“Because when I read, I don’t really read; I pop a beautiful sentence into my mouth and suck it like a fruit drop, or sip it like a liquer until the thought dissolves in me like alcohol, infusing brain and heart and coursing on through the veins to the root of each blood vessel.” This is how Bohumil Hrabal’s Haňta reads — or how he doesn’t really read.
This is how I read, or how I did not really read, The Hills Reply by Tarjei Vesaas. I do not think there is any other way to read, or to not really read, this book.
What is this book? I can say, “A collection of sixteen short pieces of literature.” Or I can also say, “A lyrical poem, two hundred and seventy five pages long.”
But I’d rather say: A Lispector attuned to nature. An impressionistic artwork so keenly aware of the elements, of the light in different times of the day, and of its sounds and its silences. A swan song of sheer beauty that leaves you quiet and asks your heart, for the time being, to dwell inside its pages… a heart so full, so open, it breaks.
It brings to mind the Shepard Tone, an auditory illusion used in film soundtracks to create a palpable disquiet. It occurs when layers of the same scale sequence are played at the same time; the highest layer decrescendos, the middle pitch maintains a consistent volume, and the bottom frequency increases in loudness. Played simultaneously, it manipulates the brain into believing that it is hearing an infinitely ascending tension.
In what appears to be the most original writing style I have encountered in a while, Hanne Ørstavik seems to have invented a literary equivalent of the Shepard Tone, camouflaged in a narrative that demands complete attention.
A village in northern Norway. A mother and son. The frost and the night are tangible.
Edvard Munch beyond and behind 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘮, written by Karl Ove Knausgaard beyond and behind the bestselling memoirs.
It reads like a personal meditation on the driving force for art, literature, music, the impact of emotional and psychological experiences on the artistic process. In essence, it is enlightening art investigation, history, and criticism… but after all of these, splendidly rendered inconsequential by Knausgaard who ultimately acknowledges that real art transcends words.