quarta-feira, dezembro 24, 2008

Stage play "Isto não aconteceu"/"This did not happen" by Álvaro Cordeiro

Paulo Vaz has staged another Play, this one in comical vein.

Álvaro Cordeiro is much more interesting when he uses the screwball mode. When he goes for more philosophical/introspective plays the audience stumble upon some difficulties. His plays with the burlesque mode turned on are easier to stage. When the introspective mode is on the hurdles that Paulo Vaz has to overcome amount to a lot. Sometimes those hurdles are almost insurmountable and the play doesn’t really succeed on all levels.

This play, staged by Paulo Vaz and Vicente Morais (plays Pedro in the TV-Series for children “A Ilha das Cores”), is one of the most successful by Álvaro Cordeiro that I had the grace of watching. Downright funny. It works as a sort of pastiche to the American movies and plays of the thirties. All in all it’s a combination of three vectors: Capra, Howard Hawks/John Huston and Michael Curtiz. The comical vein comes from the Capra mold (“It Happened One Night”), the “thrillerness” from Howard Hawks/John Huston pot (“The Big Sleep”/“The Maltese Falcon”) and the “adventureness” comes from Michael Curtiz. This play brought me back a few years to the times at the Cinemateca Portuguesa. I went and watched it a second time, so that I could pin-point the fine points that I’d missed previously. While watching the play I kept thinking about the movie “It Happened One Night”. This is a good thing, because it’s not an easy task to emulate to today’s frame of reference the rhythm and nonsense that pervades and dominates this particular movie. On this and other aspects the play is entirely successful.

This play is about a group of grifters, who want to rob a very notorious piece of jewellery. The leader of the gang is a chess player and as a byplay he also recites Portuguese poetry (Fernando Pessoa, etc). The effect is quite hilarious.

The plot takes place mainly in a joint owned by a simple woman, whose only aim in life is to get by, that is, she needs to meet the day-to-day bills in order to survive. Having to make ends meet is no trivial task. Genoveva is her name and she’s played by Ana Correia. There’s also another regular to the joint, that spends the days playing chess with himself and questioning the basic truths of life (Armando played by Paulo Martins). He keeps jotting down the “lines” that are worth remembering…. In my opinion these two are the most effective and consistent characters in the play. The interplay between them on stage is quite up to the mark. They seem to be having a blast! Their performance on stage rubbed off on the audience, that kept on laughing. I had someone sitting behind me that was on the verge of having a fit…

The set was quite impressive coming from a non-professional theater group. And it was really funny. Miguel Almeida did also a great job as Hugo, and as I stated before I thought the relationship between Genoveva and Armando was absolutely wonderful, as did most of the audience to judge from their laughter.

By cleverly using the clichés of the screwball comedy genre, the play becomes something else that fully works.

I hope that Álvaro Cordeiro's next play will be in the same vein.

In a range from 1 to 6, I’d give it a solid 5 just for the sheer joy.

Eindrücke des Buches "Verblendung" von Stieg Larsson

Stieg Larsson hat hier etwas Unterschiedes geleistet, aber nicht in literarischer Hinsicht.

Es gibt ein paar Dinge, die mir nicht gut gefallen haben. Zum Beispiel, die Zufälle, die der Handlung des Buches “hilft”.

Zentraler Zufall des Buches, d.h., die Kleinigkeiten, von der das ganze Buch abhängt.

Der Zufall ist Folgender: Der Herzanfall von Henrik Vanger hat der Handlung sehr gut gepasst. Ohne diese erzählende Künstlichkeit wäre das Buch nicht möglich! Daher nach meiner Meinung ist die Handlung kunstgemäss. Es fehlt dem Buch einen anderen Autor, den eine andere Schreibfähigkeit hätte. Ein Beispiel: “Cecilia Vanger ist auf vielen Bildern zu sehen. Sie scheint zwischen verschiedenen Gruppen hin und her zu wechseln. Nicht im Geringsten. Es waren zwei Personen, und zufälligerweise waren sie nie auf demselben Foto zu sehen […] Henrik hatte den Unterschied zwischen den Schwestern wahrscheinlich die ganze Zeit erkannt, aber für Mikael und Lisbeths Augen war die Ahnlichkeit so gross gewesen, dass sie davon ausgegangen waren, es müsse sich um ein und dieselbe Person handeln” (Seite 510). Das ist nur einen Zufall des Buches, den der Handlung des Buches gut gepasst hat. Es gibt mehrere Beispiele mehr. Darum schreibe ich über eine konstruierte Handlung, die nicht durchsichtig für den Leser ist. Es fällt auf, dass wir ein Buch lesen… Folglich habe ich ihm nur 4 Sternen gegeben (maximum 6 Sternen). Man muß sich schon im klaren darüber sein, daß Larsson nur Krimis im herkömmlichen Sinne schreibt. Wenn man zieht es vor, Krimis mit einer literarischen Neigung zu lesen, muss man einen anderer Autor auswählen ( z.B. Heinrich Steinfest). Larsson ist kein Literat!

Wirklich ein mittelmässiger Krimi. Man kann das eine oder andere kritisieren. So zum Beispiel der gar streng oben erwähnte konstruierte Aufbau der Handlung. Vielleicht liegt dies daran, dass das Buch “Verbledung” heisst. Das Ziel ist die Leute zu bleden und zu verwirren, und um das zu machen, muss man über etwas Ausgesprochenes schreiben. Einige der Abschnitten sind sehr anschaulich, z.B. was Lisbeths Erfahrungen mit dem Anwalt betreffen. Konnte der Autor ohne diese Details diese Wirkung auf uns auslösen? Vielleicht nicht. Alles hängt vom Ziel des Autors ab.

Was ich auch störend finde ist die Tatsache, dass der Hauptcharakter ( Kalle) mit jeder Frau ein Verhältnis hat. Das muss wirklich nicht unbedingt sein…

Bottom-line: Hochspanned und flüssig zum Lesen, aber es fehlt dem Buch viele Dinge.

segunda-feira, dezembro 15, 2008

More on Rilke

Answer to Wolfgang Ritter (now in English in order to have a greater audience):

The themes in Rilke are very varied: the mirror, the unicorn, the doll, the death of a young woman, animism (all things are possessed with inner “life”), death evolving like a tumor inside us, the rose, etc. Everyone that has read Rilke with some depth can always find something very particular that has some kind of special meaning. The themes I mentioned above are more or less the ones that are commonly associated with Rilke. The one that speaks volumes to me is when he writes about the Rose. He has one poem that for me is one of the most beautiful that I’ve ever read.

What makes Rilke such a great poet? What is it that distinctly defines his craft? I don’t have the answer. What I do know is that Rilke is quite unique. When reading Rilke we look for something that he’s not elsewhere, but we know that we can find in his writings.

