Archive for the ‘Bookworm Wednesday’ category

What have I been reading?

16 November 2009

Time for yet another episode of the ‘What Have I been reading’-lists I’ve been keeping. I use a little booklet for this, and I’m already dreading the day that the book is full. Most of it is written in pencil, so that I could erase it, but maybe I’ll just make a 900 pages long notebook myself, in which I meticulously keep listed what I’ve read in my life. My children, or my parents, my friends will find this list one day, thinking that I spent too much time reading and too little time living. But They don’t know that that’s just the same. By the way, no Amazon links this time, cause i think you all should start to buy at your independent or secondhand bookstores. Go for it guys.


David Eagleman – Sum

This is one of the best books I read this year, I think. Eagleman, a neuroscientist and writer, comes up with 40 short tales (microfiction it is called) about how the afterlife would be. Especially the first ones made me gasp for air, admiring the great train of thoughts Eagleman is taking in all these little stories. On his website you can read a few sample stories. They are not all as great, and I think I read the book in a too short time. You should be able to just read one story a week, so you’ll be amazed for forty weeks. I tried to keep it to 3 stories a day, but ended up finishing it faster than I could.



Richard Brautigan – The Abortion

A story from the sixties about a man who works in a library for unwanted books, hooks up with an unwanted writer, gets her pregnant, and they decide to have an abortion in Mexico. The plot is a perfect recipe for melodrama, but Brautigan, the hippie that he was, makes into this sweet love story. There is this lack of tension, which makes it a good in-between read, but I’m not sure if Brautigan will ever become my favorite sixties writer (he has to compete with people like Vonnegut and Tom Robbins)



Paul Auster – Timbuktu

I’m a big Auster fan, and this was one of the few books i hadn’t read yet, but it quite disappointed me. I love the beginning, when Mr. Bones is still around his excentric boss, Willy Christmas, whose job it is to spread the merry Christmas thought, after Santa Claus himself told him too. I loved the hobo monologues. But then Willy Christmas disappears from the story, and you get this tale of a dog looking for a new home. It was just too much a disney story to me. It hadn’t the same depths like other Auster books. The main character being a scruffy dog just didn’t work for me. I can remember I felt the story had a bit a too much constructed plot, just because you’re dealing with a dog here. Making the dog able to understand people? It’s a bit too easy.


Alex Robinson – Box Office Poison

This was my Graphic Novel portion for this month – I have no graphic novel buying frenzy planned for the following weeks, so there probably won’t be one in my next list, though you never know off course how much i break my own promises – but boy did I love it. It wasn’t too alternative underground this time, although it still had this typical American “look at me, cause I’m neurotic feel to it”. Box office poison deals with the life of twenty-somethings in New York, growing up; It was like a more serious version of Friends in a way. One of the main characters is a comic book artist (see, it’s all self-indulgent), and ends up working for this guy who invented a famous super hero, but doesn’t get the recognition for it. But it’s also about friendship, relationships… really nice one…


Hugo Claus – Friday

Hugo Claus is supposed to be one of the finest writers to have ever lived in Belgium, the one Belgian writer ever been named for the Nobel prize, but I never had read something from him before. Excuse me: I had tried, but put the book away after 10 pages, cause it bored the hell out of me. Friday was okay, because it was a play, and because it was short. It’s about this man who returns from prison where he has been because he supposedly sexually harassed his own daughter. His wife in the meantime got pregnant from the man’s best friend. The emotional relationships between those three characters, the doubt about the guilt or innocence from the was quite interesting. But there are so many referrings to a world in Flanders that no longer exists, that it also seemed archaic… I guess that most people nowadays will think this is just out of time.


Magnus Mills – The Scheme for Full Employment

Magnus Mills is a British writer, who is writing about absurd situations. Not very high-brow literature, but just a writer who likes to amuse his audience. I read a few books of him, and quite liked this one. It’s about the Plan, a sort of government business that involves people riding down in vans from one storage place to another, being on very tight time schedules. People that are part of the plan get payed good, have job security. But then there is this feud about the time schedules, and everything starts crumbling down. Witty stuff.


Mario Reading – The New Prophecies of Nostradamus

I’m interested in the obscure, and Nostradamus has fascinated me. But,  I also think it’s a lot of bollocks. Mario Readings thinks it’s not and tried to interpret quite a few of Nostradamus’ predictions. I bought this book from a friend who works in a secondhand bookstore, and texted her just a few hours later that this is probably the worst book I’ve ever read in my entire life (well, no..nothing beats Siloam in Dutch translation) . You see, Mario Reading’s readings are laughably far-fetched. He connects dots by pulling a curly line from point A to point Q, to end up at point B. If he reads about burning suns, he’ll look up some sort of mythology, going from Egyptian to Persian mythology, and then come up with an interpretation that makes me think the writer’s a bit schizophrenic. This book got released in 2006, and the fact that every interpretation thus far, is completely wrong, proves my point. Don’t buy this junk.


Michel Tournier -The Ogre (book cover is in Dutch, exactly like the book I have)

Classic of the month. Don’t know how I do it, but I always end up reading at least one novel that is part of world literature a month. Anyway, this one definitely deserves to be there. It’s perhaps quite the dramatic, baroque and intellectual – with all the cultural references – story, but it touches a strange nerve that only classics are able to touch. I don’t know. These books have proven themselves, and though the status of this book is probably not that big in Anglosaxon parts of the world, it is also a book of a certain status. The story is quite hard to just put into a few words, but it’s about this man Tiffauges, who has his own garage on the dawn of World War 2, but has this urging sense of some sort of holy mission in his life. I don’t wanna spoil the rest of the story, but the outcome seems to be quite gruesome. It’s an allegory about the dark sides of life, without even realizing it until you finish it.


Brian Evenson – The Wavering Knife

This guy was on my list for a long time, as many others, but I finally decided to buy a copy of one of his books. Based upon reviews I read about other works of him, I had suspected more something in the line of Chuck Palahniuk, but Evenson is gruesome in a different way. He has this aura of intellectuality over him, which i like at times, and deals not so much with typical american themes. That being said, some of his stories are hilarious, e.g. the one where a disgruntled German man writes an essay about a travel guide his grandfather has written about mexico. He’s raving about the poor English translation by this American writer, but it turns out the English book isn’t even close to a translation. It’s a different book all together. Very nice one. Really makes me wanna read one of his novels.


Ian McEwan – Amsterdam

A modern classic perhaps, but one that didn’t appeal to me that much. Just up until the ending, when I decided that i was curious enough to read it all the way to the end. Here, the artifial atmosphere of intellectuality quite bothered me. An editor-in-chief of a news paper, a classical composer… I normally don’t care about jobs and lives, but I always have a hard time if books have characters of a certain standing (That’s why victorian novels don’t appeal to me at all). That being said, I think the book had some interesting themes, and the ending was quite surprising. I just think it would’ve worked better as a short story though.

Things I am reading now, but haven’t finished yet, are: Roland Topor, Daniil Charms and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Enjoying all three of them.

See you next time.

Met dichten en rijmelarij, maakt de mensheid ons blij: Sammy Deburggraeve

14 November 2009

(This is about a Flemish Poet, so it will be in Dutch, for all you foreign readers. This doesn’t mean you can’t ask for more information, or learn Dutch in order to know what this is all about)

3D62797D-A3BA-BFA4-10E25574ECAA90D6Wie? Sammy Deburggraeve

Wat? De man die zijn volk leerde dichten, naar verluidt.

Wat precies? Vetzakkerij, humor en diepgaande emotie lopen hand in hand op straat, terwijl ze elkaar edelmoedig in het gezicht slaan.

Ik heb ondanks mijn literaire ingesteldheid niet erg veel met poëzie. Net zoals ik met mijn muzikale ingesteldheid weinig heb met klassieke muziek. Misschien ligt het aan mijn gebrek aan intellectualiteit, of ben ik gewoon te dom om me in te leven in het overkoepelend spectrum van hoogdravende emoties. Ik heb mezelf al vaak mijn non-intellectualisme verweten.

