crossing the desert at night

orange hues turned to red hues

the roadside has become a gradient

now it’s night

you can’t see a cactus at night

you can though

if you have functioning headlights

there’s you – the road

you are david lynch now

just looking at the lit up patch

zooming through the landscape

and the landscape is barren

you remember you haven’t listened to any music

also, you passed a place to eat

kicking yourself for not using the restrooms

but there you go

on your way

across the desert

you are listening to 104.1 – the edge

it soothes you to hear familiar songs

you should probably explore newer stuff

but the old is enough, really

the road is so straight

you take your hands of the wheel for a second

then a bit more

now you just adjust the wheel ever so often, but not steering

you let the dead weight of the car steer

it goes slightly off to the right

no cars in the opposite direction for hours

you stop

you unbutton your denim shorts

drag them to your feet

you squat down and pee

the sand is cold already

perhaps some cactus will get my piss

perhaps a peyote

you keep on driving

remembering the scene in Lady Bird were they listen to grapes of wrath in its entirety

you should really reapply some mascara

your phone has been dead for a day atleast

but you are on the road

you are travelling

the gradient has fallen all the way down to deep purple

you know it will become slightly greener before going pink and orange

the sun is up

tom joad fixes his car

your car should be fixed too

you don’t want to make the phone calls it would require

you are sure you had a snickers

there’s only tampons in that compartment

and a map

and an old mix cd

there’s trash in the back seat

wrappers and empty bottles

the phone lives again

this parking lot had a charger

Raleigh has called once

and sent one text

you keep on driving

the desert stretches on and on

the camera stops following you

you drive away towards the horizon

camera pans over to a cactus

quick transition to black

warm yellow credits

radio music from 104.1 – the edge

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Things I know about Abe Lincoln

 

  1. Tall hat
  2. Weird beard
  3. A mole on his face
  4. Married to Mary Todd
  5. “Four scores and Seven years ago…”
  6. Was shot in a theatre by a guy.
  7. Ended the slavery
  8. Looks a bit like Daniel Day Lewis, but not quite.
  9. He was the President (Can you tell I’m running out of things?)
  10. Posed for photos.
  11. Was probably honest.
  12. His longer name was Abraham.

~ Peanut

2017 reading list

  1. The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson
  2. We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson
  3. The Accursed, Joyce Carol Oates
  4. Wheel of Time: Book 3: The Dragon Reborn, Robert Jordan
  5. Neuromancer, William Gibson
  6. I misosuppen (In The Miso Soup), Ryu Murakami
  7. The Mountains of Madness, W. Scott Poole
  8. After Dark, Haruki Murakami
  9. A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, Xiaolu Guo
  10. Merkelig Vær I Tokyo (Strange Weather in Tokyo), Hiromi Kawakami
  11. Buddhas Barn (The Children of Buddha), Torbjørn Færøvik
  12. Kina, En Reise på Livets Elv (China, A Journey on the River of Life), Torbjørn Færøvik
  13. Story of the Eye, Georges Bataille
  14. 100 Tak Med Hårbørsten Før Sengetid (One Hundred Strokes with the Brush Before Bed), Melissa Panarello
  15. Ung Jente, Voksen Mann, Eline Lund Fjæren
  16. UFO In Her Eyes, Xiaolu Guo
  17. Shanghai Baby, Wei Hui
  18. Audition, Ryu Murakami
  19. Doctor Sleep, Stephen King
  20. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Philip K. Dick
  21. Ubik, Philip K. Dick
  22. Valis, Philip K. Dick
  23. The Simulacra, Philip K. Dick
  24. Juliette Society, Sasha Grey
  25. Count Zero, William Gibson
  26. Mona Lisa Overdrive, William Gibson
  27. Less Than Zero, Bret Easton Ellis
  28. Heimdal, California, John Erik Riley
  29. The Rules of Attraction, Bret Easton Ellis
  30. Piercing, Ryu Murakami
  31. Slanger, Piercing, Hitomi Kanehara (Snakes & Earrings, Hitomi Kanehara)
  32. Nakano Thrift Shop, Hiromi Kawakami
  33. The Broom Of The System, David Foster Wallace
  34. Japanese Ghost Stories; Spirits, Hauntings and Paranormal Phenomena, Catrien Ross
  35. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
  36. Zen-mind, beginner’s-mind, Shunryu Suzuki
  37. Almost Transparent Blue, Ryu Murakami
  38. Strange Weather in Tokyo, Hiromi Kawakami (second time)
  39. Battle Royale, Koushun Takami
  40. The Book of Tokyo: A City in Short Fiction, edited by Michael Emmerich, Jim Hinks & Masashi Matsue
  41. Humlefangeren, Janne S. Drangsholt

employee of amoeba music

you won’t see what’s in my bag. i just sweep the fucking floors and restock the goddamn shit long shelves. why do we carry fucking cassette tapes? i fucking hate restocking obsolete media. at lunch i went over the street and got food from a fucking truck. this is what it has come to i eat from a truck across the street.

