Indigo by Clemens J. Setz

Indigo by Clemens J. Setz 

Austrian fiction 

Original title – Indigo

Translator – Ross Benjamin

Source – review copy

 

Just like watching the detectives.
Don’t get cute!”
It’s just like watching the detectives.
I get so angry when the teardrops start,
but he can’t be wounded ’cause he’s got no heart.
Watching the detectives.
It’s just like watching the detective

We not only watch the detectives but join them in this book ?

I have been vaguely aware of Clemens J Setz ,I had seen his name on a few German book prize list over the last few years , so when this book arrived from Serpents tail I was delighted to be able to try what seems to be one of the rising stars of German literature .Studied at Graz ,after university ,he went on and became a translator ,then a writer and poet ,his second novel the frequencies was on the German book prize shortlist (the German version of the booker prize ) ,he has also won Leipzig book fair prize .Indigo is his third novel and his first to be translated into English .This novel was also on the german book prize shortlist .A quick taster for German Lit month .

The wonderful inner peace , the first in a long while ,dissipated immediately when he stepped out of the building .Twenty-nine years on the planet and in all that time probably four hours altogether of perfect peace .During the years at Helianau it had been no more than three minutes ,Not counting sleep

Robert tatzel just as he is set free into the world ,free from Indigo .

Indigo ,is a book with two main characters A maths teacher named Clemens Setz and one of his former pupils Robert Tatzel .The title refers to a kid that in 2007 appears in children that affects any adults that get near them with severe headaches ,nausea and vertigo .Clemens is teaching at the time when the children in his class that catch this Indigo condition.Clemens tries to discover what has happened to his pupils ,but is meet with brick walls and the loss his jobs  .They are driven of in a strange type of mask .Then a number of years later one of these pupils Robert tatzel who with age has grown out of the Indigo condition is reading a paper when he discovers that his former teacher Clemen Setz had been on trial and acquitted for a brutal murder .

Acquitted in a trial for the violent death of a man from Romania .Kept his dogs in a dungeon for years . severe abuse .Death by slow flaying .Prime suspect Setz free as of today .The family of the victim , a small picture .people standing there sadly .In recent years mainly a science fiction novels ,a turn away from literature .Currently living as a freelance writer near .

captions from picture Robert finds about his old teacher .

Now that is the basic story ,but this book is a wonderful German take on Post modern fiction , that through these two stories we almost join these two men as they try to discover what has happen in both case ,why were the children taken ? what cause the Indigo ? Why did Clemens Setz end up in a trial for murder .We meet a mix of files, letters, book reviews , news  stories , clippings and pictures  as the two men try to discover fifteen years apart what happen to the other ,almost like a snake trying to eat its own tail it coils and coils ,making this one of those books that is hard to pin down .It’s a real journey through it ,I was reminded at the times  of  writers  like Pynchon or even Perec  both of whom like Setz here tried detective fiction of one sort or another in their time . There is an inventive hand in Setz writing with all the documents letters etc add a dimension that I haven’t seen done as well recently Strene did it first and Dos Passos did it in his books ,even BS Johnson in some ways but Setz for me made this feel like I was detective alongside them ,I ‘m sure each reader like me has their own take on what happened and why because we can all read into what we see from our own lives ,this make this unusual and unique book and new voice in German lit .

 

Chronicle of a death foretold by Gabriel Garcia marquez

Chronicle of a death foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Columbian fiction

Original title Crónica de una muerte anunciada

translator – Gregory Rabassa

source – personnel copy

 

When you’re sad and when you’re lonely
And you haven’t got a friend
Just remember that death is not the end

And all that you held sacred
Falls down and does not mend
Just remember that death is not the end
Not the end, not the end
Just remember that death is not the end

When you’re standing on the crossroads
That you cannot comprehend
Just remember that death is not the end

Nick cave version of death is not the end rather apt as death is not the end or the beginning of this book .

Well this is the last but one  of  the Marquez books I read back in July for marquez reading week .I choose this book for the week as it out of all of Marquez’s works of fiction , because it seemed to mix both his fiction and his journalistic style of writing as it recounts a murder in Small town of Santiago Nasar  .

Nor did Santiago nasar recognize the omen .He had sleep little and poorly , without getting undressed,and he woke up with a headache and a sediment of copper stirrup on his palate ,and he interpeted them as the natural havoc of wedding revels that had gone on until after midnight .

The morning after and in a way the morning before so to speak .

 

The chronicle of a death foretold as I said above is different in some ways to his other fiction as it is told in a more formal journalistic style of writing ,the story is of the killing of Santiago nasar , whom runs a successful ranch ,which he had inheirted father and still lives there with his mother and their servants ,we meet him on the day his is going to die .On this day as well a wedding is taking place the wedding of Angela Vicario ,she is due to marry a man who has come to find a bride ,find a virgin bride indeed ,so when after the wedding hew finds his new bride has already been with a man ,she is returned to her family and her brothers try to find out how has been with their sister …. Any way Angela who wasn’t in love with the man she was due marry at the time but had fallen for him during that day ,she wrote to the man Bayardo san Roman everyday for the following seventeen years at which point he returns with all these letters but he hasn’t ever open one ,of course in true Marquez style the book ends with the actual killing .Meanwhile her two brothers have had to leave town .

Bayardo San roman , the man who had given back his bride , had come for the first time in August of the year before : six months before the wedding .He arrived on the weekly boat with some saddlebags decorated with silver that matched the buckle of his belt and the rings of his boots .He was was around thrity years old

Bayardo arrived looking for a bride .

 

Well I said that this wasn’t like his other books when I choose it but actually after I had read it I  found many traits in this story that we have seen in his other books , families and honour are a recurring theme in his books from 100 years of solitude onwards .Lost love and longing for a former lover well enough said I think this has been in most of Marquez;s fiction Angela’s longing is maybe different as it is a women longing a man where as in most of the other books it is a man longing for the women .Then there is part of this book that harks to his other career as a journalist in the way the killing is recounted ,it has a crime report feel at times to it .Then we have the way the story is told in a non linear style that i have encountered in other books by Marquez where the story is a Rubik’s cube you don’t fully see the story till you make the last move the same is true of this book you don’t fully get this till the last pages .

have you read this Marquez ?

Judges Andrea by Camilleri , Carlo Lucarelli and Giancarlo de Cataldo

Judges

Judges by Andrea Camilleri ,Carlo Lucarelli and Giancarlo de Cataldo

Italian novella  collection

Original tile Giudici

translators -

Camerlli – Joesph Farrell

Lucarelli – Alan Thawley

Cataldo – Eileen Horne

Source – review copy

The judge turned around the room .At one table four men were seated,one with a beret and two with hats .A stocky fifty-year-old man ,with fair skin and reddish hair , rose to his feet , removed his hat and said “accept it as a gesture of welcome “

Judge Surra has just arrive and is greeted by some gifts from Don Nene Lonero

 

This is the second collection of novellas from Italy Maclehose press has brought out the first was Outsiders ,this is called judges and is the first I have reviewed ,I have read two of the writers in the collection before Andrea Camilleri and Carlo lucarelli .The third writer in this collection  sounds like an intersting writer as he was a former Italian Magistrate ,turned writer and screenwriter ,he is also a judge on the Italian tv show masterpiece ,which is like an X factor for writers .

While Ferro was fifty-six but looked older ,the Bambina was thirty but looked younger .He knew how old she was because she had told him as soon as she got into the car – “Wish me many happy returns ,today’s my birthday .Born in 1950 ,I’m an old woman now !”

La Bambina looks so young to the older judges

Judges are three novellas ,each about a different Judge in Italy ,also at different times .Camilleri story Judge Surra ,  we meet a Judge Surra ,a Sicilian based judge that has just moved to a small town ,he is greeted by a collection of strange welcoming gifts ,he has travelled from the north of Italy just after Italy became Italy ,the gifts are from the brotherhood (the Mafia before it was the Mafia !) ,but unperturbed he takes them on his first trial in Scilly,oh and of course there is some food involved in this book it is Camilleri  .Lucarelli’s story La Bambina ,which  follows a young female judge ,who due to getting caught in the  complex crimeworld  of  Bologna and the violence involved in this world  ,gets caught up in the violence and has to go into hiding with a bodyguard .The last story by Cataldo  The triple dream of the prosecutor ,follows the battle with a Judge well prosecutor  mandati and the mayor of Novere ,whom for years have been at one another ,but when the Mayor suddenly starts becoming the target for a killer ,is some one trying to kill the mayor or are the judges dream starting to come true !