Nu zijn er wel een paar gedichten die ik in de loop van mijn leven toevallig tegenkwam, waarvan ik even stil werd. Het zijn de bekende dingen als Robert Frost. Nu is de daad van het stil worden, overmand worden door emoties dat je alleen nog maar kan zwijgen, alleen in literaire betekenis significant, en toch… Bij de persvoorstelling van Sammy Deburggraeves dichtbundel ‘Vlezige Verzen’ in de Arenbergschouwburg begin deze week, was ik ook stil. Vooral omdat zo doorheen de show praten je niet in dank wordt afgenomen door de rest van het publiek, zeker niet als dat vooral gevuld is met sympathisanten.

Sammy Deburggraeve is enerzjids dichter, met daarnaast iets dat in schabouwelijk Nederlands stand-up comedian genoemd wordt. Maar toch vooral dichter vindt hij zelf. En hij kan het nog wel ook. En dat zeg ik niet omdat hij me anders op mijn gezicht zal slaan of omdat ik hem toevallig ken. Hij is er in elk geval als eerste poëet in geslaagd me 15 euro te doen ophoesten voor een dichtbundel. Godbetert.


Ik dacht dat eerst uit sympathie te doen, van beginnend schrijver tot beginnend poeet (al is hij dan al 5 jaar bezig), maar de eerlijkheid gebiedt me te zeggen dat Sammy echt een dichter is. Vanuit hun hogere zuilen zullen stadsdichters en Poëzieprofessoren afkeurig naar de ‘rijmelarij’ van mijnheer Deburggraeve kijken. ‘t is vies, ‘t rijmt, ‘t is traditioneel in post-postmoderne tijden. Maar in de kunst, de creatieve sector, de wereld die dweept met kunstmatigheid, gebruikt eenieder het medium en de vorm die hem het best ligt. Ik heb het er met Sammy al eens over gehad. Hoe hij vindt dat poëzie moet rijmen, omdat het anders te nietsig is. En hoe ik, ook al laten gedichten me veelal koud, vind dat eenieder zijn eigen vorm moet kiezen. Dat alles moet kunnen in de creatie.

Sammy staat vooral bekend als vetzak, en heel wat zijn gedichten borduren verder op dat thema. Zo bezingt hij de vlezige vallei van vunzige viesdoenerij, in zijn reeks poldergedichten. Die maakte hij als polderdichter van de gemeente Stabroek. Ieder dorp of gehucht heeft recht op zijn eigen dichter, al zullen de mensen van Stabroek het zich misschien beklaagd hebben dat Sammy carte blanche kreeg:

De vlezige vallei van vunzige viesdoenerij

O gij, vurig ros met blonde manen,
‘K zag uw vleze op de koer
En in de stallen bij den boer,
O gij, gij polderhoer.

Vervlezing mijner dromen van maagdse meiden die uit poldergronden komen.

O gij, inspiratie en bron van lust,
Gij, die me in m’n dromen heeft geblust.

Aan de beest’n op het veld,
Heb ik ‘t voor ‘t eerst verteld,
Ik ben een boer en echt geen held,
Doch… ik zal u nemen met grof geweld!

Kommt hier spezig spekkezwijn das ich ihre kottelett’n konsummeer;
In die stallen oder auf das velt;
Ich neime dich, keer nach keer…

De sprankelende waterval der hartstochtelijke passie is m’n dagelijks bad,
O wee dat mooie meisje op m’n nachtelijks polderpad…

Reeds vele jaren hunker ik naar natte spleten,
Maar enkel kermende kalv’ren heb ik reeds versleten.

Met hoge hakken triomfeerde haar trots,
In mijn bevlekte boerenbroek geen baksteen maar een rots.

Bevangen door haar bloemzoete boezem volgt ied’re boer bedwelmd haar spoor,

Bevangen door haar bloembloesembollen gaat ied’re dag de oogst teloor.


