Thursday, 29 October 2009

Skiing- and the art of language

Funny how different languages have a different take on the same thing. And how that, in its turn, maybe mirrors the spirit of the nation. Skiing, being a reasonable new phenomenon, is a good example. Languages such as English and Czech simply took the noun and made it into a verb. Expressive and pragmatic at the same time. Swedes go on skis, and I think that Germans either run or go as well. (maybe that is down-hill vs cross country?) Any way, this illustrates the movement and already gives you an idea about the speed. (Swedish go means go in a car, not go as in walk) Given this, it is ever so slightly worrying, and also entertaining, that Danes STAND on skis. And I just see hordes of little Danish children, who during the winter season happily stand on their skis in their back garden, as Denmark is rather flat and they may as well stand there as anywhere else.

Judging a book by its cover - more

In saying that I judge books by their cover, I love browsing through book shelves until I find a book that talks to me. In all fairness, when it is an author I know and like, I can forgive a bad cover, but normally, I like my books to talk before I even open them. There are books I know I have to have, just by seeing the cover. I suppose this is how normal people pick up in bars. I do it in book shops. Very different results- but a book will not throw a drink in your face. Or leave because another reader has bigger.. book shelves.

One book I just knew I have to buy was Irène Némirovsky´s Suite Francaise. There are many reviews out there, and this forgotten author has since had a revival with all her books published again. Her penmanship is, of course, skillful and captivating, but that is not the reason why I loved this book. It is the story about the story. This is the first time in my life that the slogan "buy one get one free" really functioned. Suite Francaise in it self is a book you don't want to put down. I have never managed to get through Proust´s Swann´s way, the three times I tried I collapsed on page 27, but I imagine that you can call Némirovsky´s writing skyle Proustian. She depicts the start of the German Occupation, through the eyes of characters belonging to different social classes, in different regions, and with different lives to live. You feel the circle growing closer, some of the characters meet, some you think will meet. Or I should say, would have met, if IN had been allowed to finish the book. She was a Russian jew in occupied France. Worse, she was an intellectual jew. And here we come to the story about the story, as a third of the book consists of INs battle to continue to make a living and also, by her family and friend´s fighting for her survival. This is the more touching, because the entire time you know, that neither Irene nor her husband survived. Their two daughters were hidden and taken care of by friends of the family, needless to say, in dangour of their own lives. During the entire was, and decades thereafter, the daughters held on to the suitcase of their mother, never opening it. I suppose you would not want to be confronted with what you thought was the diary of your mother being hunted to death. I think it was in the 90´s that they actually looked into the suitcase and discovered that it did not hold a diary, but the manuscript of this book, that quickly rose to be a bestseller. And with a story like this, how could it not?