Friday, October 30, 2009

James Lasdun: The Horned Man

This is one of the books my cousin sent me, and it is NOT a thriller. Which has sadly prejudiced me against it, because I thought it would be. The back of it is all "oooo a series of brutal killings", "as the novel spirals to its shocking conclusion" and the killings don't even get mentioned until half-way through, and the end shocked no-one.
A first-person narrative, we follow a professor of gender studies, who seems to be followed and set up by a former professor of the college he works at. Our professor Miller seems like a meekish, sane man of sound values, but as the book progresses we get hints that maybe he is not what he wants himself to be, or else he is indeed being hounded. The ending doesn't really clear it up for us. Is Miller mad? It's more Kafka-esque than anything else, with that slightly fantastical, dreamy air. Not really my thing, to be honest, but it was severely marred by my expectations of something more in the linear thriller line. If I'd ever heard about James Lasdun though I mightn't have been surprised.  To do it justice I might have to re-read it in a few years. In general though I'm not mad about this type of story at all.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tony Parsons: My Favourite Wife

I have friends who really like Tony Parsons, and when I last was at their house I was supposed to borrow a book from them (I was headed to work at the time and needed a read). Naturally I forgot it there and had to do without literature that night, but Tony Parsons lodged in my mind. So I picked this up to try, and it did nothing for me. Even blogging about it is cheating a little, because I haven't read it. I read about six chapters in and then I gave up, just skimmed a little in the middle and read the last two-three chapters. It's about a young family who move to Shanghai so that he can make more money and climb the career ladder, since life in London is too expensive for them and is wearing them down. Things don't work out so perfectly as they had planned, and while the wife is back in England for a while with their daughter he gets friendly with a lonely "second wife" in the same building. And towards the end he has to choose a family.

None of the characters felt flesh and blood to me, none mattered. The words just fell completely flat, even though there's nothing wrong per se with the language. Not very disappointed, more bemused. Don't understand why people read him. I might try another some time, if all other books have been burned or something. Dull dull dull.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Nora Kelly: My Sister's Keeper

I took this out because the cover blurbs compare Kelly to Amanda Cross, whom I love, and because the book looks like this, like someone photocopied it in a cellar somewhere to smuggle into Soviet Russia, except the paper was better. It's not terribly good, but I'm intrigued enough to maybe one day borrow another one of hers. It's too obviously moralistic and - what did that one reviewer say that I happened across on the net... something about dialectics... damn, I should have blogged about it straight away, shouldn't I? Point was that she preaches a message, but the other guy put it better.

The books heroine, Gillian Adams, is a college professor, but there endeth all comparisons to Amanda Cross. She has a position of boss-ness at her department (don't ask me to remember the title, but not dean), and gets caught in the centre of things when a group of feminists want to change old and misogynistic traditions at the university. It's quite obvious who'll die, but less obvious who did it. The plot isn't terrible I suppose. However, it's not very interesting unless you need a crash course in gender studies - actually, it's not even that informative, it just tells you over and over that misogyny is bad and feminism good. Meh, but MAYBE I'll try another one some time.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Jeanette Winterson: Lighthousekeeping

Sometimes she just completely hits the spot, Winterson does. This one does for me. One of the narratives is of Silver, a girl born out of wedlock in a small Scottish town/village, and who goes to live with the lighthousekeeper Pew when she is orphaned. Pew teaches her that the world is made of stories, and that the lighthousekeeper tells them. One of his stories is about Babel Dark, son of the man who built the lighthouse and about his cruelty to his wife because of his heartbreaking love for his first love and his mistress. Winterson can make you feel sympathy for a wife-beater. Silver tells us the story of her life - not all of it, but the bits she wants to tell, and also of Tristan and Isolde. This sounds like a lot, but it's beautifully sparse and the sections of what's told are carefully chosen. It touches me a lot… "the stories I want to tell you will light up part of my life, and leave the rest in darkness. You don't need to know everything. There is no everything. The stories themselves make the meaning." I can't find all the quotes, but something is here that I want to think more about, something about the importance of telling yourself as a story. I've been struggling against that because it hasn't felt real, but maybe that's okay. Maybe unreal is good?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Stephanie Meyer: Twilight

