Customer Review

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind, Body and Spirit, 1 Jun. 2008
This review is from: Bench Press (Paperback)
What do an aging 50-year-old writer and a skinhead body builder have in common? This is an intriguing little book, written part as memoir and part as history of working out, weights and bodybuilding, and little bit of dreams. Sven, who is our 50- year-old writer, meets the skinhead in the sauna; they end up talking, as people will at the gym, and a man who only swam laps started working out. Yet in the process of working out, he experiences an almost religious epiphany.
A man, who was happy as a writer traveling the world, and was content with middle age, slowly reawakens dreams from his youth. As he workouts, Sven remembers childhood dreams, like a desire to visit the Sahara desert.
This book begins with a quote from Marcus Aurelius; "Does transformation frighten you? Yet what can happen without transformation? Can you yourself take a hot bath without the wood being transformed, can you nourish yourself without the food being transformed? Do you not then see that your own transformation is equally necessary?", and this book will change you. As I read it, my own childhood dreams and aspirations, long put away, were awakened. This book is broken up into 85 penses or thoughts. Some are the personal reflections of the author, some of history, and tidbits of information fun and bizarre, and a few are visions that Sven has along his journey.
This book is the first in a trilogy. The last chapters of the first two are the first chapter of the next. They are Desert Divers , a journey into the desert to see childhood dreams, and Exterminate All the Brutes, a history of genocides in Africa committed by Europeans and leading up to the great genocide of the Nazi reign. Sven, in the preface to Bench Press, states: "As a boy, I read about fire-eaters and well-divers, sandstorms and desert lakes. I dreamed of going to the Sahara. Bench Press is the story of how I found my dream again.......these books grew out of one another and form a single unit, taking the reader from the self-obsessed physical culture of the early 1980's to a new awareness of the crimes of the past and the threats lying ahead in the future."
Lindqvist books in English are not easy to find, but are well worth the effort. Back to the writer and the skinhead, what they have in common is self-image and self- doubt that can be overcome, and dreams that are assisted by building the body. Or as Montaigne stated a long time ago: "To Strengthen the mind you must harden the muscles." Use this book for the mind and maybe it will challenge you to do some work on tuning up the body as well.
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