Biographies archive at Stray Talk
an archive of my forays into fact and fiction

Archive: Biographies


14th May, 2008
Ior och hästarna; Renata Wrede
— Love @ 18:08 Comments (1)
Filed under: Biographies, C, Fiction, Swedish

No cover image available Ior och hästarna
by Renata Wrede
Title translated to English: Eeyore and the horses
Swedish

Swedish
133 pages
Forum
ISBN: 91-37-06412-6

First line: Vi låtsas inte om, känns inte vid, vill inte medvetet medge den mänskliga faktorns existens, i alla fall inte hur stark den är, trots att den är det starkaste vi har, den är starkare än vi.

Back cover blurb:
“Kärleken till hästar har många namn: mani, passion, snobbism, dårskap eller lyte”, säger Renata Wrede i denna entusiastiska bok om ett livs hästupplevelser. Själv kallar hon det alltså kärlek.
Ior och hästarna är en lovsång till hästen och prisar samarbetet mellan häst och människa. Den är fylld av glädje och beundran.
Renata Wrede berättar om hästar som hon känt, vårdat, tävlat med eller bara ridit. Hon skildrar hästar med personlighet: Courbette, U-17, Naseva, Herr Hildeberg och andra. Glimtar från krigstidens sjukstall, från tävlingsbanor—Kviberg, Skabersjö, Niinisalo, Rom—från skånska och finska landskap utgör bakgrunden till dessa intensivt livfulla porträtt av hästen som kamrat och medarbetare—och av människorna i sadeln.

Very short synopsis in English: Renata Wrede writes about horses she’s known in her life.

Thoughts: Decent book about one woman’s love of horses. I used to read this kind of book by the dozen when I was younger. A C grade.


12th May, 2008
Kårnulf Was Here; Josefine Adolfsson
— Love @ 17:49 Comments (0)
Filed under: B, Biographies, Fiction, Swedish

Kårnulf Was Here; Josefine Adolfsson Kårnulf Was Here
by Josefine Adolfsson
Swedish

Swedish
167 pages
Bokförlaget Atlas
ISBN: 91-7389-132-0

First line: När jag och min tonårsbästis Anna är femton, flyttar hon hem till en trettio år äldre man som heter Charles.

Back cover blurb:
“När jag och min tonårsbästis Anna är femton, flyttar hon hem till en trettio år äldre man som heter Charles. Vi sitter ofta i soffan på hans inglasade veranda och äter chokladkladdkaka och sköljer ner Valium, Stesolid, Sobril och Rohypnol tillsammans med te och honung. Vi håller alltid varandra i handen när vi somnar.”

Så börjar Kårnulf Was Here—en dokumentär roman om det som skaver. Det handlar om människor som på olika sätt försöker att skaffa sig en plats i samhället men som hamnar utanför ramarna. Moa som knaprar Valium för att klara av att gå på svenskalektioner, Ida som drömmer om att bli aupair hos Madonna och Cecilia som föredrar att gömma sig hos torskar som misshandlar henne framför att hamna på institution.

Kårnulf är en reaktion på en vuxenvärld som abdikerat och ett samhälle som föredrar att förenkla. Men Kårnulf är också motstånd, lust, kärlek, nyfikenhet och vänskap. Ett försök att skapa ett eget utrymme och hantera känslan av att det finns något som skulle vara förutbestämt eller normalt, något som man själv inte har tillgång till.

Kårnulf Was Here är en hembygdsskildring från Sverige.

Very short synopsis in English: Moa and her best friend Anna start doing drugs at the age of fourteen. This is fact-based fiction telling their story.

Thoughts: This was a quick read, but one that left a bad taste in my mouth. Not because the writing sucked or because I didn’t think it was interesting, but because of the subject matter and what these girl have lived through.

As always, non-fiction (even if this technically isn’t that. It’s fact-based fiction, which, though close, isn’t the same thing) is hard to rate. A B grade is what it ends up with.


6th May, 2008
My War: Killing Time in Iraq; Colby Buzzell
— Love @ 15:30 Comments (1)
Filed under: B, Biographies, English

My War: Killing Time in Iraq; Colby Buzzell My War: Killing Time in Iraq
by Colby Buzzell
American

English
358 pages
Berkley Caliber
ISBN: 0-425-21136-3

First line: Kids from the suburbs don’t really join the military.

Back cover blurb:
Colby Buzzell traded a dead-end future for the army—and ended up as a machine gunner in Iraq. To make sense of the absurd and frightening events surrounding him, he started writing a blog about the war—and how it differed from the government’s official version. But as his blog’s popularity grew, Buzzell became the embedded reporter the army couldn’t control—despite its often hilarious efforts to do so.

