Friday, August 01, 2008


Mr Bani and I are in an organizing frenzy here at casa Bani. As you may or may not know, we live in a two-bedroom apartment with one bathroom, with a total square metrage of just under 70. And there are five of us. So thank God we always resisted the children's desire for a pet, I say. There is a certain amount of compact living going on here, and by that I mean that we have a lot of stuff and it is everywhere. If that's compact, we're it. And 1½-year-olds? They believe in entropy. One spends a frighteningly large amount of time picking up stuff that he has emptied out. And then, finally, not bothering to. I had forgotten (as in repressed) that part about having small kids. Give me teenagers any say. You just say "Hey you, what the hell?" and they pick it up themselves.

So, we decided that we needed to change the furniture around in the livingroom and put the bookshelves on the other wall and in the corner, aso we could put those two cabinets from the Ivar range that have been "temporarily" arranged these past three years on top of one another on top of a semi-antique chest of drawers in our miniscule bedroom alongside that wall and so on. You get the picture - it isn't a tidy one. And where are the wheels we once had screwed on under that second cabinet? We unscrewed them to stack the cabinets and now I only found one set. Arse.

In order to manage this we had to scrap one whole bookshelf. This meant that we first had to have a big clear-out in the cellar so we could move discarded-but-not-unwanted-really books down to the cellar (and said shelf, of course). And since we can never be really structured about these things we end up just throwing things away and not even attempting to sell them - although to be fair, most of it was sort of rubbish anyway. Anyway, so all the course books, representing thousands of dineros (yet with no actual degree to show for it...) are being moved into the cellar, finally, and lots of books are finally being deemed as Not Necessary to Own so we're giving them away to the Christmas flea market at church. BUT, and here comes the explanation for the title of this entry - we've thrown away lots too. Books that were breaking (fair enough), but also just books that we didn't think were worth the trouble of carting off to some other destination than the rubbish room (my English translation of the word soprum...). And since they end up in the burnable bin in the rubbish room - WE ARE BOOKBURNERS, as mr Bani said, with a wince. We ended up becoming less and less ruthless, so the pile that is going to charity is now larger than it would have been if we'd carried on with the sacrilege. See, I'd planned to bookcross a lot of this stuff. I'm a CRAP bookcrosser. I should delete my membership. I haven't had a chance to search for ANY books, and I haven't released any, or even gotten to the point of starting to register one for release. And now I won't be doing any releasing for a long time, since I'm not prepared to let go of the ones I have left. (Yet.)

Among the books I finally got rid of is an old copy of Fanny Herself by Edna Ferber. I've held on to this book for ages because it made an impact on me. Little bits of it often drift to the surface of my thoughts - for example, for a while there Fanny dates a man who keeps volunteering snippets of Useful Information, so she dubs him "Fascinating Facts". So far I'm the only one who gets it when I say "fascinating facts" with irony in reference to people like that. It doesn't seem to be a widely read novel, but I really like it. Fanny grows up in a small town with her mother and brother. Her mother works very hard in her little shop to support them, but ends up being outmanouvered by a new, larger store. When her mother dies Fanny swears to never become like her, working her life away for nothing. She's going places, she is. Connecting her mother's failure to Judaism too, she rejects her entire background and goes off to the big city to make a career for herself. In the end she mellows and reconnects with her past, and the whole thing is quite sentimental (in the best possible way) and lovely. Also, it paints a great picture of a professional woman - actually, of two professional women, if we count Fanny's mother - in the 1910s and before. The Amazon link above states "that Edna Ferber has been called the greatest American woman novelist of her day" and I think that this book is well worth reading, as well worth it as, say, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, which I think is much more widely known. Well, I don't have it anymore. Nor do I have Flickan som inte sa nej by Elsa Nyblom. I've insisted on holding on to this for years, but I'm ready to let go now. This book is so little known I can find no good link to it, only online second-hand book sellers telling me they have it, and one Bookcrossing entry that turned out to be a dud. It's not about much this book, but I quite liked it. I liked how it felt so set in that particular time (1930s, 1940s), and its sort of dreamy quality, even though it deals with real matters. I can hardly remember exactly what it's about any longer, to be honest. The main character is a young girl who is easily influenced (she doesn't say no is the title), so she agrees to be married to a much older man. It's not a depressing story about abuse or anything, but it's about having a sense of self and being able to say what you want for yourself. Her life doesn't turn out badly, but she has to learn to say no. That's it.

It's a bit of a wrench to get rid of these old novels, because I might never be able to get hold of them ever again. I've found them in second-hand stalls and bought them on impulse. My one, sole ambition in life really has been to have a Library. To have bookshelves covering the walls, and to be able to go in there and see my life through the books I've read. It makes me sad that I can't realise this dream. I've wanted to save all those 1940s "young women" novels I'd collected, but I haven't. How will I ever get hold of Flickförbundet Silverkorset by Bertha Clément again - a 1927 story about some young girls who meet at a boarding house during their holidays and form a sort of charity club together. A moralistic little book, to be sure, but it paints an interesting picture of pre-Nazi Germany. I have to hope that Bokmamsell and others like her will remember all those books, because I can't be their custodian right now, and maybe never.

Anyway, St. Lars Catholic Church in Uppsala, during the 1st of Advent weekend - that's the place to be if you want to buy the Bani cast-offs. See you there - I'll be rescuing novels from other broken libraries.


Johanna said...

Ha! Funny. My version of compact living is very much like yours. Except no teenagers here. (And hopefully our digs will be bigger than 51m2 by the time my threesome is teenaged.)

I LOVE 40s books. I have many many girls' books in the X's förråd still. My hope is that one of my girlies will want to read them but they'll probably grow up playing WoW in their spare time and BREAKING THEIR MOTHER'S HEART. Ahem.

Advent, you say? I will be there! I'm *sure* I can fit a few more cubic feet of books in here.

bani said...

Yes, let's by all means cling to the hope of future SPACE! LOL.

I've saved masses of the books from my youth in the hopes that my girls will read them, and they are spectacularly uninterested. It's depressing. Not even Maria Gripe. I don't understand it at all.