 

Even better , a triple dream .It was March 18 .And as the headline of the Novere echo said ,The may Berazzi-pedrico is preparing to fight his umpteenth battle with the prosecutor Mandati .

dreams are actually instructive .Because not even in dreams can you get away from the law .

I choose this quote from the end of the triple dream of the prosecutor because march 18th is one of my favourite days .

This collection brings together the cream of Italian crime writers ,each adding a novella related to being a judge in Italy from the very first days of Italy and even then tackling the earliest beginnings  of the mafia ,to the torrid and violent days of the late 1970’s and 80’s in Italy ,a time I vaguely remember seeing in the news as a young boy as we saw criminals in plastic cages or actual cages to protect the judges and the criminals .Then to the age-old struggle between the Judge and the authorities between power and money .This collection is prefect as a taster of Italian crime fiction or if like me you are a fan it is a great way to find one new writer Cataldo is a new name to me and after this I will be reading one of his full length novels .

Have you  a favourite Italian crime writers !

The sermon on the fall of Rome by Jérôme Ferrari

The Sermon on the Fall of Rome

The sermon on the fall of Rome by Jérôme Ferrari

 French fiction 

Original title – Le Sermon sur la chute de Rome

Title – Geoffrey Strachan 

Source – review copy 

Sweltering Africa and languorous Asia,
A whole far-away world, absent, almost defunct,
Dwells in your depths, aromatic forest!
While other spirits glide on the wings of music,
Mine, O my love! floats upon your perfume.

I shall go there, where trees and men, full of vigor,
Are plunged in a deep swoon by the heat of the land;
Heady tresses be the billows that carry me away!
Ebony sea, you hold a dazzling dream
Of rigging, of rowers, of pennons and of masts:

I thought of this straight away baudelaire poetry and this one caught my eye .

 

I have reviewed the first book that Maclehose press published by Jérôme Ferrari Where I left my soul  and loved that book ,so when I was sent this book I was pleased and it was surprised that it was a very different style of book to Where I left my soul .Jérôme Ferrari studied at the Sorbonne ,he studied philosophy ,he has since taught in Algeria and at a High school in Corsica ,His first book translated  into English was set in Algeria and this his second to be translated is set in Corsica .The sermon on the fall of Rome won the Prix Goncourt the biggest prize in French literature .I feel the sign of a great writer is the ability to change the style of what you write and it still be great for me Ferrari has this .

In the middle of the night ,taking good care tom make no noise ,although there was nobody to hear her ,Hayet closed the door of the little flat she had lived in for eight years above the bar where she worked as a barmaid , and disappeared .Around ten o’clock in the morning the hunters came back from the drive .

One of the bar people who disappeared .

The book is a trio of stories really the first story the main story is that of a bar in the mountains of Corsica ,that is brought by two friends Mathieu and Liberio ,who have returned to the island disillusioned  with their life in Paris studying philosophy .The bar they buy with money from Mathieu grandfather Marcel ,the bar has very attractive barmaids and a collection of odd customers  and the local hunters .The story follows affairs and drinking too much and what effect that has which isn’t a great effect .The second story is that of Marcel the grandfather who loaned the money to the two boys to open the bar ,his story is one of the French empire he spent most of his life which we see in snippets throughout the book ,is the fall of French empire in Africa in particular .The Third part really isn’t a big part but gives the title to the book and that is the Augustine of HIppo the fourth century saint ,Ferrari has retold the sermon that Augustine told on the fall of Rome ,we can see a parallel on the fall and the fall of the french empire .

