The Birdcage Archives

Thursday 29 July 2010


hello Gentle Reader

Frost by Thomas Bernhard, is more of a rant by a old man who has gone crazy rather then a linear story. however it is good, if you are willing to put up with it. Sometimes it can be difficult, sometimes not so difficult. One this is for certain with this novel is that it is certainly full of bitter, cynical, vicious, critical, pessimistic, and acidic prose.

The first few lines show the reader what they are in for:

“A medical internship consists of more than spectating at complicated bowel operations, cutting open stomach linings, bracketing off lungs and sawing off feet; and it doesn’t just consist of thumbing closed the eyes of the dead and hauling babies out into the world either.”

The story opens with a young medical intern, sent away under the orders of his superior surgeon to go observe and examine, (and report back to the surgeon) about his brother the painter named Strauch.

As the novel progresses we soon learn that Strauch is well -- in my opinion at least -- insane or on the brink of madness. he has had no contact with his borther the surgeon for quite sometime, and now the surgeon wants to know -- through interloping and espoinage it appears -- how his brother is doing.

through the stay at the village of Weng, where the painter Strauch is, the narrator is left to listen to the absurd, profund, suprisingly lyrical and of course -- bitter, nasty, misanthropic, misongist, critcal, vicious, ferociouse -- rants of the painter. the very man who he i sent to watch and to observe and report on. The very man that one cannot help but see a friendship -- however strange it maybe -- growing between he too.

not much can be siad on this novel. in fact the lacking of a coherent plot makes it difficult to review. But the musing's (typical of Thomas Bernhard fiction) are amazing and often absurd and sometimes there is a mixture of a dark grotesque humor, that makes you laugh.

a novel i would recomend to people who can stand the style of Samuel Beckett, as well as a novel for those who like the absurdity of life and to read about crazy old men rant and rave about just how pathetic life is and the very mistake of being born, and how it in itself is a tragic accident.

take care Gentle Reader
Thank-you for reading
stay well read


Sunday 18 July 2010

The Passport

Hello Gentle Reader

After months of procrastantion, and weighing the prose and the cons of reading one of the Nobel Laureate of Literature of 2009: Herta Muller, i finally got around to buying one of her books. The unforunate part is, their is only one of her novels avaliable in the bookstore. "The Passport," tells of a village miller, who wishes to emigrate to Germany and be free of the totlitarian rule of the dictator Nicolae Ceau¸sescu.

Herta Muller has the most beautiful way of righting.

From the novel:

"Around the war memorial are roses.They form a thicket.So overgrown that they suffocate the grass. Their blooms are white, rolled like paper. They rustle. Dawn is breaking. Soon it will be day."

Herta Muller's short and poetic and beautiful sentences, remind of a single brush stroke of a painter. Her sentences often paint a more larger picture, in which each one is an individual stroke, but also communical in how to add's to the beauty of the novel.

I can now understand what they Swedish Academy meant when they said:

"who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed"

I must admit that i truly did love this novel. However is it fair to call it a novel. Only comming in at a 90 - 92 page book in all, its a short quick read; but a great intruduction to what Herta Muller rights about.

Our main protagonist Windisch is trying to obtain a passport so that he and his family can leave the small village where he works as the miller, and emigrate to Germany. Windisch is of the German minority living in Romania, behind the Iron Curtain, under the communist rule of totalitarian monsters. Truly it is Herta Muller's job I feel to speak out against totaltarian goverments and their harshness and inhuman treatment of people. Stripping them of all human diginity that they once possesed.

The novel/story follows Windisch's attempts at attaining a passport. Giving flour to the mayor, to hopefully bribe him into giving him a passport. These attempts fail, and her reluctantly is forced to turn to his most preciouse gift. His daughter. Sending her off to see the village officals. To do a deed. Truly quite a pity.

The novel is a dark and bleak one. When tractor drivers bribe a little gypsy girl to lift her skirt. To a man who feed's his child vodka, while his girl friend sings and vomits against a wall. Even the supersition of the villagers are portrayed. Like the apple tree that once sat behind the church, which was burned, for it had grown lips and ate its apples. The priest of the village, had said that the devil was inside the tree and so the villagers burned the tree.

Windisch's wife was forced to have a hysterectomy, and secretly pleasures herself. Windisch on the other hand enters a mental malestorm on sexual hatred, and anti-semitism. Its as if the entire weight of the communist regime in Romania has driven Windisch to the point of madness. The reality of the world, has long since lost all reason and meaning to the poor main character, and we as the reader, are forced to accept the fact that he no longer is who he was.

For only a 90 page book, the misery and suffering depecited is extrodinary. Someone once told me that: "all novels must have a sense of comic relief." I am afraid to say that person. There was no comic relief in this tale of unhappiness, misery, bleakness, and despair. I as the reader, looked at these poor people, and truly now understand that I am lucky to have the life that i have.

Sure schools and parents will say: "eat your food their are starving childeren in China," but at the sametime i can now understand what it means to starve when "Grass Soup," is considered both a stape and a luxury.

