Thursday, 15 July 2021

“Aus einer Kindheit“ - poem

Das Dunkeln war wie Reichtum in dem Raume,
darin der Knabe, sehr verheimlicht, saß.
Und als die Mutter eintrat wie im Traume,
erzitterte im stillen Schrank ein Glas.

from "Aus einer Kindheit", Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)


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Wednesday, 14 July 2021

“Outline, Transit, Kudos“ by Rachel Cusk - review


“Outline“ by Rachel Cusk:

In this first instalment of the trilogy the narrator, a woman writer who flies to Athens to teach a writing course, listens to the people she meets, starting with her neighbouring passenger on the plane, all of whom together weave a tapestry out of numerous little narratives. They talk about their lives, ambitions, desires, failures, their perceptions and their daily lives. Slowly out of these seemingly random narratives themes begin to emerge of loss, of family, of difficult relationships, of how we see or willingly not-see ourselves, of creativity, of life. Written in a fluent, talkative, easy but endearing prose the book is a delight to read and reminds us that in everyone’s life small and big dramas are constantly played out. I loved reading it. 

“Transit“ by Rachel Cusk:

Second instalment of the trilogy. After her divorce the narrator and her two sons struggle to set foot in London and make a new living. As in “Outline", the first installment, she meets many people who all tell her their stories  and slowly weave a tapestry of renewal, of transition, of suffering, of power and vulnerability, of our longing to simultaneously want to flee from and live our lives. The weary and difficult process of reconstructing  and rebuilding the newly acquired house in London is a permanent reminder that nothing is fixed, all is in flux and in transition. I liked it as much as the first book. 

“Kudos” by Rachel Cusk:

The third instalment of the trilogy.

We follow the narrator on a route of visiting, speaking at or being interviewed at literary events in a Europe in transition, the Brexit well underway.  More than the previous books this one is about reading and writing, the world of books and the inevitably accompanying business to sell them. And it raises questions of truth and representation. As in the other books the narrator meets countless people who all have interesting stories to tell. In the end the book makes, or seems to make, a statement on the age-old relationship between men and women, concluding in a strong, dramatic if unsettling image. I found this book the most intellectually interesting of the trilogy. All three are definitely a grand achievement. 

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Friday, 9 July 2021

“Second Place" by Rachel Cusk - review

 “Second Place” by Rachel Cusk:

A woman, interested in art, invites a painter whom she always admired to visit and live in the solitary other house on her premises, the Second Place, situated in a beautiful landscape on a remote coastal marsh region where she lives together with her husband. She hopes that the painter’s artistic vision will somehow alter her life.

Her expectations clash with reality and she is forced to question her perception of her own life, her womanhood, her motherhood and her tender fragile relationships. 

Her trust in art as a transformative power or even a revelatory description of the ineffability of life suffers serious blows and she comes to understand that nothing exists except what one creates for oneself, meaning that one has to say goodbye to dreams. Life is a struggle and not a dance.

Despite these nihilistic realizations the book provides an interesting set, a good warm read and insightful philosophical pondering. 

I admit being slightly disappointed by the limited access one is offered to the painter‘s frame of mind, especially in his artistic approach towards the landscape he’s been put in, for that was what sparked my interest in the book in the first place. But then it’s not my book and not my story and the towering, all encompassing, perspective of the narrative is not his but that of the woman.

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“Bewilderment" by Richard Powers - review

 “ Bewilderment“ by Richard Powers: “Dad! Everything is going backwards.“  This frustrated outcry of a nine-year-old to his father is the ...