08 May 2009

Currently Reading: Naipaul

While browsing the library yesterday, looking for Mahasweta Devi (none), a certain Hélène Cixous (French only) and David Rieff's memoir on his mother Susan Sontag's illness (out), I figured I might as well read some more by V.S. Naipaul. In the collection of essays called Literary Occasions he deals with his first attempts at writing, his fears and embarrassments:
I might adapt Dickens to Trinidad; but it seemed impossible that the life I knew in Trinidad could ever be turned into a book. If landscapes do not start to be real until they have been interpreted by an artist, so, until they have been written about, societies appear to be without shape and embarrassing. It was embarrassing to be reminded by a Dickens illustration of the absurdity of my adaptations; it was equally embarrassing to write of what I saw.

Also picked up Murakami Haruki's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, à propos that great essay on running in Joyce Carol Oates' The Faith of a Writer. I'm planning to make myself start running again by intellectualizing the whole thingy. Wish me luck.

Had a great day at Café Edenborg today, by the way, discussing the 'man and the machine' theme of the upcoming Terminator Salvation movie with Professor D. and then talking some favourites by Jeanette Winterson, P.O. Enquist and Nina Bouraoui with Mr J. That place is usually a lousy environment for me to concentrate on reading (especially by the bar), but who cares when peeps are ready to strike a nice literary pose whenever you're up for it.

07 May 2009

Reading and Writing: a Personal Account by V.S. Naipaul

I am fascinated by Naipaul's literary awakening. His father had an interesting way of reading to him a few pages here and there, of many different works. This lead to Naipaul not really recognizing all these seemingly familiar stories when he later read them as a whole. He suddenly thought them strange, told for another world. I'm also intrigued by the way Naipaul describes how he became an author, the genres he has chosen and why. I should probably read more.

06 May 2009

Appelez-moi par mon prénom by Nina Bouraoui

When I am forced to, I sometimes read in French. It's a very exclusive sort of phenomenon, that usually has to do with some ouevre by Marguerite Duras that was never translated to Swedish (as I refuse to read her work in English). Or, as in this case, a new novel by Nina Bouraoui.

I cannot even start to describe what her (mid to later) work means to me. So while I'm not doing that I'll just share the fact that I have a really hard time viewing her stories from the outside. Hers is a voice that resonates within me to a degree I am afraid to really analyze any further.

Appelez-moi par mon prénom, which has a lot to do with M.D's Yann Andrea Steiner, is the story of a female writer and her younger reader. They have met briefly at a reading, but it is in the virtual world they begin their story.

P. existait dans une réalité que je ne partageais pas. Je m'enfermais dans un rêve. J'avais des projets mais je n'arrivais pas à travailler. Je gardais les mains vides, avançant sans mots.

The light of the novel is quite fair, almost summer blonde. There is not much resistance, it is mostly just a collection of thoughts and images. It is sweet.

Un peu plus tard:

I stumbled across this interview. And N.B. herself reading an excerpt of the novel over at Le blog à plumes!

And another interview:

Ann Jäderlund

Being a sucker for Swedish poet Katarina Frostenson, I'm wondering why I never got to reading any of her contemporaries. Perhaps because I never really felt the need to. At the moment, I'm going through some of Ann Jäderlund's work. I started off with the first three collections: Vimpelstaden, Som en gång varit äng, Snart går jag i sommaren ut and one of the later, I en cylinder i vattnet av vattengråt.

During my first read I had a hard time connecting to the work. It seemed to lack the friction, the consonants, the ugliness and the choruses I usually like my poetry to contain. It felt like the words were just pouring through the pages and that I failed to get a hold of them. Liking my poetry sort of harsh and German-like, Jäderlund's sentences seemed too French to me; too general, too romantic, too sensual, flowy and sleek. Ingratiating, perhaps.

Except for Snart går jag i sommaren ut, which is a horrific, haunting sort of tale, nothing else really did it for me.

But then I came around for a second read. Some time had passed and suddenly something had happened. A change of heart.

Jag har en stad i fickan, jag
har den här natten
som ska komma, hennes
spensliga hjärta

(from Sång för en man i solen, Vimpelstaden)

I suppose that quickly forming an opinion of poetry is always ungrateful. Plus, it has so much to do with mood. Reading the latest novel by Nina Bouraoui at the same time helped, though ('s what I said, Jäderlund + French = True).

Ah well. I am not done yet.

Du är en annan spegel det går inte bort

(from En stråle blod, originally meant to be contained in Som en gång varit äng)