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Terese Svoboda

Forfatter af Bohemian Girl

23+ Works 256 Members 5 Reviews 1 Favorited

Om forfatteren

Recipient of a Guggenheim, Terese Svoboda is the author of seventeen books of prose, poetry, memoir, translation, and biography, including six books of fiction-most recently, Bohemian Girl.

Omfatter også følgende navne: Teresa Svoboda, Drink Called Paradise

Image credit: Photo by Joyce George

Værker af Terese Svoboda

Bohemian Girl (2011) 46 eksemplarer
Trailer Girl: and Other Stories (2001) 31 eksemplarer
Tin God (2006) 24 eksemplarer
Pirate Talk or Mermalade (2010) 19 eksemplarer
A Drink Called Paradise (1999) 14 eksemplarer
Great American Desert: Stories (2019) 9 eksemplarer
Treason: Poems (2002) 7 eksemplarer
Cannibal (1994) 6 eksemplarer
Weapons Grade: Poems (2009) 6 eksemplarer
Dog on Fire (Flyover Fiction) (2023) 5 eksemplarer
Laughing Africa (1990) 5 eksemplarer
Roxy and Coco: A Novel (2024) 4 eksemplarer

Associated Works

My Ántonia (1918) — Efterskrift, nogle udgaver13,647 eksemplarer
The Apocalypse Reader (2007) — Bidragyder — 195 eksemplarer
Capital City (1939) — Introduktion, nogle udgaver47 eksemplarer
Text: Ur (2007) — Bidragyder — 14 eksemplarer
Fairy Tale Review: The Aquamarine Issue (2009) — Bidragyder — 7 eksemplarer

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I have very mixed feeling about this book. The story is fascinating, the way it is told less so. The writing style is not my favorite; no quotations marks makes it hard to tell if someone is speaking or thinking to themselves. It is hard to tell who is speaking. The flow of the story is affected by the author's chosen style, and to me, not for the better. I find this type of writing, when not in the hands of a master (Cormac McCarthy) a distraction that takes me out of the story.

The tale of a young girl, lost in a bet to an Indian by her father, is of a strong woman who survives by her wits and brains. The physical and historical settings lend themselves to a novel that I would love to recommend, the writing style prevents me from doing so.… (mere)
 
Markeret
Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
Disturbing, haunting stories. The writing style is a bit confusing, but worth the slog.
 
Markeret
Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
Not a page went by in A Drink Called Paradise when I wasn't stunned by the talent of Terese Svoboda. Svoboda wrote prose so potent in her second novel I'm tempted to go euphemistic and overstate its explosive power and call it atomic. Only I wouldn't be overstating. For almost every sentence in A Drink Called Paradise, and certainly every paragraph, visceral as they are in ideas, clues, and images, could pass for poems. No real surprise there, because prior to A Drink Called Paradise's publication by Counterpoint in 1999, she'd authored three books of poetry, All Aberration, Laughing Africa, and Mere Mortals.

Like her contemporary, Denis Johnson, Terese Svoboda was first a poet and then a novelist. A Drink Called Paradise, in fact, is strikingly similar in style, brevity, and emotional intensity, to Denis Johnson's Train Dreams. Both novellas feature protagonists on the run from shockwaves of grief. Ground zero for Robert Grainier, the leading man of Train Dreams, was the cabin fire that killed his wife. Grief's merciless reverberations nearly upended Grainier a decade later, when his daughter, presumed dead in the fire, reappears, disfigured not by flames but by an inadvertent abandonment to forces in the wild that burned her beyond recognition from the inside out. Granier, understandably devastated, exits and never returns. Thereafter existing in a waking trance, moving from one odd job to another, a hermit until his death.

Clare's no hermit. She's pure combustion and raw attitude and yet submerged rage, narrating A Drink Called Paradise in the first person. Clare has likewise been burned from within and without. Divorce. The death of her ten year old son. Self-recriminations and self-doubt abound. She is gravely ill with guilt by the time we meet her. No wonder she flees into the solace of work, a driven and demanding perfectionist in advertising who takes to the South Pacific on the hunt, island after island, for the exact image of paradise she's envisioned in her head to induce massive sales of a certain soda for which she leads its marketing charge. She's got the right slogan already down, she just needs to find the right shade of sand now, the right hues of blue and glitter in sky and sea and sun, to ensconce that perfect illusion behind her soda's slogan. These are details easier for Clare to process than dealing with the sudden passing of her only child. "One drink and you think you're Eve, that's what I wrote. If you can drink this drink, you can live in paradise is mine too ... everybody wants paradise, it's all dollar signs.

Not pearly gates."

Such is Clare's fate in advertising and sales. Such has been Clare's life outside of advertising and sales. A surface paradise in L.A. where shallowness is celebrated, authenticity considered the equivalence of weakness or disease, and sincerity equated with some strange sickness. Oh how terribly ironic it is that Clare, seeking paradise, has escaped paradise completely, and found what amounts to a tropical prison instead. An island so remote "it doesn't even have its own brochure." Doesn't even have a boat. Once Clare's film crew got wind of where they were, they got the hell out before the boat that brought them left. Leaving while their boss, tenacious but clearly tired, Clare, slept. Tells you how much they cared for Clare, or perhaps how poorly she cared for them. Natives do inhabit this mysterious and deserted island seemingly of their own free will; an island that's an "atoll" technically speaking, ringed as it is by a reef roughly two miles wide. Strange, though, that the natives eat only fish that's canned rather than caught. Weeks go by; months; and Clare doesn't see a single fisherman or swimmer, except for the odd son of her hostess, the native, Ngarima's. Odd because the boy's head is so shrunken, disproportionate in size to the rest of him. He lays all day, everyday, on a surfboard in the lagoon. And Ngarima, when asked about him, barely bats what's left of her eyelashes in response.

