Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Man in the High Castle

It took me a while to finish this novel.
The reason was a leisurely one. I went to Norway for two weeks and this novel went along.
I thought I might finish this one and a couple more, because that’s what I normally do when I’m on holiday.
But traveling across Norway isn’t like traveling anywhere I’ve been before. I didn’t spend as much time reading as I had intended to. Not that I minded. Usually I was very tired from hiking that I didn’t spend more than half an hour reading each night.
I couldn’t even read in the car because if you aren’t using your eyes to soak up the Norwegian way of life and its scenery, you’re just plain stupid. And I actually saw people engrossed with their smartphones, instead of taking in the much needed raw nature Norway still possesses.

Not that everyone was appreciating this wonderful place as much as me and my husband. Norway wouldn’t bother my 4y old. Although she loved the hiking, and she did way more than I ever dreamt off, she wasn’t too keen to absorb the scenery. I can’t count how many times she watched the Fellowship of the Ring when we were on a car trip (and yes, traveling by car takes up a lot of time there, so much so that when we were travelling through Germany on our way back home going 160 felt crazy fast).

So, not a literary holiday, but one to remember and hopefully do again.
A few times I told my husband I wouldn’t probably finish even one book while I was there, but I managed just in the nick of time on the trip back to Oslo where we had to catch a boat.

The Man in the High Castle is a strange little novel. Very airy and philosophical and not one I could fully concentrate on giving my fatigued state each night.
Its topic is an alternate reality where Germany and Japan won WWII. Crazy, right? Opening the book, we’re already 20 years into this warped version of history with the world already divided between the Axis-powers. It takes place on the Japanese side of what formerly was the west side of the US.

I got to know a lot of characters, each with their personal lives and their own views on how the world should go on.
Each of the characters relies of some form of future telling.
Most of them are using the I Ching – an oracle book still very relevant today (I tried it myself online and was positively astonished) to guide them with life altering choices or even day to day peculiar events.
Another book the story revolves around is ‘The Grasshopper lies heavy’. This novel in a novel of which we don’t read a single page, but get its content through the eyes of the different characters, tells of another outcome of WWII where the allies won. Pretty much what we’ve got going right now. Of course this ‘true’ book is a little warped since The Man in the High Castle was written in the 60’s, during the cold war and the fear of communism.

Still, it was a fantastic way of seeing how our world could’ve been entirely different.
It might be a little more dystopian than I would’ve liked but if the Endlösung is possible, I believe anything can happen.

It’s been a few days since I’ve finished this novel and I had a lot of washing and cleaning to do since I got home, but I do remember the fluent, philosophical and by times tender use of language. It’s theme was very brutal, but the minds of each character had a tendency to portray its meaning in a very stylish and beautiful way. It felt almost like the birth of a red rose amidst a garbage island. So serene and tender and able to touch certain notes, more crude language would’ve never established.

It makes this novel hard to read, but even more so, worthwhile to read. I’m taking a wild guess, but I’m probably going to read this novel again someday when I’m not side-tracked with being a the most awesome country I’ve been to.

Scary, right?