Far Afield

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10 thoughts on “Far Afield

  1. Jamie Campbell Jamie Campbell says:

    I have spent my summer furiously and rapidly reading a spate of excellent books, and this was my favorite This was one that I had seen prominently displayed at the public library s randomly chosen display of Paperback fun I actually felt guilty when I checked it out because the cover is emblazoned with BY THE AUTHOR OF GIRL INTERRUPTED a book that I didn t read that was made into an imperfect movie that I assumed was written and consumed by the type of person who glamorizes pretty girl I have spent my summer furiously and rapidly reading a spate of excellent books, and this was my favorite This was one that I had seen prominently displayed at the public library s randomly chosen display of Paperback fun I actually felt guilty when I checked it out because the cover is emblazoned with BY THE AUTHOR OF GIRL INTERRUPTED a book that I didn t read that was made into an imperfect movie that I assumed was written and consumed by the type of person who glamorizes pretty girls suffering Additionally, I felt burdened, because I knew that the protagonist was male and boring, and that the subject was, to me, male and boring A novel about a boring male protagonist self hating anthropology grad student plumbing a boring male culture scandinavian sea bound community written by a female who sexualizes female suffering It was with a heavy heart that I cracked the spine .I WAS WRONG I was fascinated by the strong sense of place and local community, seen through the eyes and ideas of an observant, hesitant, and self loathing outsider I identified totally and self loathingly with the by turns lethargic, inspired, savvy, moronic, impulsive, over considered protagonist I loved the novel s occasional lyrical interludes and omnipresent sense of humor and irony.Read it now My favorite part was the odd comparison drawn between the habits of puffins raising their young and the habits of overly academic young professors raising their young.love,J


  2. Aloke Aloke says:

    Maybe four stars because Jonathan is so insufferable It s ok, I don t need to love my characters but some of the navel gazing passages drag on.But five stars because of all the other characters and beautiful descriptions.


  3. Trilby Trilby says:

    A sort of graduate student Bildungsroman, this novel centers on the protagonist s year in the Faroe Islands working on his dissertation.I was pretty excited when I got this book as a gift from my friend Pat, whose college friend at Cornell provided the model for Kaysen s main character, Jonathan Brand After all, I love all things Northern Atlantic read Iceland and the Faroes are just smaller,exotic Icelands, right Well, not quite.Since I have never been to the Faroes, I took it on fai A sort of graduate student Bildungsroman, this novel centers on the protagonist s year in the Faroe Islands working on his dissertation.I was pretty excited when I got this book as a gift from my friend Pat, whose college friend at Cornell provided the model for Kaysen s main character, Jonathan Brand After all, I love all things Northern Atlantic read Iceland and the Faroes are just smaller,exotic Icelands, right Well, not quite.Since I have never been to the Faroes, I took it on faith that this would be an accurate portrayal of the place Hence I was almost shocked at Kaysen s description of primitive folk whose way of life resembles their Viking ancestors In addition to killing thousands of fish and birds, they slaughter whole pods of whales, shoot and butcher sheep in their kitchens, and ritualistically torture and kill cats They are carnivores par excellence, presumably because that is the main food available to them I asked Pat about her impression of the book, since she had visited the Faroes last year She thought the book presented the islands to be way bleaker than they are In fact, it makes the Faroes into the bleakest, most godforsaken patches of rock on Earth What disturbed me as I read the book is that I couldn t reconcile this view of the Faroes with my impression of Iceland Could they really live so differently on the Faroes Was everyday slaughter and epic battle with the elements a way of life there Then I checked the publication date 1990 Aha When the book came out twenty years ago, it was greeted with rave reviews Readers loved the neurotic grad student protagonist, the satire of village life, the poetic descriptions of land and sea And so did I But the Faroes have changed significantly since this book was written, and that, I think, is the source of my problem with it.Like Icelanders, contemporary Faroese have a 100% literacy rate, and many speak several languages Just about every family has an Internet connection But also like Icelanders, they have continued the tradition of whaling A quick check on Google revealed that the Faroese continue the annual mass slaughter of pilot whales, bringing these sea mammals to the brink of extinction.Both nations do whaling not because they must have the meat for food, but because it s a time honored tradition They do not have to rely on rotten whale sandwiches or sheep s head soup for meals, and fresh food is available year round Maybe this just underscores Kaysen s point that violence remains a part of the Norse culture and heritage although what European culture doesn t have its violent aspects The vivid characterizations and wild setting presented in Kaysen s clear and beautiful prose were what I like best about it But the obviously metaphorical excursions into landscape bothered me too precious and I got very impatient with self doubting, intellectual, only child Jonathan too much like myself Maybe I would ve enjoyed the novelif I had read it as a period piece But truth to say, I couldn t get through Moby Dick for the same reason I skipped over sections describing the mayhem and slaughter in Far Afield If I want to read about violence on the North Atlantic islands, I probably should just stick to the sagas Horses may get pushed off cliffs and a berserker may hack someone s head off, but at least I don t have to read about harpooning, beaching, butchering, and other nasty things happening to whales, or sheep, or cats, or other animals


  4. Elizabeth Theiss Elizabeth Theiss says:

    An angst ridden graduate student moves to one of the Faroe Islands for a year to study the local culture for his dissertation at Harvard Jonathan is a post industrial worrier who wears his anxieties on his sleeve He has come to a small fishing village with one provision shop to inhabit a simple cottage with no phone Jonathan s entree to the world of the islanders is his willingness to work hard, which they admire When his toilet won t flush, helpful islanders loan him a wheelbarrow with whic An angst ridden graduate student moves to one of the Faroe Islands for a year to study the local culture for his dissertation at Harvard Jonathan is a post industrial worrier who wears his anxieties on his sleeve He has come to a small fishing village with one provision shop to inhabit a simple cottage with no phone Jonathan s entree to the world of the islanders is his willingness to work hard, which they admire When his toilet won t flush, helpful islanders loan him a wheelbarrow with which to transport an excess of septic waste to a remote cliffside for dumping into the ocean A crowd surrounds him as he shovels waste and struggles with his distaste for the job at hand Gradually, he is accepted by the locals who invite him to dinner rotting fish is on the menu to help round up the collective sheep and drive them to their winter pasture the pay is one live sheep, delivered to his kitchen where it is slaughtered to assist in the annual whale slaughter followed by a bacchanalian dance and to be part of the rhythm of village life.I adored this book Jonathan is a genuine pill and therefore the perfect foil for the matter of fact islanders who live in a pre industrial fishing economy with a powerful logic all its own So so so, they say to open any conversation Whatever Jonathan is worrying about, it doesn t matter nearly so much as a successful whale kill or finding a proper wife Descriptions of the Faroes and their rugged way of life are magical I m a long distance hiker who is especially fond of walking along coastal cliffs and now I would love to visit the Faroe Islands Highly recommended


  5. Jessaka Jessaka says:

    This is a humorous book that I would enjoy reading again It is a story about a young man who goes to the Faroe Islands to apply his archeological skills and finds himself really having to adapt, but the natives there arethan willing to teach him It is quite humorous at times.


  6. Joan Joan says:

    A great book, you will love it and it will linger in your heart The writing is lyrical the setting sublime and the characters engaging.


  7. N.N. Light N.N. Light says:

    I read Girl, Interrupted years ago and was pleased Kaysen wrote fiction This was very different from her debut but in many ways, so much better Highly recommend


  8. Tóra Tóra says:

    It is quite interesting to read a book about your own country Jonathan is an American anthropologist and is going to spend a year in the Faroe Islands The story takes place in one of the smaller islands in the 80s It was a really weird experience to read about my home country in English and in a way of foreignness I was about to give the book four stars, but I decided on three stars because it is all very extreme in a way There are many important features in this book sheep hunting, whale It is quite interesting to read a book about your own country Jonathan is an American anthropologist and is going to spend a year in the Faroe Islands The story takes place in one of the smaller islands in the 80s It was a really weird experience to read about my home country in English and in a way of foreignness I was about to give the book four stars, but I decided on three stars because it is all very extreme in a way There are many important features in this book sheep hunting, whale slaughter and the classical faroese temun But it is so extreme, I don t think anyone does it this way any The point isn t to like it The point is to experience it.A man does not choose his homeland, Jonathan


  9. Reading Fury Reading Fury says:

    What an unusual and beautiful read Jonathan, a grad student whose area is anthropology sort of by the elimination process rather than passionate choice, bucks his advisors and decides to study the culture of the Faroe Islands He is ill prepared in all ways Ultimately, it is hard to tell who is studying whom the Faroe folk or American Jonathan This is a novel of warmth and friendliness, but with gritty facts and hard lessons Reading this book was an intellectual and emotional journey, and f What an unusual and beautiful read Jonathan, a grad student whose area is anthropology sort of by the elimination process rather than passionate choice, bucks his advisors and decides to study the culture of the Faroe Islands He is ill prepared in all ways Ultimately, it is hard to tell who is studying whom the Faroe folk or American Jonathan This is a novel of warmth and friendliness, but with gritty facts and hard lessons Reading this book was an intellectual and emotional journey, and frankly an unlooked for gift, for me After shuffling about, Jonathan settles down in earnest to study the cuisine if you can call it such , alcohol spirits for sure , and customs join in or become a human zoo exhibit One of Kaysen s strengths is developing characters that you can relate to even if you don t like them initially Jonathan grew on me The description of daily life is quite realistic, so much so that if ever I encounter a filled septic tank, I know what to do Don t know that I have the stomach for it, but I have the mechanical know how Much like a small American town, or perhaps any small town, people really know each other and what is happening at any time of day For sure the opportunity to be gossipy and suffocating exists, but the Faroese must depend on each other for survival and certainly understand that celebrating the positive and braving the difficulties in an almost Sam Weller ian way makes for a better quality of life In such a lovely place of soul and heart, Jonathan gets a lotthan a thesis from his experience


  10. Rebecca Rebecca says:

    This book has one of my biggest pet peeves in literature, namely, an insufferable main character obsessed with his own intellect However, Kaysen does something unique which is that she KNOWS her character is unsympathetic, arrogant, and yes, kind of annoying We are not meant to be in awe of his intellect which is how these characters are often written, we are meant to realize how even though he considers himself intelligent he is woefully unprepared for empathizing with a different world, some This book has one of my biggest pet peeves in literature, namely, an insufferable main character obsessed with his own intellect However, Kaysen does something unique which is that she KNOWS her character is unsympathetic, arrogant, and yes, kind of annoying We are not meant to be in awe of his intellect which is how these characters are often written, we are meant to realize how even though he considers himself intelligent he is woefully unprepared for empathizing with a different world, sometimes we even laugh at him, and we may recognize little ugly parts of ourselves in the character of Jonathan Because he is not coddled by the author and we the readers are not patronized by the narration, it makes his slow character growth and realization that maybe he isn t that special after all that muchendearing.The side characters in the book are wonderful and never reduced to stereotypes Kaysen often upends our expectations of how someone the reader has unconsciously typecast, like the overenthusiastic Californian anthropologist Wooley, is supposed to act, and then we realize we were making the same assumptions as Jonathan The Faroe Islands are characters in and of themselves and the way the landscape and customs are described is beautiful I mentally started planning a trip even though normally going there would not appeal to me at all I hate the cold, I m mostly vegetarian, and I get seasick A hidden gem


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Far Afield [KINDLE] ✽ Far Afield Author Susanna Kaysen – Polishdarling.co.uk Jonathan Brand, a graduate student in anthropology, has decided to do his fieldwork in the remote Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic But, despite his Harvard training, he can barely understand, let a Jonathan Brand, a graduate student in anthropology, has decided to do his fieldwork in the remote Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic But, despite his Harvard training, he can barely understand, let alone study, the culture he encounters From his struggles with the local cuisine to his affair with the Danish woman the locals want him to marry, Jonathan is both repelled by and drawn into the Faroese way of life Wry and insightful, Far Afield reveals reveals Susanna Kaysen s gifts of imagination, satire, and compassion.


