Emma sent me a wonderfully thoughtful reaction to our last book, Torgny Lindgren's Hash. I will be posting it here, but before I read it all the way through and get overwhelmed, I thought I'd put up a (very) brief summary of last Tuesday's discussion. I welcome corrections and comments!
Where do you begin with a book like Hash? I think we all agreed that it's as ambiguous as the people, places and events described in it. Responses to the book were positive, surprised and enchanted, with a hint of bemused frustration, or maybe just puzzlement among some. One reader suggested that this was, essentially, the point - a confusion of truth and memory and what it might mean to a text.
In bullet points, then, a selection of what we discussed:
- Characters: Bertil seemed to have aroused the most interest (suspicion?). Who was Robert Maser? Even the characters within the framing story of the aging journalist were ambiguous.
- Illness - delirium, intoxication, immunity and contagion affecting the characters and narrative in kind.
- Geographical aspects - how fictional was the landscape described by the journalist? Would have liked to have seen the journalist's hand-drawn map printed in the book.
- 'Fact files'-style news items inserted into the text, what did these really add? Not taken far enough to really be of significance.
- 'Writing' as theme: (compare Tove Jansson's Fair Play, April's book).
- Ambiguity of the (non-)narrative reflecting the experience of living in a remote location. Harshness/susceptibility to nature/disease/poverty - does this influence communication? Could Hash's abstraction relate to that?
- It was interesting to learn that the geographic isolation of the characters reflected a reality that was not only exotic to a (London-based) UK readership, but also to a Swede from further south in the country!
Thanks, as always, to Fika Swedish Grill and Cafe, for being kind enough to host us, providing a mysigt environment, and delicious brain food in the form of coffee and tunnbrödsrullar.
See you on the 21st June,