Realm of Reality (short story)

A short story written for school, loosely based on a real life experiance.

The fierce blade of the axe dissected the branch, leaving it to helplessly fall to the ground. I kicked it, as the fallen warrior it was, deserving neither dignity nor compassion. I smiled, held he axe steadily in my hands and let it hit the tree yet again, however this time barely scratching it.

The fresh wind stroked my face and the sun shone upon my hair, and I stood still for a moment, gazing upon the cloudless clear blue sky and using my empty hand to shield my eyes from the sun. The words “perfect summer” flashed through my mind, and again I focused my sight upon the tree before me. I lifted the axe, I saw the target and I realized I had missed before I even lifted the axe above the height of my thighs.

I was lying down, breathing heavily, unknowing whether my eyes should be kept open or closed. The axe’s blade had a clear dark red stain as it lay before me, and I knew it was of the same origin as what was seeping through the fingers of my shaking hand, as I instinctively tried to supply pressure on the cut on my left leg. “Blood”, I thought. “I’m bleeding.” I let go of the wound, and dared to examine it for barely a second before I withdraw my head to instead gaze lifelessly at the lonely cloud wandering across the realm of reality. My focus dropped. “It’s yellow. I didn’t know flesh was yellow. Why is it yellow? God, is that the fat? How deep is this? Why is it yellow? Dad came running, screaming my name. But I barely heard him.

Worth a listen

How can Sonata Arctica keep producing songs with such a happy melody and so goddamn sad lyrics? It doesn’t fit at all, but it’s cool. Nightwish is the total opposite, the lyrics always fit with the melody / music. Just look at Sonata songs like The Rest of the Sun Belongs to Me (lyrics right under this), Kingdom For a Heart, Victoria’s Secret… anyway, this song is worth a listen.

Sonata Arctica – The Rest of the Sun Belongs to Me
I have no feelings, there is no more sunlight.
The darkest hour is now here.
I must have lost it for good, staying here without a fight.
Out in the cold and windy night.
Still waiting for a sign.

I know there is still a day for me.
One short moment is still enough for me.
Bring me life with your ray of light.
If only I found a small piece of the fallen sun…

I wait for the day that will come.
Wait for the sunlight, wait for the one.
You can do what you want with the sea, but the rest of the sun belongs to me.

The winter fell on me and ended my life.
The darkest hour is now here.
Yet one more frozen month, my Hell awaits me, out in the cold and windy night.
Still waiting for a sign…

Nightwish – The Islander

It has come to my information that Nightwish’ next single will be The Islander, released on May 30, 2008. Quite a good choice since I expected something along the lines with Cadence of Her Last Breath (one of their most listened songs from Dark Passion Play according to Last.fm, and of the easily listened shape). However, I really think five singles… that’s too much from one album. Okay, Erämaan Viimeinen was Finland only, but still. Eva, Amaranth, Bye Bye Beautiful, that’s a good variation; a ballad, a happy, melodic Anette-song and a heavier Marco-song. That’s FINAL. No more. PLEASE.

I really look forward to the music video, though. It seems cool.

Nightwish – Tavastia bootleg

Sandra just sent me Nightwish’ unofficial Tavastia bootleg, a twenty song live recording from September 26, 2007 – their second concert with Anette. A great set of songs, great sound and all! It also featured how the band was given the Platinum Awards for their Dark Passion Play album. It’s great to hear Anette sing the old songs. Tarja rule her on for example Nemo, Wishmaster and Dark Chest of Wonders (well, most of the songs to be honest, but what to expect?), but I really like her versions of for example Ever Dream, Sacrament of Wilderness and She is My Sin.

Track list:

  1. Intro – Ressurection
  2. Bye Bye Beautiful
  3. Cadence of Her Last Breath
  4. Dark Chest of Wonders
  5. Ever Dream
  6. Come Cover Me
  7. Amaranth
  8. Sacrament of Wilderness
  9. The Islander
  10. The Poet and the Pendulum
  11. She is My Sin
  12. Sahara
  13. Sleeping Sun
  14. Slaying the Dreamer
  15. Nemo
  16. Platinum Awards for Dark Passion Play
  17. Eva
  18. Wishmaster
  19. Wish I Had an Angel
  20. Outro

Run to Creek Mary! (and her blood)

Today I realised how similar the lyrics to Nightwish’ song ”Creek Mary’s Blood” and Iron Maiden’s ”Run to the Hills” are. Ofcourse there’s the first similarity that both of the songs treat the extermination of Indians from the Indians’ point of view, but there’s actually more.

