OCTOBER ROUND UP

 

A busy month here manage to clear some of my back reviews still got some to write ,I ve struggle to blog sometimes this month due to work as there has been a shortage of staff thus my workload has increased ,well here is what I managed to read .

  1. the bad girl by Mario Vargas Llosa .
  2. Traveller to the east by Thomas Molfo
  3. I saw Ramallah by Mourid Barghouti
  4. the life of an unkown man by Andrei Makine
  5. The weekend by Bernhard Schlink
  6. Three seconds by Roslund and hellstrom
  7. The end by Salvatore Scibona
  8. To the end of the land by David Grossman
  9. Urn Burial by  Sir Thomas Browne
  10. The haunting of hill house by Shirley Jackson
  11. The hound of the baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

well eleven this month not bad as have been busy at work ,the challenges for the year .Book of the month well two the Schlink and Grossman

100 books in a year -110/100

52 books 19/52

well passed a hundred and add one to my around world in 52 books ,got few more countries down on blog this month taking total up to 56 .

NOVEMBER  PLANS

Well November plans ,well I’ve got lot library books need reading ,a Henrich boll ,three Ghanian books ,purge sofi Oskana among them so want clear them near start then end of month want to read some more Bolano have Amulet ,getting Skating rink and maybe another as I plan to read 2666 over christmas .

What your November plans ?

Happy Halloween

Well Halloween is here and I m reading my first ghost story for a long while ,not huge horror and Ghost story fan . what are your favourites ?

Mine is hound of the baskervilles not really horror but scary in places.

This time of year means Parkin – a local cake gingery ,treacly and with some oats in .

wonderful with a hot drink on a cold night .

so what plans have you tomorrow ?

and I leave you with a great spooky song

TO THE END OF THE LAND BY DAVID GROSSMAN

Source – Library

David Grossman is a israeli writer ,he served in the israeli army in the 70’s then went on to study philosophy ,he is known as a peace activist having previous being sack from national radio for refusing to downplay the declaration of the Palestine state .he has won numerous award the most famous being the Bialik prize for Hebrew literature .

To the end of the land is the story of Ora and Offer ,mother and son in modern-day Israeli Ora is doing his national service which is drawing to an end much to Ora’s thankfulness .Offer doesn’t return to his mother ,he wants to join a large offensive that is just being mounted .This shocks Ora who panics that the “Notifers” will appear at her door ,she had planned a trip to Galilee across the country with Offer on his release from the army ,she is single he husband and other son having left her she contacts her husband best friend Avram and as it transpires Offer real father to join her on this pilgrimage to avoid what she fears will be Offers death ,as they set off she starts to tell Avram  bit by bit and writing down Offers life as if the act is a way of keeping her son alive so we hear Offers life unfold through his loving mothers eyes ,as Avram tries to support the women he was once so close to .

Where was I

He fell .

oh she groans in painful surprise,the air slashed out of her in one sweep .Don’t say that .

I wasn’t thinking .I’m sorry Ora

No it’s okay .You should know that when I talk about him with you ,He’s alright .He is protected

How ?

I don’t know .Thats what I feel .He is preserved .

Yes

Does that sound crazy ?

No

should I tell you more ?

Yes

tell me more ,about him

about Offer

This is were we find what talking about Offer means to Ora .

Right now here is the most important bit about this book ,after the first draft Grossman lost his own son in an attack whilst he was serving his national service  ,so the emotions in this book are very realistic ,as he was struggling with his own grief .It deals with parental love ,war and the bond between old lovers .Ora is in some ways Grossman and Ora in some ways is his son .If you want a story that touches your heart this is it ,especially when you know the story of Grossman own son .This of all the Israeli books dealing with the Palestinian conflict and its effects on everyday life in Israeli.

The book was translated by Jessica Cohen a well known translkator from Hebrew .

THE END BY SALVATORE SCIBONA

SOURCE REVIEW COPY FROM JONATHAN CAPE .OUT NOV 4

Salvatore Scibona is an american writer ,he was named on the recent New Yorker twenty under forty list .He grew up in Cleveland Ohio and went to the creative writing course at university of Iowa ,he is from an Italian american family

The End is his debut novel it is set in his native Ohio in the early fifties ,well 15th august 1953 mainly .we focus on Elephant park an Italian community we open meeting Rocco the local baker who has just received word that his son has died in a Korean P.O.W CAMP  ,the day is Assumption day a carnival is due as the novel progress we see Rocco meet people and also we are sent back to Rocco’s youth in Scilly .We see poverty community and also a crime ,we meet a number of characters a seamstress ,a jeweller .as Rocco comes to terms with his loss whilst the is this carnival and other things happening in his life .