the other day i had to wait for the vocalist from okkervil river to finish up his bag picks. earlier this week we had some other poser sweeping out store of braggable records. look at me and my acquired taste. i like vinyls with female songwriters on them woop dee do. just because you like joni fucking mitchell or carly simone or joan didion don’t make you a feminist dude. i read obscure shit all the time, and i’ve read sappho, and i must say she’s fucking lit. but yeah as i was saying this speccy dude from okkervil river came in and was all like i like this hip hop dude because he reminds me of post-modern writer dude. i think he meant don barthelme or something. there’s a lot of dust in amoeba, but i normally have to sweep shit from these try hard nerds after they’ve done the “what’s in my bag” type shit. during his stay the producer told me to take inventory of what he’d taken so we could restock them later. i just wrote titles i wanted, and purposely misspelled his name just to spite him and his corduroy face. i was all like “bert jansch”? he sounds like a muppet or something, so i wrote st. elmos fire, just to piss jackie off. jackie works in the cubicle back in the store and has to order in things manually as so many of our quality vinyls and fucking cassette tapes are special imports. who even makes cassettes anymore? i bet like jack white or someone in his posse would as they are losers.

“oy, riddick!” jackie yells at me. she calls me riddick for two reasons. 1) i’m kind of ripped as i actually go to the gym. i try to tone my body to get a fucking acting job in this fucking city of hell. 2) i have glaucoma and must use bono/jack nicholson-glasses. i look like a massive tool and what i can do is just live with it. i try to own my look sure, then again i look less weird than most of the clientele here. especially the giant joel haley osmont in okkervil.   “imma need you to go and paint over some spatter on the color wall”. fuck me why? the ugly as fuck color wall back in the store. the one you’ve seen in the videos i’m sure. so yeah, i just go out there and i see some white specs as the brick is slowly disintegrating. i hope the staff breathes in speckles of brick dust. then i could say” your aqualungs are thick as a brick” and teach those phony fuckers about some real music.

when i was younger i listened to led zep, they’re a great way into music, but come on real fans of them, you know. i fondly remember being sixteen, eating shrooms and just being carried the fuck out to space with my main man rob plant.

“oi you speccy wanker” says a customer. he’s clearly british or welsh or some bs like that. “yeah mayt?” i reply as repulsively as i can. “where’s ur cap beefheart” it clearly was a question but he said it like it was a command so i politely showed him to our fuckboi-queue. “here he is somewhere man”. his eyes filled with rage as he flipped through stacks of vinyls not yet organized. looking at him looking at sting and eagles fucking filled me with justice jizz.

i pulled out of that whore that was work at 5, and welcomed the evening shift. he was exactly my build, had a craggy beard and probably got off on showcasing his hackeysack skills in the park, going after girls with colored armpit hair. repulsive af.

“getting lit” meant something else when i was in high school you preppy fuckers” i yelled at a group of teens casually smoking cigarettes outside a corner shop. they looked midwestern, and were probably here on a school trip. “see the hollywood stars on the walk of fame, kids! look at all these men who changed our perception on white men in the 50’s!”

shit shit shit, i’m so terribly lame. shoot me now.

i walk home to my apartment. i say apartment but it is a room with a matress. it looks like an ellen kennedy room. the one where she eats the portobello mushroom. this room is the fucking beigest you’ve ever seen ‘the beigeness’ was prolly written in this room.

i piss and i sleep and i go to work the next day. i have become routine. i have become castrated anger. i have become the jeb bush of ameboa music

~Peanut

the beep two

Welcome to the beep two. The beep two stands for the bret Easton ellis project. The two is just a number – two because this is the second one (in a series of maybe seven?) In this project, I intend on reading Ellis’s bibliography in the order of publication, and afterwards write maybe a few words about the book.

bret easton ellis is a novelist, an author who writes books, based in L.A (Los Angeles, the city of angels, dreams, lights, tinsel town. Broken dreams. The bubble (according to mark cousins)) mostly known, maybe, for his third novel American Psycho. He was born in 1964.