Creek Mary’s Blood
White man came
Saw the blessed land
We cared, you took
You fought, we lost
Not the war but an unfair fight
Sceneries painted beautiful in blood

Run to the Hills
White man came across the sea
He brought us pain and misery
He killed our tribes, he killed our creed
He took our game for his own need

We fought him hard we fought him well
Out on the plains we gave him hell
But many came too much for cree
Oh will we ever be set free?

These similarities are clear, certainly. More far-fetched are the choruses:

Creek Mary’s Blood
Wandering on Horizon Road
Following the trail of tears

Run to the Hills
Run to the hills
Run for your lives

Haha, okay, that’s a bit worse than the first example. But Creek Mary is after all  a mountain (or hill…). xD Okay, I admit, I’m just bored. 😀

The Classical Conspiracy

Dutch symphonic metal band Epica will be performing a classical show with symphonic orchestra and choir in the Miskolc International Opera Festival, in Hungary on the fourth of June 14, 2008. On this concert, which they call ”The Classical Conspiracy” (from their latest album’s title), Epica and the orchestrea will perform classical pieces from Mozart, Dvorak, Verdi, Orff, Prokofiev, Grieg, Vivaldi in new metal adaptions, as well as symphonic versions of Epica songs. They have also promised ”other surprises as well”. Seriously, if you can, GO! Please? Just to film the whole shit? I wish I could but since this is in Hungary and I live in Sweden I guess it’s too far. They will probably film it for a DVD release though… Hihihi…

More information: www.epica.nl

Nightwish – Bye Bye Beautiful

Today, Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish released their third single from their Dark Passion Play album, ”Bye Bye Beautiful” (preceded by ”Eva” in May 2007 and ”Amaranth” in August). This is clearly the best single of the album, and one of the best songs, together with for example ”The Poet and the Pendulum”, ”Sahara” and ”7 Days to the Wolves”.

The standard version of the singel features this tracklisting:

  1. Bye Bye Beautiful
  2. The Poet And The Pendulum (demo version)
  3. Escapist
  4. Bye Bye Beautiful (DJ Orkidea remix)

Except ”Bye Bye Beautiful”, this features ”Escapist”, a bonus track for Dark Passion Play’s Japanese version, as well as two unreleased versions of two songs; a remix of ”Bye Bye Beautiful” and a demo version of ”The Poet and the Pendulum” where Marco Hietala performs all the vocals, with changed lyrics at some points. Frankly, DJ Orkidea’s remix sucks big time. But also, I’ve never really liked techno music. The demo version is ofcourse a demo version, and ofcourse it’s silly to believe Marco can sing the parts of a boy soprano. White Lands of Sympathica, which is a sad part, really makes me laugh on the demo version. I like the lyrics in ”The Pacific” part of TPTP though, that got banned from being published. 🙂

The Two Dogs

English essay on how Candy’s dog foreshadowed Lennie’s death in John Steinbeck’s book Of Mice and Men. Finished on December 14th, 2007.

Long before the death of Candy’s old dog, several references between the lines suggest its faith – as well as, later revealed, Lennie’s.

            The first time the dog is ever mentioned, on page 45, it is said in the first description that it “struggled lamely to the side of the room and lay down, grunting softly to himself”. Of course this clearly shows the state it is in; old, sick and tired of apparently everything. The state of the dog is again referred to by Carlson far later in the novella: “Got no teeth. He’s all stiff with rheumatism”. He uses this over and over again as a convincing argument for killing the dog, sending Candy on a guilt trip not to – “Well, you ain’t being kind to him keeping him alive”. The description Carlson gives can of course as well be an over-exaggeration since all he cares about in that moment is to receive allowance of executing the dog, but it obviously isn’t far from truth since Candy doesn’t stand a chance to protest.

            As the dog is old and useless on the ranch, it is but a companion and friend to the old swamper, and no one but him seems to think of him as more than a thing, especially Carlson as he asks Candy to take the dog’s life – saying “Why’n’t you shoot him, Candy?”, as if he was a thing.