My eldest girl is 14 and has long suffered from her friends' Twilight-mania - not having read the books she was forced to just hang around and be bored while they endlessly talked about Edward and Bella and bla bla bla. After seeing the film (meh, she thought) she wanted to read the book, but being a purist (oh I'm so proud) she wanted to read it in English, and to get it from the library you'll probably have to be patient for five years, the waiting list is so long - obviously she didn't want to buy it, in case she hated it. Enter our friend, publisher E, who had bought the book once (to read out of professional interest, natch). So, Maxima devoured it. DEVOURED. She tries to tone it down, but I can tell that she is quite smitten. And what teen, with a penchant for escapism, fantasy, science-fiction wouldn't be? I read it now in one sweep, most of the time with a stupid smile on my face, mostly due to a strong feeling of true connection with my inner teen or pre-teen (I was so precocious), in other words "aaawwwww I would have loved this", but also because it's just quite amusing how Meyer has managed to score so many emo points. A woman on an Internet forum I frequent said that she'd read it on holiday, and her only comment was "What a load of emo shite. SRSLY." And  yes, it is emo shite. But oddly appealing emo shite, I'll give it that. I can see why all these young girls were/are sucked into this world. Meyer is not an original author, her prose isn't truly poetic or anything even though she clearly likes to think so, rather more than a little repetitive (Edward chuckles, smirks, laughs silently ... A LOT).

Our heroine, Bella, is also possibly the ultimate Mary Sue. I just recently learned what a Mary Sue is, when someone on said forum up there resurrected a thread about My Immortal. That lead on to a link to Encyclopedia Dramatica, and in fairness to myself I didn't recall that the Encyclopedia does define Bella as a Mary Sue, but when reading I just laughed out (silently) to myself and clocked her as one. Bella is gorgeous - but doesn't realise it. She's always felt a bit different, as though she can't fit in anywhere. She has a "flaw" - she is very clumsy. Vampire Edward falls in love with her because he can't read her mind like he can with other humans, and because she smells so fantastic. Floral like. He is beautiful and muscled and possessive  - but only because his LOVE IS SO STRONG - and the whole thing is like one big sex fantasy of Meyer's that, yes, possibly, should never have made it to print. However, it is not the printing of Twilight I mind so much, it's the printing of the sequels. The first few pages of New Moon are included in this edition, so I can already tell. The usual suspects are lined up - repetitions of who people are, what they did in the previous book, what they look like (apart from gorgeous). Yawn and snore. Clunketty-clunk goes the prose. Sadly, I may feel like I have to get Maxima these for Christmas. How can I live with myself?

My husband is against Meyer because he feels that her message is anti-feminist. Bella puts herself in danger by staying near the vampires - indeed, in Twilight she is almost murdered by an evil one, leg snapping, ribs broken and shattered glass cutting her scalp. She makes herself into a martyr for Her Love. Her only assurance that Edward or any of his family (or coven) won't hurt her is that they promise not to. Really much. They love her lots, after all, because she's ever so special. Her life is worth nothing unless it's with Edward. I see what he means, and while I can shrug it off for the one book I don't know if I can for three more instalments... that said, if Maxima comes home with them I'll probably read them anyway. For the same reason that I saw Matrix 3. Some sort of masochistic desire to see the train wreck through to the end?

I can't in all fairness say that I recommend it, really ... not if you have to pay money to read it. This should be a free read. Especially if you read more than one.