I am both amazed and shocked at what people can and will do to each other. Its almost unbelievable -- and at the same time it is believable because it has and continues to be that way. How do people justify this? i cannot say, and i am sure of one thing that i will never know. What i can say is this:

Herta Muller Nobel Laureate of Literature of 2009, is an amazing author. Not a pretentious author, nor does she patronize. She writes, in a episodic and clearly fresh and to the point prose, but paints a larger more beautiful picture. I am honored to have read this novel, and would recomend it to anyone, to read it and get any idea of what she will write. Certainly though not for people, who expect some sense of comedy in it.

Thank-You For Reading Gentle Reader
Stay Well Read

Take Care


Thursday 15 July 2010

The Tipping Point

Hello Gentle Reader

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

Is a non-fiction piece of work by author: Malcolm Gladwell.

I am not a non-fiction reader. I perfer to be entertained mostly when I am reading, rather then to be reading a buisness lecture. Usually if i wish to get a buisness lecture i would go to college or university and take buisness and get lectured on buisness, and the fundemental properties of buisness and economics. However Mr. Malcolm Gladwell, has come to be a rather intersting and curios case of leniency.

To sum the area's of discussions in Mr. Malcolm Gladwell's novels; is basically as simple as pie. However, Mr. Macolm Gladwell, just just talk about the theme's and topic's that he is talking about, in dull and dry terms. He use's examples of real life marketing, and history even, as well as legal cases of law, to make his points and arguements, entertaining, clear and direct.

For the purpose of this quick review and blog we shall use two modern day examples that clearly show what Mr. Malcolm Gladwell is pointing on in his book.

Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. A few months ago, i would have asked you the following: "Who and what?" Justin Bieber meant nothing to me. Lady Gaga i thought was a shoe. Only roughly a few months ago, was i introduced to who these two "Pop Culture Phenomena," where.

They are muscians or rather singers. Its far to much of a compliment, to call them muscians, when they are singers. Personally I find their music distasteful and not for me; however there are people who really do like their music. The question is why?

In Mr. Malcolm Gladwell's book "The Tipping Point," this would be called a "Stickiness Factor," something that makes these two singers memorable to the audience and the crowd that they are presenting themselves two. Is it Lady Gaga's image? The fact that Justin Bieber looks like a thirteen year old boy who just entered puberty? Is it their uplifting, feel good music? Is it their catchy sing along lyrics? Repetive tunes? I cannot say for sure, but there is a "Stickiness Factor," that is presented with these two individuals. Something that gets the listener hooked like a junkie gets hooked on herionie, or a smoker does with a cigarette.

"The Law of Few," is how these epidemic people had spread in popularity and why they kept to listening to their music. There was a memorable shot that was ingrained in their minds after listening. But once we find the short few that find or "discover," these people, they pass it on to their friends. However the real people that these two singers, should be thanking is what Malcolm Gladwell calls "Connectors." These are the people that connect us to the real world, and the different aspects of the world. The next individual that helps these individuals is the "Mavens." These people specialize in information. They are detailed, and very percise in the information that they know and collect. The last and least is the "Salesman." The charasmatic, great people person, who can can sell you a rotten arm and a leg, and have you convinced that its a great deal. These are the people that are that make these individual successful.

The last point and theme of the book is: "The Power of Context."

In the book Mr. Gladwell makes it clear that to spread an epedemic's are very sensitive to the enviroments and situations that they are spreading in.

Do you remember when the recession finally hit hard. The economic melt down had finally hit home. People where loosing their jobs. People (understandably) angry at what had happened. How the people in charge, had cost(ed) them their livelyhood. It had destroyed their families. Taken away the bright and shinning future's, and had caused an uproar. Yet the common person had no idea how this happened.

Yet in this time and desperation, depression, hoplessness, and anger, there came a voice. A woman's voice. Just an oridinary woman, who was plain, middle aged, and nothing special about her. Yet suddenly she walked on to stage with a cheeky smile, and wanted to be given the chance to sing. Her name: Susan Boyle. People where laughing at her. Thinking, this woman can't sing. They gawked at her appearance. They found her amusing and wished her to fail. However from her mouth came the song "I Dreamed a Dream," from the soundtrack of the Les Misérables. Her voice shook the audience into shock. Gathered a standing ocation, and had people, really thinking about how rude they were (not really but i am trying to have faith in humanity).

In this time of desperate need, there came this ordinary woman. She opened her mouth and sung out loud, and proud and did not hold back. The last laugh certainly was her own, and well deserved.

The "Youtube," video depecting her audition for "Britians Got Talent," went viral on "Youtube." In a time of need, Susan Boyle had people smiling, and put maybe bit of hope in dreams once more, and had people hoping they can make it through this terrible time of need.

Susan Boyle's epedimic was partly due to the time's and she was certainly a well needed burst of fresh air. she was not some glamorous young pop star, strutting around on stage in a thong or a bikini. she was modest, and let her voice speak for her, rather then her body.

If it is one thing that, this book had taught me, was that i have no control over epedimic's in pop culture or the world. However, I as a person have the free will to stand up and excersise my right not to buy their CD's as well as criticize these epedimic's. it should always be noted, that for every person that likes you, there is five people that will hate you.

This novel certainly was not boring. The content was at one point in time would have been boring at one point, but at this point with the use of examples, both modern and historical, Mr. Malcolm Gladwell did not make it boring whatsoever. Certainly an intersting, read indeed.

Thank-you for Reading Gentle Reader
Stay well Read

Take Care