He was Five feet one inch tall in his street shoes ,bearlike in his round and Jowly face ,hulking in his chest and shoulders ,nearly just as stout around the middle but hollow in the hips and lacking a proper can to sit on (though he was hardly ever known to sit ) and wee at the ankles and girlish at his tiny feet ,a man in the shape of a lightbulb .

the opening and we meet Rocco .

This is a stunning debut novel ,assured with a unique voice ,he has been compared to the greats Joyce ,Faulkner and Bellow ,some are deserved, setting most of your events on a single day will always be compared with Joyce but in reality they are two completely different books this is about a community .Bellow is probably nearest to him of the comparisons in a lot of ways it is like bellows early books ,like seize thew day which follows a similar aged man over a day I wonder if part of this comes from stories Salvatore heard growing up around the dinner table .The characters in this book are beautifully drawn and realistic.Its nice to read a book about the Italian american community that avoids the obvious clichés of that community .He richly deserves to be on the new yorker list and also for this to be a national book award shortlisted book in 2008 .This is like a Edward hopper painting come to life or the kiss photo that is so famous it evokes the fifties and the struggles of that time for a working class community post WW2 struggling with another war .

SHOW ME THE BOOKS i LL SHOW YOU THE MAN A LIFE IN BOOKS -HOILDAYS AT GRAN SADLER

Now my mum’s parents gran and granddad Sadler had me and us on holiday a lot when growing up ,my parents divorced at a young age so for time we spent a lot of time with them.They lived in Cheshire  in Timperley and then in Rhyl which is in North Wales and is a fading seaside resort which at the time they was just about getting by .a visit for a holiday would lead to me looking through her books and picking a book to read her two great loves where Naigo Marsh and Agatha Christie so I spent my summer holiday reading the 50 and 60’s paperbacks with their wonderfully macabre covers .

 

 

so these summers were spent with Marple ,Poirot ,tommy and tuppence and inspector Alleyn .SOME of my happiest memories are sat reading with a flat lemonade in there lean-to conservatory with the smell of my Granada’s tomato plants wafting in the air .

This lead to my reading  of Ian Rankin Rebus in my twenties ,which for me was my fallow years of reading as I like to go out every weekend with my friends and drink the Deuchars IPA or which ever real ale my local ale houses had on offer .What appealed to me mainly with rebus was Rebus himself ,I identified with this guy he like similar music to me ,like to drink real ale and smoke which at that time where all vices I had ,so as I read little in my twenties Rebus drew me back to books again and to the last  for this time Nordic crime fiction .

well I ve start this last year or two again with some crime novels ,before I blogged I read first part of Steig Larsson which I intend to read all of at some point ,also Jo Nesbo and Roslund and Hellstrom which I reviewed yesterday ,This sits well with my passion for translation and old love of crime fiction .

DID YOUR GRANDPARENTS INFLUENCE YOU ?


THREE SECONDS BY ROSLUND AND HELLSTORM

Source – review copy from Quercus .

Three seconds is the fifth novel by the Swedish crime writing partnership of  Anders Roslund ,a tv journalist who set up a well-known Swedish art show (culture news ) .His partner is Borge Hellstrom work with the Swedish drug rehabilitation services and found an organisation to help criminal back in to society .

The book centres on two main characters Piet Hoffmann ,a complex man a company owner ,happily married yet on the flip side he is police informant and  face of the polish mafia ,the other main character that appears mainly in second half of the book is Evert Grens a swedish police detective in his late fifties a troubled man from an incident in the past he is first introduce solving a murder in Stockholm .The men collide in a complex plan that involves Hoffman getting caught and sent to a maximum security prison  the most dangerous in Sweden ,there is a killing and Gren is sent to find the killer unaware of Hoffmann’s really purpose he is a there is a lot twists and turns to you reach the climax of the book .

He left Vasagatan and then got caught in a traffic Jam by Slussen .It was nearly five o’clock and he should have been at the kindergarten an hour ago .

Piet Hoffmann sat in the car and desperately tried to fend off the stress and heat and irritation caused by the afternoon traffic ,which he could do nothing about .Three lanes at a standstill as far down the tunnel as he could see .To combat this battle with the city ,he often though about the soft skin on Zofia’s face when he stroked it or Hugo eyes when he managed to cycle on his own ,or Ramus’s hair splashed with carrot soup .