Augustine lies there dying in his own city to which for three months Genseric’s forces have been laying siege .Perhaps all taht had occurred in Rome in August 410 was shaking of one centre of gravity ,the setting in motion of a slight swing of a pendulum ,the thrust of which finally propelled the Vandals through Spain and across the sea,all the way to beneath the walls of hippo

From the last chapter a reworking of the sermon on the fall of Rome .

Well I love the way the book took a small place a bar and the people who visit it and used that as a wider question of what had happened in France and across the French empire ,then using the story of Marcel to illustrate this and delving even farther back to use Augustine of Hippo to connect the fall of the French empire to the fall of the Roman empire .The book has naturally been compared to Marquez’s works ,of course around the bar you are reminded of small village life we see in Marquez’s work but to me I was more remind of a more recent French novel I have read where the tigers are at home  another book that uses the past and the present to weave a tale on a wider scale .There is fluidness to Ferrari’s writing you never sense a jolt as you move from place to place and time to time each connect to from a wonderfully vivid take on the fall of empire ,but also on where France could head after this ,add to this affairs causing trouble between the two main characters ,thieving and the fact a lot of the past owners of the bar have vanished you see there is more to this than it first seems .

Have you read either of his books to be translated in too English ?(if not why not !!)

Fear and Trembling by Amelie Nothomb

 

Fear and trembling by Amelie Nothomb 

Belgian fiction 

Orginal title – Stupeur et tremblements

Translator – Adriana Hunter 

Source – Library

Loving you is driving me crazy
People say that you were born lazy
‘Cause you say that
Work Is A Four-Letter Word

So change your life
There is so much I know
That you can do
Come and see …

I choose one of my favourite song by The Smiths work is a four letter word as it caught in part this book .

I decide a month or two ago to start adding a few books by writers I have enjoyed in the time I have been blogging ,to add depth to blog and to the list of books read ,so I read Amelie Nothomb’s The character of rain  three years ago and had a time want to try more of this talent Belgian writer ,this book like the character of rain is another book set in Japan Amelie Nothomb ,lived in Japan and was born there  in Kobe .The title of this book is a reference to how the average citizen should have felt when greeting the Emperor of Japan .

Miss Mori was at least five feet ten , a height few japanese men achieved .She was ravishingly svelte and graceful despite the stiffness to which she, like all Japanese women , had to sacrifice herself .But what transfixed me was the splendor of her face .

She was talking to me ,The sound of her soft voice brimmed with intelligence .She was showing me some files , explaining what they contained , and smiling. I was dimly aware that I wasn’t listening to what she was saying .

Amelie as she says is transfixed by Miss Mori on their first meeting .

The story of this book is a fiction Amelie going to work for a large company in Japan the Yumimoto corporation ,she has managed to get a job for a year with them .initially it is great she loves the way she is greeted by the people in the company ,but then she is put under the perfect Miss Mori .This is the point that things start to go wrong for the young Amelie ,because she just cannot do anything right ,she has hit the brick wall of Japanese etiquette and the way things are done .She eventually she her self doing less and ,less as every task she is given she seems to fail at in the eyes of the task perfect Miss Mori ,Amelie is also strangely attracted to Miss Mori and the way she is .Amelie ends up with one job sorting the toilets on the 13th floor of the building a toilet that just she and Miss Mori use ,even this she isn’t very good at in the eyes of Miss Mori .

I SPOKE RARELY in my new post , not because it wasn’t forbidden but because an unwritten rule stopped me .When your job is as dreary as mine was the only way of preserving your honour is by remaining silent .

Amelie on her last job the bathroom attendant .

What i loved about this wonderfully short novel is the humour that is there from the clash of cultures ,the western ideas of Amelie cut no way with Miss Mori .Miss Mori leaps of the page as a perfect example of a women in business in Japan she has to be better than the men beside her and above her this is what drives her perfection and in some ways the way she treats Amelie .Miss Mori has her own problems she is turning thirty in the new year and this is traditionally the time a women in Japan is expected to be married .Like character of rain Amelie Nothomb has a great way of casting an outsiders eye on Japan without turning it into a joke and a freak show that so many times happens when we view how Japan works .I felt Miss Mori could have been one of the figures of love from a Murakami novel ,she is just so perfect or tries to be .Amelie at one point imagines her and Miss Mori’s position as similar to that of David Bowie and Ryuichi Sakamoto in the film Merry christmas Mr Lawrence .

