Lise Lyng Falkenberg's Point of View

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Books I read in 2014

Another year has gone and it is time for my annual reading list. Once again I’ve read (or re-read) 40+ books throughout the year, mostly novels and short stories, but also children’s books, manga, biographies and other non-fiction. Most of the books I’ve read in the original language (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, English, French and a bit Japanese – no German books this year, sadly), but the list also includes translations of books from Spain, Finland and Russia as well as the more complicated Japanese books.

My favourite in 2014 was without doubt Madeline Miller’s “The Song of Achilles”. In this, her first novel, she retells Homer’s “Illiad” in the voice of Patroclus, Achilles’ highborn companion and lover, as the novel is composed as an autobiography. The love story between the degraded Patroclus and his sworn brother, the demigod Achilles, is brilliantly written and very moving and the depiction of the Trojan War is heart breaking.

I would also like to call attention to Pat Barker’s “Regeneration” trilogy, especially volume two, “The Eye in the Door”. These novels are fantastic and I was surprised to learn that the author is a woman, as both the tone and the subject of the books are very masculine. The trilogy consists of historical novels on the First World War, especially the effect that the war had on British soldiers.

During 2014, I re-read a lot of books written by old favourite authors of mine, like the Danish H. C. Branner and the Norwegian Johan Borgen, but I also got a new favourite and that is the Japanese female author Banana Yoshimoto. She writes about urban existentialism and the exhaustion of young Japanese trapped between imagination and reality in contemporary Japan. She does this in a very subdued and - to me - Japanese way with recurrent use of dreams and sense impressions. So far, I have written three books by her, “The Lake” being my favourite, and I can’t wait to read more.

With Miller, Barker and Yoshimoto being my favourites in 2014, it is safe to say that it was a year of female authors for me. Unfortunately, I didn’t get anything published myself, at least not in my own name, as I’ve been very ill all year, but I expect to finish a new short story collection in 2015. Anyway, here is my complete reading list and I hope it will inspire you to read some books yourself:

Baggesen, Jens Immanuel: “Epigrammatisk Billedbog”
Barker, Pat: “Regeneration” (Regeneration trilogy, vol. 1)
Barker, Pat: “The Eye in the Door” (Regeneration trilogy, vol. 2)
Barker, Pat: “The Ghost Road” (Regeneration trilogy, vol. 3)
Bishop, Michael: “Med lidt hjælp fra vennerne og andre science fiction-historier”
Borgen, Johan: “Blåtind”
Borgen, Johan: “Elsebeths Hjerte og andre nye noveller” (“Nye Noveller”)
Borgen, Johan: “Far og Mor og Os”
Borgen, Johan: “Jenny og påfuglen”
Borges, Jorge Luis: “Ficciones”
Branner, H.C.: “Ingen kender natten”
Branner; H. C.: “Legetøj”
Branner, H. C.: “Røde heste i sneen”
Branner; H. C.: “Søskende”
Branner; H. C.: “Thermopylæ”
Burroughs, William S.: “Junky”
Carey, Peter: “Jack Maggs”
Geneser, Kenneth Maximilian: “Petrarcas hemmelighed”
Geneser, Kenneth Maximilian & Lars Holger Holm: “Gotisk”
Geneser, Kenneth Maximilian & Lars Holger Holm: “Gotiske forvandlinger/Gotiska förvandlingar”
Genet, Jean: “Querelle de Brest”
Ginsberg, Allen: “Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems”
Kawabata, Yasunari: “Senbazuru” (“Thousand Cranes”)
Kingsley, Charles: “The Water-Babies”
Langberg; Jesper: “Ikke et sekund spildt”
Lyng, Ajatsa: “Jin Boys vol. 5 - The Mariposa Effect”
Malamud, Bernard: “A new Life”
Miller, Madeline: “The Song of Achilles”
Mínervudóttir, Guðrún Eva: “Yosoy”
Murakami, Haruki: “After the Quake”
Murakami, Ryu: “In the Miso Soup”
Nagel, Carsten: “Passionsfrugter & al slags vejr”

