Plotting Horse

((3-More-Or-Less Recommendations in-1))
May 19, 2009, 22:22
Filed under: Other Books

Warning: long post ahead! Maybe return tomorrow to read what you will get bored of today? Pretty please.

Update: I finished Enduring Love by Ian McEwan. I heartily recommend it! The plot really kept me reading – and I like keeping reading,* even if it isn’t purely for the words. The author can be long-winded, and frankly, his words are too long… It’s just that I don’t have a post-secomendary edumacation… I find it boring! (Uh -I’m just trying to be funny – Ian McEwan is a very talented man and if you ever get the chance, please don’t compare/contrast the two of us.)



On with the plot! I was so impressed (in contrast with the other McEwan novels I’ve read) with his get-out-the-gate-and-go plot. There’s an air balloon accident right at the start, and then it’s just go go go. I was really so impressed that his technique could have evolved or changed so drastically, that you can imagine my disappointment when I reached the end and there was an appendix, which documented that basically the entire story is real! The main plot is not a plot at all! I don’t mind when writers borrow from real life, in fact I like it, but come on – say it in the beginning, or improve upon the story. He only invented the secondary plot lines. Nice, but still. He just got me all excited and then rolled over and fell asleep.

Let me re-iterate: This is a good book!

Recently I have also read a non-fiction book by Haruki Murakami called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. He is a Japanese writer, of fiction mostly; he is also a marathon runner and a triathlon-ist(?), the book is about running and somewhat about writing novels. I will here admit that I think I am prejudiced against this author because he is Japanese. I just don’t like the baldness, or type of simplicity, that I believe is an Asian trait. I may just have to read a lot more Asian authors to develop this part of my literary palate…

A few things interested me: his focus on endurance, both in running and in writing. It was nice to get a clear discussion of the physical aspects of sitting down and writing fiction. You have to train your ability to focus. It is draining. It is difficult. You must train. This is my new mantra.

Also, Murakami talks about why he started writing novels (he owned and ran a jazz bar before becoming a novelist) and it is fairly bizarre, to me. He says one day he thought, “I could try writing a novel”, he never had any ambitions to be a novelist. Okay, that I don’t get. There is no explanation, no discussion of what it is about writing or about life that makes him want to to do it. This does not resonate. Soon I will write a post about why I write – and it’ll be more in-depth, but not as weird.

Finally, there’s a strange section about what happened when Murakami ran a 62 mile ultra-marathon. Wow, I’ll definitely never do that! After 47 miles he says he “passed through” something – he had pushed himself beyond everything else in his life that wasn’t running (even pain) – his entire meaning of life, purpose or whatever you want to call it, became running, in the moment. He says that when he finished the ultra-marathon he was relieved that he had accepted something risky and had the strength to endure it. He felt a knot, that he never knew was there before, loosen. All this is written in an incredibly transcendent way, but then Murakami goes on to describe how he got “runner’s blues” afterwards – a resignation to running – and he has no idea why! He had no more desire to run, but he doesn’t know why. This was just so unbelievable to me, because what he describes to a T is that he ‘beat’ running (which is life/death: everything is life/death), the relief (undoing of the knot) was relief that he could do it! He beat life/death! Now there is no more meaning in his life, there is nothing to fight for! So why should he go on running? He shouldn’t want to, is the answer. But of course, he still needs meaning, so he keeps looking for it in the same old place. Call me doctor armchair.

Magritte, surrealism

Magritte, surrealism

Murakami’s fiction is interesting; he works with magic realism in his plots, and it is very playful. However, if you’re not into people playing with you, you might not like it. Myself? I’m too paranoid and impatient for that. But, I will read more Murakami, for the simple reason that he writes like no one else, so it’s well worth the frustration and bitterness…

*If you like to keep reading too, if you really really do, then check out Stieg Larsson‘s Millenium trilogy. Just don’t buy the all three books at once unless you’re also really into insomnia, wetting the bed and starving (they’re 500+ pages each). The first one is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; here I have to assert that it is such a shame that the original title was translated to this boring and nondescript one, from the Swedish Män Som Hatar Kvinnor, which literally translates to ‘Men Who Hate Women’. That is a great title! It is great because it stirs sh*t up; it is suggestive; it is daring. I’m going to leave it at that, otherwise I’ll go on and on and give this blog a new feminist focus.

The second book is called The Girl Who Played with Fire (directly translated – yay! But, again, why oh why would they let the first one be a direct echo?). The third is The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Now, again I have to say something because this translation is also bad! The Swedish title is Luftslottet Som Sprängdes, which means something like: ‘The castle in the sky that was blown up’; not elegant, but it could be reworked to mean something similar, atleast.

Here’s the shocker: Stieg Larsson died of a heart attack before the the first novel was even published in Swedish! He was not a part of translating his books! This means that the translators took it upon themselves to change his words! That is sacrilege to a writer.

Anyway, the novels are really entertaining; gruesome, but positive, with lovable characters, if somewhat clicheed. Note: they are not ‘great literature’, but are definitely worthwhile due to themes and entertainment value.

Oh, forgot to tell you – and am too lazy, so here is a summary of the first novel. The second and third are natural sequels.


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