Saturday, February 14, 2009

What I'm Reading #2

Cone, by Holger Struens. It's a crime how little Danish literature gets translated and published in this country. Thank heaven Rita Snoef and Ortolan put out this unrecognized classic. It's too daring for American writers, of course, but Struens is part of the European school of ObjektGrupp. Their credo insists that only non-human protagonists can offer fully developed and trenchant explorations of the post-post-modern condition.

To that end, Cone is narrated, or rather exposited, by a pinecone, beginning from its earliest stages, into the growth of microsporaphylls, the development of bract scales, through its descent to the earth, and its ultimate fate - the wondrous regeneration of life. The writing is spare, emotionless - "now as upon previous periods of sunlight energies are transmuted to my ends" - and raw, raw, raw. ObjektGrupp writers, Struens most notably, refuse to inject feeling into their work. Rather we're meant to see nature in its most spare, its most cruelly elegant.

I won't lie, it's not easy to read this book if you're feeling drowsy, or if you're in a comfortable chair. Usually I end up reading standing up, in 15 minute bursts of courage. But devote your mind to it, and it branches out, and blossoms.

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