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Hideous Kinky (1992)

por Esther Freud

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8952818,031 (3.46)109
Esther Freud's best-known novel, which inspired the Kate Winslet film, published as Penguin Essential for the first time. Two little girls are taken by their mother to Morocco on a 1960s pilgrimage of self-discovery. For Mum it is not just an escape from the grinding conventions of English life but a quest for personal fulfilment; her children, however, seek something more solid and stable amidst the shifting desert sands.… (mais)
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    The Hypocrisy of Disco: A Memoir por Clane Hayward (sanddancer)
    sanddancer: A real life account of being the child of hippie parents.
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Fortælleren i Freuds debutroman fra 1992 er kun fem år gammel. Vi møder hende i et gammelt folkevognsrugbrød på vej gennem Frankrig sammen med storesøsteren Bea, hendes mor og nogle af morens venner. Målet er Marokko, og for moren handler det både om at komme så langt væk som muligt fra sin egen familie og om at give hendes døtre en opvækst bygget på andre værdier: frihed, kærlighed og muligheden for at opleve noget andet end der engelske klassesamfund.

Børnenes far er kun et fjernt minde, og særligt den yngste af pigerne kigger konstant efter en erstatning blandt moderens venner og kærester. De medrejsende forsvinder snart, men den lille familie bliver hængende i Marrakech. Nogle gange har de penge – vestlig valuta rækker langt i Marokko – andre gange lever de fra hånden i munden, og under alle omstændigheder er målet at blive en del af en ny kultur.

Børnene færdes snart hjemmevant på gaderne, hvor de leger med de fattige gadebørn og beundrer de optrædende på torvet. Moren er allerede optaget af meditation hjemmefra, og hun bliver mere og mere fascineret af den mystiske sufi-tradition i islam. Hun forelsker sig også i den flotte Bilal, som tager familien med ud til sin familie og til nogle gode dage på stranden. Han er måske ikke så trofast, som hun kunne håbe, men han er trods alt mere tilforladelig end den mystiske Luigi Mancini. Ham er pigerne vilde med, men hans interesse for dem er alt andet end beroligende for læseren.

Da jeg læste bagsideteksten, fik jeg indtryk af, at bogen handlede om børn, der blev svigtet, fordi deres mor skulle realisere sig selv. Det er det også, for moren ofrer alt for meget for at få mulighed for at dyrke sin interesse for sufi-traditionen, og da en af pigerne bliver syg venter hun alt for længe med at gribe ind. Men romanen er også historien om en mor, der vitterligt elsker sine børn, og som er dybt optaget af at give dem en bedre tilværelse og en lykkeligere barndom, end hun selv har fået.

Titlen henviser til en tag-fat leg, pigerne leger med hinanden. De to ord er de mærkeligste og sjoveste, de kender, og de bruger dem hele tiden uden at forstå betydningen. De har deres egen verden, og de forstår ikke alt, hvad der foregår mellem de voksne. Sådan må det næsten være, når forfatteren har valgt at se det hele fra en femårigs synsvinkel – også selvom sproget tydeligt viser, at det er en noget ældre fortæller, der ser tilbage på barndommens oplevelser.

Under alle omstændigheder var det en letlæst roman om en anderledes opvækst i en familie, der i virkeligheden er ret almindelig. ( )
  Henrik_Madsen | May 30, 2021 |
I did not have high hopes because I do not like the title and my copy has a terrible movie tie-in cover with an enormous picture of Kate Winslet on the front. I also knew it was told from the point of view of a small child, which never seems to work well. To my surprise, I actually really enjoyed this.

The narrator (age 5) and her sister, Bea (age 7), are dragged along on their hippie mother's adventure from London to Marrakech. In Marrakech, they are submerged in the culture as they tag along while their mother does what she wants and explores spiritualism. They are often hungry, dressed insufficiently, their health is seriously neglected, and they are put in dangerous situations as they follow their mother's whims. But, they also experience the beauty of the country they are in, enjoy the food, and meet some kind people along the way. Seeing Morocco through a five year old's eyes was a unique perspective and very effective.

Freud does several things right in this book. One is that though she does use the perspective of a five year old, she doesn't use a child's language. She does this just right, where you aren't annoyed by having to read little kid language, but you realize that the perspective is different than it would be from an adult (or even from the slightly older, more worldly sister). This book would have been absolutely intolerable to me if it was told from the selfish mother's point of view. Experiencing through the five year old's POV, who loves her mother, wants to please her mother, and just accepts what is happening as it comes, made the plot and all the mistakes the mother makes tolerable.

