Thread ripper by Amalie Smith

Thread Ripper by Amalie Smith

Danish fiction

Original title – Thread ripper

Translator – Jennifer Russell

Source – personal copy

The last couple of years there has been books from the publisher Lolli editions on the Booker international longlist so I decided rather than wait I would get their latest and this is it. By Danish writer Amalie Smith, she is a graduate of the danish academy of creative writing. and has got a three-year grant to write. This is her second novel to be published in English. I have really enjoyed all the books in the last few years I have read from Denmark they always seem to take a fresh angle on writing styles. So when I read up on this apart from its eye-catching cover with a small picture of Ada Lovelace (someone who does feature in the book) it has a lot of narrative threads to the book. So will it be their book for Next year’s International Booker?

PART 1
THE WAVERING PENELOPE
While Odysseus is away on his long journey, Penelope weaves. Her loom, I imagine, stands by the window. On the road, outside stand her 108 suitors. Penelope leans out. ‘Suitors,’ she says, ‘let us make an agreement. I am weaving a burial shroud for my father-in-law, Laertes. Not until I have finished this shroud will I remarry.

The suitors accept and retreat from her window. Penelope continues her work at the loom. During the day, she stands by the window – weaving as agreed but at night she returns and unravels the days work.

The opening and we see Penelope waiting for her husband’s return and holding off suitors by needlework.

The book has a number of threads the main storyline follows a woman in the present that is working on a big commission to weave a tapestry. Then the narrative then rips apart as we get various threads of thought and as we go from Penelope wife of Odysseus as she is working on her tapestry waiting for the return of Odysseus we are never told what she was working on her loom. it also looks at computers using Ada Lovelace the mother of computing programming as a sort of thread to tie it to. Threads like the moth that originated the term Computer bug which in the late forties was an actual bug, not a programming bug like now but an actual moth. The term had been used earlier but this was the use that came to be used in modern-day stems. Then it threads around invasive plant species like a Japanese bamboo All these treads like the main character working her complex tapestry weave into a work that is unique work.

I select a combination of wool, silk and acrylic fibres in ten colours and, by programming a variety of
satin weaves on the loom, the colours are mixed to create 42 different shades that appear in a gradient at the bottom of each woven swatch. The fibres are dyed using plants and chemicals I’m not familiar with. We continuously adjust the colour scale, either by switching out the fibres or altering the weaves on the computer.

Neural networks see with the eyes of the paranoiac: there are faces concealed in flowers and flowers in faces. Everything is a sign. Space and scale collapse.
Details come flooding in the nuances, in the gradual
transitions.

The loom’s algorithms, on the other hand, are never in doubt: the weft goes either over or under the
warp, never through. How to transfer the images generated by the neural network to the loom?

In the present the complex nature of her commission is shown here.

As I have come to expect this is a complex and compelling work from Lolli edition the books that have made the booker prize the last couple of years have been the ones on the list that have challenged me most as a reader and this is a perfect example it hard not to compare it the tapestry that forms the main character in a way in the book as the threads from programming a complex tapestry in the present to Penelope working and weaving a. shroud as suitors await as she waited Odysseus return. Then the thread around computers Lovelace a female history of computing I love this as I knew about Lovelace but some of the other historic events like the origin of the term Computer bug I wasn’t aware of how the term had come about. This is a fragmented work that weaves a line through tapestry and computing the automation of weaving and how women have been involved over time. I hope this makes next year’s booker as it is a unique work one I won’t forget quickly and will be rereading as it grabbed me so much the first time around. Have you a favourite book from Lolli edtions? Have you a favourite book from Denmark?

Winston’s score – +A is an unusual book mixing the past and present and history.

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