Tuesday, November 21, 2006

No Shyness and Dignity

Four months ago today, I read this review by Paul Binding in the TLS:
Dag Solstad's eminence in Norway is abundantly justified by this profound and courageous study of solitude in society, and despair within enviable security. [...] There are no dramatic scenes in Shyness and Dignity, no emotional exchanges, no dialogue, only the very occasional recorded remark to illustrate some observation about Elias's unsatisfactory progress. Inevitably - not least because paragraphs go buttonholingly on for pages - the Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard comes to mind and, for all his gentleness of manner and his humane standpoint, Solstad ... shares Bernhard's galvanic anger.
So much to recommend this novel to me! Except the price. £13 for a thin paperback. A couple of months later I saw it listed in the local library's catalogue. The availability field advised me to "Check Shelves". But there was nothing there. Then the field changed to "On Loan", the return date as 21/10. Being terminally patient, I waited. However, exactly a month on from that date, i.e. today, that's still the return date. Who the hell is so selfish to keep the book for that long? Will they ever bother to return it? Will the local council allow me to erect a gallows in the library square?


  1. Anonymous12:06 am

    As it happens, I was luckier than you and did borrow this book from a library, but then found that 5 pages were missing! There was no other copy in any local library, so I bought it from Amazon - supposedly secondhand, but actually mint - for GBP5 inc postage. I've just finished it, and found it excellent in parts, but overall a little disappointing.

  2. Anonymous10:55 am

    Try reserving it? Costs 60 p and they'll phone you when it is in. Some libraries let you do this by internet now, even.

    Have you seen Tim Coates' "Good Library Blog" -- will make you cry but highly recommended.



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