The Reading of Books #22

I read some great books last weeks, so I list them here. Books that I read are byt Daniel Ekeroth, Herman Brusselmans, Simon Vestdijk and Barack Obama

Barack Obama – Dreams from my Father

source: goodreads.com

Barack Obama wasn’t always president of the United States, he also once upon a time tried his hand at writing and this book was the result. Published in 1995, it shows the quest Obama had himself to find out who he is and where he is from. To find out who his father was and what kind of man he was to become in the future. His complex relationship with race and the way that stuck in society. Now, this is before the white house, before the big fame and all that stuff. The attempt was genuinely to give something to other black people who were struggling with their identity. It says a lot about the man, who I happen to admire. Sure, there’s plenty of stuff to say now about how wrong I am at that, but it doesn’t change a thinf or me. Specially after reading this book.

The writing style of Obama is very much filled with anecdotes. Going from a general point to a personal experience is something he’s known to do in his speeches as well and in these stories it works just as effectively. Even though here and there he does write things that might not have been to smart for his carreer, overall he’s the man we know with an open heart and open mind, trying to receive whatever comes his way and understand the world around him. The story is well written and cohesive and soon you forget who is telling you this story. The personal tone makes it very accesible and direct, involving the reader easily. The audiobook got special praise, mainly because the reader is the author himself. Obama is a born speaker, so letting his voice carry you away for a few hours is a pleasure for certain.

Daniel Ekeroth – Swedish Death Metal

goodreads.com

The beauty of a scene is that it’s fleeting. It’s a moment in time that is absolutely secret. It’s not even considered as the moment, the catalyst it is. And once it’s all over, it is simply gone forever. The only people who can say anything about it are the ones who were there. When Daniel Ekeroth describes a peculiar location in the trainstation, where the teenagers who made up the Swedish death metal scene gathered, he captures that scene in a moment. The Swedish death metal scene might not have been the biggest shift in extreme music, it definitely has made a huge impact on the way we listen to metal today. And this book completely captures what happened in Sweden around 1990.

Ekeroth doesn’t write like a scholar. His book is more of a scrap book and diary in one, where a fan relates his story to other fans. It’s remarkable to see all the early album covers and pictures of the death metal celebrities with their spotty teenage noses. Ekeroth writes with the enthousiasm of being one of those kids. About labels, recording sessions and the remote parts where the scene took place. The book is not just the story of the scene, there’s an enormous catalogue of everything related to it. Demo’s, shows.. the whole shebang. That makes this book a necessity for anyone remotely interested or enthralled with the scene.

Herman Brusselmans – Een Dag in Gent

source: goodreads.com

It seem that the overlying theme of the work penned by Herman Brusselmans is the futility of life. The title of this book translates as ‘A Day in Ghent’ and that is literally what it is. Also, it’s not the day in Gent by someone who has anything to do, so we follow the meanderings through the city of the main character, while he ponders various elements of his life and also a fair share of completely random occurrences and made up facts. It’s just like that, a typical day in Gent that seems to have nothing special going on.

The way the story is told leads you down many side streets and weird stories. I feel that for Brusselmans, mankind is a fairly peculiar and strange being in all its perversions. The main character is in a way often not present. When ladies offer themselves to him, he just watches them. Observing and making notes, that seems the ambition in Brusselmans’ work and it leads to some pretty messed up projections of humankind. All is written in a mildly sarcastic tone, only furthering the estranging effect the words have. Nonetheless, it’s an enjoyable read with a twist and a rather peculiar look at the daily life that we lead. One could even say it’s a stream of consciousness, but it probably lacks the literary pretenses for that.

Simon Vestdijk – Op Afbetaling

source: goodreads.com

This classic bit of Dutch literature was a difficult read, specially due to its dated setting and strange, shifty characters. There was little in the way of getting to sympathize with figures in the book, making it hard to really get to grips with it. The story is that of a man who has caught his wife cheating with his colleague. Instead of confronting her, he wishes her to suffer the way he suffers, in silence. This leads him down a dark path with dark characters and shady dealings. It’s a well wrought story, but with some vague elements to it in the way of how they are a part of the whole thing. In the end things escalate, but life finds its way to continue somehow.

The style of writing by Vestdijk is that of a detective novel, without a case. It’s layered with different signals for the reader, which makes the whole story as hard to follow as it seems to be for the main character Mr. Grond. Now, this gentleman is not very sympathetic and that is completely worked into the way of writing. Cynical, unfeeling and cold. Though it’s not easy reading and some of the descriptions are dated and feel slightly alien nowadays, this is an interesting read and a rather complex and fascinating story in its own right.

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