maanantai 4. heinäkuuta 2011

Michael Cunningham: By Nightfall

Mizzy is becoming - Peter's not stupid, he's crazy but he's not stupid - his favorite work of art, a performance piece if you will, and Peter wants to collect him, he wants to be his master and his confidant [...] Peter doesn't want him to die (he really and truly doesn't), but he wants to curate Mizzy, he wants to be his only... his only. That will do, really.

The basic setting and general description of Michael Cunningham's new novel didn't sound like something I could relate to personally: the book tells about Peter and Rebecca Harris, a middle-aged couple living in relative comfort and luxury in Manhattan, NY. Modern urbanites, busy in a hectic metropolis. Both work in the art world: Peter owns an art gallery and Rebecca is a magazine editor. Their everyday life is interrupted by the visit of Rebecca's younger brother, Ethan (or "Mizzy"), who is an impulsive, unruly, dreamy 23-year-old, interesting in "doing something in the arts". Mizzy becomes a kind of strange third wheel in Peter and Rebecca's marriage and forces especially Peter to re-examine his life, his career, his sexuality and his personal identity. 

The novel offers a portrayal of a specific way of life, a contemporary American character type: wealthy urbanites living in a loft in SoHo, getting Starbucks lattes to go when rushing off to work in the mornings, meeting up-and-coming artists and eccentric art collectors, debating on where to go out in the evening... The Washington Post describes the novel as "horny" and "rather witty and a little outrageous" and in The New York Times, Jeanette Winterson praises Cunningham's language, dialogue and pace. In my opinion, the language of the novel is very modern and chic in a casual kind of way, but I have to admit that some of the vocabulary and especially the American colloquialisms had me jumping up to find a dictionary pretty often:

He lives in a goddamned loft in SoHo (how eighties is that?), he has employees, and up ahead, mere blocks away, there are gaggles of young headbangers who live in walk-ups, who are buying beer with their actual last dimes. Do you imagine, Peter, that our Carpe Diem boots would look any less deluded to them than that guy's Tony Lamas do to you? There's a comeuppance for everyone, wherever you are, and the farther you go from your own fiefdom, the more ludicrous are our haircut, your clothes, your opinions, your life.

Maybe the language and vocabulary of the novel was too foreign for me, or maybe I just couldn't get excited or interested about the characters who seemed to live in a world and think in ways that are completely different from me. Either way, I didn't get much out of this novel. I don't think it's a masterpiece, like The Hours, I couldn't sympathise with the characters as much as in A Home at the End of the World, and Specimen Days provided more surprises in terms of the plot. So this was a bit of a disappointment for me.

...and in Finnish: Romaani ilmestyy Gummeruksen kustantamana suomeksi syyskuussa 2011 nimellä Illan tullen. Luen luultavasti myös suomennoksen ihan vain mielenkiinnosta erityisesti koska haluan tietää, kuinka suuri osa kirjan vaikutuksesta todella meni minulta ohi sen hankalan kielen takia. Kääntäjä Laura Jänisniemellä on varmasti ollut melkoinen urakka romaanin tyylin välittämisessä suomen kielelle.

Links:
MichaelCunningham.com
The Washington Post: By Nightfall
The New York Times: "Sibling Rivalry"

4 kommenttia:

  1. Voi että odotan tämän ilmestymistä suomeksi. Luen mielelläni kirjoja englanniksikin, mutta jostain syystä Cunninghamia olen lukenut vain äidinkielelläni. :)

    VastaaPoista
  2. Minäkin aion lukea tämän syksyllä suomeksi. Olen hillitön Cunningham-fani, mikä on vähintäänkin huvittava väite siksi, että olen lukenut häneltä vain Säkenöivät päivät (Specimen Daysin nimi suomeksi muistaakseni), josta en kauheasti pitänyt.. :D Mutta Tunnit on yksi suosikkielokuviani ja olen halunnut lukea ko. kirjan kauan. Lisäksi Cunninghamin teemat kiinnostavat minua kovasti. Silti lienee reilua sanoa, että todellinen fanius on toistaiseksi vain mielikuvan tasolla. :)

    VastaaPoista
  3. Katja, luulen että minunkin pitäisi suosiolla siirtyä lukemaan Cunninghamia suomeksi, ainakin tämän lukukokemuksen perusteella. :)

    Karoliina, faniutta se on sekin! :) Ja lupaan, että Tunnit on kirjana vähintään yhtä vaikuttava kuin elokuvana.

    VastaaPoista
  4. Luin tämän juuri suomeksi ja yllätys yllätys, kieli on mielestäni ihan erityisen konstailematonta!

    Ei kyllä varmaan noudata kaikkia kielioppisääntöjä ihan pilkulleen, mutta todella sujuvaa ja sellaista, että siihen ei oikeastaan kiinnitä mitään huomiota, se vain kantaa niitä kaikkia hienoja ajatuksia.

    VastaaPoista