Ik ben vol van verlangen en’ t vee vol van mij,
O gij,
Vlezige Vallei,
Van Vunzige,

Sammy is echter niet alleen een viezerik – al zullen mensen die hem kennen hier misschien wat vreemd opkijken. Hij is ook rudimentaire eerlijkheid, en weet die ook in zijn gedichten te leggen. En als er één ding is dat ik wel een vereiste vind in kunst, literatuur en muziek, dan is het dat. Niet iets maken omdat je denkt dat het zal scoren bij het publiek, maar eerder als gevolg van een altijd opnieuw bloedende wonde, een noodzaak die zich aan jou opdringt in plaats van omgekeerd. Dat ontroert me in sommige gedichten van Sammy. Het is niet alleen seks en kak. Ergens diep tussen de plooien van die vetzakkenfaçade zie ik een jongeman aan een bureautje schrijven in het midden van de nacht. En als zo ‘s nachts, terwijl iedereen slaapt, hij enkel op zichzelf toegewezen is, dan durft hij te kijken naar wat er in hem bloedt. Dan is het leven even een dagboek in plaats van een speeltuin. Dan schrijft hij liefdesgedichten of existentiële poëzie. Kak en seks kan morgenvroeg ook nog.

Vergaan met man en muizenissen

Ik gooi mijn schip op haar zandbank voor anker;

Ik meer nu aan in haar havengebied;

Mijn ziel is dood en het lijf rot van kanker;

Maar één traan van haar doet me veel meer verdriet.

Ik zag in de verte het licht in haar ogen;

Door stormende regen en windhuilen heen;

Maar zij en haar blik nu die bleken bedrogen;

Dus ik voer als een wrak op haar klippen uiteen;

Ik weet niet eens meer naar waar ik moest varen;

ik weet niet eens meer waar ik ben gestrand;

In het oog van de storm zag ik haar naar me staren;

Ik dacht dat ik verdronk maar ik was reeds aan land;

Ik kan geen dag van een nacht onderscheiden;

Ik zie dat ze huilt en ik denk dat ze lacht;

Als zij met haar tong nu mijn hart uit wil snijden;

Heeft ze me weer op een dwaalspoor gebracht.

Als een inktvis als Kraken komt zij me omarmen;

En trekt ze mijn boot naar de dieperste zeê;

Ik smeek om vergif’nis, ik smeek om erbarmen;

Mijn hebben en houden trekt zij naar beneê.

Als een meermin zo lokt ze me met haar gezangen;

Door scheurbuik verteerd ja zo volg ik gedwee;

Speelbal van ‘t lot in de golven gevangen;

Zo neemt ze mijn hart naar de eeuwigheid mee.

Ik zag Sammy Deburggraeve voor het eerst aan het werk in dat ene tv-programma op VT4, supertalent in Vlaanderen. Eerlijk? Ik vond het vreselijk. Het stond mijlenver van de hippiewereld waarin ik leefde. Toen dacht ik nog intellectueel te kunnen worden. In tussentijd heb ik hem persoonlijk leren kennen, en zijn de vooroordelen die ik op die 5 minuten me had gevormd helemaal verdwenen. Opmerkelijk hoe snel je een mening over mensen hebt, als je ze niet kent.

Op de persvoorstelling vorige week maandag was de pers massaal afwezig. Jammer, want Sammy verdient meer aandacht. Zelfs voor mensen die net als ik geen verstand hebben of willen hebben voor poëzie, is zijn boek iets waar je af en toe in bladert en dan licht glimlachend of met het schaamrood op de wangen omdat je nu ook weer niet dacht dat het zo vettig ging zijn terug in de kast zet. En voor de analfabeten zit er een cd bij, waarna je het boek dan misschien kan gebruiken om haring in te rollen.  En laat het dan zo ver komen dat de slogan die in het groot op de voorkaft staat ook werkelijkheid wordt. Dat Sammy Deburggraeve zijn volk leerde dichten. (je kan zijn boek kopen in de betere boekhandel. Onder meer in de Groene waterman is hij al gesignaleerd. Wil je liever contact met de meester zelve, dan kan dat via zijn website. )

Oh, de cd is trouwens een soort Bart Kaëll from hell. Hier nog een clipje:

What have I been reading?

