Category Archives: Reading

From slow start to page turner

imageIt took me awhile to get into the swing of Siri Hustvedt’s What I loved from 2003, but I have now finally finished it, reading the last third of its nearly 400 pages in just one day.

It is a moving tale of love and grief and the devastating moments that change the course of your life and relationships forever. Its narrator, Leo Hertzberg, is an academic art historian residing in New York. The story follows 25 years of his life when he befriends an artist, Bill Weschler, and tracks their lives alongside each other. The story is bookended so we understand it comprises Leo’s reflections on his life as an old man.

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Joy and pursuit of unhappiness

Six grey cygnets are out. One egg remains. Swans at the Lakes in Copenhagen. Photo: Lone. 2015.

Six grey cygnets are out. One egg remains. Swans at the Lakes in Copenhagen. Photo: Lone. 2015.

The bird life on the Lakes in Copenhagen is surprisingly plentiful and diverse. Each time we walk around the lakes we notice new nests or – even better – new tiny baby birds in the coot’s nest, striped young ones on the back of great crested grebe or ducklings paddling with their mallard parents. If the weather is good, we stop to watch their funny antics and take photos. Today, mother swan was busy with six little grey cygnets, fussing to add feathers and other warm materials to the remaining grey-green egg. With spring comes new life, fresh and full of opportunities. It gives me moments of unbridled joy, following this happy addition to the abundant bird life in the middle of Copenhagen.

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Past, present and future

Jens Albinus reads Paul Auster's contribution to the ARK Books publication. Photo: Lone. 2015

Actor Jens Albinus reads Paul Auster’s contribution to the ARK First Edition in the small rooms of the ARK Books shop a few streets from our apartment. Photo: Lone. 2015

I am grateful to my sister for introducing me to author Siri Hustvedt, and once I discovered this American author, there is no end to where I see her. Of Norwegian descent and speaking Norwegian as her first language, Hustvedt’s latest work, The Blazing World (2014), in a world first, was turned into a performance by Copenhagen theatre company, Mungo Park, currently performed at Avenue-T until June. Then, on Friday in my neighbourhood on Nørrebro, a small international bookshop, ARK Books, launched the Ark First Edition,  a small, hand bound book, in only six copies, with two previously unpublished texts, one by Hustvedt and the other by her author husband Paul Auster. Like meeting old friends unexpectedly on the streets, really.

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Danish diversity

Provocatively, Hassan Preissler is depicted dressed as Helen Bannermann's Little Black Sambo - the story of the Indian boy who cheats the tigers so they turn to butter and his mother, Mumbo, makes pancakes from the butter for Sambo and his father, Jumbo. Photo: Lone. 2015.

Provocatively, Hassan Preisler is depicted dressed as Helen Bannermann’s Little Black Sambo – the story of the Indian boy who cheats the tigers so they turn to butter and his mother, Mumbo, makes pancakes from the butter for Sambo and his father, Jumbo. Photo: Lone. 2015.

Since I have been back in Denmark I have noticed things about the Danes that I would probably not have had second thoughts about had I not lived half my life away from this small country. Some are great, like the love of the bicycle for transportation – which I simply took for granted during the first half of my life, but had to shelve in hilly Brisbane with its high density of bike-hating drivers. Some are less charming, like the absolute rudeness of cyclists to each other and to pedestrians – like not stopping for the red light to let a pedestrian cross, riding out right in front of the unaware pedestrian on the foot path or on the pedestrian crossing or blocking the footpath with rows and rows of parked bikes.

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Heart of pinkness

The river runs through a pink landscape - Richard Mosse: Platon (2012). Photo: Mick 2015.

The river runs through a pink landscape – Richard Mosse: Platon (2012). Photo: Mick 2015.

Colour blindness comes in a version where green and red are indistinguishable. I cannot imagine not being able to see the many greens that colour spring and summer or the reds of tulips and cherry blossoms that are starting to show.

Richard Mosse (1980) is an Irish artist whose work The Enclave (2013) is exhibiting at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art presently. This work explores the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, changing hues of green to hues of red and pink. Mosse used the now discontinued Kodak Aerochrome to film events in DRC – the US Army used this surveillance film to show invisible infrared light, turning green into red and pink to detect camouflage. This war is largely ignored by Western media and therefore largely unknown outside Congo and Rwanda, even though more than 5.4 million people have died in this war since 1998. Continue reading

Reading history

 

Christian Albrecht von Benzon (1816-1849) 1846 painting: The death of Canute IV of Denmark in the Church of Saint Albanus (1086). Photo: https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Christian-albrecht-von-benzon,_the_death_of_Canute_the_Holy.jpg

Christian Albrecht von Benzon (1816-1849) 1846 painting: The death of Canute IV of Denmark in the Church of Saint Albanus (1086). Photo: https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Christian-albrecht-von-benzon,_the_death_of_Canute_the_Holy.jpg

How’s the new year resolution going, I hear you ask. It has been a while since I wrote about what I read. And I have been reading. 16 books so far in 2015.

Recently, I have read historical fiction. I have a keen interest in Danish history – I have traced my roots to the history books. I am fascinated by writers who can animate historic characters in historic scenes and make it seem real and believable. Of course, historical fiction is just that, fiction, and should not be mistaken for real history. But when history is told in a fictional genre, it is certainly easier to remember who is who in a turbulent time of Danish history.

Under Christiansborg Slot that houses the Danish Parliament, you can see the ruins of the previous castle, Københavns Slot, including the foundations of Blåtårn, the prison where Christian IV's daughter Leonora Christina was imprisoned for 22 years. Photo: Mick. 2015

Under Christiansborg Slot that houses the Danish Parliament, you can see the ruins of the previous castle, Københavns Slot, including the foundations of Blåtårn, the prison where Christian IV’s daughter Leonora Christina was imprisoned for 22 years. Photo: Mick. 2015

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The spirit of the age

Perhaps a pictorial for female toilet would have been a better design choice that accorded more with the spirit of the age? Sydney Opera House. Photo: Mick. 2013.

Perhaps a pictorial for female toilet would have been a better design choice that accorded more with the spirit of the age? Sydney Opera House. Photo: Mick. 2013.

Orlando (1928) is a short work of fiction, highly acclaimed and thought to be the most accessible of Virginia Woolf’s works. Frankly, I found it tedious and long in the tooth. It took me forever to read, getting lost in long passages of description. I had to look hard for the insights and gems.

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