The second book he published is called The Rules of Attraction, and will be the topic of this here post.

It is September 27th today and almost a month (or more? whatever. . . .) since i posted the first instalment of the beep, the ‘’review’’ on less than zero. There might be spoilers in this one I really don’t know(?)

Like Ellis’s first book, Less Than Zero, this novel also focuses on college students, what (or who) they do.  the whole book is narrated by different characters throughout, and the narrator changes constantly, maybe every two – four pages or so. There are several narrators and characters but the three main ones are Sean, Paul and Lauren.

They go to school in Camden, studying different liberal arts subject, always either uncertain about exactly what they actually study, or they’re constantly changing majors so its hard for them to remember. One of their past-times is looking at other students/Freshmen, guessing at what they study by the way they look/if they, or how they dance/talk/what they drink etc and then cursing (or not cursing, that seems like the wrong word, judging them maybe? belittling /  ridiculing them?) them for that major.

but even if their students, there’s not much studying going on (we hear of overdue papers, library books) & when two of the characters find themselves in a private party consisting of, among others, literary agents, one of them “gets a fit”, wants to start a fight with his companion, or to leave, drinks too much and falls asleep. similar to less than zero, the characters are constantly high on something (some of the interesting parts, I thought, was to read what they were high on this time, or how they acquired the drugs etc) and the narrators (all of them pretty much) find it amusing to point out the people they had sex with ( I was actually surprised at how many times this happened – or at how frequent the phrase “I fucked her/him” (or any derivations of this phrase) appeared. Not so many “explicit sex scenes” just this one observation. Mayhaps ellis was warming himself and his audience up for his third book,,, who knows)

and the main conflict seemed to me to be a love conflict between theree of the main characters / narrators, Paul, Lauren and Sean – who end up together?

Sean is also, interesting to me, Patrick Bateman’s brother. Patrick, of course, being the main character of ellis’s third book american psycho – and being that it is the “third” book, that means it is next up in the beep – the beep three. (which is obviously not started and at this point i cannot make any promises as to when it will be started let alone finished)

here is something I wrote in my notes while reading the book:

  • Prose more descriptive, detailed, clearer. Makes me feel theres a ‘bigger’ sense of optimism in Ellis. (even if the things described are . . bad? negative?)
  • Generally more emotional writing

I’m not very good at making notes – – –

But the point still stands; I do feel like this book, compared to less than zero is more descriptive in detailing mood, emotions, events. (maybe I just have forgotten important things in less than zero but this is ow I feel) Especially did I like Lauren’s narrative parts. They seem more authentically feminine. (Again, maybe I’m wrong, but again, that’s how I “felt”) I felt like Ellis successfully tried to make Lauren more ‘womanly’, ‘feminine’, a good role model(?) this is not only true for Lauren’s narrative parts particularly. again I was surprised at the level of emotional credibility and genuine authenticity in Elli’s writing and prose. this is something i did not recognize in less than zero. Seems he has “grown as a writer” the two years between less than zero and the rules of attraction.

Another thing this novel introduces in Ellis’s authorship, is the experimentation of beginning and ending of plot. The very beginning of the book is in the middle of a sentence (“and it’s a story that might bore you but you don’t have to listen (…)”) and ends in the similar matter (in the middle of a sentence: “my hand squeezing her knee, and she”)) i find this interesting because, the first thing that struck me, was that this book,and the story it tells is just a nihilistic(?) circle / representation of fate, or something else, something that no one can escape. Whether it’s nihilistic or not, hopeless or not, is for the moralist to say ..

(There is also one part (Lauren’s, toward the end of the book) that is simply empty.) I believe this also happens on more than one occasion in his next novel, american psycho,as far as I can remember at least from when I read it for the first (and, up til now, only) time in 2015 so it will be interesting to see whether im right or not now that I am going to read it again – and to see whether I put any importance on it or not – –

the rules of attraction was made into a film in 2002, directed by roger avary where sean is played by james van der beek, lauren by shannyn sossamon and paul by ian somerhalder (and obviously other actors are in it too). (i have yet to watch it, or the less than zero film)

~ milk

 

 

the beep one

Welcome to the beep one. The beep one stands for the bret easton ellis project. The one is just a number; one because this is the first one (in a series of maybe seven?) In this project, I intend on reading Ellis’s bibliography in the order of publication and afterwards write a few words about it.

bret easton ellis is a novelist, an author who writes books, based in L.A (Los Angeles, the city of angels, dreams, lights, tinsel town. Broken dreams. The bubble (according to Mark Cousins)) mostly known, maybe, for his third novel American Psycho. He was born in 1964.

