Min Kamp 3 – 5/5 Stars
In this next installment of the series we find our dauntless hero Karl Ove, now at 12 beginning to discover himself as a little person. Considering that this novel starts off with our young protagonist being super mad about moving to a farming region on an island and subsequently breaking his family’s tv and then lying about it, I most definitely connected with this one a lot. The bulk of the rest of the novel splits its time between asking and answering the questions of what do adolescent boys do with the scrambled mess of a brain in a world that loves them and fears them in equal measures. Constantly getting in trouble for the poor decisions he makes in clear mind and being obsessed with girls in his class, Karl Ove finds himself trying to face the world as an ok person, with no special skills or features, competing against every other boy in his class for the attention of the girls he really really really wants to know more about but doesn’t know what or why he wants their attention, what he would do if he got it, and what’s he supposed to do when he does got it.
I was talking to my girlfriend about this book and this is the one that scares her. It scares because she thinks boys are super weird and gross (guilty, of course) and that this would simply become an ode to masturbation.
It’s not an ode to masturbation, and that’s a very good thing. This book is best when we’re reminded of the unexceptional life Karl Ove has and how fragile and scared he is about everything. It’s not an innocent or perfectly succinct book but it’s an honest one where nothing too terrible happens.
Today I wrote Nothing – 3/5 Stars
This is a strange Russian book about life in Soviet Russia told from someone who did not seem to fit the agenda of the Soviet state. And I go back and forth about whether or not I will be into books like this. It’s journals, it’s poems, it’s short writings about life and weirdness and whatever this is about life in that state. I asked for it for Christmas less because I was dreadfully interested in it but because if I was gonna get free books, I should try out things I wouldn’t otherwise dive headlong into.
It’s not uncurious. I think the best thing for you is to look at some examples from it.
“Blue Notebook #10”
There was a redheaded man who had no eyes or ears. He didn’t have hair either, so he was called a redhead arbitrarily. H
He couldn’t talk because he had no mouth. He didn’t have a nose either.
He didn’t even have arms or legs. He had no stomach, he had no back, no spine, and he didn’t have any insides at all. There was nothing! So, we don’t even know who we’re talking about.
We’d better not talk about him any more.
If I was thinking about this piece as something to consider in a class, purely on its own terms, I would consider the question of what does it mean for us to observe someone else and try to understand anything about them. According to this, there’s a tension between what we label as something and the reality of that thing. In fact, the very fact of our questioning, naming, labeling, and discussing any other person is called entirely into question.
I think this first piece of the whole collection can work to show us the level of observation and analysis he’s looking to provide on any given piece. However, that also shows the form he wants to take to implement this analysis, so if that’s not for you, skip it.