There’s just too much material that I would want to read, so these are the latest books I enjoyed reading. Magnus Magnusson, Nick Hornby, Marc Eglinton and Lars Brownworth were my reading victims this time.
Adam Nergal Darski/Marc Eglinton – Confessions of a Heretic: The Sacred and the Profane: Behemoth and Beyond
Let’s get one thing straight, I’ve read many books by musicians, but listing Nergal as an author on this is not correct. He’s the subject of the book and most of the words are his, but he’s an interviewee here, not the writer. This is highly suggested in the promo surrounding the book, but as he himself would say “people should be more critical”. Originally the book was published in Polish, but Eglinton rewrote it in English. In a dense collection of interviews, Adam ‘Nergal’ Darski talks about his life, his views and his music. Nergal likes to shape his own image, which is that of a hedonist, a liberal thinker, a freedom fighter and more often than you think an alpha male. There’s a certain arrogance in this book, but it’s the right sort of arrogance.
As a fan of Behemoth, I found that reading this book made me like Nergal less. Maybe it’s breaking down the hero status, maybe it’s realizing there’s not that many connecting points. I did find my respect for the man growing with every page. The book humanizes him, but also shows that his whole iconoclastic attitude is just an expression. Nergal is no basement dwelling, goat sacrificing mad men, but a thinking, reading, reasoning man trying to find his own way in the world. It’s hard to imagine how his celebrity status works alongside his carreer as a black metal singer, but this book gives you an image. This book is a pleasant read and a lot of fun, but its just that for those interested in the man Nergal. If that is not interesting to you, this book will not make your knowlegde of metal any bigger. No need to pick it up for that reason.
Nick Hornby – Fever Pitch
I love football. I tried to deny it for many, many years, but I have a profound love for the football game. The culture and all its aspects fascinate me. What I lack is true fandom of one team, but once upon a time I had my room walls plastered with posters. That team was Arsenal from London. This is what attracted me to the book by Nick Hornby, an author I have not read that much from this far. This story is his personal recounting of how football had an impact on his life. On him and the way he turned out. From the day his father took him to see Arsenal his fate was sealed. The most boring team in the world defeated Stoke with a boring 1-0 win. It was enough to get hooked. Not even a visit to Tottenham could shake his allegiance.
Hornby uses certain games to illustrate phases of his life. He connects them to where he was at as a person and how it all made him feel. He describes a relationship between his personal well being and the clubs performance through the years, the cynicism that comes with being a football fan and the joy of a championship, It’s a story of becoming an adult, becoming a person and growing up with a passion for football. No one, as far as I know, has ever put the place football has in peoples lives to words as good as Hornby does in this pleasant and enjoyable book.
Magnus Magnusson – Tales from Viking Times
Many know Magnus Magnusson as a Brittish tv-host of certain quizzes. This puzzling fact I found rather interesting about the man who has written extensively about the viking era of the past. Magnusson worked for most of his life as a journalist and translator, but the bulk of what he left behind comes from his origins. The writer was born in the Kingdom of Iceland. His birth was in the time when Denmark and Iceland were struggling to find a solution for the wish for independence. Magnusson grew up in Schotland, but writes about the ancient tales with a special kind of passion in this book.
Ths book deals with the traditional Northern stories and folk tales and is not just a collection of those works. In a fragmentary way Magnusson delivers segments of stories. Accompanying those stories are brief explanations about their roots and settings. This makes this book highly educatonal. The world view of the Northerners was strongly defined by these stories and really are a product of those. Magnusson takes ample time to give the right attention to this. It’s a pleasant collection presented as an audiobook, which is fitting. The saga’s work best when spoken. Even better around a fire.
Lars Brownworth – The Sea Wolves: A History of the Vikings
Writing a history of the Vikings is a dense and complex task. Where to start and what directions to go in? Vikings travelled in all directions and there are many stories to be told. Do you wish to focus on their ferocity and the lasting stamp of fear or on their exploring and progressive nature? It’s a struggle for writers, but Brownworth chose to start somewhere at the start of their written history. In England and in France, where post Roman Empire some sort of civilization is arising. The sails they see at the horizon will test their mettle. Fierce plunderers and raiders arrive, who come from a shrouded history. The roots of the vikings are in the north, in their land that spawned them forth. What really starts the history we want to know, is their first raids.
Brownworth takes the reader down a history that is part fact and part probably fiction, but how else do you tell the tales of Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons? How to speak of Ivar the Boneless and King Rurik of the Rus? The Viking age is an age of dragons and monsters, of worlds unknown and undiscovered land like Iceland, Greenland and Vinland. The story of reconnecting the old empires and finding glory in Constantinopel and Kiev. Brownworth writes in different directions and picks up on other branches in following chapters. This allows him to create a story that is as diverse and spread out as the Viking influence. To really close the story, we end at Stamford Bridge, with the dead of the legendary Harold Hardrada. The sun then sets on the viking age in a beautiful history, really worth your time to read.