Monday, August 27, 2012

Update from Kiev.

I think it's about time for an update on my life in Kiev (yeah, I moved there for three months with a friend). We've already been here for two or three weeks, and I hadn't bought any new books until yesterday. It's weird.

I started reading Taras Bulba. It's proving to be quite difficult.
 I also haven't visited any churches yet, but then that's partially because I've visited them before and we have visitors coming that we have to take to some tourist places. Not that churches are necessarily very touristy, but for people from Protestant countries Orthodox churches are quite spectacular. I did visit the Lavra, the Monastery of the Caves, founded in the 11th Century. When I went there I had a personal guide, a person who works in one of the very many buildings inside the convent area.

A cemetery inside the Lavra.

A bell tower constructed in various styles.
 I also walked up the Andrijivskij spusk. On weekends it's full of people selling souvenirs, crafts, stuff in general. It goes from St. Andrew's church on the top of the hill down to Podol, the old merchant part of town.
At the top of the hill.

St. Andrew's church.

I bought my books from a woman at the bottom of the hill. First, she tried to speak to us in English, and switched to Russian when I protested. The, when I said I was interested in Ukrainian books, she switched to Ukrainian. I am told, over and over again, that I shouldn't have gone to Kiev if I wanted to learn Ukrainian, because no one speaks Ukrainian in Kiev. Only, they really do. I hear Ukrainian all the time, you see it everywhere on the streets, and I really have to practice my Russian as well anyway, so it's a win-win situation.

We now have two days of rain coming up. It feels quite nice after a couple of days of 30°C, and I only wish I had a bottle of whiskey to go with my new books. I am contemplating a visit to the huge historical museum today, with an obligatory stop in a café somewhere with dear Taras.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Marta Ketro.

This summer has not lead to very many posts here. Not because we've had a great summer. Actually, we've hardly had any summer at all, and what you see below on the photo is one of those rare days with sun. Don't be fooled though, it was still cold outside. 

Марта Кетро - Улыбайся всегда, любовь моя (Always smile, my love)

I rarely write anything about books here these days since I use Goodreads for my nerdy literary needs, and since all I do now is read, I don't have much else to write about. However, I thought I should jot down a couple of words about the most recent Russian book I've read. It belongs to a genre that I both adore and somehow, secretly, despise - feminine prose. That it says "Самая искренная и нежная из легенда русского интернета" (The most genuine and tender legends of the Russian Internet) on the cover annoys me somewhat because of the use of the word "tender". As soon as they put words like that, or "feminine prose" on the cover of a book, a huge chunk of possible readers are immediately scared off. However, it's quite true, it's very, very genuine, and very tender (bleh). I like the genuine part, it places Marta Ketro in the exclusive club that Annie Ernaux reigns in, but unfortunately, it does become a bit too flowery and horribly unstructured. Whereas Ernaux's books have structure and are so completely devoid of pretense, Ketro has some of the same brilliant insights and writes some absolutely wonderful things, but the red thread in this thing that I have a hard time calling a book, is difficult to grasp. It begins very, very well, with a narrative. Then there's a death, and there's a new story, then it all seems to fall to pieces and there's I don't know how many pages of I don't know what. All of a sudden, something brilliant, and then just... a confusing mass of words. It's a shame, because Ketro obviously has potential. Perhaps some more editing would have been appropriate here? I'm not sure if perhaps the death, the turning point, is the reason for the following chaos, and that there's a symbolism there. What could have turned into a normal life, like a normal narrative, with logical events following one another, turns into loose encounters, random meetings. I may have read the book too slowly, so that my loosing track of what on earth was the story line was actually my fault, and not the author's.

Quote time!

Нет ничего прекраснее, чем любить человека на расстоянии, избегая не только физической близости, но и простых встреч. Идеальный союз двух душ, неувядающий и неутолимый. Что может быть лучше?
Почти так же прекрасна телесная близость при польном внутреннем отчуждении. Есть особая, освежающая свобода в том, чтобы принадлежать партнеру лишь телом, сохраняя душу одинокой.

С определенного возраста при появлении (и уходе) нового мужчины возникает мысль: а вдруг этот - последний? Вдруг никогда больше не случится нового таинства, новой страсти?
Я бы хотела узнать у мужчин, чувствуют ли они так же, да не смею. Каждый раз, когда кто-то говорит: "Ты моя единственная", - мучительно тянет спросить: "Неужели не боишься, что я у тебя последняя?" Жутко ведь - быть приговоренным к одному телу. Как ни одной новой книги прочитать.

I felt that this song by Thåström suited this book. The main line goes "It should have been you" (with "Fan" being the easy-going Swedish equivalent of "Fuck").