Favourite Lines: ‘Heart of Man’ by Jón Kalman Stefánsson

Dear readers,

I recently finished reading Heart of Man by Jón Kalman Stefánsson, translated from the Icelandic by Philip Roughton, and wanted to share my three favourite lines with you.

 

“Death is neither light nor darkness; it’s just anything but life.” – page 1

“Thus it was, the mast stuck in the seabed, the sea refusing to release its prey.” – page 175

“How dangerous it is to let yourself dream of passion, of freckles and eyes, let yourself dream instead of concentrating on the struggle for life.” – page 185

 

I love reading translated fiction. There’s something about how translated sentences are constructed, how they reveal hints about a foreign culture, that gives them this inexplicable beauty. I recently realised that most of my favourite books were not originally written in English. More on this in a future post.

What are your favourite books, or lines from books? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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Thursday Quotables: “Behind the Beautiful Forevers”

Hi everyone,

I’m taking part in “Thursday Quotables” this week! It’s hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies, and it’s basically an activity that gets readers and writers to share their favourite quotes from the books they’re currently reading. All the contributors then link up to create a treasure trove of priceless quotes, and a whole new to-read list.

books0212tharoorThis week I’m reading “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” by Katherine Boo. It’s a beautifully written book of non fiction that explores life in a Mumbai slum, and it has some incredible quotes, particularly in Abdul’s dialogue. Here is one of my favourites, where Abdul is convincing his parents not to marry him off:

“I hear of this love so often that I think I know it, but I don’t feel it, and I myself don’t know why,” he fretted. “These people who love and then the girlfriend goes away-they cut their arms with a blade, they put a cigarette butt out in their hand, they won’t sleep, they won’t eat, they’ll sing-they must have different hearts than mine.”

He told his parents, “You don’t hold a hot iron in your palm, do you? You let it cool. You think on it slowly.”

I haven’t quite finished reading it, but I’m definitely planning on writing a review once I’m done. Let me know in the comments which quotes from which books have stayed with you long after you finished reading them; I’d love to hear them!

Yours sincerely,

Tamara Drazic

Book Review: “A Visit From the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan

a-visit-from-the-goon-squad

Think old school rock n’ roll. Think corrupt music industries, secrets, bands, friendships, family relationships, and the strange interconnectedness that music brings us. “A Visit From the Goon Squad” is best served in an off-beat laneway cafè with a side of soft electric guitar.

I haven’t read many books that have affected me quite like “A Visit From the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan did. If you haven’t read it, I highly suggest that you go out and pick up a copy right now. If I had to say what the book is about, I’d say it’s a satire on the music industry, but there is so much more to it than that. It reads almost like a collection of short stories; I’d heard about this before I started reading it, and it kind of put me off. I love reading individual short stories, but the thought of reading a whole collection back to back kind of exhausts me. Despite this, I thought I’d give it a go, and I’m so glad I did.

Each of the segments pretty much stands alone. So much so that the opening story, “Found Objects”, was published in The New Yorker as a short story back in 2008. When you read the book all the way through however, it really does feel like a novel. The stories interweave in just the right way – not too much, not too little. The crossovers are hidden in the minor characters, as the individual stories slowly reveal each character’s backstory until you realise how they’re all connected.

The book starts out following Sasha, a kleptomaniac who works for Bennie, a music producer. The subsequent story is then told from the point of view of Bennie, and so begins an intricate web of character relationships that spans years into the past and future, all the way until the epic, spec-fic ending. I’ve never come across a novel that brings together different genres into a literary work so flawlessly.

“A Visit From the Goon Squad” has a kind of melancholic, almost doomsday mood to it, but this is balanced out by the sharp humour and truly believable and lovable characters. The characterisation is so subtle but so precise, and when I finished reading the last page I felt like I’d lost touch with my childhood friends.

If you like stories about artists, families, music, and human nature, you should definitely add “A Visit From the Good Squad” to your to-read list.

Yours Sincerely,

Tamara Drazic