Amelie -san

CONGRATULATIONS

-MORI FUBUKI

I added this as it is the last lines a letter Amelie received just after her first novel came out from Miss Mori .

Have you a favourite book by a Belgian writer ?

John and George the dog who changed my life by John Dolan

John and George the dog who changed my life by John Dolan 

Memoir

Source – review copy

King went a-runnin’ after deer
Wasn’t scared of jumpin’
off the truck in high gear
King went a-sniffin’
and he would go
Was the best old hound dog
I ever did know.

Old king by Neil Young source 

I had planned to write the review for this wonderful memoir the day Winston fell ill and al that happened since it has taken till today where i have felt like talking about this book .I have said in the past one of my guilty pleasure is memoirs of dogs or about dogs and owners .So John Dolan’s book is one of those books .John Dolan had spent many years homeless when two things changed his life ,a dog called George and a rediscovery of a love of drawing .He has now had a number of sell out art shows and is  making a living as an artist .

It was the winter of 2009 when George came into my life , and I was living alone in a temporary council bedsiit above a newsagents ,down the road from the tower of london .I’d been fortunate enough to have been there for two year on and off ,which was about the omly good thing I had going for me .I was struggling in just about every way a person could struggle .

The opening chapter of John and George .

George is staffy ,as you see on the cover he is a very pretty staffy and his life and John’s meet at just the right time .George was a dog that had a rough start and end up in John’s flat via a couple he knew that were looking after him for someone else .John had this small flat but for years had been struggling with living on the streets and drug habit .George was a timid fellow when he meet JOhn and JOhn didn’t know what to do with a dog but really thought he had to do what was best and take care of George .So they started their life together john start to draw again and drew the area of london he was in Shoreditch and of course George .He started to sell these pictures to passers-by ,one of these passers-by happened to been the owner of an art gallery that ask John if he would want to do a show ,from their the art and pictures sold well ,the project involved using one of John’s images of Shoreditch skyline and getting well-known street artist like Roa ,broken fingaz and sever’s .

“You can’t come back here ,” Gerry said

he was staring me straight in the eye ,like he really meant business .I had walked out of prison with a small carrier bag of belongings and taken a train straight to Presidents house .I kne Dot and Gerry wouldn’t exactly be hanging out the bunting ,but i had definitely not been expecting to be turned away flat like this .

John’s family story is a complex one of secrets .

The  book is more than the story of George and John it is the story of John’s life how do you end up homeless and on drugs ? well like John’s story it isn’t one big event it is a series of small events that over time wear someone done together with growing up in a family where there was a big secret that effected John  .I was touched when John talked about the effect George had on his life ,I could really connect with this feeling Winston came in my life at the right point .The power of dogs to do good in people’s life is what shines through the book ,George story as well is one of why people who treat their dogs right are important ,his life hadn’t been ideal before he meet John ,he was on the verge of being wayward and uncontrollable ,but John’s love and time made his life better than it ever was .Well that’s it I am already holding back the tears as I think if my boy Winston and our story .

IMG_1190

one of my boy I did with a photo app

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a wonderful drawing by John of his boy George .

Have you a favourite dog or even cat book .

Solar plexus by Rustam Ibragimbekov

Solar plexus ( A Baku saga in four pars ) by Rustam Ibragimbekov

Azerbaijan fiction

Original title -Солнечное сплетение

Translator – Andrew Broomfield

Source – review copy

Our house, in the middle of our street
Our house, in the middle of our

Our house it has a crowd
There’s always something happening
And it’s usually quite loud
Our mum she’s so house-proud
Nothing ever slows her down
And a mess is not allowed

Our house by madness seemed a rather good choice for this book -source 

Well when i receive the email to review this book ,I jump at the chance it isn’t often these days I get to add a new country and writer to the list of book from on this blog ,so a chance to read a book from Azerbaijan is a real treat .I hadn’t heard of Rustam Ibragimbekov ,but he has been well known in Russia and then Azerbaijan for his film making ,his father was an art historian ,Rustam went on to study in Azerbaijan and then in Russia where in Moscow he studied cinematography .He then start writing films and tv scripts ,his best known film is” White sun of the desert “,a cult film ,that has been shown to Russian cosmonauts just before they take off for a number of years .