The first book he published is called Less Than Zero, and will be the topic of this post.

As I write this, I am listening to a suicidal tendencies CD. Suicidal tendencies is a punk band, also from la. I only just discovered the band, and I have rented two CDs of them from the library. I appreciate the hardcore and “crossover” quality to them. Their lyrics are also good, although sometimes they can seem a little paranoid in what their singing about?

It is early evening on august 28th and I probably will go to bed soon. The weather outside is cloudy but not cold. (In fact, it`s been surprisingly warm since I got home from work. Not desert warm but, you know, like, warm.) On September 2nd, this post will be out.

I am drinking a coke and the music is streaming out of my laptop.

It is not windy here, but in ellis’s less than zero there is, at times, a lot of wind. Clay, the narrator/‘protagonist’ comments on the warm and hot desert wind multiple times. I wouldn`t say he “complains” about it – he simply states that it’s windy and move on. One time he is afraid the windows of his house may shatter because of the wind. Maybe that`s some kind of complaint? I wouldn`t say so.

The windows don’t shatter, or it hasn’t happened yet anyway. (I am still not completely done with the book, and even though this is my second read-through, I can’t remember if that will happen later.) When he’s not commenting on the wind, Clay spends his time going to parties with friends, doing dope, driving home early in the morning after one night stands with people he thinks he knows or remembers from a time past, and “hangs out” with his family. (he has two sisters, and his parents are divorced) He is a student at the university of new hanpshire and is home for Christmas break.

(as I wrote the sentence with people he thinks he knows or remembers from a time past I remember there are parts of the book written in italics. These parts, passages, are about a time before Clay’s house presumably was sold, and when his family presumably was still together. These parts, passages reveal that even if he doesn’t like to admit it, he still misses these times. Maybe they remind him of better and more stable times. Maybe in a way he is like Holden Caulfield in that he doesn’t want to grow old. Or maybe he just hates college and wants to go back to a simpler time before college.)

The novel is praised for being a so-called zeitgeist novel. It was published in 1985 when ellis was still attending college. He was twenty-one years old. How cool must that be, to have a debut novel out before you’re finished with school – you literally go from one to the next and just skip the whole “trying-to-make-it” phase. That’s what he did, it seems. (more on this in a later post, I think, when doing Lunar Park but I can’t promise anything.) He was “only” 21 when less than zero was published but the way less than zero is written makes him seem like a much more “experienced” writer. The way the overall language and narrative flow and work together makes it feel like Ellis knew what he was doing, knew where he wanted the book to go, knew how to get there and certainly knew how to stay true to his style the whole ride out.

Ellis himself claims to be a moralist (source: first sentence on his author page on goodreads, check it out) but there is an uncanny feeling of demoralized nihilism in less than zero. Short scenes, uneventful events, “deadpan” dialogue contribute to making the book seem “boring” to some readers, yet undeniably “deep” to others/ the same readers. This ambiguity is what makes the novel so interesting to readers through the years, and is a big part of what has made it survive for so long. The novel offers the fundamentals of what it means to be human in a capitalist society. It’s a study on what human values mean and its place in popular culture (such as music and film), as well as the role of drugs (as a means of escape) in the midst of all this. An escape from what? Ellis provides both the answers and the correlating questions.

It is now the next day, August 29th. I have finished editing some of what I wrote yesterday, and also wrote more new things in this review. The review is practically finished, even if I haven’t finished reading the book yet. (I finished the book earlier today, 2nd of september)

It’s been cloudy today and a little rain. Not as warm as yesterday. I had hot dogs and fries for dinner today, no Coke, and I drank more coffee than usual.

The rest of the beep is a no-brainer. I just have to actually read the books and write the texts – you know, do the actual work.

Sorry for the divergence. . . Back to less than zzero.