            Most of the reasons of killing the dog are clearly selfish, even though Carlson – as pointed out – uses Candy’s emotions to make him agree. Carlson as well clearly had a bad day, with losing the horse shoe-pitching (“He don’t give nobody else a chance to win”), and that result in an irritated and easily annoyed mood that heavily advances when he sniff the smell of Candy’s dog, taking out the frustration on it and the owner (“God awmighty that dog stinks. Get him outta here, Candy!”). If Candy only had obeyed him, taking out the dog of the bunkhouse, none of the tragedies probably would’ve happened. This shows how the idea of killing the dog only is a temporary thought, something that doesn’t really matter to Carlson in the whole picture.

            As soon as Candy has been forced into an agreement, Slim and Carlson leads the dog “out into the darkness” which obviously refers to the physical darkness, but as well perhaps the dog’s future mental darkness – death. Then a sudden, silent tension reaches the bunk house as the rest of the gang, including Candy, sits still, awaiting the shot. As they hear it fire, no reaction is seen till Candy silently moves to his side on the bunk bed, facing the wall making the others unable to see him, and starts to sob.

            After the loss of tension, Candy says to George “I ought to have shot that dog myself […] I shouldn’t ought to have let no stranger shoot my dog” – even though none of them thought of it then, this seemingly innocent sentence eventually meant the end of Lennie’s life.

 

As George in the end of the novella shoots Lennie to his death, the reader can understand how John Steinbeck has placed several connections between this and the shooting of Candy’s dog.

            On several occasions, the dog and Lennie is shown to be comparable by similar description, and on other Lennie is given characteristics of an animal. An example of this is in the very first description of him in the novella’s beginning: “dragging his feet […] the way a bear drags his paws”. In the dog’s first description it is mentioned how it “struggled lamely”. For the first thing, Lennie is here being compared with an animal (a bear), and for the second, they are compared in a similar way. For both of them this is the first description, even though the dog’s comes about forty pages later.

            Another thing is that George was obviously affected or even inspired by the dog’s death as he decided to kill Lennie – yes, he decided to; at first it seemed to me like the idea was sudden and impulsive, but then I realised that he had stolen Carlson’s Luger about an hour earlier. As an example of this “inspiration”, there is a part (already pointed out nine lines above) where Candy explains the remorse of not helping the dog out of the painful world – a.k.a. killing it – himself. In the same sentence, he also says that he didn’t want a stranger to shoot his dog.

            Then turn Candy into George. Turn the dog into Lennie. Turn the stranger into Curley. Lennie has to die, and Lennie will die, for Curley has now dedicated his life to finding and killing him in order to avenge his wife’s death. And even if he fails, even if Lennie succeeds in escaping, the whole procedure will eventually restart; George knows it has happened before and that it will happen again, that Lennie’s state is chronic. If now Lennie has to die within the last few hours or so, then George realises, inspired by Candy’s words, that he doesn’t want Curley to kill him. Through the time they travelled together, he has thought of Lennie as his companion, but as well his responsibility and burden. He doesn’t want anyone else to ease his burden. This is his responsibility, and if he now fails keeping Lennie alive on a straight row, if he has to die, he wants to finish it off himself.

            Another “inspiration” to George may have been what Slim said in the scene where the dog’s future is to be decided, that if he got old and crippled, he’d want to be killed. Lennie is – mentally – useless and what can be defined as “crippled”, like the dog physically. And if Lennie isn’t able to decide to commit suicide, then isn’t that George’s job to decide for him?

            Even if a big part of the reasons George has of murdering him is to help him, sadly there are selfish reasons as well. Once again compare Lennie with Candy’s dog. Except of the unselfish reasons, the reasons of killing it was simple – it smelled. If you had an old pair of grown out socks that really smelled so it stank in the whole house, what would you do? Throw it away? They are of absolutely no use at all, and it’s even worse than that, they are going on your nerves since they really, really smell! Of course you’d throw them away. That’s exactly what’s going throw Carlson’s mind about the dog. It is of no use at all since it’s old and crippled. And it’s annoying. So there we go. Throw it away. Kill it.

