Posted by: Corri van de Stege | June 29, 2008

The Sunday Salon – my view today

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:




  1. Interesting post, especially since this week I have been thinking about summer reading.

    I actually just finished The Possessed, which I haven’t read before. I think that I like it the best of the three Dostoevsky novels which I have read. It was the one in which the humor struck me the most, I think.

  2. What better place to read Dostoevsky then in the beautiful relaxed atmosphere of your summer beach get-away. I am a huge fan of his and C & P is one of my favorites too. Congratulations on your writing accomplishments.

  3. Oh. I. Am. So. Jealous! I’ve been several times to Crete and love love love it. Even the word ‘taverna’ is music to my ears… sigh…

    I just finished Kafka on the Shore and thought it was delightful- hope you like it when you get around to it!

  4. I read Kafka on the Shore also and highly recommend it. It’s definitely off-beat, but if you’ve read Murakami previously, then it will come as no surprise how off-beat he can be.

    I agree with you. Peter Kemp doesn’t know what he is talking about. Crime and Punishment would be a great beach read. Good for you to show Mr. Kemp up. 🙂

  5. CRETE! I’m so jealous!

    It’s been a while since I read Crime and Punishment. I’ll have to pick that up again someday. I have Kafka on the Shore, too, and have not read it either. It’s moderately high on Mt. TBR… about 19 books down the list. I have three lists going: the Austens, the ARCs and review books, then the most wishlisted on BookMooch. Maybe a sneaky one here or there, as well… like an Evanovich or Coben… something to break the tension of the LISTs…

  6. It all sounds just idyllic. I love a beach vacation where there is no pressure to do anything but RELAX, read and write. Ah. I envy you!

  7. I envy you for two reasons, Seachanges. One is because of the description you make of your summer salon, another is your time to read ceaselessly.

    Enjoy your time away from this world full of irrelevancies, at least you don’t have to read the day-to-day ever increasing problems the humankind faces up. And the lies going along with it.

  8. frumiousb: I also read the Possessed, but it’s a very long time ago and due for a reread!
    wisteria: travelling, reading and writing: the three best ways to spend one’s life!
    KimH: only one more day…. 😦 But I will be back
    unfinished person: what is better thana good detective story on the beach? Kemp really does not know what he’s talking about 🙂

    koolaidmom: yes, ists can become overbearing and so you need to disentangle yourself every so often. 🙂
    lisakenney: as before, only one more day… 😦
    jose: you are so right: unfortunately I’m going to be hurtled back into it tomorrow – but I have loved every minute of this hide-away!

  9. Oh, enjoy the rest of your wonderful getaway! I must admit I’m a bit envious. You have picked some great reading material! I’ve only read one Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and it left me wanting more.

  10. Alisia: Yes, am enjoying the Murakami reads very much. Must finish Crime and Punishment today though… and then it’s back to work!

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