As the readers ride along with Clay (and his friends/(ex)girlfriend/dealer Trent, Daniel, Blair, Rip as well as other various characters who drift through the novel) from one Los Angeles party to another in a Lynchian fashion (Clay receives phone calls from strangers who spend three minutes in silence and then hang up), the way the novel is written grammatically makes them (the readers) sit constantly on the edge of their seats, waiting for something else to happen. The climax constantly keeps building up, but there never is a flood of release. In essence, less than 0 is a postmodern anticlimactic novel, reminiscent of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, in prose-form. Postmodern – Ellis is breaking a writing convention when he is telling the reader what happens, merely presenting facts of the events of the story, without any unnecessary commenting of opinions or emotions of the implied narrator/author – and not “showing”. This leaves the reader to make her own decisions and interpretations. Is this what makes him a moralist? That when the reader can decide for herself whether a certain situation is good or bad, then the author can relax and chill in the background and go out and call himself a moralist? (You decide!)

Clay, the narrative/’protagonist’, plays a role in this reader-interpretation. He is cleverly named, as he is (like the rest of the major and minor characters in the novel) formless, featureless and the reader is allowed to form him into what shape or size she wants to, like actual clay. The narrative is as featureless as Clay and the other characters; there is no abundant emotions in the narrative. The narrative is narcotized, as numb as its drug-infused characters are.

(This abovementioned writing technique we see later on in his later fiction as well. It’s part of his overall “project”.  (– his own beep, perhaps. But probably not) They reappear, at least as far as I can remember at this moment, in Lunar Park and American Psycho. Part of this beep is to find out whether it could be said that Easton actually had/have a project of his own in his fiction. Maybe we can find out that he is a moralist after all.)

My suicidal tendencies CD is getting to its end, and so is this text. But there is at least one more thing I need to mention before this review/incoherent thought-spewing/word salad (?) of Less Than Zero ends. And it’s quite monumental in fact. (I wrote part of this next paragraph on a note-app on my phone this morning, waiting for the bus to work after having had troubles sleeping the night before thinking about what I should write) I mentioned Clay drives home in the early morning from (what I presume is) a one-night stand. On his way home he drives past a billboard that says DISAPPEAR HERE. Throughout the book, he occasionally returns to this phrase in his own head. In his thoughts, he also occasionally returns to what is part of the first sentence of the book: PEOPLE ARE AFRAID TO MERGE. Put together, these two phrases remind the reader of where she is (HERE), what to do (DISAPPEAR) and what not to do (MERGE). It is a reminder that we exist here and now and there is nothing we can do about it except try to move on, disappear into everyday life. It’s a reminder of who we are, and who the people of the book are. Like an echo of the title of the book itself, we are less than zero.

~ milk

 

 

Thirties

Friday: Sashimi.
Saturday: Jogging in the mist.
Sunday: Coffeehouse and matinee.

Monday: Home Depot
Tuesday: Gallery Opening for Tess’ friend Shelley.
Wednesday: I broke a wine glass when removing it from the dishwasher. There was an argument.
Thursday: We talk about getting a dog. I want a Scottish Terrier. She wants a Red Setter.
Friday: Sashimi.
Saturday: Jogging in light rain.
Sunday: Coffeehouse and museum.

Monday: We stay in. I read a manual.
Tuesday: There’s a wedding invitation in the mail.
Wednesday: I sleep in early.
Thursday: We eat light meals.
Friday: The sun is strong. I close the blinds.
Saturday: I can only guess sashimi.
Sunday: The operation is a success.

Monday: My mother calls me. The neighbour had the same experience in the 80’s.
Tuesday: Home Depot.
Wednesday: We joke about having sashimi.
Thursday: I put my Facebook status to ‘It’s complicated.’ I get 16 comments.
Friday: I put my Facebook status back to in a relationship. We also eat sashimi.
Saturday: Sashimi.
Sunday: We go watch dogs.

Monday: I jog for the first time after the excavation (overcast)
Tuesday: Extraordinary coffeehouse meetup.
Wednesday: Book launch for Tess’ friend Richard.
Thursday: I read Richard’s book.
Friday: I forgot to buy sashimi. We go out.
Saturday: We go to the cinema. Afterwards we talk about having sex.
Sunday: It’s my 31st birthday. Alan and Winona brings cake.

Monday: I work overtime.
Tuesday: We go to a show in London. (We parked in C-16)
Wednesday: I have trouble sleeping.
Thursday: I talk to the insurance man about prices.
Friday: Sashimi.
Saturday: I jog.
Sunday: We go out looking for wedding presents.

Monday: My parents come over for dinner. We laugh and drink wine.
Tuesday: My brother and sister calls me. We chat about high school.
Wednesday: Tess and I jog.
Thursday: Tess and I jog.
Friday: Tess and I jog. We eat sashimi.
Saturday: Tess and I jog.
Sunday: Tess and I jog.