Friday, October 23, 2009

3 x Cyril Hare

I discovered that while the main library only has one Cyril Hare book, my little local branch has three, so after being so sorely annoyed at The Echo Maker I really felt that I needed a Detective Story Break, which means not a break from, but an indulgence of, so to speak. I promptly skedaddled over and managed to involve all the two staff there into looking for the books since I couldn't find them myself (I was scanning for hardbacks, but they are slim little Penguins that were hiding on the paperback shelf they keep beside the English language section). Anyway, three Cyril Hares - three! Imagine my delight. I meant to ration them, but I didn't. Hare has, according to Wikipedia, written ten novels, one collection of short stories, a play (probably based on one of the books I've just read, An English Murder) and a children's book (I'm particularly intrigued by that). So if I only count the novels then I've now read 40 % of his works. They seem to be surprisingly scarce - admittedly I've only looked briefly on E-bay. However, I think I'm going to start looking for vintage crime more devotedly. There are several authors I really enjoy that are most easily found through Internet shopping, and I think I can afford to now and then buy a few second-hand books that way. One of my more modest dreams is to have my own little crime fic book shelf somewhere in the house (this dream needs a less modest dream to be fulfilled first, namely that of a larger place to live, but hey).

So, the books then, which I read according to age, oldest first:

Tenant for Death: The first Hare I read, Tragedy at Law, is according to the biography on the back of this Penguin edition, probably Hare's most well-known book, but Tenant for Death is his first, from 1937. It introduces Inspector Mallet of Scotland Yard as the hero - I believe his other hero, Mr Pettigrew, appears first in Tragedy at Law. In this book a well-known business man and man of finance is found dead in a house in London, a house that for a month has been let to a mr James, who is now nowhere to be found. Not only that, but mr James seems to have not really existed, he has left no paper trail and seems generally suspect. There are a load of other suspects too, and a few red herrings. I did guess some of the final unravellings correctly, but I admit it was more gut feelings than logic at work. It's a pleasing book, but possibly still a bit raw in style, you know? One thing I was struck by, that I liked especially, is that just like a lot of authors in the genre Hare has included the "young couple" - but with a slight twist. In detective stories there often seems to be a young couple, or at least a young person, included to provide a sort of backdrop of innocence and freshness to the sordid affair of murder. At the end, they will come up roses and walk hand in hand into the sunset. Ngaoi Marsh often has a young girl - an aspiring actress or poor relation or friend - as a main character - obviously innocent, the only one who can be innocent, and so to speak the eyes of the reader. Hare has a young couple alright, but they are not as nice as I usually find them to be. Indeed, the young man has several flaws in his character and some growing up to do, and Hare clearly includes him among the suspects. I quite like that, that no-one is "the good one". Oh, and I also especially liked that The Young Lady's adored dog is called Gandhi, which exasperates her military father, because she should be ashamed to name a pet after that menace to the British Empire. Nice little period flavour there!

An English Murder: From 1951. Christmas is being celebrated at Warbeck Hall, and a slightly motley group of people are assembled for the holiday. At first we think that the English murder referred to in the title is going to be the one that is classic in vintage crime fiction - there is a house party, and one among the party is killed, and the rest are all suspects - you know the drill. But there is a fabulous twist here that I could not have seen coming since I lack the expert knowledge that would have been required  - which in a way is a pity but not really. It's fun to see the classic formula re-worked like this. The Hall is dilapitaded and almost all servants gone, the Lord is dying, his brother (or was it cousin?) is a politician of the new welfare state, responsible for financial decisions that contribute to his brother's (cousin's?) inability to keep up the former glory of the place, and the detective of the story is a foreign historian, Doctor Bottwink, who delights in the little quirks of Englishness he comes across. Lovely. As usual with Hare the solution of the mystery hangs on law, and not so much on alibis and such. It's very informative as well as entertaining.

He Should Have Died Hereafter: From 1958. I liked this one the least (but all is relative, remember!), because it seemed to leave more loose ends.. it just wasn't quite as fluid. We're back with mr Pettigrew, who has retired from practising law and is on holiday in (on?) Exmoor with his wife. On the day of the hunt he sees a dead man on the moor, but when he returns with help the body is gone. Inspector Mallet is also retired and living nearby, and together they string the facts together to figure out what crime has been done and why. Lovely scenes from the courtrooms, fantastic. Grisham can feck off, this is a lawyer who writes about what he knows! Anyway, one of the loose ends is that Pettigrew as a child found a dead body in the exact same spot, and has suppressed that memory ever since, but this just peters out into nothing, and I don't really see the point of it being there at all.