Hoffmann in his normal life as a married man fetching his kids .

Now this won the Swedish crime novel of the year and is bound to be compared to Steig Larsson ,with the fact it is published by the same Publisher Quercus and one of its writers is a Journalist like Larsson ,But to compare them is doing this a disservice .Three seconds is a complex well researched novel it is like a snowman being built very slow it starts to roll out of control as it grows .The detail in the first few hundred pages serve well for the climax of the book  .Grens and Hoffmann  are well penned as characters .This novel is highly original I ve never read such a intriguing thriller .the translation is spot on by Kari Dickson A tutor in scandinvian language at Edinburgh university .

 

The weekend by Bernhard Schlink

Bernhard Schlink  is a German writer , professor of law and former Judge ,he writes both lit fiction and crime fiction ,he is best Known for the runaway sucess the reader ,like that book this one tackles a trouble time in Germanys history .

The Weekend is a meeting of freinds after nearly twenty years drawn together by the release of Jorg  a terrorist and member of the red army Faction ,the terrorist organsation in germany that had marxist ideal and carried a number of attacks and killings during the seventies in what was called the german autumn .Jorg was one of these terrorist he was sent away for life for a terroist attack were people died ,but has cancer and was thus granted a presidental pardon to live his last days in freedom .The group draws to a rundown house in Brandburg .the former friends assemble ,now there a priest ,dentist and journalist they have left behind the past and got on with there lives and Jorg in some ways is like a faithful dog still faithful to his old master the RAF .as the weekend unfolds there are recrimnations about past acts ,what happen ,there is also a huge suprise along the way for Jorg as he enconters ….

AT first glance he was still a handsome man, tall , square face , bright green eyes , thick salt and pepper hair but his poor posture emphasized his little paunch ,which didn’t match his thin arms and legs ,his gait was slow ,his face gray ,and wrinkles that crisscrossed his forehead and were steep and long in his cheeks indicated not concentration so much as a vague sense of strain

Jorg as he appears on his release .

Tense is high in this book ,a sense of unease surrounds this group .Like many groups of friends over time views and postions have changed ,the group as a whole have gotten on with there life and Jorg appears some what alien at times to them ,like looking in a mirror of what night have been ,I for one was a little radical in my youth but with a small r .But in hindsight some of my ideas were overly idealistic ,and this is refelct in the group henner now a journalist ,writng everything that happens and has happened .Ilse a teacher ,andrew a lawyer and Ulrich a sucessful dentist with all the trapping that brings like a nice car etc .Then there is Jorg a man that has been in isolation for twenty years ,facing the new world of global commerce and increased consumerism .Schlink has hit the mark again and tackled a tough subject with a subtile and gentle hand ,not overly polticial but enough to make it seem realstic .

THE LIFE OF AN UNKOWN MAN BY ANDREI MAKINE

SOURCE – REVIEW COPY FROM SCEPTRE BOOKS

Anderi Makine is an ex pat Russian that lives in  paris and writes in french ,his books have all been translated by Geoffrey Strachen ,earlier in the year I reviewed Human love his african based novel ,this his latest translation into English  focus on his home in paris and former homeland russia ,it involves two writers one old one younger ,the younger  Shutov lives in Paris as an exile from Putin’s russia ,he is low on ideas and confidence in his writing career when he decides to return to his homeland ,to ST Petersburg .As with many homecoming it is a way to connect to his roots and hopefully spark a kernel of an idea ,whilst there he bumps into a Volsky an old guard from the second world war ,this guy has lived a life and like many a man of his age he likes to impart his story and luckily for Shutov A man caught in a writer’s block ,so over the rest of the book we hear this guys tale of woe and love ,the Siege of Leningrad is the main setting for a love that is doomed Mila his lover is a strong women in the image of those russian propaganda posters of the time ,this make Shutov think of his own love life a recent break up after a tv show performance and an earlier russian lover .from his halcyon days at college .the men both Gain something from this brief meeting .

On 21 June 1941 at the nord cafe ,which was very Popular with people of Leningrad ,without knowing it Volsky lived through the last hours of his old life ,the last day of peace .A moment of peace .A moment of bliss ,encapsulated in the taste of a cup of Hot chocolate .

the opening of the third chapter .