10 thoughts on “Far Afield

  1. Jamie Campbell Jamie Campbell says:

    I have spent my summer furiously and rapidly reading a spate of excellent books, and this was my favorite This was one that I had seen prominently displayed at the public library s randomly chosen display of Paperback fun I actually felt guilty when I checked it out because the cover is emblazoned with BY THE AUTHOR OF GIRL INTERRUPTED a book that I didn t read that was made into an imperfect movie that I assumed was written and consumed by the type of person who glamorizes pretty girl I have spent my summer furiously and rapidly reading a spate of excellent books, and this was my favorite This was one that I had seen prominently displayed at the public library s randomly chosen display of Paperback fun I actually felt guilty when I checked it out because the cover is emblazoned with BY THE AUTHOR OF GIRL INTERRUPTED a book that I didn t read that was made into an imperfect movie that I assumed was written and consumed by the type of person who glamorizes pretty girls suffering Additionally, I felt burdened, because I knew that the protagonist was male and boring, and that the subject was, to me, male and boring A novel about a boring male protagonist self hating anthropology grad student plumbing a boring male culture scandinavian sea bound community written by a female who sexualizes female suffering It was with a heavy heart that I cracked the spine .I WAS WRONG I was fascinated by the strong sense of place and local community, seen through the eyes and ideas of an observant, hesitant, and self loathing outsider I identified totally and self loathingly with the by turns lethargic, inspired, savvy, moronic, impulsive, over considered protagonist I loved the novel s occasional lyrical interludes and omnipresent sense of humor and irony.Read it now My favorite part was the odd comparison drawn between the habits of puffins raising their young and the habits of overly academic young professors raising their young.love,J


  2. Aloke Aloke says:

    Maybe four stars because Jonathan is so insufferable It s ok, I don t need to love my characters but some of the navel gazing passages drag on.But five stars because of all the other characters and beautiful descriptions.


  3. Trilby Trilby says:

    A sort of graduate student Bildungsroman, this novel centers on the protagonist s year in the Faroe Islands working on his dissertation.I was pretty excited when I got this book as a gift from my friend Pat, whose college friend at Cornell provided the model for Kaysen s main character, Jonathan Brand After all, I love all things Northern Atlantic read Iceland and the Faroes are just smaller,exotic Icelands, right Well, not quite.Since I have never been to the Faroes, I took it on fai A sort of graduate student Bildungsroman, this novel centers on the protagonist s year in the Faroe Islands working on his dissertation.I was pretty excited when I got this book as a gift from my friend Pat, whose college friend at Cornell provided the model for Kaysen s main character, Jonathan Brand After all, I love all things Northern Atlantic read Iceland and the Faroes are just smaller,exotic Icelands, right Well, not quite.Since I have never been to the Faroes, I took it on faith that this would be an accurate portrayal of the place Hence I was almost shocked at Kaysen s description of primitive folk whose way of life resembles their Viking ancestors In addition to killing thousands of fish and birds, they slaughter whole pods of whales, shoot and butcher sheep in their kitchens, and ritualistically torture and kill cats They are carnivores par excellence, presumably because that is the main food available to them I asked Pat about her impression of the book, since she had visited the Faroes last year She thought the book presented the islands to be way bleaker than they are In fact, it makes the Faroes into the bleakest, most godforsaken patches of rock on Earth What disturbed me as I read the book is that I couldn t reconcile this view of the Faroes with my impression of Iceland Could they really live so differently on the Faroes Was everyday slaughter and epic battle with the elements a way of life there Then I checked the publication date 1990 Aha When the book came out twenty years ago, it was greeted with rave reviews Readers loved the neurotic grad student protagonist, the satire of village life, the poetic descriptions of land and sea And so did I But the Faroes have changed significantly since this book was written, and that, I think, is the source of my problem with it.Like Icelanders, contemporary Faroese have a 100% literacy rate, and many speak several languages Just about every family has an Internet connection But also like Icelanders, they have continued the tradition of whaling A quick check on Google revealed that the Faroese continue the annual mass slaughter of pilot whales, bringing these sea mammals to the brink of extinction.Both nations do whaling not because they must have the meat for food, but because it s a time honored tradition They do not have to rely on rotten whale sandwiches or sheep s head soup for meals, and fresh food is available year round Maybe this just underscores Kaysen s point that violence remains a part of the Norse culture and heritage although what European culture doesn t have its violent aspects The vivid characterizations and wild setting presented in Kaysen s clear and beautiful prose were what I like best about it But the obviously metaphorical excursions into landscape bothered me too precious and I got very impatient with self doubting, intellectual, only child Jonathan too much like myself Maybe I would ve enjoyed the novelif I had read it as a period piece But truth to say, I couldn t get through Moby Dick for the same reason I skipped over sections describing the mayhem and slaughter in Far Afield If I want to read about violence on the North Atlantic islands, I probably should just stick to the sagas Horses may get pushed off cliffs and a berserker may hack someone s head off, but at least I don t have to read about harpooning, beaching, butchering, and other nasty things happening to whales, or sheep, or cats, or other animals


  4. Elizabeth Theiss Elizabeth Theiss says:

    An angst ridden graduate student moves to one of the Faroe Islands for a year to study the local culture for his dissertation at Harvard Jonathan is a post industrial worrier who wears his anxieties on his sleeve He has come to a small fishing village with one provision shop to inhabit a simple cottage with no phone Jonathan s entree to the world of the islanders is his willingness to work hard, which they admire When his toilet won t flush, helpful islanders loan him a wheelbarrow with whic An angst ridden graduate student moves to one of the Faroe Islands for a year to study the local culture for his dissertation at Harvard Jonathan is a post industrial worrier who wears his anxieties on his sleeve He has come to a small fishing village with one provision shop to inhabit a simple cottage with no phone Jonathan s entree to the world of the islanders is his willingness to work hard, which they admire When his toilet won t flush, helpful islanders loan him a wheelbarrow with which to transport an excess of septic waste to a remote cliffside for dumping into the ocean A crowd surrounds him as he shovels waste and struggles with his distaste for the job at hand Gradually, he is accepted by the locals who invite him to dinner rotting fish is on the menu to help round up the collective sheep and drive them to their winter pasture the pay is one live sheep, delivered to his kitchen where it is slaughtered to assist in the annual whale slaughter followed by a bacchanalian dance and to be part of the rhythm of village life.I adored this book Jonathan is a genuine pill and therefore the perfect foil for the matter of fact islanders who live in a pre industrial fishing economy with a powerful logic all its own So so so, they say to open any conversation Whatever Jonathan is worrying about, it doesn t matter nearly so much as a successful whale kill or finding a proper wife Descriptions of the Faroes and their rugged way of life are magical I m a long distance hiker who is especially fond of walking along coastal cliffs and now I would love to visit the Faroe Islands Highly recommended


  5. Jessaka Jessaka says:

    This is a humorous book that I would enjoy reading again It is a story about a young man who goes to the Faroe Islands to apply his archeological skills and finds himself really having to adapt, but the natives there arethan willing to teach him It is quite humorous at times.


  6. Joan Joan says:

    A great book, you will love it and it will linger in your heart The writing is lyrical the setting sublime and the characters engaging.


