narnia!

nu har jag läst klart min första bok på svenska! det känns bra! det var en barnbok… men jag är fortfarande stolt över mig själv! / i’ve just finished reading my first book in swedish! feels good! it was a children’s book… but i’m still proud of myself!

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jag läste berättelsen om narnia: häxan och lejonet. jag tänkte att det var jätterolig faktiskt. det var en bok som jag ville läsa hur som helst eftersom det är en klassisk bok som man höra så mycket om. men jag måste säga att jag var lite (eller mycket) generad att läsa den på bussen eftersom boken har bilder på många sidor.. / i read the chronicles of narnia: the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe. i thought it was really fun actually! it’s a book i’ve meant to read anyway since it’s a classic. although i have to say i was a bit (or very) embarassed reading a picture book on the bus….

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what i’m reading: nightwoods

yesterday i went to the bookstore to find a book. that’s the approach i have to take when going to the bookstore here, because the english section is (understandably) not so large and if i scout out a particular book, i’ll most certainly not find it (unless it’s a recent bestseller, perhaps).

it’s kind of like netflix in that sense. the swedish version of netflix has a ton of movies, but basically you cannot go to the site and say, ‘oh i want to watch you’ve got mail.‘ because they will not have ‘you’ve got mail.’ or anything else you search for. ever. i have absolutely never searched for a movie and found it on that site. better to peruse about till something strikes your fancy.

so while browsing at the bookstore, i happened upon nightwoods by charles frazier. i wrote a previous post on his novel cold mountain, which i love. love. it’s honestly one of my favorite books – up there with alice in wonderland. i think i was only vaguely aware of his novel nightwoods. or maybe not even. maybe i just know the two words seperately and then together they sound familiar to me. anyway, i read the first page (you can tell *a lot* by the first page of a book) and decided that this would be my next read.

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epigraph to the book:

you can’t even cross a river

without having to pay a toll

[archilochos]

there’s such a mood to that. despondency.

i’m going to stockholm for a visit on thursday, so i’ll probably finish it on the train ride. more to come later..!

what i’m reading: the cove

today i started a new book: the cove by ron rash

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i’ve previously published a poem on here by rash. i think he’s a great writer. his focus is the appalachian region. i’ve only barely begun the book, but i have a business trip to germany this week, so i think it will be a nice travel companion.

amazon summary:

Hank and Laurel Shelton live in a lonely Appalachian valley, on the same broken homestead where their parents toiled and died years before. Locals shun Laurel for her witchy birthmark, and Hank struggles to maintain the farm without a hand he lost in the Great War. When a mute stranger arrives, both (especially Laurel) allow themselves hope for a future outside the cove, away from small-town superstition and wartime fervor. But whose skull is that in the well?

the story starts out referencing the carolina parakeet, which became extinct by the early twentieth century. i had no idea there were ever parakeets in the modern day united states! their population declined as european settlers inhabited the land, deforesting their homes and hunting them as pests.

how very sad. it’s such a loss.

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foto: “Conuropsis carolinensis (Carolina parakeet)” by James St. John 

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today is especially good for reading, because it’s been snowing. and raining. and snowraining. and rainsnowing. all day.

i’m reading the house of the spirits by isabel allende for a book club i’m in that meets this thursday. fantastic book by the way. i’ll post on it later (probably)..

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i started this book club last january. there are three of us who come to every month’s meeting, and then maybe two or three new faces show up each meeting. it’s very informal. we meet at a coffee shop in town and talk about how we found the book.

a few of the books we’ve read so far: shantaram, the bell jar, animal farm, after dark, mr. penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore, and the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy

last month we read the curious incident of the dog in the night. someone gave this book to me for christmas, so i suggested it for the club. i actually really enjoyed this book. it’s a first person narrative of a fifteen-year-old boy named christopher who is inferred to have asperger’s syndrome.

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christopher loves math and science. at one point, he introduces us to ‘the monty hall problem,’ which i will now leave you with to unsettle all the logic you thought you held.

Cold Mountain

A Swedish friend recommended I read Cold Mountain (..it should have been the other way around, right?).

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Brief synopsis: The story takes place during the Civil War in North Carolina. Inman, a Confederate deserter, journeys on foot from the coast to his home in the mountains where his love interest, Ada, lives. Meanwhile, Ada is learning how to survive in a war-ravaged world.

When I first finished the novel, I had mixed feelings. I enjoyed isolated stories and themes, but actually reading through the novel felt a bit heavy because it’s so descriptive.

Within a couple days of finishing this novel, I realized how completely immersed I was in this world Frazier created; I could not escape it. This world, these characters completely consumed my thoughts. I reread the novel after watching the movie and fell in love with it – I appreciated the pace, let the imagery sink in, thought on the ideas…

What I absolutely love about this novel is Ada’s evolution when’s she’s forced from an easy, high society life to the harshness of merely surviving.

After her father died, a certain amount of resentment came upon her when she thought that a measure of applied knowledge in the area of food production and preparation would stand her in better stead at that particular time than any fine understanding in the principles of perspective in painting. All her life, though, her father had kept her back from the hardness of work.

Ruby helps Ada in this journey, and through her Frazier presents such a beautiful portrayal of living on the earth and with the earth – knowing the names and uses of the plants around you, knowing the stars and directions, appreciating the patterns of life, taking notice of how nature behaves..

The crops were growing well, largely Ruby claimed, because they had been planted, at her insistence, in strict accordance with the signs. In Ruby’s mind, everything – from setting fence posts, making sauerkraut, killing hogs – fell under the rule of the heavens. Cut firewood in the old of the moon, she’d advised, otherwise it won’t do much but fry and hiss at you come winter. Next April when the poplar leaves are about the size of a squirrel’s ear, we’ll plant corn when the signs are in the feet; otherwise the corn will just shank and hang down. November, we’ll kill a hog in the growing of the moon, for if we don’t the meat will lack grease and pork chops will cup up in the pan. Monroe would have dismissed such beliefs as superstition, folklore. But Ada, increasingly covetous of Ruby’s learning in the ways living things inhabited this particular place, chose to view the signs as metaphoric. They were, as Ada saw them, an expression of stewardship, a means of taking care, a discipline. They provided a ritual of concern for the patterns and tendencies of the material world where it might be seen to intersect with some other world. Ultimately, she decided the signs were a way of being alert, and under those terms she could honor them.

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Here’s a book discussion from Diane Rehm: http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2003-01-15/readers-review-charles-fraziers-cold-mountain

Also love the movie. My favorite scene takes place during a church service. The congregation is singing, “I’m Going Home” when news spreads that the war has broken out. Such a dramatic scene that perfectly captures the shock and stupid excitement for the war. The singing is absolutely stunning; it’s a tradition known as “shape note singing” or “sacred harp.” Here’s a clip of the actual choir first warming up then performing the tune featured in the movie:

Here’s a short interview with the author, Charles Frazier, giving a bit of historic and familial background for the novel:

If you haven’t read Cold Mountain, I highly recommend your doing so. Give it a chance to invite you into its world.