He barely caught glimpse of her in the gloom of the entrance : two quick strides up two steps at a time , and she disappeared completely round the bend in the staircase .He was no longer afraid of being noticed.He wanted to get another look at her ,before listening to her rapid steps .

Alik follow the girl from the drama group .

Solar Plexus is four short novella length stories that track the course of a family in the capital city of Azerbaijan Baku in one building  and friends  we follow four genrations stories throughout the 20th century .The action focus on the peroid of 1940 to 1990 and four stories from those years we follow three genrations from 27 Shemakhinka street and the courtyard with in this address and the people hat live with in the courtyard .We open with Alik and his family ,Alik is involved in a drama group ,well he really likes one of the women in the drama group .Then we move on to Marat’s story he works at the quarry ,then we follow the Rectors story as he sees to the people round him .the last story follows the courtyard and its folks as a whole as they head toward Azerbaijan become a country once again as the Soviet union falls apart .

The first feeble but unanimous impulse we all felt when we emerged ,exhausted from the militia station was go straight home .But in 1992 Baku still retained some of the qualties of the real Baku ,and from out of nowhere we were suddenly surrounded by a gang of young men shouting in delight ,led by two twenty-year-old giants – Marat’s sons .

Near the end the sons and grandsons of the original families see Azerbaijan free again .

 

After reading about Rustam’s film and tv career ,well he is well-known for his talent at mixing tragedy and comedy together .The stories in here are a personnel glimpse of everyday life in Baku through the eyes of these families that are so different but due to the fact they share a courtyard interact with each other every day .The world outside is seen the end of world war two ,the Soviets taking charge ,the bad years of Stalin ruling with the purges ,but also we see how they slowly try to take over Azerbaijan making it more Russian than Azerbaijan . A wonderful mix of romance and comedy .We then glimpse how the people and country as a whole start to believe in the fact they could once again become a separate country as they saw at a distance what was happening in Moscow and elsewhere in the Soviet Union

Have you a favourite book from one of the former Soviet countries ?

The insufferable Gaucho by Roberto Bolano

the-insufferable-gaucho-978033051062201

The insufferable Gaucho by Roberto Bolano 

Chilean fiction

Original title – El Gaucho insuferible 

Translator – Chris Andrews 

Source – library

Amazing travelers, what fantastic stories you tell!
What a bottomless incurvation to your eyes.
Show us the streaming gems from the memory chest
The mirroring beads of anecdote and hilarity. We’d also
Like to think it possible to combat the tediousness of these bourgeois prisons.
We’ll stretch the canvas, prepare the paints and brushes
Willing to take a month or even a year to make ourselves great.
What have you seen?

Baudelaire The voyage ,i loved this I read it after it was mention in the essay Literature + illness  = illness

Well this book is another hangover from Spanish lit month ,I have reviewed five of Bolano’s books before on the blog ,with Trevor over at Mookse and gripes doing a 2666 readalong ,that I am thinking about doing as a reread .I have said much about Bolano over the other post on him .I am slowly reading through his backlist and we are getting to the end of his books coming out in English with just two more it seems to come out .So it’s to insufferable gaucho a collection of Bolano’s short stories and a couple of essays .

Many years ago I had friend Jim , and he was the saddest North American I’ve ever come across .I’ve seen a lot of desperate men .But never one as sad as Jim .Once he went to Peru – supposedly for more than six months ,but it wasn’t long before we saw him again .The Mexican street kids used to  ask him , what’s poetry made of Jim?

Jim a short story of a sad man and poet in mexico

The stories cover a Vietnam vet coming to terms with his life ,Jim the vet in question  is a typical Bolano character ,he has escaped America and is trying to make his way in Mexico city as a poet , but not really getting to far .The we have a tale of an informer called police rat .But for me the story that really hit home was Alvaro Rousselot’s journey ,a tale that sees the title character who is an Argentinian writer having to go to France to find someone who is illegally make films of his books without his permission to find the man Morini that made a film lost voices that is so much like his own book solitude but get lost at times in France and he doesn’t speak French . The two essay in the collection are interesting the first seems to have been a lecture that Bolano gave at some the subject was literature and illness how the two interweave , using the poem which I quote from in the first section as part of the essay illness and French poetry .

What can Sergio Pitol , Fernando Vallejo and Richard Pigla do to counter the avalanche of glamour ? not much .They can write .But writing and literature are worthless if they aren’t accompanied by something imposing than meer survival .Literature ,especially in Latin America , and I suspect in Spain as well ,means success ,by which ,of course ,I mean social success :massive print runs :translation into more than thirty languages

The trouble of finding  identity and breaking out in Latin American literature .

I read this about two months ago and was a bit humdrum about it but since then I have thought about bits of the stories in this collection and rather like a wine ,this book tastes better with time away from it .The collection has lots of parts of Bolano as a writer that I like his poets on the edge with Jim .In police rats the story is formed from out of a sister of one of the characters in a Kafka story .Then the essays are a nice little taster too his non fiction writing ,I have his huge collection Between parentheses ,which over time I have been dipping in and out of .The second essay is a quick look by him at Spanish and Latin american  lit at the time it was written and is an interesting look as some of the writers he mentions like Pitol are just reaching us in English ,deep vellum are publishing this highly acclaimed Mexican writer .This would serve as a good starter for any one that has read Bolano and maybe want to get little nibbles of him as a whole as the stories cover the range of his writing from mexico ,to magined writers and non fiction ,not filling to me as a huge fan but it gives you a real feel of him as a writer .

Have you read Bolano ?

The art of killing well by Marco Malvaldi

The art of killing well

The art of Killing well by Marco Malvaldi 

Italian fiction 

Original title – Odore di chiuso

Translator – Howard Curtis 

Source – Review Copy 

Politeness and civility to visitors is one of the things masters and mistresses have a right to expect, and should exact rigorously. When visitors present themselves, the servant charged with the duty of opening the door will open it promptly, and answer, without hesitation, if the family are “not at home,” or “engaged;” which general same thing, and might be oftener used with advantage to morals.

Miss Beeton on visitors seemed apt for this book source 

Now I feel awful ,I met Marco at the more bloody foreigners  lunch earlier in the year .Marco is from Pisa  , he has written a guide to his home city .He is a crime writer and Chemist .He has a series of crime novels the Bar lume series and this is a new series .Marco is a fan of cooking and cook books this is how he came up with the idea for this story .This book won Isola d’Elba Award and the Castiglioncello Prize.

Arrived safe and sound at the castle of Rocapendente .

The castle is beautiful , but the interior strikes me as unusally devoid of furnishings , although it may be the sheer size of the rooms and staircases that gives me that impression ,

as far as beauty of appearance is concerned , even the servants are well suited to the castle .

From the diary of Pellegrino Artusi ,just after he arrived on the friday for the weekend .

The art of killing well is the story of Pellegrino Artusi man Italian nobleman that had enjoyed many cooks in his time and was shocked at the time to discover no one had written the recipes used down .So he set of round Italy collecting the best dishes of  Italian cooking ,which he intended to write as a book for himself and his friends any way he did and the book snowball till the book  became a staple of most upper class and middle class families in the late 1890’s ,a sort of Italian miss Beeton .Well the art of killing well is an imagine incident in Pellegrino’s life ,we meet him just as he has finished his travels around Italy and has chosen to take up an invite from a Baron to sample his chef and finish writing his book oh and the chance to hunt Boar .Anyway a body turns up in the cellar the family butler  .Pellegrino feels he has the talents via his nose and knowledge of food and cooking to find who the killer is before he strikes again and kills the baron .Will he find the killer in time ?

” Thank you m Barone .I must ask you all to be patient for a moment .I have just made a preliminary examination of the body of Teodoro Banti ,as a result of which I find myself unable to issue a death certificate “

The doctor tells them the dead butler is actually murder .

