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Book Club?

OldschoolJohto

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I hear you — nothing beats a real, physical book.

I think my plan was just to post up thoughts! I don’t think I have any specific guiding questions. I’ve listened through the 3rd story, so I’ll post something about it today. Should’ve yesterday but my day filled up rather quickly. I know Pen has definitely read through a good chunk too, so we’ll definitely hear from her too when work allows it.
 

OldschoolJohto

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I linked the Jagannath table of contents in the first post if anyone needs to look at it!

I'll just spew some thoughts on the first few:

Beatrice -- I think I might've actually read this one before, but I still enjoyed it the second time around.

It reminds me so strongly of what so many fics get wrong with love stories, but here the creepy behavior is recognized for what it is: Franz is obsessive and projecting his own desires onto Beatrice 2 without ever checking in. The fact that the recipient of his affections is a literal object might feel too on-the-nose if it weren't still SO relevant and under-explored in fiction. He fails to notice the things that make Beatrice 2 herself, only able to see her outward appearances. I also love that we never get confirmation that the first Beatrice actually reciprocated his feelings -- it feels very likely that he was only projecting onto her too. I also thought it was interesting how scornful he was of Anna's laborious caretaking of Hercules -- she's actually practicing love in ways he's not, and he looks down on her for it! Really happy that the two got away from him at the end... but thought it was interesting how he seems to have just let it happen. A little bit of self-punishment? Raise your hand if you think he's going to find another inanimate object to trap in his warehouse.

Some Letters for Ove Linström - I almost expected the narrator to escape or be "called" into the woods by the end of it. I also sort of think that putting the narrator on the national registry might've stripped her of her fae birthright somehow -- called by the woods, but unable to respond because the mortal world has a hold on her. I'm not sure I feel totally satisfied with the idea that mom might be coming back. Feels too much like rescuing the narrator from having to find her own way and make her own meaning. Though, of course, it could just be wishful thinking that mom is returning at all. Regardless, I really enjoyed this exploration of the emotionally absent father.

Miss Nyberg and I - This was my favorite one so far. The ending line was so 👌. I'm also a sucker for magical plants, so this one was an easy sell for me.

Looking forward to seeing what other folks thought!
 

Pen

"the cat is mightier than the pen"
Beatrice
I was caught off-guard by the cyberpunk vibe of this. One thing that felt really ambiguous to me is when exactly it's set. The haziness of of time seems to be part of the liminality that defines these short stories.

To be honest, I didn't love this one. The characters seemed subordinated to the idea. I think the best part of the story was the gusto with which the authors describes this machine-organic coupling, how the hybrid baby is cared for and fed. But ultimately, the story didn't leave me with much to reflect on.

@OldschoolJohto The main character felt so flat to be I really find it hard to speculate on what he does afterwards. The way his story begins only when he encounters Beatrice and ends when Beatrice 2 leaves makes me feel like the character only exists in the context of his projected relationship. It would be nice to come back to this story to contrast it with "Herr Cederberg," which has a similar set-up, but felt a lot richer to me.

Some Letters for Ove Linström
One thing I really enjoyed about this one was the slow slip from mundane into fantastical. The atmosphere is build up really well into something close and claustrophobic.

I feel like this story begins a theme of commenting on governmental reach into citizen's lives. I'm curious if anyone else felt that there was an implicit critique of the Swedish welfare state. I know nothing about Swedish politics, but in this story (and later ones) the fairy realm seemed set in opposition to a human realm increasingly controlled by bureaucracy and regulation.

The fae mother/ancestor is clearly a big theme for the writer, that carries over into the other stories. I would love to come back to this story when everyone has read "Reindeer Mountain" and "Augusta Prime," both of which seem in conversation with this story (I accidentally read the whole thing on the plane, so oops.)

Miss Nyberg and I
This was thoroughly charming. What I love most is that through the story of this strange plant-creature, we're given this window into the touching and intimate friendship of the narrator and Miss Nyberg. It's a story about growing older, about caring. Again, the atmosphere is built carefully and masterfully here, but this time it's homey and comforting, rather than alien and disquieting. I was especially struck by the main character's reluctance to imagine a fictional future for their friend--there's something so respectful and considerate in that. Even though it wouldn't change a single thing in the real world, the narrator affords that respect and freedom to live her life how she wants to her friend. It's just such a lovely story. I'm not sure I'm articulating everything I liked about it fully.
 

OldschoolJohto

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I feel like this story begins a theme of commenting on governmental reach into citizen's lives. I'm curious if anyone else felt that there was an implicit critique of the Swedish welfare state.
Absolutely agree. I also know little about the Swedish version, but from what I know about the US system... YUP. It resonates with me.

I'm intrigued by the idea that humans = bureaucracy and fae = wild because in the garbage teen romance stories I've been reading lately, the fae are definitely also deeply bureaucratic. I'll keep my eyes peeled for that.
 

