Thursday, February 24, 2011

Accidental Tableau

It just happened. I don't how they piled up or even how they ended up in the teacup. Morning, afternoon, evening, I realize as I stare quizzically and groggily at them: the cup and one spoon are from this morning's five am cappuccino. Another spoon from yogurt and honey I'd had as a snack when I got home this afternoon; the third... oh yes, I'd had tea after falling asleep on the couch mid evening. I'd used a different cup, and even rinsed it. But put the spoon in with the others. They are still there. Markers of an ordinary day and the whole of it evidence of an unplanned evening nap, and the peacefulness of a late evening where some things, cups and spoons and worries and work, must just be left to rest.

Perhaps I should also add, that in this peaceful evening, in fact, making a habit of having a little time for one each night, I have been reading, resting quiet and undisturbed under my covers as my spoons under water, Peter H√łeg's The Quiet Girl, Den stille pige, and while missing dearly the snowy and still, suspended, landscape of Smilla's Sense of Snow, have been finding it a fascinating piece, virtuosic and odd, a page-turner and luringly suggestive of what various critical theories could make of it (and is up to it). I won't recount it here, only my deep surprise that it was not well received in Denmark (and who knows: maybe not here either), a fact I only discovered when I looked for information on its English language publication date (2007). It came out in Danish in 2006 and The Danish Literary Magazine has an article by the Norwegian author Kjaerstad on his own surprise at the novel's reception. It doesn't really give anything of the plot away, so feel free to read it here. Kjaerstad calls the novel, or one aspect of it, "high baroque," and I think this does capture the over all tone of the work, though it is all at once a detective story, science fiction, and more. More often than not, the scenes between characters recall to mind Isak Dinesen's stories and I wonder if anyone else has sensed this. Is there such a thing as a Danish-baroque sensibility ?

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