            Like the dog, Lennie is of absolutely no use to anyone. Maybe he used to be a company to George, but presumably not anymore – George has obviously made lots of new friends on the ranch in the last few weeks, and he simply doesn’t need Lennie anymore. Lennie clearly makes lots of trouble to George, and it is especially clear when George sees the body of Curley’s wife and tells Candy to pretend like he hasn’t been there – for if the other knew he was one of first to see it, they might have thought he and Lennie did it together. It is early in the novella seen how Lennie’s wrongs often negatively affect George, as the two of them are forced into fleeing Weed. Lennie is of no use at all, and he is even worse, he destroys for others.

            Lennie is an old and crippled dog. And he smells.

 

George doesn’t have much of a role in the scene where Carlson and Candy debates on whether to kill the dog or not, since he is new on the ranch and knows he doesn’t have much to say that can make a difference. The first real thing he says in the scene is also to change subject – “Seen a guy in Weed got an Airedale could heard sheep. Learned it from other dogs”. It is obvious how he does feel he wants to help Candy, but can’t really stand up for him. However, I don’t think George really have an opinion in whether the dog is better of dead or alive; all he wants is to remain everything the way it is. For once, everything is starting to get better for him and Lennie, and he feels that every change can destroy everything.

In the same way, George for long hesitated before finally killing Lennie, not only in the end, standing there with Carlson’s shotgun, but all through their lives. He kills him at first when he has to, when he knows that Curley will kill him anyway. Even though he wasn’t the killer of the dog, he hesitated and tried to stop the shooting by changing subject – I think he knew that the dog sooner or later was going to be shot, but that he, naive as a child, was trying to postpone it for as long as he could, in the same way as he postponed Lennie’s death.

 

In the killing of Candy’s dog, Slim supports Carlson, and in a way the same is done with Lennie. Slim is the only one who in the in the final scene understands what happened between George and Lennie. But he doesn’t call in a sheriff to arrest George for murder; he pretends to believe how Lennie was the one to steal Carlson’s Luger, and that George only killed him in self defence. As Slim and George walks off to have a drink, the reader understand that beyond the tragedies that coloured the book’s pages red, there lies a brand new friendship.

            While he understands what happened, Carlson still hasn’t understood a bit of the truth, believing George’s lies about self-defence. Here, I think Carlson represents the majority of humanity and its blindness it is towards war, segregation, racism, animal cruelty and other cruelties in the world. To me, Carlson’s final comment is like a conclusion on the whole novella, all the inner meanings and hidden messages, everything Steinbeck wants to show with it.

 

Even though Lennie’s death at first seems unnecessary and tragic, you realise that he maybe had to go, that the world now is better for everyone, especially with George’s and Slim’s sudden friendship. Of Mice and Men is to me a novella where there is a fine line between friendship and hatred as well as good and evil. In the end of it, I was shocked to read about George killing Lennie, as he to me definitely was the good, but suddenly turned evil – then I realised how this actually instead showed the potential of his goodness.

            That Slim helped in the killing of the dog at first may seem not to fit in with his character and the description of his status almost being god-like, but I think Steinbeck had him performing this role to show the every day society. Everyone can kill, everyone kills. That he can do it no matter how high status he has among the others on the ranch refers to how exactly everyone does it, no matter who they are. And with “kill” I don’t mean killing other humans, or necessarily not even killing other animals, but to hurt, let down, and such. I think that the underlying message for this might be something like that everyone kill, everyone will kill always kill and this will always be this way – something that refers to the meaning of the title. “The best laid schemes of mice and men often goes askew”, the sentence of a Scottish poem (here translated to modern English) from which the title “Of Mice and Men” origins, means that whatever we do, no matter how hard we try, it will all go wrong in the end. And this will never stop. Slim is, however, shown to be a bit shaken as he goes out with Carlson to shoot the dog, which shows that there might maybe be a hope somewhere in the world. Maybe, the best laid schemes one day won’t go askew.

 

Nearby where Lennie sits by the river waiting for George, a play is performed before us. The scene about the heron and the two water snakes easily sticks out from the rest, since it is one out of few scenes not at all affected by humans – it is about other animals only, while the rest of the novella has been about humans.

            I believe there is a connection between this scene and the ending of the novella; I think the heron is supposed to be compared to the world, and the first water snake, that is killed, Lennie. As the world indirectly kills Lennie, friends of him are saved – as mentioned before, Lennie’s death is to save the rest; he is one that has to go. It is however confusing to me how it is his friends that are his enemies in Lennie’s case, and still it isn’t another water snake that kills it, but a heron. This leads me into wondering if it is this way because it would be too unrealistic having a water snake killing one of it’s kind, or is it because I am totally wrong – a question to which I can’t find an answer.