5 October 2009

So, i have been reading quite a lot the last month, as i always do, though i always have the feeling i’m not reading enough. That’s how bookminded I’ve become over the years. Anyway, What did i read? There were quite some Dutch books in there, which I’ll talk about in English. Most of them aren’t available in translations I guess, but maybe it’s nice to see what Belgian writers write about (well, the same shit basically).


Herman Brusselmans – Ex-drummer

Herman Brusselmans is one of the more famous writers in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, mostly because of his Fuck you-attitude towards the world. His style is irony at its busiest (not always the finest, because he can exaggerate being ironic). His books are especially beloved by rebellious teens and people who like to read about losers. I used to read a lot of his stuff when I was sixteen (he’s got quite the back catalogue, writing a book almost every year), but after a while i saw he kept on writing the same book over and over. He can be extremely funny, but he’s sensitive at times too. (although he’s not known for that, and it depends on the book). Anyway, ex-drummer is about some guys forming a band of people with some deficiencies. The I-person, a famous Belgian writer, gets to be the drummer in the band, because he can’t drum. Probably not available in English, but there is a movie made of it. In Dutch, but you can find it on Haven’t seen the film, but it is a bit weird. Here the trailer:


Karel Van Bever – Dokter in Overall

In this non-fiction book, Karel Van Bever, a doctor with leftist sympathies, goes working under cover in a big factory in Antwerp for nine months (or a year, i can’t remember). IT’s like Günter Wallraf disguising himself and then finding out things aren’t going as smooth in factories as they need to go. A lot of social problems. Too much to explain, and it’s not gonna be translated i guess, but an interesting read if you’re anticapitalist. (that last sentence was a joke).

PAul Baeten Gronda – Nemen wij samen afscheid van de liefde (translation: let’s say goodbye to love together)

A debut novel by some hyped young Belgian author, who happens to be an aquaintance of a collegue. So i asked him if i could borrow the book, quite curious. The read was enjoyable, but not really as thrilling. And quite the average story.


David Mitchell – Black Swan Green

Look, I’m a huge David Mitchell fan, but this book just didn’t do it for me. Mitchell writes a coming-of-age story, and it just seemed a bit plain. I could relate to the feelings of the main character, but having read all the previous novels by Mitchell, I know he can do a lot better. Just hope his next one is back to the old style. I read it in Dutch by the way, so maybe that had something to do with it too?


Elvis Peeters – De Ontelbaren (translation: The Uncountables)

Another Belgian writer (i normally only read foreign authors, this month i read 3 … weeird). A novel of ideas about immigration. Imagine the entire southern hemisphere trying to enjoy the richness of Europe & The United States. The entire society would just stop working, people would steal… This book is about that. about uncountable people coming to Europe. A very scary book, in a way, especially because of the gruesome ending. I’m normally not very into Dutch literature, but this could be an international success in literary circles i think.

Flannery O’Connor – (collection of stories, in Dutch)

One of the more well-known authors that I hadn’t read yet. What can I say? After reading ab ook like this, you always understand why they are classics. A bit sentimental at times, but the typical Southern way of life (well, at least i think it was like that), is depicted in her stories in a very sharp way. Racism, class differences. Classic.


David Small – Stitches

I also bought some new graphic novels, after a couple of months not paying attention to stuff that got released. So i was very surprised to hear quite a few amazing comics were suddenly available. One of them was this autobiographical comic by David Small. Stitches is about Small’s cold relationship with his parents, especially his mother, with quite a scary plot (but as far as i know, it really happened). I’m not gonna spoil to much, but you just read it.


Frank Horschmeier – The Three Paradoxes

A small graphic novel that I have to read again, cause I can’t tell what it was about. well, it was about some comic book author, who is visiting his parents, and will leave the next morning. he has a walk with his dad in the evening, talking about this women he met online and who’s flying over to him the next week. They also bring up old memories, and next to that you’ll read the story he’s writing himself. Nice, but not very understandable at first.


Dash Shaw – The Bottomless Belly Button

A great graphic novel that i just finished (yes, i’m getting tired of typing this, damn) and that is haunting me a little while typing this. About a family, where the parents are getting divorced after being married for forty years. Their adult children don’t understand it, and deal with it in their own way (next to the problems they have themselves). It’s so incredibly subtle and emotionally nice.

