Jeg var nylig på ferie her. Der leste jeg denne boka. Som jeg fikk låne av denne dama. En forfriskende, smart, øm og morsom roman, til tider genial, med interessante, skiftende fortellerperspektiv, som jeg mer enn gjerne anbefaler til årets ferielesning.
Det mye omtalte kapitlet som er utformet som en power point-presentasjon, traff meg også med full styrke. Hvem hadde trodd det? Når ble du sist beveget av en power point-fremstilling?
Unner deg en liten smakebit fra boken. Fordi jeg ble så grepet av partiet. Her er Charlie og hennes bror Rolph på safari-ferie med sin far og hans nye kjæreste. Denne scenen foregår en kveld på hotellets diskotek:
«C’mon,» Charlie says. «let’s dance.»
She begins to undulate in front of him – the way the new Charlie is planning to dance when she gets home. But Rolph is embarrassed; he can’t dance that way. The rest of the group surrounds them; chubby Louise, one year older than he, is dancing with Dean, the actor. Ramsey flings his arms around one of the Phoenix Faction moms. Lou and Mindy dance close together, their whole bodies touching, but Mindy is thinking of Albert, as she will periodically after marrying Lou and having two daughters, his fifth and sixth children, in quick succession, as if sprinting against the inevitable drift of his attention. On paper he’ll be penniless, and Mindy will end up working as a travel agent to support her little girls. For a time her life will be joyless; the girls will seem to cry too much, and she’ll think longingly of this trip to Africa as the last happy moment of her life, when she still had a choice, when she was free and unencumbered. She’ll dream senselessly, futilely, of Albert, wondering what he might be doing at particular times, how her life would have turns out if she’d run away with him as he’d suggested, half joking, when she visited him in room number three. Later, of course, she’ll recognize ‘Albert’ as nothing more than a focus of regret for her own immaturity and disastrous choices. When both her children are in high school, she’ll finally resume her studies, complete her PhD at UCLA, and begin an academic career at forty-five, spending long periods of the next thirty years doing social structures fieldwork in the Brazilian rain forest. Her youngest daughter will go to work for Lou, become his protégée, and inherit his business.
“Look,” Charlie tells Rolph, over the music. “The birdwatchers are watching us.”
Mildred and Fiona are sitting on chairs beside the dance floor, waving at Rolph and Charlie in their long print dresses. It’s the first time the children have seen them without binoculars.
“I guess they’re too old to dance,” Rolph says.
“Or maybe we remind them of birds,” Charlie says.
“Or maybe when there are no birds, they watch people,” Rolph says.
“Come on, Rolphus,” Charlie says. “Dance with me.”
She takes hold of his hands. As they move together, Rolph feels his self-consciousness miraculously fade, as if he is growing up right there on the dance floor, becoming a boy who dances with girls like his sister. Charlie feels it, too. In fact, this particular memory is one she’ll return to again and again, for the rest of her life, long after Rolph has shot himself in the head in their father’s house at twenty-eight: her brother as a boy, hair slicked flat, eyes sparkling, shyly learning to dance. But the woman who remembers won’t be Charlie; after Rolph dies, she’ll revert to her real name – Charlene – unlatching herself forever from the girl who danced with her brother in Africa. Charlene will cut her hair short and go to law school. When she gives birth to a son she’ll want to name him Rolph, but her parents will still be too shattered. So she’ll call him that privately, just in her mind, and years later, she’ll stand with her mother among a crowd of cheering parents beside a field, watching him play, a dreamy look on his face as he glances at the sky.
“Charlie!” Rolph says. “Guess what I just figured out.”
Charlie leans toward her brother, who is grinning with his news. He cups both hands into her hair to be heard above the thudding beat. His warm, sweet breath fills her ear.
“I don’t think those ladies were ever watching birds,” Rolph says.
(Utdrag fra A Visit from the Goon Squad av Jennifer Egan. Norsk tittel: Bølle på døra, utgitt på Oktober Forlag.)