The book is what in the theatre would be a two hander ,like a russian waiting for Godot with a large dollop of russian history and politics thrown in for good measure .one can see the  main character Shutov as Makine him self and Volsky as his way of bridging russian history from the war to Putin’s russia ,from the toughness of the Stalin years to the present regime ,in a different way tough but still corrupt ,as ever Makine writing is slick he is without doubt one of the leading russian writers ,there has been noted in the opening note from Geoffrey Strachan that his french sometimes doesn’t sit quite right so it makes translation hard as he still uses some russian words .A great look at modern russia and a captivating war story in one a hard package to bet .

William Rycroft of Just william luck review the book a few days ago here is his take

I SAW RAMALLAH BY MOURID BARGHOUTI

Mourid Barghouti is a Palestine poet and writer ,he has lived in Egypt ,Kuwait and Bulgaria ,he has published numerous volumes of poetry in arabic ,I saw Ramallah is his autobiographical narrative of his return to Palestine after nearly thirties years .He is married to the Egyptian novelist Radwa Ashour ,they have a son ,they lived apart after Mourid was expelled from Egypt in the seventies and spent most of seventeen years apart .

The book opens with Mourid nervously crossing the bridge in to Palestine and his homeland of Ramallah ,he is due to give a speech at his town ,there is an opening of a new culture centre .

I said once to a friend “when Palestine is no longer a chain worn with an evening dress ,an ornament or a memory or a golden Qur’an ,when we walk on Palestine dust ,and wipe it off our shirts collars and off our shoes ,hurrying to conduct our daily affairs – our passing ,normal ,boring affairs -when we grumble about the heat  in Palestine and the dullness of staying there to long ,then we will really have come close too it “

a passage from early in the book .

As you can see Mourid words are poetic at time the narrative wonders forward and back in time from the present his worries at returning to Palestine  after such a time ,this heigtens on the second or so day when he returns to his home town of Deir Ghassanah ,after a long absent he remembers that every house used to have a special name in his youth ,the family and how the married with in the town ,elsewhere he recounts the passing of thirty years as an exile and in some ways a nomad .He has never felt settle ,after being forcibly removed from Egypt ,spend time in Budapest as a PLO representative .he comes to Deir Ghassanah     ,and the memories flood back ,he gets nervous about giving the speech to open the  culture centre to his peers and family members .

This book is one of the most powerful pieces I ve read Mourid life is laid bare ,his poetic tones hid great sadness at points ,the feeling of never belonging after losing your homeland for thirty years ,but on his return it feels vastly different the restrictions and the change in his beautiful homeland shock him .I leave this review with his own closing words which seem very fitting .

What deprives the spirit of colours ?

What is it other than the bullets of the invaders that have hit the body ?

good questions indeed .

Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh

Evelyn Waugh is probably one of the best known writers of the first half of the twentith century ,he born in london ,his father was a editor and publicist he studied at oxford where he met henry green andbrian howard and numerous other of the leading lights of the bright young things ,he work as as journalist before the publication of this book his debut novel .

Decline and fall ,focuses on Paul Pennyfather ,he is the archtypical charcater of waugh’s book a man that studies at Oxford like waugh himself ,Pennyfather has a spot of trouble and is sent down from Oxford for indecnt behaviour ,unable to get any money from his family he has to go out in to the wide world and get a job ,this draws him to wales and a lowly public school as a master ,he arrives at the school and meets a wonderful cast of  misfits and rogues the are the masters of the school ,he has many mishaps at the school whilst ,on the sportsday he meets and v=eventually gets employed by the beautiful Margot Beste Chetwynde to teach her ,having accidently shoot someone on the sportsday a hasty retreat is required ,he falls for this glamorous women ,and wants to marry her ,but he dosen’t know she runs a high class brothel andthat is the source of her money .

Margot Beste -Chetwynde had two houses in england one in London and the other in Hampshire her London home was built in the reign of William and Mary ,was,by universal consent the most beautiful building between bond street and Park lane ,but opion divide on the subject of her country house this was very new indeed ,in fact it was scarcely finished when Paul went to stay there at the beginning of the easter holidays .

the opening of the second part of Decline and fall when Paul and Margot start to get together .

The book is still funny after all this time and has in the authour notes the restored words of Waugh please bear in mind it is meant to be funny ,penneyfather is like Jim Dixon thirties years before Amis wrote lucky Jim ,a bungler ,a man that falls from one diaster to the next ,it is also one of the best school comdies I ve read ,humour isn’t always the first think you think of when you think of Waugh ,shame he actually did it rather well .So if you want to spend a coup[le of days or a long evening having a good laugh and revisiting 20’s and the bright young things I recomend this book highly .

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