This should be written in the present tense by Helle Helle

 

This should be written in the present tense by Helle Helle

Danish fiction

Original title -Dette burde skrives i nutid

Translator – Martin Aitken

Source review copy

Being boring

I came across a cache of old photos
and invitations to teenage parties
‘Dress in white’ one said with quotations
from someone’s wife, a famous writer
in the nineteen-twenties
When you’re young you find inspiration
in anyone who’s ever gone
and opened up a closing door
She said we were never feeling bored

’cause we were never being boring
We had too much time to find for ourselves
and we were never being boring
We dressed up and fought then thought make amends
And we were never holding back or worried that
time would come to an end

I choose this as in someways it is maybe a writer looking back on her youth” her twenties “

Helle Helle is one of the leading writers in Denmark .She studied literature in Copenhagen , she started writing after that she has worked in radion and written childrens books .But with her adult fiction has won a number of big prizes such as the PO enquist prize . This is her first book to be translated to english .I am pleased to add Helle Helle to the list of writers I have reviewed this woman in translation month .

I slept soundly that night .I didn’t hear a peep from the couple in the front room , or from the trains ,or the boiler in the utility room next door.It must have kicked in during the night , the place was sweltering when I woke up .My cheeks felt like they were on fire .It was light outside and the sky was blue .I stared emptily at the bark of the old pear tree for a minute , then came another gentle knock on the door and after a second it opened .

Haven’t we all slept and then woken in a newish place expecting it to be one way , I once woke thinking it was Germany but found out I was still in Holland !

 

This was a book I read the back end of last year , I quickly read through it this week just to refresh me of parts of the book .This should be written in the present tense is a vibrant book about being young it is the story of Dorte she has just left home moved into her own flat near the university in Copenhagen .Well that is what everyone thinks she is doing busy studying .But no she is busy well doing nothing much other than a journey of her own to discover who she is as a person .As she is busy doing this in the shopping district of the town with her poet friend and her boyfriend Per .What we see is the stor is a series of episodes of Dorte’s life rather than a straightforward short glimpses of a young womans life .As she finds friends herself , men and the wider world instead of studying at university .

One day I went for a bike ride while Per was having a nap .I cycled aimlessly in the direction of the nursery ,it was late afternoon .The forsythias were in bloom in a few small front gardens .I was soon too hot in my jumpers .I stopped to take it off , then carried on in my t-shirt.A smell of seaweed and salt waters hung over the fields .

Smells bring back the memories of growing up .

Maybe books are like the countries they come from ? well if that is the case maybe this book This should be written in the present tense is the perfect novel for how we see Denmark and the danish ! Maybe this book is clean in the way it is written as I said it has a epsodic nature about it and the passages are little gems of writing maybe like little lego blocks that we put together one by one to build what is a model of Dorte and her world but in that lego way all clean lines and bold strokes .Now that title where did she get this should be written in the present tense from , I did wonder and found out she was parapharse a quote from Samuel Beckett ,whilst doing that it said in the same article in Danish (using google translate )I discovered that she views the book as her most personnel book and parts of it is autobigraphical .I loved Dorte’s life it remind me of my younger years I was a wander in my teens instead of college I used hitch into Newcastle most days and wander arond this city meeting and observing the world .

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Max Cairnduff
    Aug 27, 2015 @ 10:39:23

    Glad you liked it. I haven’t read it yet, though I am interested in it. Emma of bookaround really didn’t take to it, in fact if I remmeber correctly she abandoned it, and Jacqui liked it in the end but havered part way through as to whether to continue.

    I’m hoping my reaction will be closer to yours. Oddly enough I’ve actually been to Copenhagen quite a lot, though sadly nowhere else in Demnark. Lovely city, leaving aside the time some passing drunk randomly punched me in the back of the neck (the sort of incident that can happen anywhere in the world, but that if it happens on a first trip can sour you against a place forever, fortunately it wasn’t my first trip).

    Reply

  2. JacquiWine
    Aug 27, 2015 @ 13:13:19

    Max is right about my response to this book. I wasn’t sure about it at first and nearly put it aside after the first 40 pages, but something about Dorte’s character got to me. Her story stays with you, doesn’t it? And I liked the way Helle doesn’t spell everything out, she lets the reader complete the gaps.

    Reply

  3. 1streading
    Aug 31, 2015 @ 18:40:20

    Helle mentioned the title came from Beckett – was it Malone, “How can this be written in the present tense?”
    You seem to have captured her intention exactly – I assumed Dorte was depressed! (That’s a Calvinist upbringing for you!)

    Reply

  4. Trackback: That was August on winstonsdad | Winstonsdad's Blog

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