Another addition to Texts & Oddities: The Story of Brian, Savior

Posted in Texts and oddities on October 30th, 2009 by Jeppe Grünberger

Friday seems to stir strange thoughts and stories in my head, and so this little, peculiar thing came out. It is called The Story of Brian, Savior, and it can be read here.

Review: The Shadow of The Wind

Posted in Reviews & Recommendations on October 28th, 2009 by Jeppe Grünberger

This is the first review of a book I add to this page. The idea is to have pages where I recommend books to those who may have similar taste as me. For a book to be featured here it has to have some sort of a unique quality that distinguishes it from other books in my opinion. My first review is as follows:

  • Title: The Shadow of The Wind
  • Orignal title: La Sombra del Viento
  • Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón
  • Published: 2001 by Editorial Planeta, Barcelona

The setting of The Shadow of The Wind is Barcelona, 1945, just after the second world war. The action takes place in the shadow of the Spanish civil war and, as we find out, in the shadow of many other things as well. The feel of Barcelona is that of dark, mysterious streets where the fates of people intertwine like the narrow, stony passages that hold the old quarters of the city together.

We follow Daniel, the son of an antiquarian, who discovers a book named The Shadow of The Wind in an enigmatic place called The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. This book is written by an obscure author called Julián Carax who no one seems to know much about. When Daniel discovers that his book is not only rare but may indeed be the last of its kind – the rest have been systematically been pulled off the market and burned –  he begins an investigation into the past of Julián Carax. An investigation that will bring him into the the dark past of friends and lovers surrounding a Julián Carax whose fate seems to have been decided when he was much the same age as Daniel himself. As the story progresses the two fates of Daniel and Julian become increasingly and ominously entwined, and Daniel soon finds that the fate of Carax and his book will bring him to a past of death and tragedy threatening his own life as well. For in Daniel’s Barcelona mistrust and violence linger always, barely hidden in the shadows – and lives fade suddenly and tragically.

The Shadow of The Wind is one of the most read-worthy books I have read. Zafón somehow manages to draw from so many genres, and still keep the dramatic structure not only intact but under the control of a master. The long lost Gothic genre is somehow conjured back from the dead to play with the hard boiled detective novel amongst others and it just simply works very, very well. Only rarely will you read a story as exciting and thrilling as this while still sometimes finding yourself stopping to wonder at the beauty of its language and its characters.

Zafón manages heavy themes of civil war, loss and love beautifully in a book that can be heart-wrenching, cruel and delightfully amusing at any given time. The language is enticing without becoming overly complicated, and the chapter’s lengths fit really well with bed time reading as well. I really can’t think of any reason not to read and enjoy this book. Its the sort of novel, that if an author ever publishes something like it, he can call his professional career an accomplished success no matter what else happened in it.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

Monday, spam and how my brother killed my email address

Posted in Unwelcomed notions published for no obvious reason on October 26th, 2009 by Jeppe Grünberger

So it was Monday again. It really shouldn’t keep surprising me that this happens, but somehow the arrival of Monday keeps sneaking up on me. This time my week started with a revisit from an old friend that I had almost forgotten: the porn-spammer. One of the emails in this mornings inbox informed that I was but a single click away from enjoying the virtual company of a delightfully charming, seemingly female character who was hung like a horse. I politely declined, but it got me thinking about a tragedy of my youth: the story of how I lost my first ever email address.

It happened during the end of the nineties in a conflict similar in type, if not in scale, to the Cold War. My older brother and I (being the respective representatives of The Warsaw Pact and NATO of course) were involved in some sort of debate that, for reasons lost in time, caused me to strain the fragile state of truth in our household with a minor threat. I informed my brother that, if he were not careful, I would sign his email up for an online, rather graphic newsletter concerning same-sex relations between young male adults. One must remember that this was a time when spam-filters were about as effective as the American Star Wars defense project of the late 1980s, and that the internet was still something you called on the phone and spoke to in the strange, hizzing and screeching language of modems. So, the prospect of receiving more than a megabyte of imagery concerning dubious subjects involved in explicit physical activities was not altogether pleasant.