Rilke has a “special” language all of his own which seems to open another way of seeing und understanding the world. His nature is one that reflects upon life and art in a way that it’s quite distinctive. When I read Rilke I feel myself transported into another world. The way he perceives each object and the way he writes about it is something that permeates us. We feel somewhat different by reading his writing. How does he achieve this result of strangeness? I think it’s due to his way of constructing sentences, his word-ending inventiveness, the transformation of adverbs into adjectives and vice-versa, sometimes the use of adjectives as nouns. As anyone who has tried to produce some form of translation of his work, it’s quasi-impossible to achieve a result that it’s at least equivalent in terms of meaning to the original. The best is to read his work in the original, but even in the original sometimes it’s difficult do discern the true meaning of what he’s trying to convey. Sometimes there’s meaning within meaning, producing a Pandora-effect that it’s quite mesmerizing. That’s his technique to produce the other-worldly effect that I mentioned above.

I read a few months ago a bilingual work of the “The Sonnets to Orpheus” (“Os Sonetos a Orfeu” in Portuguese, “Die Sonette an Orpheus” in German) with a translation from German into Portuguese by José Miranda Justo. I quite appreciated his efforts. His solutions would not be necessarily mine, but who would claim to produce the perfect translation of a work by Rilke? Not me! Sometimes I was hugely surprised with the choosing of words. The Sonnets are written in a light, flowing, yet terribly condensed language of incredible musicality and verbal playfulness. An example (VIII, 1, pag. 26):

“Nur im Raum der Rühmung darf die Klage
gehn, die Nymphe des geweinten Quells,
wachend über unserm Nierderschlage,
das er klar sei an demselben Fels […]”

And the poetic translation (pag. 27):

“Só no espaço da celebração é permitido à queixa
entrar, a ninfa da fonte chorada,
Cuidando do nosso precipitarmo-nos,
Para que seja claro […]”

In Portuguese this construction sounds somewhat odd. My own would look something like this:

“Apenas no reino da celebração pode o lamento
funcionar, a ninfa da fonte que chora,
olhando pela nossa precipitação,
de modo a que seja claro na mesma pedra […]”

For those of you who read Portuguese the difference is clear cut. I’m not stating that my translation is better. It’s just different. I’ll let you be the judge of the merits of each translation. I wouldn’t dare translating this into English. Does anyone want to have a go…? I can post your efforts in my blog.

I’ll leave here the 8th sonnet in its full splendor:

Nur im Raum der Rühmung darf die Klage
gehn, die Nymphe des geweinten Quells,
wachend über unserm Niederschlage,
daß er klar sei an demselben Fels,
der die Tore trägt und die Altäre.
Sieh, um ihre stillen Schultern früht
das Gefühl, daß sie die jüngste wäre
unter den Geschwistern im Gemüt.
Jubel weiß, und Sehnsucht ist geständig,
nur die Klage lernt noch; mädchenhändig
zählt sie nächtelang das alte Schlimme.
Aber plötzlich, schräg und ungeübt,
hält sie doch ein Sternbild unsrer Stimme
in den Himmel, den ihr Hauch nicht trübt.

Please don't send me emails, due to the fact that I don't have time to read them. If you wish post them on the blog. Tnks.

segunda-feira, setembro 15, 2008

Unglücklich das Land, das Helden nötig hat: "Leben des Galilei" by Bertold Brecht

"Galilei: Ja, wo ist sie jetzt? Wie kann der Jupiter angeheftet sein, wenn andere Sterne um ihn kreisen? Da ist keine Stütze im Himmel, da ist kein Halt im Weltall! Da ist
eine andere Sonne!
Sagredo: Beruhige dich. Du denkst zu schnell.
Galilei: Was, schnell! Mensch, reg dich auf! Was du siehst, hat noch keiner gesehen. Sie hatten recht!
Sagredo: Wer? Die Kopernikaner?
Galilei: Und der andere! Die ganze Welt war gegen sie, und sie hatten recht. Das ist was für Andrea! Er läuft außer sich zur Tür und ruft hinaus: Frau Sarti! Frau Sarti!
Sagredo: Galilei, du sollst dich beruhigen!
Galilei: Sagredo, du sollst dich aufregen! Frau Sarti!
Sagredo dreht das Fernrohr weg: Willst du aufhören, wie ein Narr herumzubrüllen?
Galilei: Willst du aufhören, wie ein Stockfisch dazustehen, wenn die Wahrheit entdeckt ist?
Sagredo: Ich stehe nicht wie ein Stockfisch, sondern ich zittere, es könnte die Wahrheit sein."

In "Das Leben des Galilei" by Bertold Brecht

I watched this play in 2006 in Lisbon at Teatro Aberto starring Rui Mendes as Galileo. There was a repartee between Galileo and Arturo Ui that I'll never forget. Right at the beginning, Galileo and Arturo have two simple, and unforgettable lines. When Andrea remarks, "Infeliz a terra que não tem herois" ("Unhappy the land that has no heroes"/"Unglücklich das Land, das keine Helden hat!") Galileo retorts, "Infeliz a terra que necessita de herois" ("Unhappy the land that needs heroes."/"Unglücklich das Land, das Helden nötig hat.") And from Arturo Ui, comes the searing "Porque apesar do mundo ter parado o cabrão, a puta que o deu à luz está novamente com o cio" ("For though the world has stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again."/"[...] Der Schoß ist fruchtbar noch, aus dem das kroch." taken from the play "Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui").

I was absolutely mesmerized! I was so mesmirized that I had to buy the play in German which I did two years later (it was out of stock on Amazon at the time). The version of "The Life of Galileo" that the Teatro Aberto presented in 2006, with the reduced title by which it is better known, is based on the second of the three versions.

The general belief in a geocentric solar system was based on Aristotlean writings and Ptolemeic astronomy and was the generally accepted science when the Church was first formed. The Pythagoreans had proposed the idea of a heliocentric solar system around 600 B.C., but it was not accepted science at that time, nor six centuries later. The geocentric idea influenced early Christian theology, as did the writings of the ancient Greek philosophers. Unfortunately, what the Church did was change the Greek idea of seeking truth and knowledge through intellectual thought and science into seeking truth and knowledge within the scripture only. And thus, the Dark Ages began. Anyway, the heliocentric theory was revisited by astronomers and mathematicians throughout the next two millenia, until it was finally accepted, and through no simple means. Overcoming an authoritative figure that has huge political influence and control over many of the universities is no small task, not to mention the mathematical, scientific, and equipment challenges. the trouble with the heliocentric model at the time of galileo's discoveries was that there was no coherent theory of gravity until newton's publication of principia in 1783. given that matter tends to "fall" toward the centre of the earth, it's quite intuitive to theorise that the earth is the centre of the universe. Although galileo's evidence for a heliocentric model (ie. phases of venus, topography of the moon and satellites of Jupiter) was quite compelling , in the absence of a theory of gravity it wasn't complete enough to debunk the geocentric model. In other words, the objections to heliocentrism weren't necessarily ignorant and arrogant ; there was also a scholarly debate that, had merit on either side.

