Jo Van Gogh-Bonger, the widow of Vincent van Gogh’s brother Theo decides to make Vincent world famous, using the many paintings she has left after her husband died. In this day and age Gina, a student, traces her work and story. A calmly paced story, so calm it felt as if the first two thirds were an introduction to the actual story. Yet a story that gets stronger towards the end. Read with much pleasure.

I bought this book by Swiss author Simone Meier last month in Zürich, when it had just been published.


Les pissenlits, Vincent van Gogh 1889, as we saw it in Winterthur the week I bought Die Entflammten about how Jo Van Gogh-Bonger shaped his legacy.

A 2015 short story of first contact. An alien race, detected by their signal emissions is visited by a two person mission. The aliens are humanoid in shape, but have but a single eye. The cyclopes choose their leaders based on the adversity and grief they’ve suffered. Tear tracks are taken as a sign of wisdom. Bought and read because I enjoyed Olders 2016 Infomocracy trilogy enormously. There is a new set of Holmesian short books by her set on Jupiter, not sure if I’m interested in those.

A fun, beautiful and moving novel that I enjoyed mostly in one sitting.
Starting in the nineties, that time when computers and digitisation were common enough to be open to many smart newcomers but still rare enough and simple enough to quickly get a grasp of the field, it stretches to present day. This allows a reflection from our current cultural perspectives.
Myself I was a few years earlier than this book is set (the book is set in second half of the nineties, with me gaining internet access in 1989 at university, and playing the games that got released in the first half of the nineties), but enough overlap. The protagonists are gamers and game builders. The fictional games described are believable enough to feel you may have seen them at the time or wish to play them. Gaming, early internet era, depression, grief, the topics are very relatable to me and carry enough echoes for me from that same era to strongly resonate with.
Recommended.

Swiss author and playwright, picked the book up in Zurich in 2024. I thoroughly enjoyed Die Erfindung des Ungehorsams (2021), the invention of disobedience, and read it in one sitting. Well told, many beautiful sentences. Three women in NYC, China and England are followed as they try to understand the world. Their stories are interwoven through the emergence of AI driven automatons grasping their true autonomy. One because she sees the future in Babbage’s machinery and determines how to program them, one making sex dolls in China that get fitted with AI, one hosting Manhattan dinner parties where she tells, invents?, a story and only the others eat. All three finding a way to break their constraints, and become disobedient to their surroundings. A multilayered work, as one critic Daniela Janser wrote, a poetic homage to the oldest programming language of all, imagination. I will probably buy her more recent work Vor aller Augen, before all eyes, soon.

Teenage boy lost connection to his world and starts blogging as a school project, or rather journal writing because he never publishes a thing. The reader spends 142 pages inside the teenagers journal and head. This being a teenager’s head there’s no narrative arc really, just teenage slang, angst and endless second-guessing of themself and others. This novella (billed as a novel) was originally published in 2017, I read the 2024 pocket version. I picked this book in German up in a Zürich book store this week from the Swiss literature section, where it was hailed as a recent ‘classic’. It was ok, mostly because it was short anyway, but not recommended. Had it been longer I probably would have left it unfinished. The reason it gained attention in Switzerland seems to be its use of teenage and informal language as an apparant novelty. I think in other languages that sort of thing is decades old, no?

Part one of the Bridge trilogy. I bought it because I wanted to read Idoru, the 2nd part, because of a reference in a talk to ‘nodal points’ as coming from that book. Virtual light is triggering your optical nerve and brain with visuals directly without photons. The Bridge is the Golden Gate, since encrusted with people’s habitats. Gibson uses the word Thomasson to describe it. The US has splintered. In this setting a bike courier steals an object from what turns out to also be a courier, who is killed for losing it. A rentacop is brought in to find the bike courier but follows his conscience. A Japanese anthropologist who is on the bridge to observe (and hunt Thomassons), and references to a big earth quake in Tokyo which got rebuild by nanotech form the bridge to part two.