Friday, 11 January 2013

The Old Man and His Sons - #26

This was one of those books that leapt out of the huge list of the books people had already found for their own Around the World list. Scrolling down the page: Estonia, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Faroe Islands, Fiji…. Hold on what? The Faroes? There are books written about or in the Faroes? I have to read it!

So on I went, and ordered the book and it arrived in the giant shopping spree of parcels I had delivered to work (the postman was very grateful I was solely keeping him in a job). And then it sat patiently waiting until I managed to get to it.

I will state first of all, this is one of the nicest covers on any of the books I own. It’s gorgeous. I frequently took it off the shelf over the last 9 months just to look at it. Not only I think this, but Lexx in his grumpy, judging, Graphic Designer way even said it was a really nice cover. Get it for the cover. Make it a coffee table book. It’s pretty!

Story wise though, I didn’t love it. It was another story of a country fighting with modernisation and the problems with loosing ones own culture while developing as a country. And that is sad. It must have been heartbreaking for these old Faroe people to see their children doing what they deemed as rejecting their heritage and culture. I am sympathetic to that. I think it is important while developing and modernising to still keep your identity and culture in check. Those are the things that make you and your country different and interesting. For example, while not the same in any way shape or form, it annoys me that Aus is getting more and more Americanised. So I am sure these people felt this annoyance and then sadness a thousand times more than my feelings.

However, I feel that if their children, all of them, are that big a jerks that they insinuate, then maybe, just maybe, they may need to work on their parenting skills. They just went on and on about how ungrateful, and rude, and horrible, and whatnot their children were. And how their grandchildren were always begging from them. Well maybe, one of the reasons ALL of your MANY children are horrible may come down to the common factor with all those children? And you can say “No! Go home!” to your grandchildren once in a while. I couldn’t sympathise with that. It bugged me.

But as much as that annoyed me, this did not even compare to the son who was still living at home, K√°lvur. Dear god I wanted to slap him upside his face and tell him to get the hell over himself. He was a complete and utter drip. 24ish years old and crying all the time because things were scary. Seriously boy! Grow a pair! Living at home (in a 2 room house) with his parents, and then lying in his bed yelling at his mum to bring him food because he couldn’t be bother getting up. They getting pissed off as she wasn't there as she had gone out. Once. Ever. I’d tell you what would happen if I ever tried that with my Mum, there is very little chance I would still be here writing this.

Whinging aside, both mine and sniveling boy’s, the book was very well written. I wanted to keep reading it, even though I found the people not overly engaging. The way of storytelling was, and the culture and customs were intriguing. And it was only a short book, so you knew that even though the snotty-nosed boy was crying again, you only had another 50 pages with him.

The whale hunt at the beginning of the book, and the premise for the whole book was really interesting and eye opening. I had always thought that if people could hunt whales traditionally with a spear and a wooden boat, good on them. I had the idea that these cultures only kill as much as they need, therefore being much more sustainable than the horrible commercial whaling that has just started up in the oceans below me as we speak.

This book changed that way of thinking though. It was so real and evocative. I was so upset for the whales, and I am not sure if I was supposed to be. I have a feeling that is a product of reading the book with my background and in my time. 70 years ago I may have identified with the hunters more, been on their side. Not now, I was so drawn in to the book, hoping a whale would get away or take someone with them. It almost made me cry this hunt.

Also there wasn’t that idea of sustainability I thought went with it. They killed as much as they possibly could, which allowed Ketil to get into the mess he did by accidentally buying some obscene tonnage of whale meat. It really opened my eyes.

So with saga-esq storytelling, a rare insight for me into the lives of another place in the North and Norwegian Seas, another story of the struggle of traditional vs modern ways of living, and an eye opening account of traditional hunting methods, that I will admit has changed my thinking immensely, I felt outweighed the frustration with annoying characters. One day, one day I will read a book with characters I like. Or I’ve just become a cantankerous old lady who hates everyone already… oh dear…

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