The result is an extraordinary narrative, rich with unforgettable scenes: the Iraqi woman crying uncontrollably during a raid on her home; the soldier too afraid to fight; the troops chain-smoking in a guard tower and counting tracer rounds; the first fierce firefight against the “men in black.” Drawing comparisons to everything from Charles Bukowski to Catch-22‘s Yossarian, My War depicts a generation caught in a complicated and dangerous world—and marks the debut of a raw, remarkable new voice.

Thoughts: You’ll have to forgive me for being briefer even than usual in this review, but I don’t quite know what to say about this book. It was interesting as all that, and I quite liked Buzzell’s language, but he seemed sometimes so completely removed from me and my world that I didn’t know what to make of him (and sometimes he was closer, such as when he mentioned music and really digging The Smiths/Morrissey).

The book is based on Buzzell’s blog (http://cbftw.blogspot.com), but seems to be much more than just the blog entries transfered onto a book page. In the end, I liked it enough for a B rating and I don’t mind recommending it to others.


3rd February, 2008
Mamma sa att jag var sjuk; Julie Gregory
— Love @ 21:13 Comments (1)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, Biographies, D, Diseases and disorders, Swedish

Mamma sa att jag var sjuk; Julie Gregory Mamma sa att jag var sjuk
by Julie Gregory
Original title: Sickened
American

For the A-Z reading challenge.

Swedish
259 pages
Bra Böcker
ISBN: 978-91-7002-361-6

First line: Det värsta var att bli rakad.

Back cover blurb:
An unusual memoir describes growing up as the victim of Munchausen by proxy, a dangerous form of child abuse in which her mother invented or caused a series of illnesses and ailments, and her struggle to escape her mother’s serious psychological problems to rebuild her life as a healthy, compassionate young woman.
(This text refers to an edition other than the one I read.)

Thoughts: This book paints a truly horrific picture of Gregory’s childhood and adolescence, but while it was moving at times, I just couldn’t like it. I always feel bad when I don’t like a book by someone who’s gone through terrible things, but there are writing styles I just can’t stand, and Gregory’s is one of them. Perhaps I’d have got more out of the book, had I read it in the original English, but I didn’t and I don’t plan on it either, so I guess I’ll never know now.

I’m giving the book a D rating, because as a book it just wasn’t very good at all. It makes my stomach churn that anyone has had to go through what Gregory has, though. It’s absolutely terrible and chilling that someone would treat their child that way.


30th January, 2008
The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl; Shauna Reid
— Love @ 19:38 Comments (1)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, Biographies, English

The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl; Shauna Reid The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl
by Shauna Reid
Australian

For the A-Z reading challenge.

English
408 pages
Corgi Books
ISBN: 978-0-552-15578-6

First line: I’ve got the biggest knickers in Australia.

Back cover blurb:
In January 2001 Shauna Reid was twenty-three years old and twenty-five stone. Determined to turn her life around, she created the hugely successful weblog The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl and, hiding behind her Lycra-clad roly-poly alter ego, her transformation from couch potato to svelte goddess began. Today, 8,000 miles, seven years and twelve and a half stone later, the gloriously gorgeous Shauna is literally half the woman she used to be.

Thoughts: I saw this book mentioned in one of the many book blogs I read (I forget the exact one. Sorry!) and added it to my wishlist after reading a little about it and snippets of the blog it’s the book version of. When I next made a book order, I added it to my shopping cart “just because.”

Can’t say I regret it one bit! The book was funny and interesting and I was instantly hooked. Finished it in one sitting, in fact.

It gets a well-deserved B rating, and a shorter “review” (these random and rather incoherent thoughts don’t exactly count as the proper thing) than it really deserves, because I am too tired to think straight.


18th December, 2007
Ge aldrig upp; Michael Alonzo
— Love @ 13:44 Comments (0)
Filed under: Biographies, C, Swedish

Ge aldrig upp; Michael Alonzo Ge aldrig upp
by Michael Alonzo
Swedish

Swedish
239 pages
Frank förlag
ISBN: 978-91-858565-00-0

First line: Jag sprang in på apoteket.

Back cover blurb:
I Ge aldrig upp berättar Michael Alonzo, den förre sångaren i kultpunkbandet KSMB samt Stockholms negrer, sin egen historia. Det är berättelsen om hur han lever med en kvinna som utåt sätt är kärleksfull och god, men som inom hemmets väggar snart visar sig vara en djävul — en kvinna som slår och misshandlar sin man. När hon senare väntar parets barn bestämmer hon sig dessutom för att hon inte vill ha Michael som far, varpå hon kidnappar pojken och försvinner.

Naket och självutlämnade berättar Michael Alonzo om hur han av sonens mamma blir fråntagen rätten att träffa sin son. Och vi får därefter följa den svåra kampen för att få honom åter.

Thoughts: This book is interesting in that it tells the tale of a man who was physically and verbally abused by his wife. It’s not often you hear stories like that, and some people even refuse to believe that such cases exist. Alonzo, whose tale it is, really had to struggle, not only with having been abused and had his son stolen away, but with not being believed and almost being ridiculed for what he had experienced.

At some points during the book, I was almost boiling with rage, because it was all so completely unfair. If you are a man, and you are a father, and you’ve fallen out with the mother of your child(ren), it’s almost impossible to win back your rights to spend time with your child.

The book could have been better, but it still earns itself a C.


30th November, 2007
Movie Icons: Cary Grant; FX Feeney & Paul Duncan (ed.)
— Love @ 20:27 Comments (0)
Filed under: Biographies, English, Film, n/a

Movie Icons: Cary Grant; FX Feeney & Paul Duncan (ed.) Movie Icons: Cary Grant
by FX Feeney and Paul Duncan (ed.)
American

English
192 pages
Taschen
ISBN: 978-3-8228-2212-8

First line: He is the most self-invented man in movies, this side of Charlie Chaplin.

Thoughts: Much like the book on James Dean, this book on Cary Grant was chock-full of photos, but not so much actual text (a fair few quotes, by and about him, though). Following his film career through the pictures was nice, however, and one photo in particular, of him in dreadful drag, had me giggling for minutes.

Just as with the Dean book, I won’t be rating this.


30th November, 2007
Movie Icons: James Dean; FX Feeney & Paul Duncan (ed.)
— Love @ 20:02 Comments (0)
Filed under: Biographies, English, Film, n/a

Movie Icons: James Dean; FX Feeney & Paul Duncan (ed.) Movie Icons: James Dean
by FX Feeney and Paul Duncan (ed.)
American

English
192 pages
Taschen
ISBN: 978-3-8228-2220-3

First line: He died at age 24 in a car crash, testing a new, lightweight, ultra-swift Porsche Spyder en route to a weekend race in Northern California.

Thoughts: Full of photos, but not so full of actual text (though there are quotes and a short biography), I quite enjoyed this. James Dean is a bit of a favourite of mine, so it was nice to see photos I’d not seen before. However, because of the nature of the book, I will not grade it.


21st November, 2007
Mitt brinnande hjärta; Tasso Stafilidis
— Love @ 15:16 Comments (0)
Filed under: Biographies, C, GLBT interest, Swedish

Mitt brinnande hjärta; Tasso Stafilidis Mitt brinnande hjärta
by Tasso Stafilidis
Swedish

Swedish
234 pages
Normal förlag
ISBN: 91-855505-13-7

First line: Det är tidig höst på Fredriksdalsskolan i Helsingborg.

Back cover blurb:
Mitt brinnande hjärta är Tasso Stafilidis personliga resa genom politiken och teatern. Det är en självutlämnande bok om rättsröta och rättspatos, men också om svikna ideal och slitig vardaglig kamp för förändring. Tasso Stafilidis berättar om hatbrev och mordhot, priset han fått betala för att vara öppet homosexuell och riksdagsledamot.

Mitt brinnande hjärta ger också en unik inblick bakom kulisserna i vänsterpartiet och striden om det kommunistiska arvet. En strid som innebar att Tasso, som tagit avstånd från kommunismen redan som 15-åring, förlorade sin riksdagsplats och till slut lämnade partiet helt och hållet efter 22 år.

I boken får vi också läsa om den rapport som Tasso Stafilidis skrev om homosexuellas situation i Iran, med uppgifter om den svenska ambassaden i Teheran som tidigare inte framkommit.

Thoughts: I have to admit I am a little disappointed in this book. It’s going to sound weird, especially since the biggest reason I wanted to read it in the first place was that it was written by the first openly gay member of the Swedish parliament, but it focused almost exclusively on gay issues. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but Stafilidis complains time and time again that people always zeroed in on the LGBT-issues that he worked with, as if they were the only things he was involved in, when in fact he did so many other things as well. My question, then, is why he doesn’t spend more time telling us about these other things. He mentions them, yes, but not nearly as much as his GLBT-work.

Still, the book is interesting, and I would’ve been willing to overlook the above-mentioned issue and give it a higher grade, had the language been better. As it was, it just didn’t engage me very much, and so it’s a C.