Unexpectedly I can write this AND POST IT at work since somebody left a computer on. Naughty person. I'm thrilled though and not in the least ashamed of taking advantage of it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Richard Powers: The Echo Maker

Look, I don't get this book. I realise that it won an award, but I don't get it. A man called Mark Schluter is badly injured in an accident with his truck, and when he finally can communicate again, he claims that his sister Karin is not herself, but an impostor playing her. Karin contacts a famous neurologist named Weber, who comes to study Mark's condition. Karin is disappointed because she thought Weber would cure Mark, whereas Weber is only interested in observing and then writing about interesting conditions. Is Weber a (thinly) veiled Oliver Sacks? Why the anger and criticism of "Weber's" m.o. and writing style?

Okay, I can't even be bothered writing about it. I'm sick and I'm annoyed at this book for being all over the place, and I feel stupid because a lot of people, clearly, think it's great. Opinions welcome.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nicole Krauss: Man Walks Into A Room

I've honestly never heard of Nicole Krauss, and picked up the book just for that reason: who is this unknown chick-lit author? Not that I borrow chick-lit just for the sake of the genre, mind - I have a few favourites, I admit, but it's not, on the whole, my thing. I have, for example, NOT read Sophie Kinsella. However, this is not chick-lit, it just looks like it at first glance, with its blue and fluffy cover. Krauss has been shortlisted for a few book awards and is generally quite acclaimed I believe.

This novel is about Samson Greene, who disappears from his New York home and is found wandering the desert in Nevada, his mind a blank, literally. Turns out that Samson has a brain tumour, the pressure of which suddenly became critical and caused a form of total amnesia. And when the tumour is removed Samson can remember nothing that has happened to him after the age of twelve. He is not a boy trapped in a man's body though, he is still a man of thirty-six, but he can't remember his wife, his job, his education, his friends, that his mother has died - nothing. Shaving feels odd and he's not sure if he can drive. This odd loss of memory leads him to want to relinquish his old, unremembered, life, and when an LA neurospecialist and researcher rings him to ask for him to participate in some ground-breaking research on memory transference, he agrees. There, I've told you a fair bit of the plot now, more than the cover did I think. The cover ends with telling me that "what he gains is nothing short of the revelation of what it is to be a human being" - you don't get depth like that from me, now.

This is not at all a bad book. It's well written, by an author that cares. Yet it leaves me strangely cold, and I'm struggling to pinpoint why. I remember reading an article somewhere about the abundance of authors these days who learned their craft in creative writing classes, and the article bemoaned the similarity in all these writing styles that was the consequence. Now, I'm not educated enough to detect anything like that, but I was struck by a similar sense of déja vu-ishness when reading this. As though I'd read this kind of prose a million times before, and this kind of theme too. (As a matter of fact the amnesia idea is not dissimilar from Mil Millington's Instructions for Leading Someone Else's Life, really. No other comparisons should be drawn though. Krauss is more in the vein of Ian McEwan, I'd say.) Somehow I don't really grow to care about any of the characters. I will admit that I shed a tear at some point, I think when Samson learns of his mother's death, and it's as raw to him as if it had happened five minutes ago. I thought it was sad. But somehow not so much Samson's grief, as the general idea of grief, if you see what I mean. I don't understand why the characters act the way they do - I can see this being filmed, and myself, watching the film, shouting at the more and more estranged Samson and wife to BLOODY TALK TO EACH OTHER ALREADY. As if I were the virtous paragon of exemplary spousehood. In short, I'm just not sucked in. I'm just not that into it. Also, I was super-annoyed at Samson talking to his doctor about cloning, and mentioning an idea he's just had that in the future everyone will have a spare living on a farm somewhere, to be called into service for organs if something happens to the original. Fair enough that the idea is original to Samson, who has lost twenty-four years of memories, but that the doctor hasn't heard of this very popular science fiction theme is a bit silly.