Things I’ve been reading but not finished yet

I started in Don Quichote, but having a hard time reading it. It’s really good, but it’s a slow read. Next to that, I’m reading ‘The Lazarus Project’ by Aleksandar Hemon. But the great thing i’m really enjoying is David Eagleman’s Sum. I’ll write more about that next time.

Don’t know if you made it to the end, but if you did. Good job

Bookworm Wednesday: What have I been reading on holiday

16 August 2009

Since the computer with my music on, is broke, i can’t post some music stuff, although i have lots of brand new stuff to offer to you. But right now, let’s talk about books.

This holiday, two weeks US, i’ve been reading a lot of books. I tend to read a lot, even if i do a lot of stuff, i always find the time to go sit in a corner and read. This is what i have been absorbing.


Nick Hornby – Housekeeping Vs. The Dirt

This book fo essays by Nick Hornby, who first got published in the magazine The Believer, is a very entertaining read for people who love to read. Every month, he writes about the books that he bought and read that month. it’s an interesting insight in the life of a reader instead of that of a writer. I’m planning to keep track of that now as well. It’s easy plagiarism, but imitation is necessary.

death and the penguin

Andrey Kurkov – Death & The Penguin

Oddly enough, Nick Hornby mentioned this book in one of his essays. I happened to have it with me, so I started writing this absurd tale of a writer who writes obituaries for people who aren’t dead yet and who has a pet penguin, which he got from the zoo, because they could no longer feed the animals. It’s a heartwarming tale.


Oscar Wilde- The Picture of Dorian Gray

I’m planning to read more classics. AFter reading ‘Dorian Gray’, you suddenly realize why these books will be there forever. The writing is superb, stunning. The wittiness is great and the tale is one of all times. I sometimes was a bit annoyed by the the depiction of women, but that’s because i’m a big woman lover. And I wouldn’t let a personal issue like that influence my opinion. Wonderful. The next Classic on the List is a big one, Don Quichote.


How to Dress for every occassion by the Pope

Baby Be of Use-books

A McSweeneys book, one of the many i bought during their garage sale. A funny style guide written by the pope. You should read it yourself. Also funny are the “Baby Be Of Use” books, like “Baby Fix My Car”, “Baby Do my Banking” and “Baby Make Me My Breakfast”. As soon as I have kids, i’ll learn them all that.


Stephen Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner – Freakonomics

I normally don’t read non-fiction. If i have one non-fiction book a year, it’s a lot. BUt this accidentally crossed my path, and so took advantage of that. Enjoyable read, and it’s helps me to strenghten me in my beliefs that the one thing we are all trying to do – understanding the world and reality, and by doing that trying to predict our future and determine our own happiness – is impossible. Reality is so complex and doesn’t follow the rules. One guy told me the book was propaganda. That was funny too, cause he tried to create his own reality by denying another existing one.

Read, but not finished yet:

Donald Barthelme – Flying to America

I’m not finished with this one, but it was a bit disappointing this far. Maybe it’s because i’m not a native speaker and don’t get to see all the nuances and language complexities, but though i’m a big fan of the absurd, these stories seem to lead to nowhere. Too bad, cause I was very anxious to read his stuff after reading articles about him, thinking he’d be my kind of writer. It’s postmodern for the sake of being postmodern, and that doesn’t really appeal to me. If someone can tell me if his forty or sixty stories volumes are the same, i’m glad to hear that.

Walter Abish – How German it Is

I started reading this, but didn’t finish it, because it just couldn’t keep my attention. It’s a story about german guilt, and though i’ve studied English-German in college, it isn’t really fascinating. Maybe because the whole issue of this German guilt seems to have disappeared for the most. I guess i’ll start reading it somewhere further in the next couple of days, just because i think there’s this big ending where it all comes together, but still…disappointing. He’ll end up on my bookmooch-list i think (where i got it in the first place).