 

After the scene with the heron and the water snakes, Lennie is starting to hallucinate. The first hallucination is his dead Aunt Clara (“And then out of Lennie’s head there came a little fat old woman”), who spoke to him in his own voice, over and over again telling him about his wrongs (“You do bad things”) and about how nice George has been to him all along, despite how he returned the favours (“Min´ George because he’s such a nice fella an’ good to you”). She also tells him how he, no matter what he promises now, never actually will leave George to live independently in a cave (“You jus’ say that, you’re always just saying that, an’ you know sonofabitching well you ain’t ever gonna do it”). After that, Aunt Clara is replaced by a big rabbit (“Aunt Clara was gone, and out of Lennie’s head there came a gigantic rabbit”) who in the same voice tells him that he’ll never ever be able to tend rabbits (“You ain’t fit to lick the boots of no rabbit”). It then starts telling him about what George will do to him when he finds him (“He’s gonna beat the hell outta you with a stick”).

            These visions are obviously sign’s of Lennie’s mental state of paranoia and schizophrenia. Aunt Clara presumably was the one who back in the old days always yelled at Lennie when he did something wrong, and therefore she is the one he now has to face when he has done something terribly bad – killing Curley’s wife. That she (and later also the rabbit) talks in his voice is obviously a sign for how he can’t separate different persons from each others, and that this is the voice he is used to. What Aunt Clara and the rabbit tells Lennie is exactly what he deep inside knows or fears – that George sooner or later will leave him, and that he will hurt him or at least not let him tend the rabbits. In the end he also turns out to be right, and even worse; George doesn’t only hurt him, but kills him, and then leaves him. Death is clearly something that Lennie hardly can cope with, and that has been shown several times throughout the novella: he doesn’t think much of food as a life preserver, as he thinks he easily can survive alone in a cave. He also has killed several mice and a puppy for petting them too hard, as well as Curley’s wife. When he had the fight with Curley’s wife that ended with her being killed, he at first thought that her sudden stillness meant that she started to obey his orders of silence. In the same way, he underexaggerates what George will do to him, even though he understands he will do something. That he all along keeps arguing with the two characters (“I’ve knew George since – I forget when – and he ain’t never raised his han’ to me with a stick. He’s nice to me. He ain’t gonna be mean”) is another sign on his confusion. When he can’t agree with himself on how things are and what George is going to do with him, he creates another character to argue with.

            Aunt Clara is as mentioned replaced with the rabbit as Lennie starts thinking of rabbits (“George ain’t gonna let me tend no rabbits now”), which makes it clearer how what he sees is in direct combination with his mind.

 

When George comes to kill Lennie where he sits by the river, there is a calm and quiet feeling about him, and at first he doesn’t say much. He lies to Lennie, telling him that he is not going to leave him, that he will stay by his side. When Lennie happily answers “I knowed it, you ain’t that kind” he doesn’t answer. It is clear how everything’s not right with George, and that he’s not telling Lennie the complete truth. Lennie seems to notice this, and his happiness soon fades as he realises that something is wrong when George don’t start to yell at him. Over and over again, he reminds George of the bad thing he’s done: “George, I done another bad thing […] George, ain’t you gonna give me hell?”. At last, George is forced to start yelling at him, and Lennie keeps encouraging him (“Go on, George”). Then the conversation turns into George yet another time telling the story about their future life, with the rabbits and how they life “on the fatta the land”. Obviously, he tells the story to comfort, assuring him that everything is normal and that nothing is going to change despite what he did; they will still get their own grounds and he will still get to tend the rabbits.

            It is obvious how George is nervous since he several times stops, and as he says “Take off your hat, Lennie”, his voice is shaking (“He said shakily”). He has the excuse that “the air feels fine” but presumably he don’t want it to be in the way when he shoots him in the back of his head further on. He then asks him to look across the river (“Look acrost the river, Lennie, an’ I’ll tell you so you can almost see it”) – so he can’t see how George prepares the shotgun he stole from Carlson. He then stands silent with the safety snapped off and holds the shotgun behind Lennie. He clearly hesitates (“George raised the gun and his hand shook, and he dropped his hand to the ground again”) but is in a way encouraged to continue by Lennie, as he keeps asking him to “go on”; even though Lennie means the story, of course it is misinterpreted by the confused and stressed mind of George’s. It gets even worse when Lennie asks him, “George, when are we gonna do it?”.