Two points should be made here:

1) Galileo's telescopic obvservations had nothing whatsoever to do with his conviction on heresy charges. They had to do with his publication of a book called "Dialog on the Two Chief World Systems," in which he was judged to have violated the pope's order to give a fair account of both the heliocentric (Sun-centered) and geocentric (Earth-centered) systems, a concept he personally submitted to the pope before going ahead with the project.

Note that Galileo was not prohibited from discussing the virtues of the heliocentric system. The concern was that the system was unproven, and that certain passages of scripture, in their literal sense, suggested the geocentric theory. Cardinal Bellarmine, who was one of the principal officials in the affair, acknowledged in writing that the Church's rejection of heliocentricity was provisional, and based on the scientific data available at the time, and might have to be changed in the future if further evidence emerged . And in fact, we now know that many aspects of the Galilean-Copernican theory were false, and very much so. In some ways, the Ptolemaic system was more correct, including variable orbital velocities, something eliminated from the Copernican system.

2) Copernicus was never persecuted for his book promoting the heliocentric theory, and his book was not censored by the Catholic Church, circulating freely throughout Europe for many decades before Galileo's run-in with the pope. Copernicus, by the way, dedicated his book to the pope, and he himself was a cleric with minor orders. After Galileo's conviction, only one sentence was stricken from the work.

Personally, I'm thankful for the Church's scientific brilliance and its contribution to humanitarian thought and advancement. I'm also thankful for some of the philosophical and spiritual wisdom that comes from religion. But the Catholic Church wasn't alone in suppressing scientific thought, and not all evil and closed-mindedness comes from religion. Many an authoritarian atheist has succeeded in suppressing and killing millions and squashing ideas that challenge their authority. And then there are always the economic interests that suppress or support scientific findings.

The Catholic church at the time was in the tricky position of wielding both secular and spiritual authority. Although interpretation were made they also tended to believe that the very best sources of information (whether biblical, philosophical or practical) were ancient. Unfortunately a lot of it was also inaccurate but people still tended to believe it *and* allowed it to shape their perceptions. What complicated things was the prominent faith component of Christianity that made doubting such ancient wisdom sinful and dangerous. I recommend people read a Beastiary to see what kind of mind-set they were working from at the time. Galileo was one of those people that allowed others to look at the universe with fresh eyes and thus encourage modern, scientific thought. It is also interesting to note that Galileo wrote Sidereus Nuncius in New Latin rather than Medieval Latin. This meant that a wider audience was reached, rather than just the clergy or the rich well educated upper classes. Everyday people could read his work, which made Galileo one of the first science communicators of the age, and this loss of control of the masses frightened the Catholic church nearly as much as the knowledge contained within his work.

Copernicus's work was actually used in the development of the Gregorian calendar. the Catholic Church had not been vehemently opposed to science for centuries. In the 13th century, there had been many disputes about the relationship between those that wished to follow the natural philosophy of Aristotle and those who rigidly stuck to scripture to explain everything under the sun and the idea that scientific speculation and its logically based predictions were futile as God could anything he wanted at any time. However, William of Ockham produced a brilliant solution to the problem, he declared that God was indeed omnipotent and could do anything he wanted but he had also given man the logical mind to predict these outcomes even though they were inevitably fallible. It lead to a divorce of faith and reason - Science was in man's attempt to guess the will of God but it was not an attempt to declare that will so don't persecute them as they're only guessing. Early Scientists worked under this restriction for centuries, by modern standards it seems ridiculous but it gave early scientists plenty of leeway. All they had to do to avoid persecution was explain that their work was only speculation and dedicate it to the Pope. Galileo choose not to do this, instead he mocked the arrangement and this was how he fell foul of the church. It was an error as it did not advance the cause of science, he wasn't in a position to mock his critics as he did not have a convincing proof of his heliocentric system, he didn't even accept Kepler's groundbreaking work. It takes time for new scientific ideas to break through and heliocentricism wasn't widely accepted until after Newton.

Bottom-line: What really infuriated the Pope was that he used the telescope to inspect the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel a little more closely, and saw that Michael Angelo had depicted God running away with his trousers down. It's in the second from last "panel" as you look from the entrance of the chapel. Needless to say, he flew into a rage and blamed Galileo for inventing such a blasphemous object. "It is not for mankind to dwell upon images of God's buttocks" he is reported to have said. However, he unable to do anything about it as Rome was in the middle of a ladder shortage, so the ceiling had to remain as it was. So Galileo was made a scapegoat.

quarta-feira, setembro 10, 2008

Spiritual Poetry: "Hölderlin - Poemas" by Friedrich Hölderlin, Paulo Quintela (Trans.)

(My own copy)

If Hölderlin did it why can’t I do it too? Here it goes:

Yes, we need some good poets
And I think we all know its
Something we’re lacking….
My mind I am fracking
But still failing to see
how wishing makes it be.
They fuckitup,
We suckitup.

When I was young, appendectomy was done under local anaesthesia. I was so afraid, I might end up in a situation like that, that I memorised some of Hölderlin's poems in a Portuguese translation by Paulo Quintela, as ways of coping with my fear. I never had an appendectomy, but I still recite in my mind some of those long ago learned Hölderlin's poems when I have to sit in a dentist's chair...
When I was young I had this feeling of uselessness of having a book once I read it, so often I passed them on to my friends (for good). Nowadays I give away "bad" books, if I happen to read one (last one was "Fire and Fury" by Michael Wolff - looked so fascinating with Trump on the cover looking like a weasel that I just had to buy it. I tried reading it, I really did, but couldn't finish it. I'm ripe for a piss take from all of my fellow blog readers then for having tried this stupid action... It turns out the book is just a sitting on a fence money grabber.)

(Bought in 2008)

I’ve got about physical 5000 books now (about 2/3 already read once or twice, or more), waiting for my retirement years. Maybe 60-80? If I don't make it, waiting then for my grandchildren, yet to be born...And a about 500 movies to re-watch: Pedro Almodovar, John Ford, Howard Hawks, Woody Allen, Chaplin, The 37 Shakespeare BBC movies, and more.  If I go Alzheimerish, my kids are already instructed to keep my collection (books and movies) around me, whatever happens.

(Rilke's dedication to Hölderlin)

Some famous writer (Mark Twain? or was it E.M. Forster in Aspects of the Novel?) once said that if your memory is bad enough you never need to buy a second book. If kids are re-reading books, re-reading may be a good thing in various ways, apart from just saving money and shelf-space. One is that they may be learning that what happens in the plot is not everything: on a second reading you know that, and can pay more attention to the characters and how they speak and act, to how the plot is built up, and how the characters and plot are presented.

(Paulo Quintela's dedication to his brother)

The problem with most of contemporary poetry like my own attempt above is that they are increasingly minimalist. Two weeks ago I went to a car showroom to have a look at the new Hybrid Toyota, and needed to use the gents while waiting. There was hardly anything there but dim, hidden lighting and no sign of taps or plugs etc. There were squarish chunks of white ceramic stuck to the walls with nothing to indicate whether you wash your hands on them or pee on them? What the Ladies would have been like I dread to think. What's wrong with basins with chrome taps and plugs, plus loos with levers for flushing?

