Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Books I read in 2014

Another year has gone and it is time for my annual reading list. Once again I’ve read (or re-read) 40+ books throughout the year, mostly novels and short stories, but also children’s books, manga, biographies and other non-fiction. Most of the books I’ve read in the original language (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, English, French and a bit Japanese – no German books this year, sadly), but the list also includes translations of books from Spain, Finland and Russia as well as the more complicated Japanese books.

My favourite in 2014 was without doubt Madeline Miller’s “The Song of Achilles”. In this, her first novel, she retells Homer’s “Illiad” in the voice of Patroclus, Achilles’ highborn companion and lover, as the novel is composed as an autobiography. The love story between the degraded Patroclus and his sworn brother, the demigod Achilles, is brilliantly written and very moving and the depiction of the Trojan War is heart breaking.

I would also like to call attention to Pat Barker’s “Regeneration” trilogy, especially volume two, “The Eye in the Door”. These novels are fantastic and I was surprised to learn that the author is a woman, as both the tone and the subject of the books are very masculine. The trilogy consists of historical novels on the First World War, especially the effect that the war had on British soldiers.

During 2014, I re-read a lot of books written by old favourite authors of mine, like the Danish H. C. Branner and the Norwegian Johan Borgen, but I also got a new favourite and that is the Japanese female author Banana Yoshimoto. She writes about urban existentialism and the exhaustion of young Japanese trapped between imagination and reality in contemporary Japan. She does this in a very subdued and - to me - Japanese way with recurrent use of dreams and sense impressions. So far, I have written three books by her, “The Lake” being my favourite, and I can’t wait to read more.

With Miller, Barker and Yoshimoto being my favourites in 2014, it is safe to say that it was a year of female authors for me. Unfortunately, I didn’t get anything published myself, at least not in my own name, as I’ve been very ill all year, but I expect to finish a new short story collection in 2015. Anyway, here is my complete reading list and I hope it will inspire you to read some books yourself:

Baggesen, Jens Immanuel: “Epigrammatisk Billedbog”
Barker, Pat: “Regeneration” (Regeneration trilogy, vol. 1)
Barker, Pat: “The Eye in the Door” (Regeneration trilogy, vol. 2)
Barker, Pat: “The Ghost Road” (Regeneration trilogy, vol. 3)
Bishop, Michael: “Med lidt hjælp fra vennerne og andre science fiction-historier”
Borgen, Johan: “Blåtind”
Borgen, Johan: “Elsebeths Hjerte og andre nye noveller” (“Nye Noveller”)
Borgen, Johan: “Far og Mor og Os”
Borgen, Johan: “Jenny og påfuglen”
Borges, Jorge Luis: “Ficciones”
Branner, H.C.: “Ingen kender natten”
Branner; H. C.: “Legetøj”
Branner, H. C.: “Røde heste i sneen”
Branner; H. C.: “Søskende”
Branner; H. C.: “Thermopylæ”
Burroughs, William S.: “Junky”
Carey, Peter: “Jack Maggs”
Geneser, Kenneth Maximilian: “Petrarcas hemmelighed”
Geneser, Kenneth Maximilian & Lars Holger Holm: “Gotisk”
Geneser, Kenneth Maximilian & Lars Holger Holm: “Gotiske forvandlinger/Gotiska förvandlingar”
Genet, Jean: “Querelle de Brest”
Ginsberg, Allen: “Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems”
Kawabata, Yasunari: “Senbazuru” (“Thousand Cranes”)
Kingsley, Charles: “The Water-Babies”
Langberg; Jesper: “Ikke et sekund spildt”
Lyng, Ajatsa: “Jin Boys vol. 5 - The Mariposa Effect”
Malamud, Bernard: “A new Life”
Miller, Madeline: “The Song of Achilles”
Mínervudóttir, Guðrún Eva: “Yosoy”
Murakami, Haruki: “After the Quake”
Murakami, Ryu: “In the Miso Soup”
Nagel, Carsten: “Passionsfrugter & al slags vejr”

Nakamura, Shungiku: “Junjo Romantica”, vol. 16
Niemi, Mikael: “Populærmusik fra Vittula”
Pelevin, Viktor: “The Helmet of Horror”
Rifbjerg, Klaus: “Nansen og Johansen”
Weinreich, Torben: “Kun en tiøre! – og andre sære, sjove, og sørgmodige tekster for børn fra 1800 til 1900”
Weston, Marta Cullberg: “Ditt inre centrum. Om självkänsla, självbild och konturen av ditt själv”
Wiedemann, Finn: “I grunden har vi det jo godt”
Yamada, Taichi: “Strangers”
Yoshimoto, Banana: “Kitchen/Moonlight Shadow”
Yoshimoto, Banana: “N*P”
Yoshimoto, Banana: “The Lake”

Friday, January 02, 2015

New Year’s Resolution 2015

Happy New Year, everybody. I hope you’ll have a great year. Now is the time for New Year’s resolutions and after having spent all of Christmas (expect for the 24th when my daughter was at home) as well as New Year’s Eve on my own, I have a great one for you: spend more time with friends and family members who are ill or disabled. It’ll be very much appreciated as ill and disabled people are often isolated from the rest of the world. At least that’s what has happened to me.

It is no secret that I’ve been disabled since 2006 due to a slipped disc and Modic changes in the bones in my spine. In 2013 it got even worse as my knees were affected by both a meniscus tear and really bad osteoarthritis where the cartilage has deteriorated in my left knee. I’m in extreme pain and I can’t walk without the aid of a walking stick or a rollator and even then, I can only walk a few steps at a time. For the past year I’ve been confined to my house, only being able to venture outside when I could afford a taxi as I can’t even walk to the bus stop anymore and I can’t ride a bike or drive a car.

The pain is horrible, but the isolation is worse. Ever since I fell ill and especially after I lost the ability to walk without aid, friends and family have scurried away. I’ve had a lot of friends abroad, but now that I can’t travel and visit them anymore, instead of coming to Denmark to visit me for a change, I just don’t hear from. As for my Danish friends and family, I’ve spent less than TWO days with them last year, or rather 41 hours divided between four friends and two family members. One family member only spent one hour with me during the entire 2014 and one friend only spent two hours, which is NOTHING compared to the rest of the year where I sit at home on my own.

Now wait a minute, someone will perhaps object. What about that daughter of yours? Well, she is a teenager and as such she goes to school and hangs out with friends and we don’t see much of each other although she lives at home. Furthermore she is at the age where parents are hopeless so it’s difficult to have a conversation with her or get her to help out at home. And that’s another problem. Apart from a small pension, I have a cleaning lady cleaning coming over an hour a week, but that is all the help I get. I’m expected to go grocery shopping and do the cooking and washing and everything else on my own and I just can’t. Asking friends and family for help is no solution as either they won’t do it or they bitch about it, so I’ve stopped asking.

My situation is not going to change in the near future. My back will never improve and I’ll only be able to walk again if I get new knees, but here in Denmark the doctors don’t like to replace knees on people who are under 60, so I have a long wait ahead of me. It would be a lot easier if I had someone to talk to, a visit to look forward to or somebody taking me out somewhere, but I haven’t and they don’t. And I can’t even go out and find new friends as I can’t get out! But if YOU know someone ill or disabled who needs help or just a bit of cheering up, please don’t hesitate to do so. Remember, that although we can’t walk or whatever anymore, we are still the same. We are still your friend, sister, cousin etc. and we still want to be part of your life. Please, be part of ours!


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