Monday, April 29, 2013

island reads: The girl who wanted to go + Murakami: What I talk about when I...

If I would have to sort the books i am reading these days into themes or categories, one line of books would be: "Books I chanced upon in the library." Another category would be: "Memoirs of long trails".

The girl who wanted to go
The book i am reading right now belongs to both categories. It is "The girl who wanted to go" - "Das Mädchen, das gehen wollte" by Barbara Schaefer, a memoir that tells about the long walk she took after she learned that her best friend and moutain hike partner died in the mountains. To deal with the loss, she heads off from her current home town Berlin to the Alps, covering a distance of 900 kilometres altogether. Her destination: the place her friend died, and at the same time, it’s a walk back into her own life.
It's a moving book, quiet and powerful and reflective.

The things she struggles with – apart from the drama of death – is that her friend, like herself, was an experienced mountain hiker, and went on that hike with a guide, and slipped at a place that isn’t even difficult. One wrong step. And that was it. Schaefer herself had a trip planned, a several-months-long stay in Shanghai, but she knows it would be too much: to be alone now in a city between strangers in this time of grief.

In her author note, Schaefer quotes Per Olov Enquist: "Alle haben ja eine Geschichte, aber nur wenige werden aufgezeichnet". - "Everyone has a story / history, but only few are noted down."
She ends the note with the line that she wrote to tell the story of her friend, and of their friendship.

The book that developed on the walk has many layers: the walk itself, the memories of their friendship and the walks and hikes they did together, and reflections on walking, on life. It also reflects on writing itself, and references to several other walking books with a reflective angle. Some of them, I read, too:  “Walking Journey from the landscape walk artist Hamish Fulton, “Berlin – Moscow” from German author Wolfgang Büscher who set off in the same place like Schaefer, only towards the East. And this one, which now accompanied me to Mallorca:

Haruki Murakami: "What I talk about when I talk about running"
Such a joy to get back to this book, here. Like Schaefer’s book, it’s a work of many layers. And it starts – with notes on writing, on living, on running, and on growing older. There are many passages that would make a good quote, here are some:
“I’m writing, in other words, to put my thoughts into some kind of order.”
“Competing against time (now) isn’t important. ..  I enjoy and value things that can’t be expressed in numbers, and I’ll grope for a feeling of pride that comes from a slightly different place.”


The art of walking, and the art of waiting
Now, for a walk along the bay. Or rather: for a jog. I brought my jogging shoes, and when driving along the roads yesterday, I checked the kilometer counter to see how far 5k are from the place here – remembering the 5k-jog from last year.
There’s also a group here who is training for triathlon.
And everyone is training the art of waiting for sunny skies.. but then, the rain is part of the islands, too. And there is something cozy about watching the island rain fall while reading a good book.


From a different place
And another thought, about all the life stories that are lost, as no one notes them – I think that’s why I value blogs and e-books and indie books so much: they are giving voice to so many who write from a different place, and whose voice would have gone unheard otherwise.

Previous reading blog entries are collected here: bookshelf: currently  reading... there also is a visual bookshelf, just click it to get there:

And my own new book... is Worl(d)s Apart. True.

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