There are some great scenes in this book, but on the whole it's not that memorable (ha ha) for me. Admittedly it's books like these that I'd like to discuss, because I think I'd get a lot out of hearing what someone else, who maybe loves it, thinks.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I got a lovely surprise today!

My cousin (I wrote about her here) sent me a package and a card for my birthday (which was on the 11th), out of the blue. It was really nice of her, and I am delighted! Four books - not one, not two, but four! (Incidentally, my husband commented that they smelled the same as the dvd she gave us in Ireland - must ask her if she buys at the same shop or if it's her house that smells so nice. I wouldn't have noticed myself but mr Bani has a good nose.)

She sent me two novels by Michel Faber, The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps
and Under The Skin. I've read the former - I didn't remember when I texted her to say thanks! thanks! thanks! but after a while I did and I just checked the blog to make sure. See how useful a blog like this is? Doesn't matter that I did, because I liked it and can read it again. Looking forward to reading Under The Skin then, looks like one of the short and sweet Fabers that I enjoyed. Also, Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love - a book that mr Bani likes a lot but I haven't read. Seems right up my alley though. Possibly this is one of the best book titles ever, by the way. Then there's a complete newbie, The Horned Man by James Lasdun. Seems to be some sort of crime fiction - so to be honest I may read that first.

They'll have to bide their time until I've finished the pile from the library though. But it's great to have a stack like this in reserve. Love it!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cyril Hare: Tragedy at Law

Now, this is a real little treasure. I found it by accident - I was just going to "get something to read", and ended up trawling the crime section, gazing intently at all the yellow-stickered volumes hoping to find something new. This caught my eye, being an "old one". I'd never heard of Cyril Hare, and these old books have no information at all on the covers, so I really was borrowing blindly so to speak. Oh how I love finding something so entertaining and clever, completely by chance! I'm definitely going to be on the look-out for more of his writings. As Martin Edwards writes, he is one of the forgotten ones - he deserves a revival! And the best thing - the novel centres to a large extent around a car accident that takes place on 12th October 1939. And I finished this book on 12th October 2009. By accident, mind! It's only on the last few pages that one of the characters remarks on the significance of dates, and I noticed then. Clearly it is meant to be, me and Cyril are going to have a torrid love affair. There is no escaping such numerological coincidence.

The novel was written in 1942, and takes place, as I said, in 1939 to 1940. The earliest days of the war are nicely described by someone who is currently in the thick of it. Lord Barber is a rather unlikeable circuit judge, who on one night of the Assizes has too much to drink and knocks a man over with his car. (Or motor, as we said in those days. Oh yes we did.) Of course his position demands that the thing is hushed down, and not only that, but he is virtually penniless despite said position, so he'll be ruined if forced to pay damages. We follow Barber, his brilliant wife Hilda and the people he works with on the circuit, while mysterious things keep happening - anonymous notes, attempts on his life... so who wants to harm Barber, we wonder, while Barber himself is more preoccupied with worrying about financial ruin.

Great things about the book: you learn a lot about the system of the Assize courts. Hare was a judge, and it shows. It shows the system from the inside, and is pleasantly cynical and knowledgable. The real crime takes place at the very end, and then the last chapter or so solves it, while we've been given a lot of clues to do so during the read - Ngaoi Marsh uses much the same style. Plenty of period detail, charm and info in general. Fab bit about Hilda Barber, who is a legal scholar in her own right, but was kept from practising because of male prejudice. The author seems to be torn between recognizing Hilda's superior intelligence and the injustice that she can't practise law openly (only through her husband), and at the same time he feels that it's decidedly unfeminine and a little freakish. I find it fascinating froma feminist point of view, like.

