Friday, September 30, 2016

Alexandr Soljenițîn, "Arhipelagul GULAG" vol. al III-lea

– e-book; traducere, note și tabel cronologic de Nicolae Iliescu; Postfață de Ion Vasile Șerban (apărut la Editura UNIVERS București, 1998)

Perioada lecturii:  5 aprilie – 13 septembrie 2016

Votul meu:

Pe 31 ianuarie 2016, cînd începeam cu timiditate și oarecare strîngere de inimă lectura masivei opere a lui Alexandr Soljenițîn, Arhipelagul GULAG, știam despre Gulag „doar” că era simbolul cel mai înfricoșător al represiunii staliniste și că desemna un vast teritoriu amenințător, delimitat vag (pentru mine) geografic prin nordul Rusiei, unde se afla cea mai mare închisoare (nu știam atunci că erau de fapt mai multe) pentru deținuții politici din fosta URSS. Citisem destule despre acest gen de închisori, de la opere de ficțiune a căror asemănare cu realitatea nu era deloc întîmplătoare, ca mărturia lui Victor Petrini din Cel mai iubit dintre pămînteni a lui Marin Preda, la cărți de memorii scoase parcă din somnul rațiunii ca Jurnalul fericirii al lui Nicolae Steinhardt sau Reeducarea de la Aiud a lui Demostene Andronescu, așa încît mă consideram oarecum pregatită pentru o lectură din care știam că nu vor lipsi pagini atroce.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Kingsley Amis, "Jake’s Thing"

 – Penguin Books 1980, ISBN 0140050965/ 9780140050967 ; 288 p.

Read from August 15th to September 9th 2016

My rating

During the twenty-minute waiting between the two buses I have to take to go to work every day I – read of course, what else? Usually slim books that don’t weigh a lot in my purse, like Kingsley Amis’s Jake’s Thing, which I borrowed from a friend of mine who bought it in a second-hand bookstore without looking inside, as I realized when I grabbed it one morning and opened it happily and impatiently (for Lucky Jim is one of my favourites and I was looking forward to something in the same tonality) in the bus station to suddenly realize that the first chapter was missing. Since the second one began at page 5, I decided that whatever events were presented in the first three (coz I excluded the title page, of course) could be read afterwards and thus, following a Cortazar recipe, I read the novel as it was and went in search of the first chapter afterwards. Lucky me, I found it on Amazon, which was offering it as a sample of its kindle edition.

I don’t want to suggest, with this long introduction, that the story of the reading was more interesting than the story itself; it was just that it made me able to recapture a long-lost memory from my childhood holidays at my grandparents’ house in a mesmerizing countryside (though, alas, not in Combray!), with long sunny days during which I used to climb dusty attics looking for old, dilapidated books I devoured despite missing covers or pages or both. I did not care much then about the indestructibility of the text, nor did I bother with the idea that even a single missing word can leave a gaping hole in a narrative. On the contrary, I loved to fill in the blanks with my own words, to guess and even re-write the missing parts.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Samuel Beckett, "The Unnamable"

 – e-book

Read from: September 25th to October 3rd 2013

My rating:

Imagine the creative impulse is a black hole from which rises a bewildered narrative voice, which tries to make sense only of itself, not of the world. Which tries to become a character, or a body, or a feeling, or a story, and struggles to accept both sides of every coin. Like a picture made only of colours, colours that burst, that flow, that spring from the canvas in no apparent order and coherence – The Unnamable is made only of words, whirlwinding round and round the reader in an endless monologue, questioning, negating and accepting, forever defining the unity of opposites:

I'm there already: I'll start looking for me now, I'm there somewhere. It won't be I - no matter, I'll say it's I. Perhaps it will be I.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Ludmila Ulitskaya, "The Funeral Party"

Translated from the Russian by Cathy Porter – e-book

Read from August 29th to 31st 2016

My rating:

I definitely have to report it J: Ludmila Ulitskaya’s Funeral Party has stolen my dream – my nightmare, that is. I think I’ve already talked about it elsewhere, this recurrent dream I have in which I find myself stranded in Romania with no money and no job (although sometimes I dream that my former school took pity on me and employed me again), freaking out about my bills, my job and my home in Quebec. Over the years I’ve often dismissed this dream of mine as the embodiment of some lack of security about my position and role in my adoptive country that haunts my subconscious. I had to read Ludmila Ulitskaia’s book to learn on one hand that my nightmare was not unusual nor singular and on the other hand that another interpretation, subtler and cleverer could be found: a deep nostalgia of the immigrant for his/ her native land combined with the fear of the same nostalgia – fear to succumb it, that is: