Black Swan Green by David Mitchell


The book consists of thirteen chapters, all set in Black Swan Green, the most boring village in England, as the narrator, Jason Taylor sees it. It's witty and humorous, full of teenagers being busy growing up and fighting their own battles. The chapters can be easily read as separate stories, they seem disconnected, with only the main characters and the village keeping them together. 

Jason Taylor is a teenager growing up in Black Swan Green. At school he is picked on and bullied by some of his tough mates. He doesn't tell his parents, it's his own battle. As is fighting the Hangman, a mysterious being in control of Jason's stuttering. Jason is the perfect material for bullying, he is different, his family moved to the village when he was little, so from the locals' point of view, they are still outsiders. And he writes poetry, which he publishes in the parish magazine, under a pseudonym. His mates don't know about it, but I'm sure they can smell "something weird" all over him.

Battle at school isn't the only battle being fought. Games kids play resemble wars, creeping through other peoples' gardens at night to prove they are worthy of being a part of a group is a rite of passage, Jason's tough mates lust for power is sort of a war. And there's a real war, the Falklands war which everybody follows on TV and read about in the newspaper. When Tom, a young man form the village is killed, things change. The war isn't an abstract entity form the newspaper and television anymore.

Change seems to be the main character of the book. Black Swan Green is about growing up. While Jason changes everything else changes. His parents become different people because of reasons of their own. His mates change, powers shift. Dawn, the girl Jason likes loses her veil of mystery, her allure. Do all of these things really change or does just Jason see them differently?


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Black Swan Green je najbolj dolgočasna vas v Angliji. Vsaj Jason Taylor, pripovedovalec zgodbe v trinajstih poglavjih, jo vidi tako. Knjiga je duhovita in humorna, skozi poglavja spoznavamo najstnike, ki so prezaposleni z odraščanjem in z lastnimi bitkami. Posamezna poglavja bi lahko brali tudi kot ločene kratke zgodbe, saj nimajo posebej definiranih začetkov in koncev, ki bi zagotavljali nadaljevanje zgodbe iz poglavja v poglavje. Le glavni junaki in vas jih povezujejo.

Jason Taylor je najstnik, ki odrašča v Black Swan Greenu. V šoli za zafrkavajo in ustrahujejo, vendar tega ne pove staršem. Kako se bo iz vsega tega izkopal, je njegova bitka. Podobno kot bitka z Obešencem, skrivnostnim bitjem, ki nadzoruje Jasonovo jecljanje. Jason je drugačen in zato popolna tarča za ustrahovanje. Njegova družina se je priselila v vas, ko je bil še majhen, zato so v očeh vaščanov še vedno outsiderji. Poleg tega Jason piše pesmi, ki jih pod psevdonimom objavlja v vaškem glasilu. Njegov sošolci tega sicer ne vedo, gotovo pa lahko na daleč zaznajo njegovo drugačnost.

Šolske bitke niso edine. Otroške igre so podobne vojnam, nočno tihotapljenje po tujih vrtovih, da bi dokazal, da je vreden članstva v tajni skupini, je iniciacijski obred, sla po moči šolskih grobijanov je tudi neke vrste vojna. Poleg tega pa nekje drugje poteka prava vojna, Falklandska vojna, ki jo vsi spremljajo po televiziji in o njej berejo v časopisih. Ko v vojni pade fant iz njihove vasi, se stvari spremenijo. Vojna več ni neka abstraktna kategorija iz časopisov in televizije.

Spremembe so na nek način glavne junakinje knjige. Black Swan Green je zgodba o odraščanju. Medtem ko Jason odrašča, se spremenijo tudi druge stvari. Njegovi starši se spremenijo, njegov sošolci, razmerja moči med njimi tudi. Dawn, dekle, ki je Jasonu všeč, izgubi tančico skrivnosti, ki je bila v njegovih oče najbrž glavni adut njenega šarma. Se vse to resnično spremeni ali to samo spremenjeni Jason tako vidi?


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