Oh do read this if you come across it, alright? I'm so pleased I'm starting two new labels.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Vikas Swarup: Slumdog Millionaire (a.k.a. Q&A); Lemony Snicket: Slutet (The End)

I saw the film Slumdog Millionaire this summer (I think it was), and although it wasn't perhaps the best film I've ever seen I did like it. The book by comparison is actually not as good - and most importantly, the book differs so much in storyline from the film that it was, in my opinion, a poor decision to change the original title Q&A into the film title of Slumdog Millionaire. It gives you false expectations. However, the fundamental idea is, obviously, the same, since that is the book's originality and most appealing feature, and the one I can imagine the film-makers warming to: a young man, an orphan, who has survived by his wits and a fair bit of luck, comes on a tv quiz show and wins the billion rupee top prize. He is accused of cheating and beaten by the police. In the film, he tells the policeman how come he knew the answers to all the questions on the show; in the book he tells a young woman lawyer, who turns up out of the blue at the police station and claims to be his defence. His story is given in a series of flashbacks of his life, relating episodes where he just happened to learn those facts that just happen to appear as the questions on the show. Street knowledge, not book knowledge, as the author puts it in an interview at the end.

There is a strong message of belief in a destiny in the book, something which feels very Bollywood (and is not as obvious in the film). It is Ram's destiny to meet the woman he falls in love with, and to win the one billion rupees. If it were not his destiny, then why would he only get questions he knew the answers to? He also has a lucky coin that he uses when making decisions, and in the final sentences he throws it away, saying that luck comes from within. Which does sound the opposite of fatalistic really, but his point is that is doesn't matter if the coin comes up heads or tails, all the paths in your life have led you to the decision-making moment, and you know what must be done. And as for "all the paths in your life" as a theme - I feel a certain kinship to Dickens in the way that the story is put together. The woman lawyer is revealed to be someone from Ram's past, who has searched for him all these years to repay her debt, a school teacher whose sick son is saved by Ram's money becomes his lifeboat choice on the quiz show, the quiz show host is also a figure from the past, albeit a villain - out of the population of a billion the same few people seem to be falling over one another's feet all the time, and then the threads are gathered up at the end. It is very fantastical at places, and so I first decided it's unrealistic. But then I started thinking about how life is exactly this unrealistic really, and how odd it is that we have a different demand on realism in fiction - the dialogue for example has to be quite unreal to be deemed real. If you see what I mean. So I don't know. I saw the film as more realistic, to be honest, but that might also be to a large part thanks to fantastic performances from the child actors in it. A decidedly unrealistic side of the film was the way the characters as adults all spoke English - with no reference to how they might have learned it. In the book this is explained, and not considered a minor detail.

I have noticed several times (since we're speaking of destiny and such matters), that two ostensibly very different books may strike you as being very similar, especially if you read them close together so the impressions are fresh in your mind. In this case, I read the last book in the Lemony Snicket saga of the Baudelaire children just before Slumdog Millionaire. I read the first seven or so in one sweep at around this time but then I got a bit bored with the style (plus that the library never had them in) so I stopped reading them. My youngest daughter and her friends however are going through a Lemony Snicket phase, so she has been bringing them home en masse, albeit in the Swedish translation. When I saw the final instalment lying on the shoe bench in the hall (such a logical spot for a library book, don't you agree?) I thought that I'd just have to skim through it, translation or no, because one would have to know the end, right? Okay, and my point then about odd similarities (at last! they cry): Lemony Snicket and Vikas Swarup are similar in their writing styles. It is boxy, stilted, a little formal, repetitive at times. While this works in the part fantasy part pastiche frame that Lemony Snicket uses, it is not as successfull for Swarup. He's just not that great a writer - particularly since there are so so many FANTASTIC Indian writers of fiction. He simply cannot measure up. I skimmed large parts of the book - and not just because I knew the story and it was late and I was tired. It's not very spell-binding. That said, there is room for Swarup too in the pantheon of authors - he can sometimes be better than he is worse, and he is clearly driven by wanting to tell us a story. Which is not a bad thing.