  7. N.N. Light N.N. Light says:

    I read Girl, Interrupted years ago and was pleased Kaysen wrote fiction This was very different from her debut but in many ways, so much better Highly recommend


  8. Tóra Tóra says:

    It is quite interesting to read a book about your own country Jonathan is an American anthropologist and is going to spend a year in the Faroe Islands The story takes place in one of the smaller islands in the 80s It was a really weird experience to read about my home country in English and in a way of foreignness I was about to give the book four stars, but I decided on three stars because it is all very extreme in a way There are many important features in this book sheep hunting, whale It is quite interesting to read a book about your own country Jonathan is an American anthropologist and is going to spend a year in the Faroe Islands The story takes place in one of the smaller islands in the 80s It was a really weird experience to read about my home country in English and in a way of foreignness I was about to give the book four stars, but I decided on three stars because it is all very extreme in a way There are many important features in this book sheep hunting, whale slaughter and the classical faroese temun But it is so extreme, I don t think anyone does it this way any The point isn t to like it The point is to experience it.A man does not choose his homeland, Jonathan


  9. Reading Fury Reading Fury says:

    What an unusual and beautiful read Jonathan, a grad student whose area is anthropology sort of by the elimination process rather than passionate choice, bucks his advisors and decides to study the culture of the Faroe Islands He is ill prepared in all ways Ultimately, it is hard to tell who is studying whom the Faroe folk or American Jonathan This is a novel of warmth and friendliness, but with gritty facts and hard lessons Reading this book was an intellectual and emotional journey, and f What an unusual and beautiful read Jonathan, a grad student whose area is anthropology sort of by the elimination process rather than passionate choice, bucks his advisors and decides to study the culture of the Faroe Islands He is ill prepared in all ways Ultimately, it is hard to tell who is studying whom the Faroe folk or American Jonathan This is a novel of warmth and friendliness, but with gritty facts and hard lessons Reading this book was an intellectual and emotional journey, and frankly an unlooked for gift, for me After shuffling about, Jonathan settles down in earnest to study the cuisine if you can call it such , alcohol spirits for sure , and customs join in or become a human zoo exhibit One of Kaysen s strengths is developing characters that you can relate to even if you don t like them initially Jonathan grew on me The description of daily life is quite realistic, so much so that if ever I encounter a filled septic tank, I know what to do Don t know that I have the stomach for it, but I have the mechanical know how Much like a small American town, or perhaps any small town, people really know each other and what is happening at any time of day For sure the opportunity to be gossipy and suffocating exists, but the Faroese must depend on each other for survival and certainly understand that celebrating the positive and braving the difficulties in an almost Sam Weller ian way makes for a better quality of life In such a lovely place of soul and heart, Jonathan gets a lotthan a thesis from his experience


  10. Rebecca Rebecca says:

    This book has one of my biggest pet peeves in literature, namely, an insufferable main character obsessed with his own intellect However, Kaysen does something unique which is that she KNOWS her character is unsympathetic, arrogant, and yes, kind of annoying We are not meant to be in awe of his intellect which is how these characters are often written, we are meant to realize how even though he considers himself intelligent he is woefully unprepared for empathizing with a different world, some This book has one of my biggest pet peeves in literature, namely, an insufferable main character obsessed with his own intellect However, Kaysen does something unique which is that she KNOWS her character is unsympathetic, arrogant, and yes, kind of annoying We are not meant to be in awe of his intellect which is how these characters are often written, we are meant to realize how even though he considers himself intelligent he is woefully unprepared for empathizing with a different world, sometimes we even laugh at him, and we may recognize little ugly parts of ourselves in the character of Jonathan Because he is not coddled by the author and we the readers are not patronized by the narration, it makes his slow character growth and realization that maybe he isn t that special after all that muchendearing.The side characters in the book are wonderful and never reduced to stereotypes Kaysen often upends our expectations of how someone the reader has unconsciously typecast, like the overenthusiastic Californian anthropologist Wooley, is supposed to act, and then we realize we were making the same assumptions as Jonathan The Faroe Islands are characters in and of themselves and the way the landscape and customs are described is beautiful I mentally started planning a trip even though normally going there would not appeal to me at all I hate the cold, I m mostly vegetarian, and I get seasick A hidden gem


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