This is my second book by Esther Freud and I'm impressed. I'm going to continue reading her novels. ( )
  japaul22 | May 29, 2021 |
Hideous Kinky is a story that is told by a young English child about the travels her mother took she and her sister on. They go to North Africa and because the narrator is so young, she turns five during the course of the story, she recounts their chaotic life in a matter of fact manner. I couldn’t quite grasp the mother’s thought processes as she repeatedly put her family at risk, but it seemed that she mostly followed her whims and the children were left to cope as best as they could.

The girls run barefoot through the streets, make friends with beggar children, they eat hashish candy, and are given henna hair treatments by their prostitute neighbours. While the narrator seems to find this life normal, it becomes obvious that her sister, Bea, is missing security and stability. The mother takes up with a street entertainer, Bilal, which has the narrator hoping that he will become their father.

Hideous Kinky works wonderfully on some levels but fails in others. While the child’s narrative rings true in her complete lack of insight or comprehension about her bohemian mother and other characters, overall I found it difficult to believe that these were the words of a five year old as they were entirely too richly descriptive and detailed. I was frustrated by not knowing the back story, the hows and whys of how they came to be in Morocco and why the mother acted as she did. However, I will remember this book as a colourful travelogue that at times both charmed and intrigued me. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | May 11, 2021 |
Esther Freud tells her autobiographical fiction through the eyes of a child. An emotionally untethered mother decides to leave dreary England for the exotic culture of Marrakech, Morocco with two young girls in tow. For money they rely on the kindness of strangers, selling homemade dolls by the side of the road, sewing clothes, and other small ventures. Occasionally and unpredictably, Lucy and Bea's father would send money from London and they would eat well for awhile. While mother is exploring mysticism and unconventional relationships in the interest of self improvement, Bea and Lucy invent ways to not miss home and their father. Bea, being the elder, wants to replace London in Marrakech with school and stability. Lucy is young enough to want a replacement for the father they left behind. She sets her hopes on some interesting characters. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Nov 19, 2020 |
this starts out with a great first sentence: "It wasn't until we were halfway through France that we noticed Maretta wasn't talking." unfortunately it's all downhill from there. (first of all, the narrator has only ever heard maretta say two words ever - hideous and kinky, hence the title; although the thread there is weak. they noticed from the beginning that she wasn't talking. her being "sick" is why they took her on the trip in the first place, so the wonderful first sentence doesn't hold.)

this is all told from the point of view of a 5 year old, and spans maybe 2 years or so, until she's around 7. it's hard to do that in a way that isn't annoying, i think, and it's done relatively well. also the narrator is unnamed, which can sometimes be hard to do. these two things are about all that's done well, though. it makes sense that the narrative is meandering - the child doesn't understand a lot and gets pulled off on tangents, as children do. and the mother's life is meandering, not solid or firm, so it feels ok that this telling is like that. so pretty well done in terms of telling the story with a 5 year old narrator.

but...i don't see the point of this. at all. what were we supposed to learn? maybe a slight bit about marrakech in whatever time period this takes place in? i don't really feel like i did and the time period was never made clear. what were we supposed to feel? i didn't get a feel for the characters at all, except maybe bilal, a bit. was i supposed to like this mother, who i guess was searching for herself and her purpose, while neglecting her 5 and 7 year old daughters? were we supposed to take interest in the religion, as she finds it? nothing at all was described or explained. i have no idea who this woman was, what would move her to take her children to morocco with john (and his wife? ex-wife?) or to stay there; to become interested in becoming a sufi; to leave her oldest child with strangers and not even be in contact with her to see if she's ok; to go back to london when she does. i have no understanding of her or her motivation at all, and so no connection to this book in any way.

i'd think i would have been engaged with the story, about a woman traveling solo through morocco with her two young daughters. but somehow, this is pretty boring. nothing really happens that we can get interested in. the best part of the book is the title (which really doesn't hold) and the first sentence (although it falls apart in meaning). maybe it's how little emotional connection there is, but i think it's actually that nothing happens, that this is just the story of two years (or so) in their life, and the author that the fact that it takes place away from their home was significant enough to warrant a book about it. (but she was wrong.) ( )
  overlycriticalelisa | Sep 2, 2020 |
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Esther Freud's best-known novel, which inspired the Kate Winslet film, published as Penguin Essential for the first time. Two little girls are taken by their mother to Morocco on a 1960s pilgrimage of self-discovery. For Mum it is not just an escape from the grinding conventions of English life but a quest for personal fulfilment; her children, however, seek something more solid and stable amidst the shifting desert sands.

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