordy magazine that I wished I was clever enough to understand. Then there was a phase when I still didn't read it, and disguised my lack of intellectualism by thinking "oh it's probably just pretentious tripe anyway". Now I'm at a phase where I'd definitely give it a shot if I saw it lying around, but I'm not going to look for it. But anyway, my point is that it's rather wordy, which isn't necessarily a bad thing at all, but I suspect I might be a "less is more" type of person. Not least because I'm too quick and sloppy a reader - if there's an awful lot of description my eyes tend to wander and I miss things. Anyway, so this shows in Franzen's writing - it's wordy. But it's very good, and if you go to that website I've linked to there and read his biography you'll see that he's all kinds of smart, therefore: good wordiness.

Unfortunately the back blurb of The Corrections led me to picture a slightly different novel. According to the blurb, it's mostly about - hang on, let me nick this bit from that website up there:
After almost fifty years as a wife and mother, Enid Lambert is ready to have some fun. Unfortunately, her husband, Alfred, is losing his sanity to Parkinson's disease, and their children have long since flown the family nest to the catastrophes of their own lives. The oldest, Gary, a once-stable portfolio manager and family man, is trying to convince his wife and himself, despite clear signs to the contrary, that he is not clinically depressed. The middle child, Chip, has lost his seemingly secure academic job and is failing spectacularly at his new line of work. And Denise, the youngest, has escaped a disastrous marriage only to pour her youth and beauty down the drain of an affair with a married man -- or so her mother fears. Desperate for some pleasure to look forward to, Enid has set her heart on an elusive goal: bringing her family together for one last Christmas at home.

I think it's a bit simple, which on the other hand does testify to the complexity and richness of the book. I got the impression of the story leading up to that Christmas, with everybody despite all odds gathering at casa Lambert at Yule. But it's not really like that, Christmas isn't really the climax at all. It ends up being sort of an anti-climax in the place of a climax, and then winds down gently to a surprisingly happy end, albeit with a slightly bitter flavour since we're privy to Alfred's dementia-induced fears, rages and confused thoughts. Everybody else may be all right, but Alfred is in hell. Incidentally, that's one of the things I like best, Franzen's description of Alfred, a man who has failed at showing his children that he loves them, who is unable to show love, and who is now descending into bewilderment.

Highly readable, at times very funny. Recommended.

Jesper Juul: Ditt kompetenta barn

Ja, det är helt klart en läsvärd bok. Och det finns så mycket skrivet om den på nätet så jag tänker inte (läs: orkar inte) lägga ett utförligt strå till stacken. Usch vad lat jag är. Istället skriver jag att jag hoppas att den nya pocketutgåvan som kom för något år sedan blev ordentligt korrekturläst, för den här första upplagan var rätt slarvigt översatt från danskan och layouten var inte heller någon höjdare alla gånger.

Men oaktat detta tycker jag att det vore utmärkt om fler nyblivna föräldrar läste hans böcker för att få perspektiv på hur vi tanklöst behandlar barn, och även oss själva.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Nära föräldrar - om anknytning, samsovning och konsten att bära barn av Jorun Modén

Det var ett bra tag sedan jag läste den här. Jag lånade den på impuls på biblioteket.

Modén säger att hon velat skriva den bok hon själv saknade när hon väntade barn, en bok som handlar om hur man knyter an till sitt barn och lyssnar till dess behov, istället för att fixera på hur barnet ska sova och äta och få rutiner. Detta kan jag sympatisera med helt och fullt. Många böcker om föräldraskapet, för att inte tala om alla de broschyrer man får på BVC, sätter tonen genom att tala om barnens sömn t.ex. som "problem" som ska lösas. "Misslyckas" man, underförstått, är man för slapp. Även om det inte skrivs så uttryckligen kan förhållandet mellan förälder och barn utmålas som en maktkamp med vinnare och förlorare. Modén har inspirerats av makarna Sears tankar och böcker om attachment parenting, men velat skriva en bok för svenska förhållanden (som t.ex. kunde handla mer om faderns roll, i jämställdhetens namn). Hon står också bakom en hemsida, med blogg och forum, för likasinnade.

Jag har som sagt all sympati för idén, och håller helt med om att det behövs en motvikt mot allt i mitt tycke närmast reaktionärt tjat om 5-minutersmetoden för sömn (barnmisshandel när den utövas i sin mest renodlade form), smakisar och va-ammar-du-fortfarande? Tyvärr är Modéns bok helt enkelt inte tillräckligt bra. Hon blandar ihop begrepp (t.ex. anger hon som fördel med bärsjal att det är bra med kroppskontakt, men utan att klargöra att kroppskontakt i sig är bra och faktiskt kan uppnås utan just bärsjal) och hon har dålig källunderbyggnad (det känns inte seriöst att hänvisa till Dr Sears bok och internetsidor enbart). Boken känns tunn och substansfattig. Modén skriver att hon ville ha en bok som tog upp som självklarheter det som annars anses alternativt och konstigt, men resultatet blir tyvärr att boken inte frälser andra än de redan frälsta. En skeptiker blir inte övertygad utan mer vetenskap bakom åsikterna. Och vetenskapen FINNS ju där, varför finns den inte i källorna?

Jag väntar på en svensk bok om föräldraskap som på ett oromatiserat sätt beskriver hur barnets sömn fungerar utan att betrakta den som problematisk, som inte är negativt inställd till nattamning, som varken påstår att föräldraskap är bara vackert och underbart eller apjobbigt och utslitande, som inte felaktigt påstår att amning orsakar karies, som vet vad tygblöjor är, som inte påstår att man måste ge barnet vattniga portioner puré på sex- (eller fyra-!...) månadersdagen för att det alls ska äta, som inte talar om att byta ut "amningsmål" när den tidigare påstod att den var för fri amning, som inte föreslår att man ska pressa smakportioner kött genom en jävla vitlökspress (hejdå vitlökspressen)... Antar jag får vänta lite till.