Monday, April 18, 2005

Need to share alone

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Returned last night from Budapest. I have been rather critical in the past on Lufthansa but all that is now history. They saved me last night. Although they serve only meat and have uncomfortable leather seats, they guaranteed that I got home. And that is what I pay for. My flight from Budapest was delayed which meant that I missed my connecting flight to Amsterdam. With German efficiency they flew me to Dusseldorf and helped me to get home - by taxi. Wunderbar I would say. Thumbs up.

One of the best things of travelling is being alone and having time for yourself. I read more when travelling than I would read when I am busy with daily routines.

Again, I have to boost a book. Jonathan Franzen is a genius. A journalist friend of mine Ville recommended last year that I would read his book, The Corrections, but I never did. Well, a few weeks back I bought his collection of essays called How To Be Alone. When I started I found it difficult to stop. Addictive and witty.

I reminds me a bit of my favourite author at the moment, Dave Eggers (his short story collection How We Are Hungry should be read by all those who adore wit). But when Eggers goes personal and stays rather private, Franzen writes about the big picture. He is one of the best analysts of our time I have read for months.

Rather many of the essays are about reading. He analyses why and what people read and do not read. He quotes Professor Shirley Brice Heath from Stanford who has tried to find reasons for reading. She finds two:
1. habit of reading has been heavily modeled in childhood
2. social isolates who use reading to build communities with the authors.
Franzen writes:"But the first thing reading teaches is how to be alone."

I can relate to that. Books and reading bring me comfort. They make me smile. They make me understand. They help me broaden my scope.

The other key feature of Franzen is his superb way of analysing the relationship between private and public sphere. He is disgusted by Kenneth Starr´s Clinton investigation as something where private forces itself into areas where it does not belong. He states by using examples from media and sex industry that it is not the private sphere that is hidden or threatened, it is the public sphere.

I will end with a quote from his short story Imperial Bedroom:"A genuine public space is a place where every citizen is welcome to be present and where the purely private is excluded or restricted."

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