Nabokov said that reading only happens the second time; the first is merely finding out what happens. Back to re-reading Hölderlin. 

sexta-feira, agosto 22, 2008

Book Review :"The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett

I usually don’t bother with writing reviews of Books I found horrible. This time I’m going to make an exception, because this book is simply awful! I just read it because lots of people insisted…

A few pointers why this book should be avoided like the plague:

1. The way the children from the Middle ages talk seems far-fetched and incongruous; the book is set in the middle ages for pit’s sake!

2. Some parts of the text repeat itself and there’re frequent backtracks, which don’t let the story flow properly;

3. The plot jolts a lot and is very predictable;

4. Some parts are downright funny in a bad sense. Example: One of the characters in the book lost an arm due to some misfortune. Later on we see the same character while standing picking up a book and browsing it. We’re talking about books that in the middle ages were huge… It would be nice to know how one could do that with just one arm. Maybe he uses his tongue to help pick up the book...;

5. The cries full of panic from hundreds of men are not heard from other people that are not far from the scene;

6. Soaking wet persons don’t get noticed from other persons on the street;

7. Stylistic speaking, if one can call it that, it’s very badly written; chopped and disconnected sentences, and so on;

8. Characters: we cannot “see” inside their heads. They are just mouthpieces; very one-dimensional. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell them apart. Talk about blending in…

If I were to dig deep enough I’m sure I’d be able to find more examples. Those are just the ones I remember at the moment.

I wonder whether the book was written by Follett or by a Ghostwriter or maybe by three or four writers all together contributing to the greater good….

Stay clear from this one. The chore is not worth it, and I’m talking about the 1000 pages of it. It took me almost 10 days to finish the all thing, but it was very instructive. It tells us that sometimes some things should not see the light of day.

quarta-feira, maio 28, 2008

Roger Jon Ellory - http://rjellory.blogspot.com/

I’ve just heard from Roger Jon Ellory that two of his books will be translated into Portuguese : "City of Lies" and "A Quite Belief in Angels" in Editorial Presença. These are indeed good news! It’s about time the buzz spreads virally… I know for a fact that many people are eager to have his books in Portuguese. Well, the wait is about to be over! I just don’t know the release date. As soon as I get it, I’ll post it here.

I’ve posted two comments on the blog of Roger Jon Ellory and Roger was kindly enough to post a reply to my first comment:

4798567004&page=1 (two separate lines: you'll have to concatenate both to get the full address )

0762424247 (two separate lines: you'll have to concatenate both to get the full address )

Feel free to share your thoughts.



Das Gedicht "ISTO" von Fernando Pessoa


Dizem que finjo ou minto

Tudo o que escrevo. Não.
Eu simplesmente sinto
Com a imaginação
Não uso o coração.

Tudo o que sonho ou passo,
O que me falha ou finda,
É como que um terraço
Sobre outra coisa ainda.
Essa coisa é que é linda.

Por isso escrevo em meio
Do que não está ao pé,
Livre do meu enleio,
Sério do que não é,
Sentir, sinta quem lê!

Fernando Pessoa


Sie sagen ich fälsche oder lüge

Alles was ich schreibe. Nein.
Ich fühle ganz einfach
Mit der Phantasie
Nutze das Herz dabei nie.

Alles was ich träume oder erlebe,
Was mir fehlt oder beendet
Ist wie eine weitere Terrasse
Die Anderes bedeckt.
Das ist das wirklich Schöne.

Deswegen schreibe ich nur halb
Von dem was von mir entfernt
Frei von meinem Einfluß
Wissend was es nicht ist,
Empfinden soll der, der es liest!

(Übersetzung von Cristina Figueiredo)

terça-feira, maio 06, 2008

2008 TBR pile

By popular request I've posted here the books that I’ve already bought and are on the pile to be read during 2008 (off of the top of my head):

1 – The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

2 – City of Lies by Roger Jon Ellory

3 - A Quite Belief in Angels by Roger Jon Ellory

4 - A Quite Vendetta by Roger Jon Ellory
(“Ghostheart” I’ve already read. My God. I was totally flabbergasted by the book. If I have time I’ll post something about this book. It’s worth writing about it. For those who have read “Candlemoth”, this one is one notch better. I think I gave it 6 out of 6 stars)

5 – Die Fährte by Jo Nesbo

6 – The Man in the Moss by Phil Rickman

7 – The Chalice by Phil Rickman

8 - The Cold Calling – Phil Rickman

9 – Verblendung by Stieg Larsson

10 – The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

11 – Woken Furies by Richard Morgan
(Before I start this one I still have to buy and read the 2nd volume “Broken Angels”)

12 - Emissaries From the Dead by Adam Troy-Castro

13 - The Crocodile Bird by Ruth Rendell

14 - Tree of Hands by Ruth Rendell

15 - A Guilty Thing Surprised by Ruth Rendell

16 - Summer of Night by Dan Simmons

17 – The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon
(I’ve been hearing wonderful things about this book. I finally came round to get it. I also intend on buying “The Adventures of Kavalier & Klay”)

18 – Haus ohne Spuren by Viktor Arnar Ingólfsson

19 - The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Third Annual Collection by Gardner Dozois

20- The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Fourth Annual Collection by Gardner Dozois

This is not a comprehensive list… I’d like to have your TBR-lists to post here as well.

Eine verbesserte Version eines Gedichts von Fernando Pessoa

Cristina Figueiredo hat mir eine verbesserte Version der Übersetzung eines Gedichts von Fernando Pessoa geschickt (siehe mein Post 03.01.2007).

„Um Gross zu sein, sei ganz.
Nichts übertreibe und nichts von dir verleugne!
Sei alles in jeder Sache,
Lege alles was du bist in das kleinste das du tust.
So glänzt in jedem See der ganze Mond.
Er leuchtet, denn er steht hoch droben."

(Para ser grande, sê inteiro: nada
Teu exagera ou exclui.
Sê todo em cada coisa. Põe quanto és
No mínimo que fazes.
Assim em cada lago a lua toda
Brilha, porque alta vive.)

Vielen Dank Cristina!

"Candlemoth" von Roger Jon Ellory

Der Weiße, Daniel Ford, sitzt im "Death Row". Da er seinen besten Freund Nathan geköpft hat.

