I am actually reading a book about the battle in the Teutoburg Forrest, but I often feel the need to rest from books, for different reasons, and read something completely different. Like these little books by Helene Hanff. I just finished "Letter from New York" which is a selection of the short, monthly talks she gave on BBC from 1978 to 1984.
This book is not nearly as good as "84 Charing Cross Road". It lacks that tension and drama that her relationship with Frank Doel had. Or at least it does to begin with. I imagine this also reflects her writing process, getting used to the medium, the audience, and her subject, which is her life in New York. As the reader gets to know all her friends, two-legged and four-legged, the texts turn more into stories and there are less straight-forward descriptions of her life. And that is a definite improvement. When the book ended I was sorry. It could have gone on a bit longer, I think.
Hanff writes entertainingly about a life where not a lot happens. She writes at home all day, she watches her neighbours´dogs play, she goes to concerts, walks in Central Park, hosts dinner parties for all her friends in her studio apartment (fancy word for tiny bedsit) and that´s pretty much it. But she loves it. And reading her makes at least this reader think that if I could write like that about my life it would sound just as interesting and fun. Which it is. Most people´s lives are small and ordinary. Nothing wrong with that. That´s how it should be, as far as I´m concerned. And it´s not boring either, told right, to the right listener.
I find that I enjoy Helene Hanff a lot. Judging from the swedish translations only, I suspect she is not one of the great writers, but I like her as a person. She does not write fiction, she writes about her own life. It´s like spending time with a good friend. I have put all her other works on my wish list at amazon, perhaps I will give myself a few Hanffs for a Christmas present this year!
Other than that, I´m freezing. It was 7 degrees one morning last week and it´s 11 now. These temperatures feel like summer heat around the beginning of May, after a long, dark and hard winter. But in August? I bet all the university´s first year students coming up this week are shocked. And going to H&M begging for wool.