Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Birds by Tarjei Vesaas

Hypnotically simple, subtle story of a 37-year old man with mental issues who lives with his spinster older sister on the edge of a lake in Norway.  She knits sweaters to earn their keep and he does nothing, at first.  The novel's point of view is entirely his, Mattis', and though he is intellectually challenged, the moral acuity of his emotional intelligence is breath-taking.  He ends up becoming a "ferryman" as much in his own imagination as in the real world -- his one ferrying job brings a lumberjack to the isolated cabin Mattis lives in with his sister Hege, and Hege and the lumberjack become lovers, creating an insoluble difficulty in Mattis' deceptively simple existence.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart

started weakly but I grew to like it.  much more somber book from him.  a lot of talk about expensive watches.

from Dwight Garner's NYT review:  [GS] is is light, stinging, insolent and melancholy, to borrow the words the critic Kenneth Tynan kept on his writing desk to remind himself how to sound.