Monday: We go jogging.
Tuesday: We have sex.
Wednesday: We go watch a movie.
Thursday: I ask if we can just talk, we go jogging shortly after.
Friday: We eat sashimi on the run.
Saturday: We get a new but smaller car.
Sunday: We jog, we eat, we watch a movie, we sleep.

Monday: The coffeehouse unites.
Tuesday: I jog alone.
Wednesday: I buy flowers.
Thursday: Tess has her 30th.
Friday: We have sex (windy, but sun is out) Sashimi is had.
Saturday: We go to a live show.
Sunday: Family dinner with Tess folks.

Monday: Tess friend is staying a couple of nights.
Tuesday: I go jogging.
Wednesday: Tess and friend goes to a hen-do.

 

 

~Peanut

“UFO In Her Eyes”, by Xiaolu Guo

UFO In Her Eyes, by Xiaolu Guo.

Around a month ago, I read a book called A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by a Chinese author who I`d not heard of before, Xiaolu Guo. Xiaolu Guo is a Chinese novelist, essayist and filmmaker who, born in 1973, belongs to a wave of Chinese writers and artists known as the ‘Chinese Post 70’s Generation’. It is a term to denote artists who were born in the 1970’s, and who grew up in China after Chairman Mao’s death in 1976.  It is also known as the ‘Post Cultural Revolution Generation’, or ‘Post Maoism Generation’.

One of the trademarks of this movement is, compared to the previous generations, they were allowed to immerse themselves in a more liberal way of writing, not limiting themselves to the desires of the Communist party.

What I especially liked about Guo’s A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, was her ability to capture a meeting between two entirely different cultures and languages. She shows how one (seemingly) universal, yet (undeniably) hard to define concept as love is able to connect people. Another aspect I immediately became interested in, is how in the book, Guo illustrates how important language is to our understanding and interaction with the world, culture and emotions around us. (I wrote a post on this book, so if you want to read a somewhat more elaborate explanation of this, I recommend you read it!)

After finishing A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, I wanted to check out more of Guo’s authorship. After some research, I find out that she has written eight novels, where the two first publications are written in Chinese, while (as I can understand) the remaining five are written in English. UFO In Her Eyes was published in 2009, and one of the novels written in English – i.e not gone through an English translation from the original.

In UFO In Her Eyes, The National Security and Intelligence Bureau are investigating an event in which Kwok Yun, a 37 year old illiterate peasant, has been reported to witness something peculiar in the sky; a spinning metal plate. Agents from the bureau interview the inhabitants of Silver Hill Village, the place where the sighting happened, individually. They encounter different personalities, who all have their own role in the pre-Industrialized village; butcher Ling Zhu, stall holder Kwok Zidong, tea farmer Fu Qiang and rice farmer Wong Jing, to name a few. They all have different opinions on the village’s political status quo, the social situation in China in general, of the circumstances surrounding Yun’s strange UFO sightings, and whether there might be any connection between the three.

Kwok Yun is also under investigation for having assisted an unknown Western traveler she sees immediately following the UFO sighting. The middle-aged white man is laying on the side of the road, clearly in need of help. It turns out he is bitten by a snake, and Yun takes him with her to her home in order to tend to his wounds. They are unable to communicate verbally to each other, and they know nothing about one other – except she is wearing a T-shirt with Western writing on it that the man is able to understand.

A few months later, the village receives a letter from this man, sent from his homeland of America. In the letter, he explains who he is and why he was in Silver Hill Village in the first place. He also shows his gratitude of being helped by the stranger Yun, by including a check of 2000$USD, a considerable amount of money for the villagers.

This sparks a debate between the inhabitants; how should they spend their newly acquired money?

UFO In Her Eyes is a light, humorous and most of all satirical take on China’s problematic social history, focusing especially on Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution. While the novel takes the paranoia, and real-world effects, of surveillance by Big Brother seriously, it is also able to depict the inhabitants of the village as down-to-earth people with a self-reflection over their situations. While being isolated from the benefits of living in a big city – such as education and health care – they do not come across as naïve or unaware of their own social misfortunes. But implying that the village inhabitants have reasons to be socially misfortunate would be incorrect and even condescending of me. What I`m trying to point out is that, even though the agents from The National Security and Intelligence Bureau give off an aura that demands respect and formality, the villagers are able to meet them, talk to them, and recognize them as one of their own, and they are not afraid of speaking harshly or humorously to them. The villagers do not try to glorify their situation, either. They speak their minds and share their opinions and experiences without being afraid of saying negative things about Big Brother.