Die Kindheit im Süden der USA, die Freundschaft mit Nathan, die Rassenunruhen, die Angst davor, als GI Joe an die front in Vietnam geschickt zu werden. Er erzählt von seinen Lieben, von Eifersucht und Angst. Und von der Warnung, die ihm zwei Durchschnittsgesichte Männer überbracht haben: Wenn Fords Freund seine Finger nicht von der weißen Tochter eines reichen Staatensenators lasse, werde er sterben.
"Candlemoth"ist ein hervorragendes Roman. Seine künstliche, klare Sprache, seine Spannung, seine literarischen Schilderungen von ersten Lieben und durch nichts zu lebhafter Freundschaft kann ihn weit über die Normalproduktion von Krimis trennen. Ich kann mich nicht erinnern, je ein so fesselndes Buch über das Leben im "Deathrow" gelesen zu haben. Auch über die Verbidung zwischen Männern ist schon lange nicht mehr so schön geschrieben worden.
Alles zusammen ergibt ein Buch, das ich mit 5 von 6 Sterne bewertet habe. Ich habe schon die anderen Bücher bei Amazon bestellt:

- Ghostheart
- City of Lies
- A Quite Belief in Angels
- A Quite Vendetta

sábado, março 29, 2008

Top books read in 2007

In January I was asked to write a list with my Top 20 of books read in 2007. Finally I came round to do it. I decided to write one in English (TOP 20, because I read more…) and another one in German (TOP 10 because I read less :)). In parallel I also wrote a list of the let-downs in English and in German…

Here they go :

TOP 20 in English (out of 45 read):

The Blind Man of Seville - Robert Wilson (6*)
A Walk Among the Tomb Stones – Lawrence Block (6*)
Anna’s Book – Ruth Rendell (6*)
The Wine of Angels – Phil Rickman (5*)
The Devil’s Star – Jo Nesbo (5*)
Two for the Money – Max Allan Collins (5*)
The Cure of the Souls - Phil Rickman (5*)
The Snack Thief – Andrea Camilleri (5*)
The Lamp of the Wicked - Phil Rickman (5*)
Echo Park – Michael Connelly (5*)
The Naming of the Dead – Ian Rankin (5*)
The Extremes – Christopher Priest (5*)
Sailing to Sarantium – Guy Gavriel Kay (5*)
Lord of Emperors - Guy Gavriel Kay (4*)
The Oxford Murders – Guillermo Martinez (4*)
The Bridesmaid – Ruth Rendell (4*)
The Prayer of the Night Shepherd (4*)
The Remains of an Altar – Phil Rickman (4*)
A Demon in My View – Ruth Rendell (4*)

“Let-downs” in english:

The Babes in the Wood – Ruth Rendell (3*)
The Dead Place – Stephen Booth (2*)
Glasshouse – Charles Stross (2*)
Never End – Ake Edwardson (2*)
Fleshmarket Alley – Ian Rankin (2*)

TOP 10 in German (out of 26 books read):

Das fliegende Klassenzimmer – Erich Kästner (6*)
Endstation für Neuen – Maj Sjöwall/Per Wahlöö (5*)
Das Spiel der Patriarchen – Andrea Camilleri (5*)
Das Medaillon - Andrea Camilleri (5*)
Der Mann auf der Balkon - Maj Sjöwall/Per Wahlöö (4*)
Alarm in Sköldgatan - Maj Sjöwall/Per Wahlöö (4*)
Und die Grossen lässt man laufen - Maj Sjöwall/Per Wahlöö (4*)
Verchlossen und verriegelt - Maj Sjöwall/Per Wahlöö (4*)
Kakerlaken – Jo Nesbo (4*)

Enttäschungen auf Deutsch:

Menschensöhne – Arnaldur Indridason (3*)

Written originally in Portuguese there was nothing worth mentioning.

"Hinter fremden Türen" escrito por Kristin Marja Baldursdóttir, Uma "Gapy Hauptmann" islandesa, mas infinitamente melhor...

Uma mulher-a-dias em crise de identidade ou uma Cinderella islandesa…

Alguns leitores assíduos deste blog exigiram-me que escreve-se também em português… Não é fácil agradar a gregos e a troianos!

Cá vai então a minha opinião sobre o livro da “filha do Baldur” ”Atrás de portas alheias” (tradução da minha lavra J ) na língua de Camões. Não é provável que este livro alguma vez venha a ser vertido para a língua de Camões, daí que eu deixe aqui a minha contribuição para que o possam querer ler. Pode ser que algum dia algum editor português o queira publicar. É mais provável que venha a ver a luz do dia em inglês do que em português. Aviso à navegação: existem alguns excertos do livro em alemão (antes em alemão que em islandês eh eh eh), mas com uma tradução livre em português para aqueles que não dominam o Alemão. Tanto quanto sei nenhum livro da Baldursdöttir foi alguma vez traduzido para inglês. Mas dado o sucesso que tem tido em toda a Escandinávia e na Alemanha, não é difícil prever que esteja na calha uma tradução para a língua de Shakespeare.

Kolfinna Karlsdottir (filha de “Karl”), a personagem principal, apenas almejava uma coisa: chegar aos 80 anos e ter gozado uma vida boa [página 315:”(…)Das war das Einzige, wonach sie sich sehnte. Achtzig zu werden und zu einer jungen Frau sagen zu können: Mein ganzes Leben ist schön gewesen.”].

Vamos começar pelo princípio. Esta personagem islandesa, prestes a fazer 30 anos, muda-se de armas e bagagens para casa da sua mãe, após ter sido despedida e de ter simultaneamente terminado a sua relação de 5 anos com o seu companheiro, que era um bêbado de primeira apanha.
Frustrada e envolta em apatia passa parte dos seus dias a vegetar em frente à TV e a outra parte a trabalhar como mulher-a-dias em casa de 4 personagens: uma velha senhora, um advogado de sucesso, uma famosa cantora de ópera e um investigador. Os estilos de vida, a riqueza e o “savoir-vivre” destes quatro personagens fascinam-na e após algum tempo “atrás destas portas alheias” ela acredita ter encontrado a Boa-Vida. Sob a influência dos seus ricos patrões ela começa a mudar a sua aparência, começa a ocupar-se de assuntos relacionados com dinheiro e cultura. O único problema é que continuava a faltar uma peça importante neste arsenal de mudança: ainda não acreditava em si mesma. Fundamental para quem quer dar a volta por cima. Nesta altura penso que adivinho o que vos vai na alma. Mais um livro de “gajas”. Nada mais falso! Gaby Hauptmann está a léguas de distância deste universo…

Kolfinna Karlsdottir sente que foi extremamente deprimente crescer sem ter qualquer tipo de talento. Este livro mostra, entre outras coisas, que é possível escolher outro caminho, tornando essa escolha também nossa. A procura da Sorte, do Sentido das Coisas, estão contidas numa obra cheia de humor e vida. Também se pode discernir uma crítica feroz à sociedade islandesa no meio de tanto humor (vide meu “post” anterior sobre o escritor Arnaldur Indridason, também islandês). Achei muita piada a alguma passagens, em que a autora pretendia retratar algumas das idiossincrasias da cultura e das gentes islandesas. Vejam-se as seguintes passagens :

Página 94:

““Du hast irgendwann gesagt, dass das hier ein Saustall sei. Kannst du mir sagen wieso?”
Sie starrte ihn mit offenem Mund an, rief sich tasch ihre früheren Begegnungen ins Gedächtnis und fühlte sich verlegen und beschämt.(…) Erst wollte sie die Worte, die ihr damals in ihrer Wut herausgerutscht waren, möglichst herunterspielen, aber dann fiel ihr der Gestank wieder ein und wie sie gegen den Brechreiz hatte ankämpfen müssen.
“Du pinkelst daneben”, sagte sie grimmig.”