Nakamura, Shungiku: “Junjo Romantica”, vol. 16
Niemi, Mikael: “Populærmusik fra Vittula”
Pelevin, Viktor: “The Helmet of Horror”
Rifbjerg, Klaus: “Nansen og Johansen”
Weinreich, Torben: “Kun en tiøre! – og andre sære, sjove, og sørgmodige tekster for børn fra 1800 til 1900”
Weston, Marta Cullberg: “Ditt inre centrum. Om självkänsla, självbild och konturen av ditt själv”
Wiedemann, Finn: “I grunden har vi det jo godt”
Yamada, Taichi: “Strangers”
Yoshimoto, Banana: “Kitchen/Moonlight Shadow”
Yoshimoto, Banana: “N*P”
Yoshimoto, Banana: “The Lake”

Friday, January 02, 2015

New Year’s Resolution 2015

Happy New Year, everybody. I hope you’ll have a great year. Now is the time for New Year’s resolutions and after having spent all of Christmas (expect for the 24th when my daughter was at home) as well as New Year’s Eve on my own, I have a great one for you: spend more time with friends and family members who are ill or disabled. It’ll be very much appreciated as ill and disabled people are often isolated from the rest of the world. At least that’s what has happened to me.

It is no secret that I’ve been disabled since 2006 due to a slipped disc and Modic changes in the bones in my spine. In 2013 it got even worse as my knees were affected by both a meniscus tear and really bad osteoarthritis where the cartilage has deteriorated in my left knee. I’m in extreme pain and I can’t walk without the aid of a walking stick or a rollator and even then, I can only walk a few steps at a time. For the past year I’ve been confined to my house, only being able to venture outside when I could afford a taxi as I can’t even walk to the bus stop anymore and I can’t ride a bike or drive a car.

The pain is horrible, but the isolation is worse. Ever since I fell ill and especially after I lost the ability to walk without aid, friends and family have scurried away. I’ve had a lot of friends abroad, but now that I can’t travel and visit them anymore, instead of coming to Denmark to visit me for a change, I just don’t hear from. As for my Danish friends and family, I’ve spent less than TWO days with them last year, or rather 41 hours divided between four friends and two family members. One family member only spent one hour with me during the entire 2014 and one friend only spent two hours, which is NOTHING compared to the rest of the year where I sit at home on my own.

Now wait a minute, someone will perhaps object. What about that daughter of yours? Well, she is a teenager and as such she goes to school and hangs out with friends and we don’t see much of each other although she lives at home. Furthermore she is at the age where parents are hopeless so it’s difficult to have a conversation with her or get her to help out at home. And that’s another problem. Apart from a small pension, I have a cleaning lady cleaning coming over an hour a week, but that is all the help I get. I’m expected to go grocery shopping and do the cooking and washing and everything else on my own and I just can’t. Asking friends and family for help is no solution as either they won’t do it or they bitch about it, so I’ve stopped asking.

My situation is not going to change in the near future. My back will never improve and I’ll only be able to walk again if I get new knees, but here in Denmark the doctors don’t like to replace knees on people who are under 60, so I have a long wait ahead of me. It would be a lot easier if I had someone to talk to, a visit to look forward to or somebody taking me out somewhere, but I haven’t and they don’t. And I can’t even go out and find new friends as I can’t get out! But if YOU know someone ill or disabled who needs help or just a bit of cheering up, please don’t hesitate to do so. Remember, that although we can’t walk or whatever anymore, we are still the same. We are still your friend, sister, cousin etc. and we still want to be part of your life. Please, be part of ours!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Harry Potter Festival 2014

The 12th Harry Potter Festival in Odense, Denmark, took place on October 16-19. As loyal readers of my blog will know, the festival started out as a magic day at the local library attended by 40 kids. Over the years, it grew into a weeklong festival with 300 kids attending Hogwarts and 4,000 HP fans of all ages visiting The Forbidden Forrest, The Hogwarts Express, Hagrid’s Hut, The Chamber of Secrets and a two day Diagon Alley/Hogsmeade market in the town hall square.

Unfortunately, J. K. Rowling’s visit in 2010 marked the end of the festival, as we knew it. Hogwarts closed and due to the increase in visitors (10,000+), the market days in the town hall square were abandoned and replaced by other activities in different parts of town. The festival lost its core and most recently, it lost its core audience as well. The original Harry Potter fans are 20+ years old today and the target age group for the books is 11-17 years, but the present Harry Potter Festival caters to the 3-8 year olds! These kids are way too young to read Harry Potter, so the festival compensates by bringing in elements that have nothing to do with Potter and now we’re stuck with a sort of pre-school wizard festival rather than a Harry Potter Festival! It’s quite sad, actually.

