翁达杰的新书《战火》Warlight, 外二则

1。
大概两周前听说了Ondaatje的新书Warlight。去旧金山图书馆Kindle版那里排队。九月最后一天拿到手。当时就觉得太是时候了。经过这么丑陋的高庭法官听证过程,我需要到美丽文字里面逃避一下。

大概周四上班路上开始看,周末看完了。非常喜欢。

English Patient虽然是我的心头好,但是真的不是很好读。我拿起来放下去足足读了半年多才看完。自己喜欢的段落,反复的读几乎烂熟于胸。美丽的文字动人的爱情,惊艳。但是更多的片段只是片段,很多地方感觉更像诗歌不像小说,不少线索都只是线索,草灰蛇线,但是并没有结果。

Warlight的文字风格和英伦病人相似,故事元素也有很多想象之处。战争,爱情, 背叛,忠诚。还加进去了一些他之前另外一本书Anil’s Ghost里涉及的对立两方同时犯下杀戮之罪时到底什么是正义的问题。还有以前他的书里没看过的父母与儿女之间的感情纠结(也可能是因为我看的不全)。但是故事编排比英伦病人要紧凑得多,非常易读。不太容易放下。还有就是背景是战后的伦敦。很喜欢他文字里的城市风景。尤其是主人公们在夜幕下泰晤士河各个分支的航行,简直迷人,不输于英伦病人里面的北非沙漠。主人公Nathaniel, 前半部是十四岁的男孩子,后半部是二十八岁时重新试图找回自己母亲战时的经历。成长的故事+母子关系+间谍故事。

昨天我看书小人专心搭建plusplus机器人的时候,我挑了一段主人公在外交部工作时偷偷撬锁翻旧文件的事(试图找出母亲的秘密)给小人读。本以为他会问一堆为什么,因为没有前言后语。但是他听了只是说有意思,很喜欢。停了一下又问,“是诗么?押韵的。” 听得我很惊讶。虽然我一直覺得Ondaatje的小说里的文字非常像诗人(而他的诗反而并不特别吸引我),跟其他段落比这一段主要是叙事。但是小人居然能听出韵律,很有趣。

后半部特别喜欢主人公和母亲在suffolk山村家中玻璃花房里下棋的片段。今早还专门把他母亲讲给他听的那个著名“歌剧”经典棋局翻出来看了,确实精彩。

After my first lessons we started playing and she beat me mercilessly, then repositioned the fatal pieces to show how I could have escaped a threat. There were suddenly about fifty-seven ways to walk across an empty space, as if I were a cat with twitching ears entering an unknown lane. She spoke constantly as we played, either to distract me, or to say something crucial about focus, her role model being a famous chess victory of 1858 that was given the title “Opera” since it had actually been played in a private box overlooking a performance of Bellini’s Norma. It was music my mother loved, and the American chess player, an opera enthusiast himself, had glanced now and then at the action on stage while playing against a French count and a German duke who continually and loudly discussed their moves against him. The point my mother was making was about distraction. Priests were being bribed and murdered on stage and central characters would eventually be burned on a pyre, and all the while the American chess and opera enthusiast remained focused on the strategic path he’d chosen, undeterred by the glorious music. It was my mother’s example of peerless focus.

2。《猫桌》 The Cat’s Table
在网上读Warlight评论时看到大家都会提到Warlight之前另一篇Ondaatje的书《猫桌》我也没看过。所以看完了Warlight就立刻从图书馆下了《猫桌》来看。长短和易读性和Warlight差不多。这个周末读完了。感觉和Warlight确实有相似之处,而且这两本书似乎证明Ondaatje摸索出了一套适合他的写故事的窍门。个人感觉更喜欢Warlight一点。

不过《猫桌》有它的特别之处。故事背景和环境是Ondaatje自己十一岁时独自一人从锡兰坐船去伦敦投奔母亲的那三周的旅行,横跨阿拉伯海,红海,然后进入地中海。因为是一个封闭的空间,所以故事结构跟“东方列车谋杀案”有一些相似之处。Ondaatje的小说我很喜欢的一点是那些美轮美奂的华彩乐章,非常富有诗歌性,活色生香的镜头感,比方《英伦病人》里面Kip和Hana在托斯卡战后那个教堂挂在攀岩绳上看壁画,《Warlight》里Nathaniel和The Darter在夜间的泰晤士河探索支流,Nathaniel和Agnes在雷雨夜的空房里面和一群灰猎犬在房间中穿梭。《猫桌》里他们的游轮在夜间穿越苏黎世运河的描写简直让人窒息,还有他们起航后靠岸的第一个港口--阿拉伯半岛的亚丁也让人印象深刻。

3。《英伦病人》书与电影
昨晚看完《猫桌》忍不住又把《英伦病人》的书和电影翻出来重温。这才明白我看书时一直没看懂的Kip和Hana的故事主要是因为我完全没明白书的结尾处Kip(印度扫雷军人)听到广岛核弹时的愤怒。我对Almasy与K的爱情故事的投入(难道又是因为恶人谷Jun说过的大家习惯了白男代入模式吗?!)使得我完全没在意电影把书的结尾完全改掉。而这也许就是电影不如书的最大缺憾。没有了这个“对广岛核弹的愤怒”做结尾,Kip和Hana的故事被削弱了很多。如今的现状和心理再重新读才明白书中这两条爱情线互相交融是多么的震撼,这个结尾又是多么的让人悲伤。
引用一下Ondaatje自己在今年《英伦病人》Golden Booker Prize获奖感言

So wasn’t the ending of The English Patient, in which the Sikh Kip (whose relationship with the Canadian nurse, Hana, Ondaatje describes as being like “continents meeting”) drops everything and returns home when he hears of the bombs falling on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a failure of nerve? A reimposition of the nationalisms dissolved through the rest of the novel, where, as Kamila Shamsie put it: “Ondaatje’s imagination acknowledges no borders”?

“They can’t overcome,” says Ondaatje, who remembers that he found the last pages of The English Patient sad to write. It is too difficult for most people; and for Kip, especially, who in the nuclear glare sees suddenly that “they would never have dropped such a bomb on a white nation”.