Book roundup: Steampunk, Øvre Richter Frich, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Nina Witoszek

Ann & Jeff Vandermeer - Steampunk

Ann & Jeff Vandermeer – Steampunk

An anthology of some bad, some good, bookended by diametrically opposed visions of steampunk: Jess Nevins, who argues that only by dedicating one’s art to the destruction of capitalism can one do Proper Steampunk, and Rick Klaw, who says it’s all one big party so just come on in and enjoy yourself.

Recommended: No. Stories seem selected more to display the breadth of the genre than for quality.

Øvre Richter Frich – Rød tåke (1937)

Frich is kind of a cult author in Norway for his once massively popular racist thrillers about Jonas Fjeld, an Aryan übermensch who goes about beating up anarchists.  To judge from this novel, at least, Frich is to thrillers what H. P. Lovecraft was to horror: A “bad” writer with peculiar obsessions, but a compelling way of putting them on paper.

Recommended: Ironically.

Ayaah Hirsi Ali - Nomad

Ayaan Hirsi Ali – Nomad (2010)

Everything was so much easier back when oppressed third world women kept their mouths shut and let Westerners speak on their behalf.

Recommended: Yes.  It is a relief to read current feminism that isn’t an anguished search for relevance, but actually matters.

Nina Witoszek – The Origins of the ‘Regime of Goodness’ – Remapping the Cultural History of Norway (2011)

What a pleasant surprise: A look at the roots of Norway’s identity that is genuinely insightful, or at least quite interesting. Witoszek discounts Romanticism as a factor in Norwegian cultural history, and traces our identity to a meeting between peasant individualism, Christianity, and Enlightenment values – plus a dash of homegrown Taoism.

Recommended: Yes.

7 Responses to Book roundup: Steampunk, Øvre Richter Frich, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Nina Witoszek

  1. They recently released a second Steampunk anthology, it’s on its way to the mosque as we speak. I enjoyed their first one, but some of it was rather dreary.

  2. I think I like the lighter side of steampunk more – and perhaps I was biased against this anthology by the opening essay trying to reclassify any steampunk that isn’t politically revolutionary as “Edisonades”, a lower artform. Well, maybe it is, but if so that’s the kind I like.

  3. Petter says:

    Thanks for the Nina Witoszek tip. I’ve read her Verdens Beste Land and Norske naturmytologier:fra Edda til økofilosofi. Checked the price of her latest -72 dollars on Amazon and 37.83 pounds on Amazon uk. 309 kroner at Norli – wow -Norli is cheaper than Amazon, although I wonder what the price would have been if it had been written in Norwegian? Talking prices – 299 kroner for Verdens Beste Land was a bit steep.

  4. Bjørn Stærk says:

    Actually, from looking at a summary of Norske naturmytologier, it looks like The Origins of the Regime of Goodness is more or less an English translation of it. So you can save your money.

    Norwegian book prices seem designed to discourage anyone from ever reading Norwegian books if they don’t have to. Not quite sure how that is supposed to promote Norwegian language and culture.

  5. Petter says:

    You know, I wondered about that – if there was a connection between the two books. It’s been years but I remember that the book was supposed to be published in English by Blackwell but couldn’t find it and called Pax Forlag and the nice lady who answered the phone told me that yes, it was supposed to have been but hadn’t been yet and she didn’t know if or when it would be. I bought it used BTW. 50 kroner. Very insightful book – think I’ll read it again.
    Anyway – go the book right here -is it the same or close?

    Kapitell 2 Økohumanisme
    Kapitell 4 Avdøde Memer
    Kapitell 5 Askelladen eller taoisme på norsk.
    Kapitell 8 Knut Hamsuns økologiske gotikk

    As for buying Norwegian books – no way I’m spending 359 kroner or whatever for a novel – even if it’s got great reviews (who am I kidding, I don’t read the reviews) – but price aside, I frankly don’t even know which Norwegian authors are worth reading. I’ve only read a few – just about everything I read is in English. Which is why I bought a Kindle.

  6. They’re all in the new book. Possibly the first chapter is new.

  7. Pingback: Minireviews: Jason K. Stearns, and Phil & Kaja Foglio « Bjørn Stærk's Max 256 Blog

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