When Death takes something from you give it back (Carl’s book) By Naja Marie Aidt

When death takes something from you give it back Carl’s book By Naja Marie Aidt

Danish Memoir

Original title – Har døden taget noget fra dig så giv det tilbage

Translator – Denise Newman

Source – review copy

Books have been with me all my life and they have helped me deal with things and sometimes just escape the world around me this is a book that follows the Journey that the Danish writer Naja Marie Aidt as she tries to piece together the world after the accidental loss of her son at just twenty-five. One of the greatest writers of her generation she struggles to find a way to put down and write about what happened to her son, the aftermath and moving forward with grief. I have taken my time to get to this but I have been two years dealing with the loss of my  mother at what seemed too early and recently as my wife and myself grasp with the loss of her brother who took his own life six months ago and we are still grieving so I found some solace in Naja’s book and the journey she made.

The french poet Stéphane Mallarmé’ never wrote a book about his eight-year-old-son, Anatole, who died in 1879. He wanted to. But could not. He wrote 202 fragments or notes. He wrote:

So as not to see it anymore

except idealized

afterwards, no longer him

alive there – but

seed of his being

taken back into otself- seed allowing

to think for him

  • To see him <and to>





The discver of the fragments Mallarme left behind I found very touching.

A tragic accident end Carl Aidt life in 2015. What follows is how Naja piece together what happened and how she came to find a way to put it in words from early memories of Carl growing up it is the gift of a book from a friend of the French symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé’s  A tomb for Anatole an incomplete work that is a fragment poem to his dead son showed  Naja she said in an interview the way forward and that it isn’t in a whole but in pieces so the book mix the discovery of how she remembers Carl from those early days to the last few texts between them. works like C S lewis Grief observed and Time lived, Without its flow by Deinse Riley french writer Roubard book about his grief.As we see her trying to cope with death and wrestling with words.

I write in my journal

12 January 2016.

IT’S grey today, there’s a hush in the living room. Death is something we now live with every day. I have no idea how. I’ll be able to put all my energy. So much presence, concentration and energy. Beauty has abandned my language. My language walks in mournu=ing clothes. I’m completely indifferent .

Roubaud writes

To cling to death as such, to recognize it as a real hunger, has meant admitting, something over which I have no control.

I liked the line about words in mourning I have felt that experience of being unable to find words from time to time.

I am just a mere blogger,  a small writer. But I know the struggle death and grief bring to a writer it is wrestling with something so large it fills the room and yes as time pass we see around it and when that happens we maybe have words to fill the void or reading  for me it  was the discovery of Barthes mourning diary that helped me like Naja to  deal with grief. The discovery of that book was thanks to Joe from Rough Ghost who pointed me in the direction of the Barthes and this is another book about how one person has dealt with there grief and loss in Barthes case it is the loss of his mother. How we piece our lives together how we start living that point when the blackness lifts slowly and we want to remember those we have lost a remembrance and this is what this is of Carl this sits alongside the other works mention as how great writers deal with the worst thing and that is the loss of a close one. Have you ever found a book that helps you at a tough time?

Bunker by Andrea Maria Schenkel

Bunker - Andrea Maria Schenkel cover

Bunker by Andrea Maria Schenkel

German Crime fiction

Original title – Bunker

Translator – Anthea Bell

Source – Personnel copy


Andrea Maria Schenkel is probably the best known German crime writer ,translated into English .her first novel murder farm was published in German in 2006 and has since been made into a radio drama ,she has used well-known German crime  case to base her books partly on but this book is a truly fictitious crime .she has won a number of prizes for her books .She currently lives in New York .

I still have to get the Keys .They’re in the bedroom , on the bed .Back into the bunker .Damn the paraffin lamps have burnt out ,even thou I had two for each room in it .Funny ,I thought those things lasted longer .What a waste ,six lamps in three rooms .

The opening lines and why the need for lamps and to be in the bunker ?

Bunker is the tale of a kidnapping the title refers to where the woman who has been kidnapped .Monica is  being held by a kidnapper  .The book unfolds in an unusual narrative style where as opposed to a beginning middle and end to the story we see all three of these parts happen at once so the event leading up to the kidnapping of Monica ,the time she spent with the kidnapper and the rescue of her are all told in changing chapters .Monica doesn’t initially know why she has been kidnap or who could have done this to her see gets small glimpse into what has happen who the kidnapper is and maybe even why she was taken .What has happened in her past  to cause this to happen ?

I lie there on my stomach , the cold cement floor under me .A musty cellar smell .I feel awful .My arms and legs are scratched .My grazes are burning .My head aches he dragged me down to the cellar by my hair .Every root of it hurts .My mouth is dry my tongue feels thick and swollen ,glutinous saliva sticking my mouth up .

Monica describing her situation just after the kidnapping .


I really fell for Schenkel unusual narrative style in the book it remind me of the way we sometimes see crimes unfold on Tv Crime dramas especially something like CSI were the crime is shown how the crime was done and how the victim and criminal were dealt with even why the crime was done and not always in the order they happened .The setting was caught so well the room Monica was held in and the conditions she found herself in ,made my skin creep at times .I will be going back to the other books schenkel have written to find if this style she writes in is carried on in her other books .As ever Bell has done a great job on the translation .I am actually not a huge crime fiction fan but this book has gone to the top of my list of all time favourites .

Have you a favourite translated crime novel ?


April 2021


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