Oh well, like previous years I had to write about the festival, so I got hold of a programme from which I could see, that this year the festival events were scattered all over town in 15 different places. As Odense has a car- and public transportation-free city centre, it would take hours to get to all the events. Studying the programme closer, I realised that it didn’t matter, as people over 14 weren’t welcome at most events, anyway. Oh dear! I had to wave goodbye to The Hogwarts Express, the sorting ceremony in The Library of Local History, Quidditch in The Fairy Tale Garden, gutter press writing with Rita Skeeter in the Media Museum and Madam Maxime’s Magic Dance with the Beauxbatons students at the Royal Danish Ballet School.

In my opinion, there’s something wrong when hard core Harry Potter fans aren’t allowed to attend the events at a Harry Potter Festival because they aren’t preschool kids. On top of that, I also had to stay away from the Harry Potter Concert with Odense Symphony Orchestra and the Harry Potter film marathon at The Great Hall, as they were too expensive, and from Knockturn Alley and The Leaky Cauldron as the queues were too long. It took 30 minutes to get into Knockturn Alley and 45 to get into The Leaky Cauldron and with a rare spine disease and 2 busted knees I couldn’t manage. Knockturn Alley at the Moentergaarden Museum only consisted of Borgin and Burkes anyway, but I know that The Leaky Cauldron in Smedestraede (Blacksmith Alley) serves an amazing butterbeer, so I was very disappointed that I couldn’t go.

What was left for me to attend was The Magic Market, Diagon Alley and the exhibition and Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Salon in the Brandts 13 Museum, or so I thought. In both The Magic Market in Graabroedre Plads (Grey Friars Square) and Diagon Alley in Vintapperstraede (Tapster Alley) I encountered more obstacles. At the market I was too old to attend Potion Class, visit an enchanted forest and have my photo taken on Platform 9 ¾, whereas Café Hogwarts was too expensive. Furthermore Ollivander’s, Eeylops Owl Emporium, Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions and St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies were so crowded that I gave up in advance, so I only managed to take a peek at Gringotts, The Daily Prophet and Herbology class. Like last year, I avoided Hagrid telling stories in a local church!

The situation wasn’t much better in Diagon Alley where most activities were either for kids or too crowded. Most of them didn’t have anything to do with Harry Potter anyway, but had names like “Merlin’s Workshop” and “Viola’s magic owl workshop”. A branch of Gringotts was still there, though, as well as the “Care of Magical Creatures” people, but shockingly I was no longer allowed to see George Weasley in Weasley's Wizard Wheezes as I was too old! He only gave lessons and shows for kids. I just couldn’t believe it.

The festival would have been a complete disappointment, if it hadn’t been for the exhibition and tea salon at the Brandts 13 Museum. Like last year when the museum was still called The Funen Art Gallery, it was by far the most interesting place to visit. I had to get past the Fat Lady and Nearly Headless Nick to get in and on the ground floor, I ran into Lucius Malfoy, Dolores Umbridge, Professor Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall (who is an acquaintance of mine).

The ground floor contained an exhibition of several Harry Potter related artefacts, such as a dragon egg, the Elder Wand and several of Harry Potter’s personal papers. Most spectacular was however the mermaid window from the prefects’ bathroom, complete with a moving mermaid.

The Fat Lady and a moving painting occupied the first floor and on the second floor was a new and improved Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Salon. It had expanded and had two rooms upstairs as well as an outdoor serving stand in front of the museum and everything was pink and pretty with lots of china, low hanging lamps and mirrors. I loved it! Tea and cake were 100 Galleon and you could get 500 Galleon at Gringotts for DDK 30/£3.

I ended my day at the Harry Potter Festival chatting to McGonagall and missing other witches and wizards. My friend Madam Rosmerta who stopped working in The Three Broomsticks a couple of years ago, Professor Snape who used to chat with me in Potions Class in the dungeons until he stopped last year and now George, who only taught kids. This combined with the many activities that I’m no longer allowed to attend made me decide that from next year I’ll only visit the Brandts 13 Museum. Then the rest of the festival can keep its age limits, long queues and steep prices!