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Skating to Antarctica – tekijä: Jenny…
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Skating to Antarctica (vuoden 2005 painos)

– tekijä: Jenny Diski (Tekijä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
257880,037 (3.72)13
Sardonically funny and moving, Skating to Antarctica is a book about a journey into darkness and light, the colour white, fantasy and memory, families and sanity
Jäsen:HWC
Teoksen nimi:Skating to Antarctica
Kirjailijat:Jenny Diski (Tekijä)
Info:Time Warner Books Uk (2005), Edition: New, 256 pages
Kokoelmat:Current Old Books At College, Oma kirjasto
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Skating to Antarctica: A Journey to the End of the World (tekijä: Jenny Diski)

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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 8) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
The notion of skating al fresco always brings to my mind the worry of thin ice, and in some ways the feel of this memoir is of ice at times so thin that it might be possible to fall through. Skating to Antarctica therefore has a fragility to it, but it's a fragility told by a writer who's managed to weather many storms and isn't going to give up just yet.

Superficially the memoir's about the author taking a cruise in a converted icebreaker to the southern continent; but under the guise of a travelogue this account focuses on a journey of a different kind. Jenny Diski, as is well known by now, had a difficult childhood in a dysfunctional and abusive family, becoming estranged from her parents to the extent of not even knowing whether her mother was alive or dead. It's the questions over her mother's life and death that forms a counterpoint to the physical trip and makes this piece of creative non-fiction so readable.

Born in 1947, Jennifer (as she was then) had parents who were not what they at first seemed; so middleclass respectability gradually gave way to a portrait of a professional conman perpetually at war with his increasingly disturbed wife. As the marriage fell apart and living conditions worsened their only child went to a variety of schools and then in and out of psychiatric institutions, losing contact with her mother after her father died. A brief time of stability came when she was in the care of Doris Lessing (whom she refers to here only as "the woman I lived with") but her mother's erratic behaviour and suicide attempts led to Jenny breaking permanently with her. People would wonder if her mother was alive or dead but Jenny would say she neither knew nor cared.

It wasn't till her own daughter Chloe began asking questions and doing her own bit of detective work that Jenny was persuaded to confront this aspect of her past. Her accounts of the conversations she has with former neighbours in the block of flats where she used to live as a child are by turns wryly amusing and starkly revealing. Then she takes it into her head that the clinical whiteness of Antarctica is what she is most in need of, eventually leading to her 1996 voyage aboard the cruise ship Akademik Sergey Vavilov, sailing from South America to the Antarctic via South Georgia.

As with most trips, it doesn't always pan out as expected. Her fellow passengers intrigue her, and she gives fascinating pen portraits of some of them. She muses on the paradox of seeking solitude and whiteness in South Georgia while cameras click amid penguins and elephant seals. She revels in being alone in her cabin when "feeling rotten", enjoying the sensations of the moving ship, watching icebergs float by. And in between we are given reminiscences of incidents she experienced half a world away. The metaphor of skating on ice, allied with an actual voyage by icebreaker to Antarctica, therefore ties in quite naturally with the idea of Diski ploughing through the icy barrier that had built up between her mother and herself. We don't hear about the return journey but we find out what awaited her when she came back home.

Her reluctant quest is quietly told, matter-of-fact with no histrionics. There's no getting away from the abuse and the depression she unsurprisingly suffered from, but she recounts it all without no attempt to play up the misery. "I found it was possible after a time, to achieve a kind of joy totally disconnected from the world. I wanted to be unavailable and in that place without the pain. I still want it. It is coloured white and filled with a singing silence. It is an endless ice-rink. It is Antarctic."

I liked this book. I liked its honesty, its discursive narrative, its descriptive prose. Diski was born a year before me, and whilst her life followed a very different course than mine did I nevertheless sensed a familiarity with the times she grew up in, with the same retrospective awareness of the strangeness of family life, and with a nagging need for solitude. Despite its inherent melancholy I felt better for having read this, and you can't ask more of a book than that it makes you grateful for what you have.

http://wp.me/s2oNj1-skating ( )
  ed.pendragon | Aug 29, 2017 |
i was reading this and someone else put it on hold and i lost what page i was on!!!
good but i have no desire to go to antarctica and i always seem to be reading books about it????? ( )
  mahallett | Aug 12, 2017 |
Fragments of this biography come closer -- and provide deep insights -- to my own life more than any other book will. The added bonus is that Diski is a wonderful writer: clear, sharp, detailed but delightfully spare. I wish she had come into my reading life long ago. I only discovered her because of her recent death -- obituaries. With the exception of Germaine Greer's "The Female Eunuch", no book has been more important in my long, long years of reading. (less) ( )
  c_why | May 6, 2017 |
(26 February 1998)

My first Month of Re-reading dud! But wait: it’s only the wrong blooming book! The one I meant to read was Sara Wheeler’s “Terra Incognita”. I had even had a conversation about this with a friend in a cafe in December, when I dredged her name out of the back of my mind.

I only realised it was the wrong one when I was part way through, so I persisted, as it was a fairly short book and quick read. This was an odd mixture of Antarctic travel – which did have its interest and good descriptions – and early misery memoir, describing a seriously odd upbringing, her attempts to find more about that from her old neighbours, and several bouts of mental illness and hospitalisation, which all made for decidedly uncomfortable reading!

In fact, I’m surprised I kept it, and will be deaccessioning it now. Here’s my unrevealing review from my first read in March 1998 (oh for the days where I read books a mere month after acquiring them!)

A great book, about her relationship with her parents and self, seen through a trip to Antarctica. Combines self-examination and emotional/intellectual rigour with good, classic travel writing. ( )
  LyzzyBee | Nov 14, 2013 |
Whiny. ( )
  dmarsh451 | Apr 1, 2013 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 8) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
Jenny Diskiensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetcalculated
Kok, IngeKääntäjämuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
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For Chloe without whom
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I am not entirely content with the degree of whiteness in my life.
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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Sardonically funny and moving, Skating to Antarctica is a book about a journey into darkness and light, the colour white, fantasy and memory, families and sanity

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