Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hospital book

Think I'll start classifying the books I am reading into hospital books (takes your mind off things, and there's a bowl to throw up into), flying books (gripping read, not to heavy in weight) and so on. Much like I've classified Verdi's operas as 'ice cream music'. I have another one for music, thought of it recently, but have forgotten it already.

Anna Gavalda is a French author, about one of whose other books someone says in Amazon: 'The book is the literary equivalent of a fireplace or an evening with candlelight, soft and embracing warmth. It is very hard to create such stories or characters without overdoing it. The author was able to do so, and the only actual problem is that the book has an end.'

As I said, bring the puke bowl.

'Hunting and Gathering' which is the book that someone leant me, in German, is about a young anorexic woman in Paris, her aristocratic neighbour and flat-mate (owner), a mixed-up chef also living in the flat and his granny who's had one fall too many. They move together somewhat reluctantly and as time goes on they get on better, and so on....Cheesy isn't the word - it's a Brie running off the table! Cliche overload. But if you were in hospital feeling like death, having had your literary judgement removed, it might be ok. If I offered it to my extremely fussy mother, and she enjoyed it, I would begin to seriously worry.

Apart from the cheesy story, it's the style of writing that gets me. The blurb on the back describes it as 'burschikos' (boyish). Obviously I can't tell whether it's the translator's version of the book, but there is a conflict between what is a bit of a woman's story, and the language which is really rather bloke-ish. Especially since the main narrating character speaks like a man, but is the rather skinny and very artistic slip of a girl. I suppose it happens.

But there are gaps of credibility, too - this girl who is a cleaning lady working nights has no hesitation to go and buy a HiFi, a washing machine or take other people out to dinner, even though they know that she cannot earn much (much later we get an explanation, but it's a bit far fetched as well).

I hate to say this, but it seems the book has been made into a film. The French title is 'Ensemble, C'est Tout', with that girl Tatou who was in that famous film, was it Amelie's World? Take plenty of hankies when you go to see it.