Well imagine this now book now it is like Gordon Ramsey does crime or Jamie oliver invesigates .Of course there has been one cooking detective I know off and the was Henry crabbe in the tv series pie in the sky .But Pellegrino was the orginal Chef ,the best known of his day ,this is a book about smells and taste and how they can help solve crimes .This book is a clever turn on the amateur detective ,of course a cook has skills to be a detective ,like in his other series where the main character is a barista in a coffee shop .So if you want a slice of upper class Italian life in the 1890’s  and a weekend  murder mystery ala country house style ,this is the book for you ,I really hope Marco chooses to  writes again about Pellegrino and also includes more of the recipes like he did in the back of this book .Have you a favourite amateur detective ?

The story of a shipwrecked sailor by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

shipwreck sailor

The story of a shipwrecked sailor by Gabriel Garcia Marquez 

Columbian non fiction 

Original title – Relato de un náufrago

Translator – Randolph Hogan 

Source personnel copy 

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

From rime of the ancient mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge  source

Well this is a book hung over from Spanish literature month that I didn’t get time to review ,which is a real shame as I had want to include the two non fiction books I had read by Marquez for Spanish literature month  .Marquez worked as a journalist most of his life .He started as a journalist he was a member of the Barranquilla group a group of Journalist ,philosophers and writers based in the city of Barranquilla  in Columbia .This group was also featured in his novel one hundred years of solitude .Now to this book based on the true story of a Columbian sailor .

At six o’clock the destroyer began pitching violently .Luis Rengifo was awake one bunk below me .

“Fatso ” he asked me ,”Haven’t you gotten sick yet ? “

I said no ,but I admitted I was worried .Rengifo ,who as I said was an engineer -very studious and a good seaman explained why it was unlikely that something could happen to the Caldas in the Caribbean

How untrue this was !.

 

In 1955 a crew of eight set sail on a Columbian navy destroyer Caldis ,that has spent time in the US .The book sets of with a crew that maybe had partied too much when in America and a lot of stuff on board they shouldn’t have ,so when they hit a storm in the middle of the Caribbean ocean ,the crew and items they were returning to Columbia with all end up in the sea .Now the Navy searches and finds no one .But actually Luis Alejandro Velasco ,he managed to grab stuff and make him self a raft ,he spent ten days drifting on the ocean in which time he drank little ,manage to wrestle  fish from the sharks around him ,also kill a gull which he didn’t eat (can’t blame him I have a friend that grew up in the wilds of highland and shot regularly and once shot and tried a gull which he didn’t like one bit ) .Any way he manages to drift to land which luckily for him is actually his homeland of Columbia  ,he is brought back  to the city nursed back to health and given a heros welcome ,this is the point where his path crosses with Marquez who likes his story and decides to write this book to keep it for prosperity .

Hunger is bearable when you have no hope of food .but it was never so insistent as when I was trying to slash that shiny green flesh with my keys .

After a few minutes ,I realized I would have to use more violent methods if I wanted to eat my victim .

Velasco struggle to find food to eat .

This is a good old adventure yarn ,but far from being fiction it actually happened Luis Alejandro Velasco did spend ten days at sea ,he did suffer but like any true hero he had to fall t o rise and be honoured .As I read this I wondered if Yann Martell had read this .I think he did in some ways this is rather like a blueprint for A life of Pi but if Marquez had written this as a novel it would have been near Martell’s book I do wonder if in some way if life of pi was a way to see what happens when you add magic realism to a shipwreck story .Velasco story is of course like other stories Crusoe (based on the real life Alexander Selkirk from Lower Largo in Fife ,I used pass his statue on the way to my Gran’s every year ) which Defoe wrote and spawn many similar stories in what are known as Robinsonade fiction books about  a shipwrecks and sailors  from William Golding with Pincher Martin to Umberto Eco with the island of the day before  and also life of Pi .The actual book cause Marquez a lot of trouble due to the way he told the story of the contraband the ship was carrying and he had to actually leave Columbia for a while he also hand the writes to the book to Velasco in Spanish ,but kept the translation Rights himself  ,even thou Velasco tried to sue for them ,but then later made up with Marquez .Have you read this or have a favourite Robinsonade story ?

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