Gabriel Garcia Marquez- collected Stories

HAdn’t read him in a while (since i was nineteen, which is six years ago). I’ve only read 5 stories thus far, and because they are in chronological order, the first stories are very much alike. You can see a young existentialist Marquez imitating Borges & Kafka, but with a certain subtleness. IT’s exciting to witness the evolution while reading his story, and i can’t wait till I get to the stories where he finds his own voice.

That’s it.

I’ll try to keep an update on what i read from now..maybe once a month or so. As soon as i got internet on my music computer, i’ll let you know some new bands who are eagerly waiting for you attention.

Bookworm Wednesday: John Fante

26 April 2009

storyWho? John Fante

What? Bukowski’s literary father, an italian migrant, and one of the best confessional literature-novels I have read so far.

About a year ago i met a guy who had written a book about a year in his life, and he asked me to read what i thought of it (and get all the spelling errors out). It was pretty good, and as a reward he lent me a few books, people who he enjoyed reading. He’s quite into so-called confessional literature, (e.g. Knut Hamsun, Charles Bukowski, Henry Miller).

He gave me two books by John Fante. In his books Arturo Bandini – clearly based upon Fante self – is a would-be writer who has moved to Hollywood to become a succesful author. His thoughts swing from thinking he is the best writer alive to finding himself a complete failure. Next to that, he also has quite the  temper, so that he he is unctrollable in his actions.

Although I’m quite fond of Bukowski, Fante is even better. I’ve only read two books thus far, but they haven’t bored me for a bit. They are even very touching at times…

Confessional literature has the advantage over traditional literature that the only style it needs is honesty. Off course, you have to be a good writer, but Fante doesn’t kill his text by using too much stilistic devices.  It’s like lo-fi literature. Also for people who enjoyed Catcher in The Rye.

Great stuff.

Buy John Fante at Amazon or look for it in your second hand bookstore.

May I Murakami You?

21 March 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve written something about books. Not that I have stopped reading – i’m reading quite a lot lately – but i just don’t really know whether it’s useful giving my shallow opinion about books or authors. They are way too valuable to get such stupid blog posts.

Then again, thanks to the post on Jorge Luis Borges, my blog stats keep on being high (as if everyone googling for the Argentinian writer ends up at my blog). And because I just finished the best short story collection ever, even better than my previous favourite ‘Nine Stories’ by J.D Salinger, I just had to say that everyone should go buy ‘Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman’ by Haruki Murakami.

The stories are sometimes distorted from reality, but they are all very truthful to life. In order to achieve that, you must be a good writer.

That’s all i’m gonna say about it. Just buy it, read it, and let me know if it’s your favorite book as well. Maybe I’ll marry you.

De kindertijd, ‘t schoonste van het kleinste: Herinneringen

2 February 2009

coverWat? Herinneringen

Waarover? Een boekje met illustraties over herinneringen aan de kindertijd, door Astrid Yskout, Ward Zwart, Ephameron en Gerard Leysen.

Laten we eens heel veel superlatieven gebruiken voor het GEWELDIG MOOIE boekje ‘Herinneringen’, waarin 4 illustratoren samen 48 jeugdherinneringen opschreven en een aantal uit die lijst gebruikten om er een illustratie bij te maken. Het resultaat is uitermate ontroerend, nostalgisch werkje dat bovendien erg inspirerend werkt om zelf jeugdherinneringen op te halen.

hieronder een pagina uit het PRACHTIGE boekwerkje, maar vergeet het vooral niet te bestellen op Mus Mus. Snel zijn is de boodschap, want er bestaan maar 300 exemplaren!

(To the English Readers: this post is about a book full of wonderful illustrations about childhood memories. It’s in Dutch, but if you’re into illustration, just click on the Mus Mus link to order a copy. It’s really worth it.)

hieronder ‘n pagina van Astrid Yskout:


Lord Of the Rings, the better version: Bone (Jeff Smith)

11 December 2008

blog_011-753041What? Bone by Jeff Smith

About? An epic story about three funny looking creatures who are cousins (Phone Bone, Smiley Bone and Phoncible Bone). They end up in a sort of Fantasy-like valley after being chased out of Boneville, and suddenly find themselves amidst a sort of Lord of The Rings battle between rat creatures, dragons and medieval humans.