It is the interaction between the villagers and the agents that makes UFO In Her Eyes delightfully satirical. Knowing far too little about the subject, I have nevertheless made a tentative conclusion as to what might be the reason for Guo to be able to write a story like this. I believe the answer is because she belongs to the before mentioned ‘China Post 70’s Generation’. The writers belonging to this generation did not feel the direct effects of Mao`s restrictive China, politically, socially or culturally. Maybe Guo, and the other writers, was able to be more liberal and non-restrictive with her writing, and her filmmaking, than what the generation of artist prior to her would have been.

And so I end this review in much the same manner as my last one of Guo`s A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, namely by expressing my desire to read more of the author. In order to approach an answer to my musings, I would like to read her latest novel Once Upon a Time In The East, a chronicle of memoirs, or her 2004 autobiographical novel Village of Stone. Both these books discuss her childhood, what is was like growing up in China, and eventually moving to the West, and all the changes this might imply for her.

UFO In Her Eyes has also been made into a film, released in 2011 and directed by Guo herself.

(Actually, before I leave you alone, I encourage you to read this (very short) interview of Guo from 2004 in connection to the publication of Village of Stone, that I found on her website: http://www.guoxiaolu.com/REV_WR_VS__secret_life_coral.htm. It tackles a little of what I`ve pondered in this text.)

Ok, bye.

~ milk

‘Merkelig vær i Tokyo’, av Hiromi Kawakami

merkelig vær

Merkelig vær i Tokyo ble opprinnelig publisert i Japan i 2001, og ble utgitt i Norge i 2015. Den er oversatt til norsk av Magne Tørring.

Vi følger hovedpersonen Tsukiko. Hun er en karrieredreven kvinne på 37 år fra Tokyo. Mesteparten av dagen tilbringer hun på kontoret, og ettermiddagen på bar, hvor hun drikker øl eller sake og ser på TV-sendt sport. Hun er enslig, og har ikke vært gift. En dag møter hun på sin gamle skolelærer, Sensei Harutsuna Matsumoto, som hun gjennom boken kaller simpelthen Sensei. De møtes på samme bar og begynner å prate og reflektere over gamle dager. Etter hvert begynner de å tilbringe mer og mer tid sammen – i begynnelsen via tilfeldige møter – men gradvis blir de bedre kjent med hverandre, følelsene deres for hverandre øker, og før de (bokstavelig talt) vet ordet av det finner de seg i et gjensidig forhold.

Tsukiko besitter en sosial likegyldig over seg, men har allikevel en jordnær personlighet og hun er ikke redd for å gå sine egne veier i livet. Koblet opp mot Senseis romantiske og filosoferende kveruleringer er møtene og samhandlingen mellom disse to en underholdende, morsom og frisk litterær begivenhet. Dialogene kan ta for seg både store, tunge temaer (som for eksempel gammel Japansk diktning) og ting som er mer hverdagslig og håndfast (som måter å lage suppe av sopp på), men forholder seg hele tiden lett og interessant.

Boken er både hverdagslig og rørende. Den viser hvordan intimitet og følelser kan oppstå uplanlagt og fra de minst ventende situasjoner. Det er et tillegg til, et fersk innblikk i, den japanske samtidslitteraturen, og et tilgjengelig alternativ til den populære forfatteren Haruki Murakami. En umiddelbar sammenligning, som jeg ble gjort oppmerksom på takket være bokens omslag, er med filmen Lost in Translation, som også omhandler et kjærlighetsforhold mellom to personer i ulik livsfase satt i Tokyo. Boken er humørfylt, rørende og er en gjenkjennelig, hverdagslig historie om kjærlighet og ensomhet. Det tilføyer et forsøk på å definere kjærlighet; å kunne være alene sammen.

~melk

Tabula Rasa – or an Instantaneous ‘Forgettance’ of a Dying Relation.

The morbid part, the one that I thought was OK, but clearly wasn’t, was that my name was surprisingly soon forgotten. We both thought we’d made an impact on the community. We were not famous or special in any way, but still, the idea of us getting forgotten about three years after our death is harsh. Someone once said that you die twice. The first being your death, obviously. The second being the moment your name is said for the last time.

I remember that morning so well. We were in a motel talking. I remember the rubbish breakfast she bought from a 7-Eleven. There were two medium sized bagels with ham, two small bottles of O.J. and two medium cups of coffee.

