Crete – only two more days L
This is the second and last Sunday in this hugely enjoyable environment of writing and reading and writing and reading and then some swimming and lazing in the sun. We haven’t done much sightseeing, but then that was never the intention. We’re here for the fifth time now and have done the tourist trails, this time I simply wanted to have two weeks of writer’s bliss: waking up in the morning, switching on my laptop and write, then either go to the internet café (a splendid roof terrace overlooking the sea), do some blogging and e-mailing (strictly no access to work e-mails), and then after a spot of lunch, off to the beach or swimming pool with a book. In the evening, after dark, enjoy a simple meal with a good wine in one of the numerous tavernas along this patch of the coast, or on our own splendid balcony overlooking the sea. Only once did we venture out to Chania but that was plenty. The reading-writing routine in this climate is sheer bliss.
So, apart from having written my average of 1000 words a day, or more, I have steadily worked through a number of books and have already told you about them in my previous blogs. In addition I’ve now also read Haruki Murakami After Dark, which is like reading a film, as mesmerising and compulsive, you cannot interrupt it, must not move away from it, because you’re into the next scene and are glued. The story is surreal and at the same time utterly convincing, the clock going round from just before midnight to morning and the girl, Mari’s sister Eri, asleep in her room which is really a television screen, but no, it is her room, and we are observers and understand from what Mari tells Takahashi that she decided two months ago to go to sleep and no one has seen her being awake since, and sometimes it just gets too much for Mari and that’s why she is in Denny’s place, an eating place, just before midnight and there Takahashi recognises her from a previous meeting with her and her sister on a double date. We move from screen to screen, and follow Mari helping out translating for a Chinese prostitute who was beaten up and then follow the man who beat her up, a computer expert, back to his office working overtime. You’ve just got to read this book to appreciate its subtlety and style. I now wish I had brought his other novel that I bought and have not read yet, Kafka on the Shore, but I haven’t and so will read that some time when I get back home.
Instead I am reading Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky. Peter Kemp in last week’s Sunday Times, where the Culture Section provided half a page on books and authors that are the worst reads to take with you on holiday, wrote that Dostoevsky has always defeated him and he has never been able to finish a book by D until the final page. Whereas Robert Louis Stevenson said (admiringly) of reading Crime and Punishment “It nearly finished me; it was like having an illness”, Peter Kemp (the Sunday Times fiction editor) says ‘Leave out the admiration, and that’s how Dostoevsky’s fiction, with its hysterias, hallucinations, feverish goings-on and characters with nonstop mood swings, affects me.’ I disagree, I think the hysterias, hallucinations and feverish goings-on are so well evoked that I am completely baffled by the fantastic writing, how can anyone write such paintings in such a sustained manner? So I’m reading Crime and Punishment for the second time and I consider it an excellent read and I enjoy all these mood swings while the sun beats on my back and I follow Roskalnikov to his crime scene, against the background of appalling poverty and degeneration, through the streets of Petersburg. I see his mother and sister and this awful suitor who wants to marry his sister ‘because she is poor’. I see how the drunkard is trampled over by a horse and carriage and the contradictoriness in Raskolnikov’s character when once more he hands out all the money he has received from his mother, while only two days previously he has committed the most awful murder seemingly for money. I might actually finish the book before I come back to England, and to the last page, despite Peter Kemp’s objections. So off I go to my sunny Sunday Salon, the beach, to carry on reading. This is where I will be: