Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Holiday reading - September 2016

Área La Marina (near Villajoyosa), 26th September 2016

I have grave doubts of this post being of any interest to anyone on earth but myself. I'm making these hasty notes, however, with the thought that I might otherwise never get round to mentioning some of the books here.

Reading when on the road is a fitful business - a matter of a few pages here and there, e.g. under the dim 12v bulb just before going off to sleep. I took books with me, bought more, explored others at my Spanish gaff, and I finished only one.

I took:

Sir Walter Scott, A Legend of Montrose. Scott's highland novel about war, published in 1819. This was the one book that I read in full. I had read it before, a long time ago, and didn't remember it well. It seemed to me much finer and more enthralling than I remembered or expected. I'll certainly do a separate post about this.

Shakespeare's Othello. Yes, I know, I've been reading and writing about Othello, to excess, already: Still, while on holiday,  I paused once more over the conversation between Iago and Roderigo at the end of Act II. Iago's pleasure. Iago's unflowery language. The unconfessional quality of his soliloquies.

Bodil Malmsten, Mitt första liv. A kind of autobiography by this contemporary author, with a Jämtland connection.  I read one more chapter while away: I've been reading it for about three years now.

Tomas Tranströmer, Dikter, together with Robin Fulton's English translation. Towards the end of our journey I became absorbed in this, as you already know. More posts will follow.

Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal. French dictionary at hand, I read the first twenty poems, absorbed and excited.

Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart. I've got half-way through Achebe's astonishing first novel.

I bought:

David Foenkinos, Charlotte. I saw this for sale in the French motorway services and eventually bought it. Foenkinos is apparently a prolific and admired author. A novel about the tragic life of the artist Charlotte Salomon. Composed in mainly short sentences, each on its own line: an appealing format when your French isn't up to much. I've read the opening chapters: it's very good.

Julia Conejo Alonso, Peces transparentes. Spanish poetry book, published in 2012.

Approximate translation of the first poem:


There is a transparent fish
which navigates between the ricefields of India
and other brackish waters
of south-east Asia.

It's called the Crystal Fish.

In the London aquarium,
while legions of tourists
throng against the shark tank,
compressing their noses and cheeks
in order to feel the vertigo of such nearness,

two fish of crystal

exhibit in every detail
even the most recondite elements of their body
without anyone looking at them.

With the desolation and the impotence of those who know
that it serves for nothing
to offer themselves, simple and transparent.

René Negré, Memoires d'un curé de France. This was another book I saw repeatedly in the services, and eventually bought. The subject interested me: no less the series, otherwise mostly fiction, published by De Borée, with its naive-looking photographic jackets, almost like self-published books. Their wide distribution suggests something else, though. They must be aimed at a popular audience to whom the usual trappings of paperback presentation don't appeal: an elderly audience, maybe.

In Spain I browsed in:

Den unga lyriken, anthology of Swedish poetry from 1910-1940. At the apartment I wrote music for one lyric, by Dan Andersson.

I also found and read an interview with Bo Baldersson in the Costa Blanca publication Svenska magasinet. ("Bo Baldersson" is a famously unidentified author of murder mysteries, the first of which I happen to be in the middle of reading at home.)

And I read a couple of science articles in Muy interesante, my favourite light reading from Spanish newsagents.

And while I was away:

Ken Edwards kindly sent me a copy of his a book with no name. It was a very nice thing to come home to.

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