“Did you get a chance to look at the headlines?” I asked.

“I brushed them over with my eyes.”

“Anything?”

“Avocado is bad for you. You’ll die from eating them now apparently.”

“How so?”

“Something about trans fats – Makes you obese.”

The way she spoke of the mass hysteria about the lifestyle our contemporaries live made me smile. She was two sided. It was a mockery of it but also a sincere lack of interest. This lack was one of the things I truly enjoyed in her. She had not once made a quizzical look or an attempt of showing me her interests. She sometimes did the crossword puzzles from my old porn magazines. She did not care if I had dirty magazines. I think she in fact found them interesting, but I was mistaken. I wonder if she read the interviews in it. The ones printed next to the naked ladies. Age? 18. Favourite sex position? Double penetration. What are you looking for in a man? A huge cock, humour, good with kids.

“Would you like some bourbon?”

“I want to be sober.”

“Well I won’t”.

I don’t really remember who said what anymore.

“Do you want to do this with music in the background?”

“Sure, why not.”

I put on a vinyl onto the player. It was a Chopin. I believe it was his Prèlude 24. A huge cliché, I’m aware, but I felt that clichés was fitting none the less. The crackling sound of the needle running in the vinyl’s tracks, like a warm fire slowly dying, and the cinder that’s left is collapsing in on itself. The piano tunes hurries away, for the tune is rapid and to the point. A fitting way to begin the end. I heard she opened the brown paper bag she had in her coat pocket. She took out a smaller envelope from this. On the front it was fittingly labelled “exit”.

“Are you ready?” She said with a stoic, bored and indifferent voice. Almost like she was thinking about not saying it at all because that would mean I had to reply thus making her precious time longer.

“I guess this is as good a time as any. Have you finished the crossword?”

“I have. The picture caption was; “Gee I have never had that many cocks in me before.””

We both removed the covers from the bed and refurbished it with a new white one, tucking it in thoroughly so that any aspiring crease was gone, only to be replaced by nothingness. A tabula rasa, only instead of a slate there was a white cotton sheet with an enormous thread count.

The needle rose from the black circular music disc, and signalled that I had to change to “Side B” by being completely still. I could of course put the needle back onto the same side, but that would mean that we’d to listen to the same prelude again, which we weren’t very keen on. I don’t really remember the songs on the other side, but I do remember changing sides.  Funny how you so clearly remember details of something insignificant, like the formation of the molten candlewax around a candle, or the smell of a certain shampoo and how you forget more important things like what you saw at a museum or what happened during your daily drive to work in the city. We might not remember our names or the names of people passed before, but something about remembrance is so creepy. Sometimes you remember things by a trigger. Like the smell of old people’s houses or familiar colour associations.

“We have forgotten the water”

“Shit. Do you think it’s ok to drink from the tap?”

“I don’t know, is it?”

We both began to laugh when we thought it through. Of course it did not matter. I think I was the one to fetch the water. We reused the paper cups the coffee had previously been in. I rinsed it out and smelled for any residual coffee. Some had latched on to the paper itself, in the folded crease where the cup is glued onto itself. It was nothing to do about that, besides, who gave a shit? She put two small pills in my palm and folded my fingers over, turning my hand into a fist, and then she moved my hand so the fist was in front of my heart. I watched as she did the same to herself. We both held hands and lied down on the bed.

“Should we do this naked?”

“No I prefer to do this fully clothed.”

“It’s unnatural though.” I think I said this. But I’m still not sure.

“So be it.”

With a last glimpse of her face, her honey coloured hair and her pale lips we took the pills to our mouths and took a mouthful of water down with them. There was no going back now. A new experience waited.

“Did you water the greens?”

“I fed the cat, you had the watering, right?”

“Oh well.”

“Oh well.”

I just remember this, nothing before, nothing after. Only this “slice of life” as someone used to say. Perhaps this was all there ever was. Who ever said it was more? I’m not even sure if I know these people. I certainly haven’t seen them before. All I know is that I see, and I see it always. It goes on a continuous loop; it goes backwards and in every different way possible, all at the same time. An everlasting presentation of this.

The morbid part, the one that I thought was OK, but clearly wasn’t, was that my name was surprisingly soon forgotten. We both thought we’d made an impact on the community. We were not famous or special in any way, but still, the idea of us getting forgotten about three years after our death is harsh. Someone once said that you die twice. The first being your death, obviously. The second being the moment your name is said for the last time.

~Peanut