            Before pulling the trigger, Lennie asks George once again if it’s sure he’s not mad, and George answers “No, Lennie. I ain’t mad. I never been mad, an’ I ain’t now. That’s a thing I want ya to know.”. This makes it much clearer for the reader that his reason of shooting him definitely isn’t that his mad, but to help him. To help Lennie, and to help himself. To help the world.

            Lennie tells George, “Le’s do it now. Le’s get that place now.”, and even though I don’t think Lennie hereby understands what’s going on, I think George interprets “that place” as the afterworld – even if he maybe doesn’t believe in Lennie going to heaven, he at least believes that he will go to a better world, a tranquillity he cannot purchase in life, but only in death.

            And so George pulls the trigger.

Once

What wouldn’t I give to hold you only once?
Only once
Then you are free
Then I won’t ask any more of you
Then you don’t have to hear me say
Those aweful words again
Only once
Would it hurt you?
Would it rip your soul the way you say it will?
If I only hold you once?

2008.01.30 – 2008.02.05

Den osynliga väggen – bokanalys

Januari 2008

Den då 96-årige Harry Bernstein fick en sen bokdebut när han 2007 kom ut med sin roman ”Den osynliga väggen” (”The Invisble Wall”, USA), vilken han började skriva 2004 för att behandla sorgen efter hans hustrus död. Han arbetar just nu med en uppföljare, ”Drömmen” (”The Dream”), som kommer att handla om hur familjen när han var tolv flyttade till Amerika.

Boken är självbiografisk och behandlar Bernsteins uppväxt i brittiska förorten Lancashire, högst influerad av det pågående första världskriget. Mycket av berättelsen är fokuserad på de kulturella skillnaderna mellan gatans två sidor. På den ena sidan bor de kristna och på den andra judarna, däribland Bernsteins familj. Det är av denna åtskillnad som bokens titel, ”Den osynliga väggen”, kommer. De kristna och judiska är ovänner, bara av tradition. Det finns ingen riktig poäng, och om någon frågar varför får den inget svar. Det bara är så och det har alltid varit så.

Eftersom romanen är självbiografisk är Bernstein allt annat än allvetande, och detta leder till att boken endast täcker en del av vad som händer. Trots att grunden till boken helt enkelt är hans uppväxt, period för period, handlar den mycket om problemen som familjens komplexa religion ställer till, hur de till exempel tvingas be om hjälp av sina kristna grannar för att få i sig mat under sabbatslördagen, och hur äldsta dottern Lily nästan inte får skriva sitt prov för att det skulle strida mot judiska lagar. Först efter att ha läst den här boken förstod jag vidden av den nya era som kriget bredde ut för kristna folket, hur det allt mer avancerade deras gamla lagar och normer. Hur det steg för steg blir värre är någonting man enkelt kan följa i boken.

Detta är dock långt ifrån allt som boken handlar om; den handlar om en pojkes uppväxt under allt svårare förhållanden, om hur familjen plågas av den negligerande, alkoholiserade fadern, och sist men inte minst om den förbjudna Romeo och Julia-liknande kärleken mellan Lily och en kristen pojke från andra sidan gatan. Enligt Bernstein är boken också två mycket personliga saker för honom: för det första är det en slags förlåtelse till hans bortgångna mor, som han först efter hennes död insett givit så mycket och fått så lite tillbaka. Det är också till henne som boken är tillägnad, enligt förordet. Boken är också en slags uttömning för hans känslor gentemot den kristna uppväxten, den fördömande uppfattningen att judar är jordens avskum som borde utrotas eller i alla fall ignoreras. I ett citat om boken och om vad som inspirerade den har Bernstein sagt “Du måste bli lärd att hata. Du måste börja lära dig när du sex, sju eller åtta. De tvingar in det i ditt huvud. Det följer med, som en arveklenod, bland de kristna. De vet inte varför de hatar oss, de bara gör det. [I]

 