My brother, stunned at first by the audacity of my new tactic, soon informed me that there would really be nothing preventing him from returning the favor. Well, no sooner had I invented this new weapon before my adversary caught up and presented the option for total retaliation. So, I thought, it would be back to the drawing board – no reason to actually carry the threat out seeing as neither of us really had any interest in becoming the victim of such a ploy. But alas, my brother and I were still teenagers, and we weren’t ready to manage a conflict of this sensitive type.

So the next day I began receiving emails concerning young ladies whose bust size was rivaled only by the size of their male genitalia. I was rather surprised at this (in many ways), especially since I had not signed my brother up for anything similar yet. Inquiries soon confirmed my suspicions of  a preemptive strike carried out by my brother the evening before, fearing that I would otherwise strike first. Now I had to retaliate, of course, and so the tragedy unfolded with both our email-addresses as innocent casualties.

This story clearly shows two things… well, perhaps not clearly, but then at least remotely. The first is that the world was fortunate not to have me and my brother in charge of the two superpowers of the Cold War. The second is that even though we may have forgotten about the porn-spammer, he has not gone away. He was there when the internet grew up and he will occasionally, like Mondays, return to catch us off guard – reminding us of the sordid truth behind the ever cleaner and more respectable technology called the internet. A truth never expressed better than by the words of this great character:

I’m fairly sure that if they took all the porn off the Internet, there’d only be one website left… and it would be called Bring Back The Porn.” – Dr. Perry Cox

A new addition to the “Texts and Oddities” section

Posted in Texts and oddities on October 21st, 2009 by Jeppe Grünberger

Just wanted to let people know that I have added a new short story to this page. I small idea that has been on my mind for some time. It’s called Guidance and can be read here.

Blogging about writer’s block…

Posted in About writing on October 19th, 2009 by Jeppe Grünberger

So, I decided to move to Barcelona in Spain, just as I had decided that I wanted to be a writer. Since I don’t speak a word Spanish (or Catalan for that matter) the two decisions seemed equally sensible and I wanted to share them both with the world. I think the world should generally feel better about its decision-making skills and this is me doing my part to improve everybody’s self-esteem. You’re welcome.

To make things better I am not even a native English speaker. No, I’m Danish (no, not A danish – it’s a nation… it is! Look it up if you don’t believe me.). So, shortly put I am a Dane living in the Catalan-speaking part of Spain who writes in English. I had hoped that would made me this really cool, international person, but instead it has just made me generally and confoundedly confused. When I wander through the charming streets of Barcelona, I have no idea of what is going on around me at any given time. People may be chatting on the street about the toxic gas especially designed to make testicles shrivel and explode that has just been released into the metro system by maddened lesbian terrorists, and yet you will see me smiling and nodding while I get out my metro card and keep walking down the stairs.

But really, you may then ask, does the internet need another blog about being an idiot? Surely we have enough of those. And yes, we do have enough of those, but this blog is actually not intended to be about idiocy (note: intended). No, this blog is about writing and about the unfocused, sometimes unwelcomed and almost always strange ideas, thoughts and notions that pop into your (or at least mine) head while you try to write something sensible. Having moved to another country seems to only make this problem worse as I have no one around me to throw these distracting ideas at. No one who will understand me anyway. I have tried flushing these creative hick-ups out of my head but they seem to clog up the drain instead. They insist on being realised and they keep blocking my brain from writing anything else until I do realise them. So now, I am going to blog them – I am going to create a place where I can simply write them and put them.

In many ways then, I have created this blog mainly for my own personal reasons, but don’t get me wrong: I would love nothing more than for someone to take something of value away from what I write here. Be it joy, inspiration or just a quick laugh on my expense – it is not important. So, I will put my thoughts and small pieces of creative misfits and peculiarities here for anyone to read or discard as rubbish – whichever they prefer. I have added a section to the blog called “Texts and oddities” where I will put the imposing, creatively disturbing notions that come out either as short stories, short prose or even poetry. At this point in time there is but one text there, but there will be added more, I’m sure.

So, we will see how it works out, I guess – both for me and anyone who stumbled in here either by mistake or led by a fetish for the odd, creative misfit and perhaps a good laugh.