Here I will write a sentence or two about the books that I've recently read and what I'm currently reading.
Review: "A visit from the goon squad" by Jennifer Egan
I came across this book after reading reviews in both Dagbladet and the Guardian. I had never heard of Jennifer Egan, but the main topics of the book, the music industry, media technology, culture and nostalgia was right up my street, and I was curious of her style of writing and what the fuzz was all about.
I loved the book, the way the chapters jumps in time, the way a character appears as a main character in one chapter, for so to have a minor role in another. The chapters do not follow a linear narrative, but rather jumps around in time from the 1970ies til the 2020ies in a clever way.
I loved how the stories are intertwined, the different styles of writing, the changing narrative and overall the cleverness of how the characters and their stories are connected. For me this book is a box exquisite chocolate, 70% cocoa, with fillings such as almonds, sea salt, chili and other delightful pieces.
Eagan says that the inspiration for the book came both from the TV series: “The Sopranos” and the writing of Marcel Proust. The title is from the book itself where one of the characters use goon as a name for time: “Time's a goon, right? You gonna let that goon push you around?"
A summary would just be confusing, so it really boils down to one thing:
You have to read it!
- and then you’ll love it and understand why a summery cannot do the book justice. It is the best book of popular fiction I have read in a long long time.
Next review: "the Blind Assassin" by Margaret Atwood, I rather liked that one as well...
Review: "The Prague Cemetery" by Umberto Eco
Most of the story is based on a document with the name: "The protocols of the Elders of Zion”, a fake Russian document from the early 20th century that claimed to reveal the true world-dominating plots of the Jewish people. Just this should make you stop and think, do I really want to read this?
I found the book uncomfortable to read due to the anti-Semitic content. But Eco is writing about our history, no matter how painful it is.
The book centers on Captain Simonini, at the end of the 20th century. He is partly based in Sicily for the start of the book, but then moves where his work as a forger takes him - Paris. Simonini forges and creates documents for various high powered sources.
The characters of "The Prague Cemetery” are all taken from history; the only fictional character is Simonini himself. And this is what makes my stomach cringe. When reading about “The Protocols…” from other sources, I read that the text had has been used by Hitler to legitimate his actions and that he called it his “warrant for genocide”
Back to the book:
Since his childhood, Simonini has had a fixation with the stereotyped Jew, and the harmful rumor often told by his grandfather that a circle of the most influential Jews of the time met in the Prague cemetery to make their plans for world domination. By creating “The Protocols…” and distributing it makes what starts as an urban myth become a text with genuine authority.
The book can be difficult to read if you are not familiar with Eco’s style and his mixing of fact and fiction, but perhaps especially due to the many characters present. I would recommend not to read “The Prague Cemetery” in bed, as the danger of falling asleep after two pages due to exhaustion is definitely something I struggled with.
Would I recommend the book? Probably not
Why? I like historical novels, but I thought that this went too far into unpleasant events of our pasts.
Next book: A visit from the goon squad.