So maybe the natives are a little odd, a little off, but who's Clare to judge them or the dump without amenities that is their island? After all, not every South Pacific island can have lush landscaping and lavish accommodations, but surely there's more than these dirt-floored, aluminum-sided and -ceiling'd shanties for refuge. They're not much shelter from wind or rain, though from sunshine they serve just fine. Nor do they protect the rare accidental tourist like Clare from the unwelcome advances of native men or unnaturally large arthropods. How exactly do cockroaches and crustaceans get that big? Where are the happy hula girls in grass skirts and skimpy tops you see in all the T.V. commercials and magazine ads? Or the thatched roof huts that practically levitate above the waters when the sun hangs low and long shadows disguise their stilt supports?

Clare's likely known the reality of the island longer than she'd dare admit. When a ship arrives and drops anchor outside the reef, and in come the boats through the break -- as they've come twice a year for years -- Clare can no longer glance the other way from the obvious, as all the clues that had accreted all these months on this abandoned island now crystallize into a shape that's as undeniable as it is unconscionable before her eyes. Once on deck the research vessel, all she wants to know is why? Why? Inasmuch as she literally asking the scientists and ship's security and eventually the reluctant ship's captain, why oh fucking WHY?, she's more accusing whatever indifferent forces that may or may not exist out there, somewhere in the Cosmos, responsible for letting her son die.

When the scientists respond to her increasingly shrill inquiries with rationalizations for the government sponsored suffering the result of longitudinal testing on the longterm effects of too much radiation on the health and well being of humans, and then downplay the ongoing displacement of generations of Pacific Islanders without apology, perhaps then in desperation, Clare looked up into the night and saw "stars in absolute excess". Do keep in mind what was mentioned at the outset regarding Terese Svoboda's "atomic prose" and observe close her next sentence that could pass for poem:

"We sit in absolute dark here, an aurora borealis in reverse, black paint sucking the stars closer than even the stars on the island, which will surely someday set fire to the tops of the palms, fronds waving once too often against their white light."

With dreadful lucidity, Clare sees the stars for what they are: "hot little islands".

Hot little islands like the one she just left. What were the odds, factoring in the losses Clare had already accumulated, that they'd only be compounded, when in search for the perfect paradise backdrop in the South Pacific to compliment her soda pop propaganda campaign, she'd land instead upon the ruined beaches of Paradise's antithesis (not quite Hell but an Inferno nonetheless), known as the "hottest little island" on Earth? Might be enough, being the unlucky benefactor of damnable odds like that, to make even a person of Clare's proven resiliency, jump ship for the stars.

~ ~ ~

To read a chapter excerpt from A Drink Called Paradise and Terese Svoboda's commentary about her novel and its personal connection to the "Nuclear Legacy in the South Pacific," go right here.
… (mere)
½
9 stem
Markeret
absurdeist | Nov 28, 2013 |
This is the second book about pirates I’ve reviewed, and I’m not even a fan of pirates. Although I do enjoy shouting, “Thar she blows!” on occasion for no reason whatsoever. Not sure why people find that offensive.

The first pirate book I reviewed was a graphic novel called Bourbon Island 1730 by Lewis Trondheim, and I recommend it. It’s historical fiction set on a French colony populated by former pirates and slaves. Pirate Talk or Mermalade, on the other hand, is not historical but rather whimsical and yet emotionally raw at the same time.

PToM has a learning curve. The book is written entirely in dialogue. It’s somewhat akin to seeing a play in the dark. Admittedly, I struggled to follow what was happening initially but about a third of the way through, it clicked. Once that happened, it was easy enough to re-read and put most of the pieces together, as this is a rather short book.

The book tells the story of two boys who grow up to become pirates. One by intention and the other, who hated the sea, against his will. The relationship between the two main characters who are brothers (or half-brothers or perhaps not quite brothers at all) reminded me quite a bit of the relationship between Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from the book Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which, ps, was also a great movie.



The two brothers constantly bicker and struggle and distrust each other, but in the end all they ever seem to have is each other. Well, except for this mermaid who shows up—perhaps their half sister, perhaps the daughter of a pirate captain—who marries one of them but turns out to be more of a sea hag than a mermaid, constantly insulting him while attempting to drown the other on occasion by trying to convince him that he is also a mermaid.

A running gag in the story that I found quite hilarious was the process of the reluctant pirate brother sustaining injury after injury until he eventually becomes the exact stereotype of a pirate. Ever wonder how it’s possible to end up with a peg-leg, a hook-hand and a missing eye? Read and discover the disgusting, unhygienic joys of the high seas. Yeah, Moby Dick was probably slang for a medical condition that we’re all better off not thinking about.

In the end, this story won me over. It has an abstract quality to it, being purely dialogue. A strange piratical poetry of language that leaves a great deal to your imagination. Despite the whimsy, there was a melancholy cloud hanging over the brothers who came from poverty so great they ate soup of boiled rope. They seemed doomed to stumble into a life of desperation on the sea. The mermaid character detracted a bit from what I truly enjoyed about the book, the banter and relationship between the brothers so I’ve deducted a star for that but a solid, interesting read.

Oh, and regarding the eternal question about pirates? I think the answer is pretty clear: Ninjas.
… (mere)
1 stem
Markeret
David_David_Katzman | 1 anden anmeldelse | Nov 26, 2013 |

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Værker
23
Also by
7
Medlemmer
256
Popularitet
#89,547
Vurdering
3.9
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5
ISBN
43
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