OldschoolJohto

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Oooooh trigger warning for #4, Rebecka— suicidal ideation. Anyone who’s sensitive to those topics might want to skip that one.
 
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OldschoolJohto

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Will post some more in-depth thoughts about the next three stories soon, but for now... Check out this Instagram artist. This made me think of "Brown" immediately.
 
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OldschoolJohto

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I feel a little distanced from what I read after all the events of the last few days. I'll just pop down some thought for now, and I might dig up more if we end up bopping back and forth about it.

Rebecka - Hurt people hurt people, I guess. Damn. I guess we know Tidbeck's stance on Christianity. I was listening to this one while walking to work and kept making horrified noises out loud -- could not be helped. I thought this one pulled away at the exact right moment.

It is interesting to note how this one fits in with her broader theme of distrusting social services -- yet another powerful entity that's supposed to help has failed to do so.

Herr Cederberg - I actually don't have much to say about this one except that I continue to enjoy Tidbeck's writing style. (I wonder what I might be losing in translation though.)

Who is Arvid Pekon - What a fascinating world this sets up. I wondered at first if this one existed in the same world as "Some Letters for Ove Lindström." I loved the weird, spooky details. Beetle King?!?!?!?!?! Swoon. But, ultimately, the weird caller turns back onto Arvid what he's been dishing out: indifference.
 

zion of arcadia

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I haven't had time to do much recently, unfortunately, but I did read "Beatrice". Some thoughts:

-Enjoyed the whimsical tone and the sharp contrast it provided with the serious thematic content regarding obsessive love. It read almost like a romantic fairy tale up until the third act. The starkness of the prose and the ease of the mechanical metaphors also laid everything out in a detached way.

-Disagreed with the take that Anna and Hercules's relationship was any less destructive than Franz and Beatrice's. Franz even says, "I apologize. I think we share the same fate." It's worth noting that, much like Franz, Anna's first love wasn't Hercules, but the Koenig & Bauer (an argument for why their relationship is framed in a more positive light? Maybe).

-Anna's relationship ends with her giving everything to Hercules, even her body, and getting little to nothing in return. She mentions how they take care of each other, but the reality was that she took care of him. Of course, we never get anything from Hercules's perspective, so it's left up to interpretation, but it struck me as a cynical take on feminine obsession vs masculine obsession that Anna's ends in death while Franz's ends with redemption and room for personal growth.

-Not exactly sure what to think of Josephine and how she relates to the themes of obsessive love. Perhaps that even in the most unhealthy relationships, something strange and unexpected and beautiful can still come from it? While I agree with Pens on the whole that this short story is concept before character, it does still root itself in several pivotal character moments (Franz ordering an exact replica of Beatrice, Franz sharing the warehouse with Anna, Franz letting Beatrice II go) that helps define Franz as person. The bit at the end where Josephine tells him he's been raping Beatrice II did feel rather on the nose, however. Josephine was probably the weakest part of the story for me, outside of the novelty of being a hybrid, coming off mostly as a plot device to force the third act epiphany.

Interesting quote I marked down:

"Infatuation is worth nothing. It has nothing to do with the real world." -- Anna
 
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OldschoolJohto

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Anna's relationship ends with her giving everything to Hercules, even her body, and getting little to nothing in return. She mentions how they take care of each other, but the reality was that she took care of him.
That’s an extremely good point!
 

OldschoolJohto

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"Brita’s Holiday Village" has a line about making playlists to put off having to write. I'm tagged in this picture and I don't like it.
 

zion of arcadia

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I'm late as usual. I have no excuse. Please forgive me. :Wigglytired:

"Some Letters for Ove Linström"

-loved this one a lot. the way she described her father's addiction and how it ruined his life was on point and gut-wrenching. everything is just dripping with melancholy and regret, and a steadily growing sense of unease
-dunno much about the Swedish welfare system either, but what I got from the text was an undercurrent of hypocrisy (during the funeral, a lot of the people who show up are rich, and the implication is they all started out on a commune together with a disdain of the bourgeoisie explicitly mentioned). perhaps a decay of principles?
-thought the parallels between this and "Beatrice" were interesting. both involve a man who loses a loved one and a child who leaves (or gets taken away) by the mother/mother figure, although this seemed more interested in the fallout and the child from "Beatrice" comes across as a whimsical construct, while Viveka felt very raw and real
-"She's a tidy eater, leaving only the hearts. I find them here and there, lying on the floor like red raisins."

"Miss Nyberg and I"

-seemed like a pallet cleanser after the last two short stories
-wasn't a fan of the second person, found it unnecessary and a touch confusing. considering how clear the writing has been up to this point, with the ambiguity stemming from scenes as opposed to the prose itself, was an unwelcome change of pace
-not exactly sure how this connects back to the other two short stories, or if they're even supposed to connect thematically. at the moment, I'm assuming each story is meant to showcase a form of love and how it can be destructive/healing
-probably my least favorite of the three, but still pretty cute
 
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