(“Disseste algures que isto era uma pocilga. Podes concretizar?”
Ela lembrando-se dos seus encontros anteriores e sentindo-se embaraçada e envergonhada olhou para ele espantada. Primeiro quis minimizar o mais possível as palavras que lhe tinham escapado antes num acesso de fúria, mas depois notou o pivete e a luta que teve de travar com a náusea.
"Mijas ao lado," respondeu ela sombriamente.

Se calhar não é só na Islândia…! Agora já se vendem umas luzinhas que podemos colocar no bordo da sanita e que evitam este tipo de inconveniente… eh eh eh

Página 116:

““Sie hatte schon öfter davon geträumt, einmal Zug zu fahren, in einem Zug zu essen und zu schlafen, und phantasierte sich in einen der Spielzeugzüge hinein””

(“Ela tinha sonhado já com o facto, de andar pela primeira vez de comboio, comer e dormir num comboio e imaginar-se num dos comboios-brinquedo”).

Porque razão sonha a Kolfinna com comboios como se nunca tivesse visto nenhum? Porque de facto ela nunca viu comboios ao vivo. Na Islândia não há linhas de comboio! (In Insland gibt es keine Einsenbahnen!!)

Página 156 e 157:

““Já, Kolfinna, jetzt stehen die Frühjahrsarbeiten im Garten an, nicht mehr und nicht weniger, ich kann dir gar nicht beschreiben, wie wundervoll es ist, bei solchem Wetter früh aufzuwachen und gleich in den Garten zu gehen. Bist du nicht auch glücklich, dass nun endlich der Frühling da ist?”
“Ist der Goldregenpfeifer schon da?”
“In den Nachrichten wurde davon noch nichts gesagt.””

(“Sim, Kolfinna há trabalho a fazer no quintal, nem mais nem menos, e eu nem consigo descrever, quão maravilhoso é, levantar-me com este tempo e ir para o quintal. Não estás satisfeita que a Primavera tenha finalmente chegado?”
“O xxxx (pássaro) já voltou?”
“Sobre isso ainda não apareceu nada nas notícias”.)

Não faço ideia do que seja um “Goldregenpfeifer” (tenho de ir ao dicionário…), mas é um pássaro que volta à Islândia quando a Primavera está à porta. O que é estranho é que isto seja objecto de um qualquer Telejornal…
Para qualquer islandês que se preze, mais importante que o início oficial da Primavera é a chegada do “Goldregenpfeifer”. Assim que estes pássaros são avistados na Islândia, são sempre notícia em todos os Telejornais. É preciso não esquecer que os Islandeses vivem debaixo de neve grande parte do ano.

Página 183:

“Sie blickte ihn nachdenklich und mit offenem Mund an und beschloss, ihm nicht auf die Nase zu binden, dass sie hauptsächlich Katastrophenmeldungen und die Klatschspalten las. Die Nachrichten im Fernsehen sah sie sich nur ganz selten an, weil sich da meist alle zum Fisch drehte.”

(Ela olhou para ele pensativamente e de boca escancarada e decidiu não lhe dizer que o que ela realmente lia eram notícias sensacionalistas, assim como a coluna dos mexericos. As notícias na TV só via de vez em quando, dado que a maior parte das vezes eram sobre Peixe”)

Como é fácil de entender, a principal e quase única indústria islandesa é a pesca. Uma grande percentagem de islandeses trabalha na indústria pesqueira. Qualquer assunto relacionado com a pesca é quase sempre abertura de Telejornal devido à grande dependência económica da Islândia relativamente à pesca.

Tenho de reconhecer que fui também surpreendido pelo final desta obra. Não apenas pelo final, mas também por causa dele, vale a pena definitivamente ler este romance. Tenho de agradecer ao Wolfgang ter-me indicado este livro como obrigatório. Mostra uma tendência nítida de fugir aos estereótipos do romance escandinavo (policial e “mainstream”, que inunda as estantes de qualquer livraria alemã que se preze…)

Fiquei com vontade de ler os dois primeiros livros escritos pela Baldursdóttir: “Kühl graut der Morgen”(Manhã cinzenta fria) e “Möwengelächter” (Riso das gaivotas). Vou encomendar e lê-los durante as férias, pois merecem ser degustados com tempo e com bom tempo.

Não se surpreendam que a Islândia possa apresentar autores de qualidade. Já teve um prémio Nobel da Literatura : Halldór Laxness. Este sim tem imensas traduções em várias línguas, inclusive em português (“Gente Independente”). Pessoalmente encontro bastantes semelhanças estilísticas entre a nossa Lídia Jorge e o Halldór Laxness. Mas isso fica para um outro “post”…

Arthur C. Clarke

(Margarida com alguns dos livros do Arthur C. Clarke...)

Tanto que eu poderia dizer/escrever. Os livros: “Childhood’s End”, “The Fountain’s of Paradise”, “The Nine Billion Names of God”. Ler estes livros com 15 anos de idade transformou-me…Felizmente a biblioteca do British Council estava na altura recheada de bons livros para quem se queria iniciar nas leituras em Inglês, já que não havia de facto alternativas (ainda não havia Amazon…). De tudo o que li o livro que permanecerá para sempre comigo é definitivamente o “Childhood’s End”. Ainda recordo a sensação que foi ler este livro na altura. Fiquei completamente de cara à banda. Nunca tinha lido nada assim. Fiquei completamente “agarrado”. Quis logo ler tudo o que ele tinha escrito, mas foi mais fácil pensar do que fazer. Só alguns anos mais tarde me foi possível ler quase toda a sua obra.

Na altura fazia parte de uma tertúlia onde havia basicamente três facções: os “heinleinianos, os Clarkeanos e do Asimovianos…:) Durante muito tempo “estive” sempre com o Clarke (mais tarde tive um “desvio” para o Heinlein).
Ainda bem que o Arthur C. Clarke colocou os seus pensamentos e aspirações em papel e que os partilhou connosco. Se tal não tivesse acontecido, o mundo seria bastante mais pobre. Boa viagem e que venhas um dia a conhecer os “Nove milhões de nomes de Deus”, que encontres as “Fontes do Paraíso”, que o teu Caminho para o outro lado do céu seja suave e que possas descobrir no Fim da Infância que exista um Universo cheio de maravilhas.
Se não tivesse lido Arthur C. Clarke provavelmente não teria escolhido o caminho profissional que escolhi e a minha vida teria sido com toda a certeza diferente.

quarta-feira, março 12, 2008

Retro Science Fiction : Fuzzy Creatures by H. Beam Piper

Piper belonged to a school of writers, who didn’t question the notion that Man was the best thing that had happened to the Universe. His was a literature of high organization and obscure knowledge. He also believed in the reconciliation of problems by logic, common sense or compromise, and in the last resort, by justifiable force.
The three fuzzy books that I’ve just read (“Little Fuzzy”, “Fuzzy Sapiens”, “Fuzzies and Other People”) have a coziness that is lacking in the rest of Piper’s work. The coziness consists of a creature twelve twenty-four inches tall, a ball of fur with large brown eyes and lacking all malice. Compare with the Moties from the book by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle “The Mote in God’s Eye”… Quite different, but the intrinsic qualities of both books are not much different! The same voiceless characters, also quite a number of main figures, usw. All in all I much prefer the Fuzzy creatures than the Moties. The Moties are quite laughable in terms of character building for a start. Sometimes they look like some guys I know … eh eh eh. Not much alienness!

