Reading challenge; The first book you see in a bookstore

So this is another one of the books I bought in London, and this one I’m sad to say is a miss.

It’s Elizabeth Mckenzie’s The Portable Veblen. It’s not that it’s bad. It’s just not my cup of tea.

Basically, it’s the story of Veblen and Paul. Who are supposed to be in love. And this is a major problem I have with this book; I don’t see how these two people are in love and engaged to be married. I just don’t. It’s not even that they don’t have common ground, I’ve come to understand that’s not a prerequisite for two people to be involved (?? what do I know ??), it’s just how they behave towards each other. I can’t shake the feeling that they’re just complete strangers. Bottom line: not buying it. I’m not convinced these two people are in love.

Also. I’m usually a fan of eccentric female leads. But I have no sympathy for or interest in Veblen. I much prefer Paul who, in addition to having a quite gory and interesting job, at times is petty, bitter, jealous, you know, he’s a human being with flaws. I like flaws. And also, people who are in hate with the world. I like them.


I suppose the worst thing you could say about Veblen is she has an irrational relationship with squirrels, but otherwise seems to not be a bad person. Both of which bothers me. Too happy and walking around talking to squirrels. She reminds me of Amélie from Montmartre. Now I don’t dislike Amélie, but I think that has to do with narration, perspective, and the overall feel of the story. For me, it works in Amélie, it doesn’t work here. And especially not for 400 goddamn pages. If the book was about Paul only…I would not hate it. At all. Had I not paid for this book, I would probably not have finished it.

Also wondering about the choice to include a few lines in Norweigan, no tranlsation. Example:

Elizabeth McKenzie the portable veblen

I mean it’s fine for us Scandinavians, but other readers? Say this was Russian. I wouldn’t be happy. I also don’t see the point. Is it some sort of brag? Check me out I know some Norwegian ? I just don’t get it.

There’s also sometimes pictures (?? you don’t trust your ability to paint the picture using words ??), and I’ve always hated when the author includes other texts in her story. E.g. in this book there are texts that Veblen wrote as a kid inserted. Can’t take it. Can’t even take when Blixa Bargeld includes his own lyrics in Europa kreuzweise; and I like his lyrics (like is a severe understatement, I’d have them tattooed on my body if I was into tattoos), and the book too. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll be including it in the challenge. I need something to put my faith back in the written word after this.

This is the part where you tell me I’m just not understanding the book at all, that I got it all wrong. Go on then!


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