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Hi, I'm Odile, a historical linguist from the Netherlands who also likes to write about music, games, and history. Check out my longer blog posts and other writings on Sub Specie.

Currently reading

Signs: an Introduction to Semiotics
Thomas A. Sebeok, Marcel Danesi
Language and Space
Lynn Nadel, Mary A. Peterson, Paul Bloom

Sveve over vatna: Roman (Paperback)

Sveve over vatna: Roman - Ragnar Hovland Sveve over vatna [Soaring over the waters] is a highly enjoyable novel set in 1970s' Bergen and Paris. The narrator of the novel is a young man, searching for a purpose in life, but most if not all of it is derived from the interesting people he meets. Of most influence on him are girls, in particular Sandra, and the classic Dr. Munk, easily on of the funniest characters I've ever read about. Munk is a 'communist' - who wasn't if you were young and hip in 1970s Europe? - but most of all someone who can't help raising hell wherever he goes, while retaining a (pseudo-?)intellectual and -ideological stance through it all. He also happens to be a master of tall tales, and claims to have met the lion's share of celebrities around the world, though I'm not sure I would be envious of having allegedly licked Barbra Streisand's boobs. Almost as interesting are the radical group the protagonist ends up living with in Paris. They are friends of Munk's (naturellement), anxiously preparing for a revolution, whatever that was going to be at the time.

What happens through the book has - of course - little to do with communism or studying or intellectualism. It's sex, booze, and rock 'n' roll all the way, with heavy doses of black humour and a couple of well-placed surreal elements alongside. What makes the book so successful is Hovland's excellent sense of characters and tone, ironical and cynical, but also engendering a sympathy for most of the characters, despite their flaws. This makes for a novel that is loads of fun, and firmly rooted in the cultural and musical milieu of the late 70s. At least punk brought some kind of revolution.