For me the Fuzzies can be seen as symbol of conscience, of lost innocence. The struggle to prove and then assert the sapience of these creatures lifts these trilogy above the pulp fodder that was published at the time.

A long time ago I had read the first two books of the trilogy (the third was not available to me at the time). Now I decided to re-read the complete trilogy “The Complete Fuzzy”, which comprises the three books.

Unfortunately these novels cannot withstand the test of time. By today’s standards this trilogy is just a bunch of drivel. There are too many main characters, and they all seem the same. Even the Fuzzies seem the same, that is, it’s very difficult to tell them apart. The characters read like some 50’s pulp fiction romance (“Astounding Magazine”, “Amazing Stories” and so on) and behaved quite unlike anyone I know, despite the fact that the books were written in the 60’s. Maybe it's simply a reflection of the time when the novel was written. Still I got a kick while re-reading these trilogy. I still have fond memories of reading them in the 80’s. I’ve always been a sucker for retro-SF-books…The test of time is a bitch. The eyes that read those books back then are not the same that have read them now. That’s the problem. For those of you who like to dwelve into retro SF, I think this trilogy is going to be a safe bet. For those who don’t stay clear.

quarta-feira, fevereiro 20, 2008

Die Krimis von Arnaldur Indridason. Island Rules!

Zum Starten muss ich schreiben, dass er im Moment einer meiner Lieblingsautoren ist!

Ich hatte immer Neugier auf die Entstehung des Nachnames “Erlendur”. Da ich dieser Blog schreiben mochte, musste ich es finden… Daher habe ich das Internet nachgeschlagen, und es hat sich herausgestellt, dass das Wort “Erlendur” auf Isländisch “Fremder” beudetet. Guter Tipp einen Blog zu schreiben!

Bislang hat Arnaldur Indridason sechs Romane verfasst, in denen die Arbeit der Kriminalpolizei im Vordergrund steht (das Buch “Frostnacht” habe bis jetzt nicht lesen können). “Menschensöhne” (2005) handelt vom rätselhaften Tod eines psychisch Kranken. Im Lauf der Ermittlung finden die Kriminalbeamten Erlendur und Sigurdur Oli heraus, dass die Gründe dafür in der Vergangenheit des Mannes zu suchen sind, den von seinen ehemaligen Mitschülern in der Grundschule sind aufffalend viele nicht mehr am Leben. In Nordermoor (2003) steht der Mord an einem älteren Mann ebenfalls mit dessen Vergangenheit in Verbindung, und es stellt sich heraus, dass die Vergewaltigungen, die er in jüngeren Jahren begangen hat, Folgen in der Gegenwart nach sich ziehen. In Todeshauch (2004) wird zu Beginn des Romans ein Skelett in einem Reykjaviker Neubaugebiet entdeckt; das Buch ist auf zwei Zeitebenen angelegt und schildert sowohl die Ereignisse in der Gegenwart als auch das Schicksal einer Familie in der Vergangenheit. “Engelsstimme” (2004) spielt sich in einem renommierten Hotel in Reykjavik ab. Der Portier wird ermordet im Weihnachtsmannköstum aufgefunden, und die Romanhandlung erstreckt sich über den Zeitraum der letzten Woche vor Weihnachten. Der Roman Kältezone (2005) beginnt mit einem Skelettfund in einem See südlich von Reykjavik, und die Fäden der Handlung reichen bis in die Zeiten des kalten Kriegs, der aufgrund der strategischen Lage der Insel auch in Island Auswirkungen hatte. Darüber hinaus veröffentlichte Indridason zwei Romane, die keine Polizeiromane sind, nämlich den Thriller “Gletschergrab” (2005) und “Tödliche Intrige” (2005), geschrieben in der Tradition von “Hardboiled Fiction” und Film Noir (Raymond Chandler, usw.), die nicht sehr interessant sind.

Erlendur ist ein Isländer vom alten Schlag, der zu einem Fremden in einem Land geworden ist, wo traditionelles isländisches Essen von Leuten in amerikanischen Cowboy-Kostümen servirt wird; ein Provinzler in der Stadt, ein Single in einer Welt, wo neben beruflichen Kontakten die Familie im Mittelpunkt steht. In ihm liegen die alte und die modern Zeit im Widerstreit: das Einzelwesen und die Familienbindung, das Volksverbundene und das Fremde. Erlendur ist zwar alleinstehend, aber er sehnt sich nach einer Familie und versucht immer wieder, für sich und seine Tochter Eva Lind so etwas wie ein Familienleben zu schaffen, aber sie ist rauschgiftsüchtig und deswegen hat ihre Beziehung keine Chance auf Normalität. Was mir bei Erlendur gefällt, ist seine gesellschaftliche Perspektive und seine Persönlichkeit.

Die Spannungen zwischen Erlendur und seinem Kollegen Sigurdur Oli stellen eine weitere treibende Kraft in Indridason Romanen dar. Erlendur ist in seinem Denken durch und durch isländisch; er hat nur einen Realschlussabschluss und generell ist seine Einstellung zum Leben negative, was sich wiederum aus seiner Vergangenheit erklärt, die nach und nach in den Romanen aufgerollt wird. Der jüngere Sigurdur Oli hat eine Neigung für alles Amerrikanische und ist versessen darauf, Karriere machen. In Nordermoor wird es so beschrieben:
“Er trug eine neuen Anzug. Er war gross gewachsen, sah gut aus, und hatte ein amerikanisches Diplom in Kriminologie. Er war alles, was Erlendur nicht war, modern und durchorganisiert”.
Oli steht für die moderne Zeit, für Urbanität und kosmopolitisches Danken; Erlendur hingegen ist den Ursprüngen der Tradition dem Land und allem, was isländisch ist, verhaftet. Die Anspielungen zwischen den beiden werden sublimer, kultivierter und gleichzeitig witziger; diese antagonistischen Strukturen gewinnen auch eine dynamischere Funktion innerhalb der Erzählung. Später kommt noch Elinborg als dritte im Team hinzu. Sie hat in gewissem Sinne eine Pufferfunktion zwischen den beiden Männern, d.h., sie ist eine warmherzige Frau, die nicht zuletzt als excellente Köchin von allen geschätzt wird; sie kann wie Erlendur mürrisch und kurz angebunden sein, vertritt aber wie Sigurdur Oli auch modern Anschauungen.

