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Against Art: The Notebooks by Tomas Espedal

Against Art: The Notebooks (2009)

by Tomas Espedal

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554214,390 (4.36)2



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The first sentence must be soft.

Of course, I do not at all agree with the above statement. My own writing instruction impressed upon me by a teacher infamously tyrannical in his editing, as well as with his friends, taught me to instead be hard. No matter what, you must be hard and stay hard. He said there would be no other chance in which to be heard unless the sentence was a strong one and unexampled in its feeling. But certainly Tomas Espedal has every right to speak his mind and relate his experience as a writer and as a friend. Except Espedal, and his friends, for the most part, remain hidden inside his head and between the pages of the books he has read and written. And he is not at all unlike myself except in matters of my own virtual online relationships nurtured within a select group of like-minded readers. And there is nothing wrong with this scenario either.

Against Art is a book I will most likely read again. There was much I lost in the opening pages and it took me most of the book to catch up and get the gist of what he was perhaps getting to. Because I have not been properly introduced to this Norwegian writer prior to my reading of this particular title, I have no frame of reference in which to judge this book beyond the words in it and the dust jacket cover. It seems he passes the Sarki audition. And I want to believe that Espedal is an important writer and one I will hear and read much more from in the near future. Until then I will have to wait to draw a more educated and informed conclusion. I do know he once agreed to dress up in a white wedding gown and pose for a young woman’s art project. Me thinks he must be comfortable in his skin or at least willing to manifest a fellow Hemingway proclivity. His mother supposedly read many books written by progressive women writers and Tomas gobbled them up as soon as she was finished reading them. He purportedly read so many of these so-called feminist writers that he at one time wanted to be a woman himself. If memory serves his fantasy lasted all of two months.

So how much of Espedal’s writing is fiction or some myth he might be perpetrating? And does it even matter in the long run what is and what isn’t? The sentences are either good or they are found lacking. The text either follows us after the end or it hides inside the countless other books that have already been written. Espedal claims in his journal here to want to write novels that are poetic. That is an admirable and lofty idea, and one that is harder to do I think than simply putting down a good story. But that is coming from a poet like myself who has his own lofty goals and has yet to achieve a final satisfaction on his page. Though a translation from the original Norwegian, Against Art came across to me as something quite outstanding on its own in a language well-written that surprisingly left me feeling satisfied. ( )
  MSarki | Jan 24, 2015 |
This novel's narrative moves seamlessly from one family member to the next, working its way down the family line of men. Perhaps, a little too seamlessly; it's hard to find the thread, but interestingly, it's not distracting. The style is flowy, and there are no sharp edges in his writing. His writing is very beautiful and chock-full of prose. ( )
1 vote rmostman | Apr 20, 2012 |
Showing 2 of 2
Et eget rom
Skrivestuen er midtpunkt i en livsfortelling som strekker seg fremover og bakover i prosaens og poesiens form.
Den umulige drømmen om en bok
Undertittelen antyder at vi kan få flere bøker innenfor det prosjektet som innledes her.
Sobert om lengsel og savn. Dette er både refleksjon, selvbiografi og historie. Tomas Espedal har skrevet en vakker roman om savn og lengsel.
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