Sunday, March 28, 2010

Meeting at the Milestone by Sigurd Hoel

Book Rating 7 out of 10
This is an interesting book. The form of the book is some unusual. It falls in parts which are quite stylistically diverse. In the initial part of the book the author is musing about why people become traitiors. (The book is written in the wake of WW2 in Norway, where the author apparently played a role in the resistance movement, thus a "Traitor" in the concept of the author is a person who became a nazi or supported the nazi occupation of Norway). This part of the book is written post WW2. Then comes a part of the book where the author is reminiscing about his early love encounters in the 1910-1920's. Here is a very beautiful chapter, the chapter "Kari", the passage describes quite moving how a young man and woman meet each other and spend the night together on midsummers night in Oslo, somewhere in the 1910-1920's. I think that this part definitely is among the must remarkable love accounts in northern litterature ever. Then comes a part part of the book which is fiction like, the storyteller is involved in some dramatic events in the late part of WW2, he is a resistance man, it turns out that the person who eventually betrays him is his own son. In his love encounter with Kari 20 years before, it turns out that she became pregnant with the authors child, without his knowing. Then Kari left him and married another man. This other man is one of the authors old friends and he later became a nazi, and the son (really the authors son) as well became a nazi. This part also plays with identity and consciousness, because when he first sees his son (the young nazi), he believes to see himself and also during the dramatic and painful events the divide between reality and dream is blurred, also he watches himself from outside, he watches the whole world from outside at a distance like in 1990 Paul Auster novel "The Music of Chance". In the end of the book we return to where we started, the author is musing about humans and destinies, he reveals the project of the novel: Why people become what they become? He reveals to the readers the story about the writing process. It is a project that he has tried to carry through on 3 different attempts, these different attempts are the diverse parts of the novel. But he acknowledges that he hasn't succeeded in the project, it has failed, it was too big a job for him, but the various parts of the novel documents the attempts. The novel has several aspects of metafiction, it's kind of surprising that it was already published in 1947 because it seems to have some stylistically relations to metafictional works like the work of Paul Auster which rose to prominence in the 1980's and 1990's.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin

Book Rating 1 out of 10.
Apparently these pornographic novels was a commissioned work for an unknown book lover in Paris. Anaïs Nin seems to have an inclination towards describing sexual scenes bordering on tabu areas like violence and incest.

Break of Day by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette

Book Rating 6 out of 10.
This book describes Colettes daily life in a cottage in a rural setting on the Mediterranean cost of Provence in Southern France, in the city of Saint Tropez. Besides Colette, two other characters strikes out in the account: Viale, a young painter and Hélène Clément, an young woman. Colette, which is an older woman, has a relationship with Vial, and Hélène Clément is too in love with Vial. So this ménage à trois provides an unspoken tension which in an indirect manner fuels the account. The style of the book is in the form of a poetic diary. Colette seems to be a somewhat lonely figure which's closets relations seems to be with the cats which lives together with her in her house. Also she seems very attached to nature which she describes with sensuous sensitivity.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Train Was on Time by Heinrich Boll

Book Rating 4 out of 10
This is an ok read. It's a somewhat feverish account about a german soldier on a train going to the east front in September 1944. The troops on the train are divided in two camps, those who says that of course Hitler will win the war and those who knows that the war is lost. The I persona of the account knows that he is soon going to die. And inside he prays for himeself and others, apparently he is christian. There is also a love story he has with a prositute, which somewhat reminded me about White Nights by Dostojevskij.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sex and Tourism: Journeys of Romance, Love, and Lust by Kaye Sung Chon

Book Rating 4 out of 10.
This books is comprised of a series of essays about sex tourism, most of them accademic. It's an interesting subject. The book defines sex tourism in a more broad sense than what is generally understood. For one example in Europe it is very common for young people in north Europe to go on holiday in south Europe, where the holiday is beach, party, drinking and sex! Or in the winter, the go on skiing holiday, where afterskiing and party and sex is an essential part of the experience. Journeys like this falls within this books definition of sex tourism, because sex is a significant motivation for the tourism. Well the books essays explore the subject of sex tourism from various angels. It states that prostitution in third world countries catering men from richer countries is not only a bad thing, because it brings wealth to those countries, it advocates a decriminalization of prostitution, but warns about the high risk of contracting sexual transmitted diseasses, like HIV. Some alarming investigation has revealed that in some cases 40 % of the prostitutes in South Asian countries like Thailand and Cambodia is infected with HIV!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Songmaster by Orson Scott Card

Rating 4 out of 10.
 This is an OK read. It's the story about a very beautiful boy who sings enchanting. Somewhat the plot seems to be transferred from one of Shakespeares dramas about ancient Rome. Because this boy (a songbird) really gets the attention of various emperors living in palaces. It's a story also about love and desire, a bit sophisticated for a sci-fi in this case also about homesexual love. Anyway it's kind of an OK cool little book. As usual the computers in this sci-fi seems terrible outdated from what everybody uses everyday in todays world!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

Rating 0 out of 10.
This is a lousy book. It's really amazing to me that the world had made such a fuss about such a mediocre writer as Salman Rushdie. The reason is properly that he is of somewhat Indian origin and that Khomeini got pissed off. Anyway Midnight's Children is a socio-political account. It revolves around some crucial times in newer Indian history, like the declaration of post colonial India on midnight August 15, 1947 and the declaration of state of emergency on June 25, 1975, the war with Pakistan, etc. Upon these historical facts Rushdie then brews an account inspired by magical realism and interspersed with personal experiences. Often Rushdie tries to be funny, but I didn't laugh one single time!