Arnaldur Indridason zeigt in seinen Romanen aber nicht nur in einen Querschnitt durch die isländische Gesellschaft auf. Nach meiner Meinung liegt der Hauptgrund für den Erfolg der Bücher des Indridason daran, dass er ein Kriminalschriftsteller ist. Ich lasse von diesem Einblick in die modern isländische Gesellschaft faszinieren, die einem durch die Lektüre der Bücher und die Bekannschaft mit Erlendur und seine Kollegen vermittelt wird. Was Island betrifft, steht aber auf jeden Fall fest, dass diese literarische Produkt der isländischen Gesellschaft jetzt auch im Gegenzug Einfluss auf sie nimmt.

Mein Vorschlag: Lesen Sie Arnaldur Indridason. Sie werden nicht von diesen Bücher enttäuscht!

Was mich betrifft ist “Todeshauch” das beste Buch Erlendurs (ich habe ihm 6 Sterne gegeben!).

Im Buchstapel liegt ein anderes Buch von einem anderen isländischen Autor, die ich mir vornimme, zu lesen: “Hinter fremden Türen” von Kristin Marja Baldursdóttir. Später teile ich mit, was ich darüber denke.

sexta-feira, fevereiro 15, 2008

Warum skandinavische Krimis lesen?

Ich habe die skandinavischen Schriftsteller gerade erst für mich begonnen zu entdecken. Seit 2 Jahren lese ich scandinavische Literatur. Ich bin ehrlich gesagt angelsächsische Bücher, die ich in den letzen Jahren verschlungen habe, müde (ausser Michael Connelly und Phil/Will Rickman…:)). Und obwohl ich nie wirklich den Ausgang deren Krimis vorhersehen konnte, hatte ich oft in der Mitte eines Buches das Gefühl zu wissen, wie es weiter ausgeht. Und das ist ja kotzlangweilig!

Abgehen von Schreibstil der einzelnen Charaktere hat mir bisher an den skandinavischen am besten gefallen, dass sie mir ein mir unbekanntes Land, dessen Leute und Landschaften vorgestellt haben. Als wäre ich mit dem Auto durch das Land gefahren. Einfach mal etwas Neues erleben!

Mein erster Schwedenkrimi war natürlich ein Buch des Henning Mankell. Ich mag einfach die Stimmung, die er in seinen Büchern gebildet hat. Ich habe schon alle seine Bücher gelesen. Ich habe mir vorgenommen, eine ganzheitliche Rezension aller Reihe von Mankell zu schreiben, leider hatte ich bis jetzt keine Zeit es zu machen. Zum Glück muss ich nicht ganz von vorne anfangen. Ich habe mir schon ein paar Notizen gemacht…

Kurz darauf habe ich auch die ganze zehnbändige Kommissar-Beck-Reihe von Per Wahlöö und Maj Sjöwall gelesen. Ich empfehle, die 10 Bücher in der richtigen Reihenfolge zu lesen. Trotz ihres Alters (die Reihe war zwischen 1965 und 1975 geschrieben) hat diese Krimireihe auch heute nichts an Faszination verloren.

domingo, janeiro 20, 2008

Mythical Agents of Destiny: "Altered Carbon" by Richard K. Morgan

If they want you, sooner or later they’ll scoop you up off the globe, like specks of interesting dust off a Martian artefact. Cross the gulf between the stars, and they’ll come after you. Go into centuries of storage, and they’ll be there waiting for you, clone-new, when you re-sleeve. They are what we once dreamed of as gods, mythical agents of destiny, as inescapable as Death, that poor old peasant labourer, bent over his scythe, no longer is. Poor Death, no match for the mighty altered carbon technologies of data storage and retrieval arrayed against him. Once we lived in terror of his arrival. Now we flirt outrageously with his sombre dignity, and beings like these won’t even let him in the tradesman’s entrance.

In “Altered Carbon” by Richard K. Morgan

Cyberpunk, a historic sub-genre that was out of date by the time most people had started using Windows, cool! That said, Gibson was better than ever with the near future Blue Ant trilogy, and Stephenson is off doing whatever caught his attention, before hopefully returning with some more Shaftoes and Waterhice, I mean houses. That said, Gibson's The Peripheral offered some fascinating directions, but were too interesting for that hoary old sub-genre title. I've always thought of the Altered Carbon books as SF pulp really and the TV version just confirms it for me. When discussing Gibson and PKD I view their work as literature because they're tackling big issues and are using sci-fi as the frame. Altered Carbon doesn't really have any big issues and is more concerned with telling a rollicking adventure. Shame really. I'm a bit more stocked for Duncan Jones' 'Mute' which I think may well be more in-tune with William Gibson's motifs.

One example of something interesting here is how the moral economics of violence changes when bodies can be considered disposable and replaceable. In Kovac's world bodies are only truly disposable for a hyper wealthy elite, but still murder effectively becomes a property crime and torture can not involve irreversible physical damage for instance. The flip side of this is that the reader has a different awareness of what its like to live in an irreplaceable body; it reinforces disgust at physical violence. So on the level of ideas this is not boring at all, and while Morgan isn't the greatest stylist he is at worst competent and at best rather good at keeping things rattling along. Of course you can assert that authors X and Y kind of did the same thing, but within the limits of genre fiction it is an interesting area to explore and there's no harm in exploring it.

(Bought in 2008)

Having said that, if I’m bored by something, that doesn't make it boring by definition. And my personal reaction is not in itself interesting or informative. It's just one more opinion, and we don't seem to be running short on opinions. There's one factor that it's really hard to ignore. Kovacs is supposed to be the ultimate super-soldier, able to needlecast halfway across the universe and immediately blend in to any situation using his "total absorb" skills. A near-perfect chameleon, so the books have us believe. So why the hell does he blunder around like a total meathead, getting into random scraps with strangers and pissing everyone off like a moody teenager ?

Rickard K. Morgan's writing - but much of what he's written (with Kovacs anyway) is based on concepts that have been around for quite a while. He definitely puts a nice spin on them - but I really don't think that he matches William Gibson for innovation or exploration of new concepts. I mean we're talking about the man who coined the phrase 'cyberspace' - in 1979! (I think - too sleepy to go start searching...so am sorry if that year is wrong) However, I haven't read anything by Mr Morgan except for his Kovacs novels, so I am open to being proven wrong. I'll look up some of the titles mentioned among the comments on this review. But I believe (based on what I have read of Morgan's) that there are a number of writers who have been turning out similar stuff that is equally as well-crafted, if not better in some ways. (Neal Asher is the first to spring to mind...but there are a number of others, both contemporary and also not so).