I don't have that much to say about the final Lemony Snicket book. I've missed several books before the last one, so there were some references and characters I was unfamiliar with, but I really don't think that impairs my judgement when I say that the conclusion is a bit of a disappointment. The author fails to follow through on all the terrible hints and promises of horrific history we are fed with during the series. There is a slightly darker note in the book, as if Snicket wouldn't have minded going Gaiman on us and killed everyone off, but then he remembers that this is a children's book and that they deserve a happier ending. This, accordingly, is what we get, and for an adult it isn't completely satisfying. There are too many loose ends left for me to be entirely pleased, and it feels as though he just wanted to finish the damn thing already. I'm sure my daughter liked it just fine though, but I'll have to ask her. Update will be posted here.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Per Olov Enquist: Nedstörtad ängel; Gunilla Molloy: Att läsa skönlitteratur med tonåringar

Jag har faktiskt aldrig läst något av Enquist - en sån där sak som aldrig blivit av. Så stor som han är i den svenska författarskaran hade man ju kunnat tänka sig att han skulle få finnas med på den obligatoriska litteraturlistan om man som jag läste humanistisk linje på gymnasiet, men inte då. Vi var för upptagna med Strindberg och Tjänstekvinnans son. Zzzzzz. Men vi har i alla fall en hel del böcker hemma, tack vare den vid det här laget ganska mytiske maken, och Nedstörtad ängel var a) med i DNs litteraturtävling i julas och b) lagom lång för en natts jobb - nja, snäppet kort egentligen, men jag tog risken.

Enquist ska ju enligt alla som är några vara ruskigt ruskigt bra. Och visst, karln kan ju skriva. Nedstörtad ängel är betraktelser över tre historier i en bok - om ett par som hatar och älskar varandra, förlorade i sorgen över sitt mördade barn och kärleken till mördaren, om Pasqual Pinon som har ett kvinnoansikte på sin panna, en stum kvinna som han kallar sin hustru, och om Ruth Berlaus hatkärlek till Berthold Brecht. Historierna om Pinon och Berlau är baserade på historiska personer och innehåller förmodar jag en hel del sanning, vilket osökt får mig att fundera över om den tredje historien också är sann. Det är ju lite kittlande, eftersom fadern påstås vara psykolog eller psykiatriker (minns inte) vid Ulleråker här i Uppsala. Att fundera över detta tar upp en hel del av min energi är jag rädd, jag tappar lite intresset för att förlora mig i boken. Denna historia, och Pinons, är de bästa. Varför Berlau är med vet jag inte riktigt, även om det fungerar tematiskt (att vara beroende av att älska någon). Och Pinons livsöde känns ju så gripande att man blir enormt nyfiken på det och vill veta mer.

Det krävs skicklighet för att kunna plocka bara snuttar ur ett så pass fascinerande liv som Pinons, bara små brottstycken för att illustrera någon man vill säga. Boken igenom får vi oss små händelser till livs, som tillsammans bildar en helhet. Det är bra gjort, och han skriver som sagt bra. Men som helhet är jag inte så berörd. I efterhand funderar jag inte vidare på boken, möjligen att jag googlar Pinon som sagt för att kolla att han funnits på riktigt. Det är ju det som är en av de intressantaste sakerna med litteratur, att det blir så nästan slumpmässigt vad som berör en och inte. Jag läste för en tid sedan Att läsa skönlitteratur med tonåringar av Gunilla Molloy, en bok som maken (japp) lånade hem för jobbets skull. Det var mycket intressant. Molloy följde flera högstadieklasser under tre år för att se hur litteraturundervisningen gick till, och i en del av intervjuerna med elever anmärker hon på det att barnen säger att de vill ha mer av x, y eller z men helt missar att x, y och z finns med i den bok de precis tvingats läsa - den berörde dem inte. Det finns mer att säga om den boken men jag orkar inte nu, utan lämnar den som ett hett boktips. Jag är inte så säker på att jag gör detsamma om Nedstörtad ängel - den rekommenderas men jag är inte eld och lågor. Får läsa något annat vid tillfälle.