I just spent last week  reading ‘Bone’ by jeff Smith, the acclaimed comic artist.  And what can I say? All these awards this comic book got are well-deserved. I’m not very fond of Fantasy. Dragons, elves…most of the time they just piss me off. So I didn’t read Tolkien’s oeuvre, nor did I enjoy the films. But ‘Bone’, although very epic fantasy at times, is just better, because it’s funnier. It’s this clash of Fantasy-realism and the cartoonesque figurs of the Bone cousins.

It’s no graphic novel. It doesn’t fit the definition I use, but then again…a 1,332 page long comic book which tells one story with the grandeur of one of the most famous books of the 20st Century.. Can’t you consider that ‘a graphic novel’?

Franktly, i don’t care. You should all just go and read it.


Bookworm Wednesday will be no more…

5 November 2008

Sreading-a-book2o, by obliging myself to write about a novel, author or something else literary each wednesday, i’ve been limiting myself. Actually I should be able to write more than once a week about books, and i should be able not to write literature if i don’t feel like it.

The problem i have with this, is that it clearly shows in my stats that no one is interested in books. It could be because of my crappy choices, and my crappy writing about it (I can write, i just don’t try hard enough on this blog. If i’ll ever believe in the benefits of releasing my own literary work – let’s call them stories, that sounds less highbrowed – on the internet, I’ll prove it to you. But first try to start a decent literary career).

But I think it is because people want to get advice in small texts. They Want lists, and lists that make sure they will like the book i’m writing about. They want comparisons, they want graphs proving it’s something up their alley., … I like e.g. browsing through Amazon, to see all the Listmania lists.

Maybe i’ll try something new with this book obsession of mine. Give you a list of all i’m reading (right now, just Borges, Knut Hamsun’s  ‘Hunger’ and Salinger’s  ‘Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenters/ Seymour: an Introduction‘) or what I’ve bought this week (too many graphic novels)

Or i could take this book 1001 Books you’ve must read before you die (the Dutch edition) and tell you what i read and if i liked it. But i’m not good in dissecting literature (well, i am a little bit in my head, but i think it’s a waste of time)

Well, anyway, Someone told me I talk too much on my blog, and she’s absolutely right

So let’s end it here. There will be literature in the future, i’m just not sure how. (and it will be just for me if no one reads it)  And for the sake of it, i’ll keep on calling it Bookworm Wednesday, or otherwise i have to make other categories and stuff…and i’m not in the mood for that.

Bookworm Wednesday: Jorge Luis Borges

29 October 2008

Who? Jorge Luis Borges

What? Short stories that challenge your mind

Must read? I’m reading it right now, but the stories “Pierre Menard, Author of The Quichote” and “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” are astonishingly good.

Actually I can’t tell that much about Borges. I know that he turned sort of blind during his life, and that he wrote very symbolic stories, with lots of metaphores and surrealism. I’ve only recently got to know him (i bought an anthology), and read the stories ‘Pierre Menard, Author of the Quichote” and the other one only this week.  But they really were so amazing, that i can’t stop writing about it now, hoping that you all run to the online bookstore and order one of his books.

Pierre Menard is the story of a French writer who rewrites the Don Quichote by Cervantes. It’s an essay about the way Menard wrote a better Don Quichote than the original, but – without revealing the plot – that seems a weird thing to say. (just read it). It’s a story about translation and interpretation of texts. Really, really good.

But well, i’ve studied languages, so maybe you’re more into history, and especially history of the big conspiracies? Read the Tlön-story then, a story in which a guy discovers a country that doesn’t exist. Also just read it.

The thing is that Borges – at least in those two stories – in a very dry style can create a surreal world. While reading it, it feels as a paradox. All the time you’re thinking: “oh this is just an essay about something”, and then in the end you find out it’s all just fiction.

There was this other story, that was more symbolic about a guy who wanted to have the ability to dream a person with all the details, which he manages to do. very metaphorical story, very nice ending as well.

I can’t wait to read more, and so should you.