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Here Is Where We Meet: A Story of Crossing Paths (2005)

av John Berger

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
243383,192 (3.95)5
One of the most widely admired writers of our time returns us to the captivating play and narrative allure of his previous novels—G. and To the Wedding among them—with a shimmering fiction drawn from chapters of his own life. One hot afternoon in Lisbon, our narrator, John, finds his mother, who had died fifteen years earlier, seated on a park bench. “The dead don’t stay where they are buried,” she tells him. And so begins a remarkable odyssey, told in simple yet gorgeous prose and with the openness to personal and political currents that has always marked John Berger’s work. Having promised his mother that he will henceforth pay close attention to the dead, John takes us to a woman’s bed during the 1943 bombardment of London, to a Polish market where carrier pigeons are sold, to a Paleolithic cave, to the Ritz Hotel in Madrid. Along the way, we meet an English aristocrat who always drives barefoot, a pedophile schoolmaster, a Spanish sculptor who cheats at poker, and Rosa Luxemburg, among other long-gone presences, and John lets us choose to love each of them as much as he still does. This is a unique literary journey in which a writer’s life and work are inseparable: a fiction but not a conventional novel, a narration in the author’s voice but not a memoir, a portrait that moves freely through time and space but never loses its foothold in the present, a confession that brings with it not regret but a rich deepening of sensual and emotional understanding.… (mer)
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This is a beautiful piece of writing, a sort of psychogeography crossed with memoir, in which John Berger explores places that are important to him at the same time as he engages with memories of people who were important to him. Here the dead are as active in Berger’s life and thoughts as the living. The opening encounter set in Lisbon wonderfully captures the tone that Berger wants to set. He is surprised to find his mother in this city that he loves. She too loved it and has chosen it as the place in which she and he can meet. His interactions with her are sensitive and instructive — she often chides him or reminds him not to be fanciful but always tell the truth in his writing. Which immediately has us wondering what truth he is conveying through this particular writing. Note: he is certainly not telling us that the dead walk the earth. Rather, it is the influence on us of people who may have died that remains operative.

The result is a fascinating, lyrical, and very human approach to memoir. So readable and yet almost uncomfortably intimate. Filled with history and esoteric facts, yet what will stay with you is his mother laughing as she must have when she was 17.

Warmly recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Jan 28, 2021 |
"The number of lives that enter our own is incalculable."

This reads like a dream, only it is impeccably lucid. The gears of reality work its wonders in subtly blending it in the seemingly ceaseless moments of rendezvous and longing with the past; with it are people John has lost in many, many ways. ** "Life depends upon finding cover. Everything hides. What has vanished has gone into hiding. An absence — as after the departure of the dead — is felt as a loss but not as an abandonment. The dead are hiding elsewhere." (p141) Death and parting are not the end, memories make them live, exist. In Here Is Where We Meet plays like a film; its reel comprises of random memories at different waves of time. Some of them happening all at once. Some appear in bouts. Some does not appear at all but they are there. This is not only a meditation about reminiscence but also about the persistence of the present whilst the past simultaneously happens in our heads. ** "Desire is brief — a few hours or a lifetime, both are brief. Desire is brief because it occurs in defiance with the permanent. It challenges time in a fight to death." (p220)

It's a very special book and I personally feel that if I was in the right frame of mind I would have loved this better than I did. Although that potential love cannot be compared to the incomparable, personally beloved And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos. John Berger knows how to make you feel both the beauty and fragility of existence. His words are like an ocean you want to dive in; pretty dangerous with a depth that's almost drowning. And if anyone ever did know how to live a life I believe it's Berger. ** "Of human attributes, fragility — which is never absent — is the most precious." (p234) and ** "Everyone in the barn was reminded how a life without wounds isn't worth living." (p219)

For safekeeping:
"If you have to cry, he said, and sometimes you can’t help it, if you have to cry, cry afterwards, never during! Remember this. Unless you’re with those who love you, only those who love you, and in that case you’re already lucky, for there are never many who love you — if you’re with them, you can cry during. Otherwise you cry afterwards." (p86) ( )
  lethalmauve | Jan 25, 2021 |
This is a book of an artist and writer's thoughts and feelings in different places in Europe. It's novelistic only to a degree. John Berger is trying to imbue the reader with the inpressions, relationships, occurences that happen in different locales. In Lisbon, an old woman visits him in various plazas, and he realizes it is his mother. Her fleeting presence is nonetheless persistent and he encounter her everywhere he goes. Geneva is a meditation on the archives of Borges. Cracow brings in the males in Berger's life. I passed over Islington. Le Pont d'Arc is a strikig geologic formation in the Ardeche gorges in France where Cro-magnons lived and created their art. ( )
  vpfluke | Jan 3, 2009 |
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One of the most widely admired writers of our time returns us to the captivating play and narrative allure of his previous novels—G. and To the Wedding among them—with a shimmering fiction drawn from chapters of his own life. One hot afternoon in Lisbon, our narrator, John, finds his mother, who had died fifteen years earlier, seated on a park bench. “The dead don’t stay where they are buried,” she tells him. And so begins a remarkable odyssey, told in simple yet gorgeous prose and with the openness to personal and political currents that has always marked John Berger’s work. Having promised his mother that he will henceforth pay close attention to the dead, John takes us to a woman’s bed during the 1943 bombardment of London, to a Polish market where carrier pigeons are sold, to a Paleolithic cave, to the Ritz Hotel in Madrid. Along the way, we meet an English aristocrat who always drives barefoot, a pedophile schoolmaster, a Spanish sculptor who cheats at poker, and Rosa Luxemburg, among other long-gone presences, and John lets us choose to love each of them as much as he still does. This is a unique literary journey in which a writer’s life and work are inseparable: a fiction but not a conventional novel, a narration in the author’s voice but not a memoir, a portrait that moves freely through time and space but never loses its foothold in the present, a confession that brings with it not regret but a rich deepening of sensual and emotional understanding.

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