Trots att Bernstein – som i boken kallas vid sitt smeknamn Arry – är berättaren och trots att boken är skriven i första person, så vill jag nog inte se honom som mycket mer än en bifigur. Berättelsen kretsar kring hans familj, och han är en person som var där, hade möjligheten att bevittna, observera och smaka på alltsammans; utan att detta var någonting som han skapat. Självklart finns undantag; boken är på sätt och vis indelat i diverse episoder som kan ha olika huvudpersoner, som har högst betydelse för just denna episod, någonting som enkelt kan jämföras med moderna tv-serier som exempelvis Lost, där olika karaktärer har sina egna avsnitt. Ett antal sådana är därmed även om Arry. Anledningen till att berättelsen nu inte kretsar kring honom är på sätt och vis ytterst simpel – han är inte lika viktig som många andra. Hans spröda ålder – han är vid berättelsens start fem år gammal – gör att han inte kan vara med på lika mycket som de andra.

        Den karaktär som boken främst kretsar kring är förmodligen Arrys mor. Hon lever ett tydligt svårt liv, där hon måste balansera det omöjliga förhållandet med sin man tillsammans med att ta hand om sina barn, och hjälpa dem att klara sig bra i livet trots den lidelse deras knappa ekonomi leder dem in på. Hennes man arbetar från tidigt på morgonen, innan de andra gått upp, till sent in på kvällen. När han kommer hem har barnen för det mesta gått och lagt sig, och han har varit runt på stadens pubar och supit sig full, och ofta har han även spelat bort en stor andel av sin lön. För mig verkar det som om han mer är en inneboende i huset än något annat; i slutet av varje månad ger han det han har kvar av sin lön till modern, och hon blir alltid lika besviken på hur lite som är kvar. Men hon kan inte heller lämna honom, för han är den enda som drar in pengar till familjen. Hon försöker däremot att ändra på detta, för att eventuellt bli ekonomiskt självständig, genom att öppna en egen affär i huset. Detta försök faller platt när familjen vägrar tro på henne, men det visar ändå hur stark kvinna hon är, någonting som författaren försöker förtydliga mer och mer. Som nämnt är en av bokens poänger att återge Bernsteins mor i alla fall en del av allt hon gav honom; inte förrän efter hennes död insåg Bernstein hur modig och stark hon varit som kunnat bära hela familjen på sina axlar, och ta alla de slag hennes man gav henne, allt bara för att skydda barnen.

 

Romanen utspelar sig tydligt i skuggan av det första världskriget, och trots att det exakta årtalet inte sägs klart ut någon gång så föddes Bernstein 1910[II], och i boken är han i fem-sexårsåldern.

        Som tidigare nämns märks årtalet (utöver Bernsteins ålder) tydligt på de snabba förändringarna i det judiska samhället; egentligen rör det väl snarare alla att samhället utvecklas, teknologin går framåt och det sociala mer närmar sig dagens normer, men för judarna är det extra tydligt då deras religion tydligt skiljer sig från många normer – en av anledningarna till hur judeförföljelserna kraftigt ökade cirka tjugo år senare i samband med nationalsocialismens grundande.

 

Boken kändes först väldigt seg, och jag fick intrycket av att den fylldes med helt onödiga stycken och till och med kapitel, som varken var av nöd för historien eller intressant för 99 procent av läsarna.

        Som andra tyngdsten var det dock vissa händelseförlopp som var skrivna mycket intressebringande och spännande; flera nätter kunde jag ligga och sträckläsa Den osynliga väggen bara genom behovet av att få veta upplösningen av kapitlet. Det är ytterst sorgligt, dock, hur dessa få lysande höjdpunkter i berättelsen är just höjdpunkter; de förekommer sällan och sticker med hästlängder ut ifrån resten vilket gör det svårt att tro att en enda människa skrivit helheten, att det inte är en novellsamling med kortare berättelser från författare med helt olika förmågor och talanger.

        Boken är väldigt pessimistisk, och ytterst få scener ur den är egentligen speciellt glada. Jag förstår och accepterar förstås att innehållet i boken verkligen var vad som hände, och att man självklart inte kan förändra handlingen till en historisk biografi. Dessutom skulle boken antagligen inte vara alls lika intressant och spännande om den var gladare. Kalla det en slags tillfredsställande skadeglädje som ligger bakom mina ord, för det är förmodligen precis vad det är.

 

 

Fotnoter

I: Min översättning från engelska.
II: Källa:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Bernstein