Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon

Pietr-the-Latvian

Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon

Belgian crime fiction

Original title – Pietr le-letton

Translator – David Bellos

Source – personnel copy

Well when I heard earlier this year penguin was under taking retranalsting and publishing all 75 Maigret novels by the prolific Belgian novelist Georges Simenon I was really excited  ,I have read three of the books before but had always want to read them in the order they were published .Georges Simenon is probabkly the second best known Belgian writer after Herge . Georges simenon , started writing in 1919 and wrote his whole life on average writing 60-80 pages a day he wrote more than 200 novels and loads of short stories ,in fact he wrote so much and also published under a number of alias ,his own estate is fully sure what he wrote.Any to this the first of many I’m sure I will be reviewing over time the debut book of Jules Maigret Pietr the Latvian .

Maigret had a tough time disentangling his own feet from the dead man’s legs to extricate himself from the toilet .With swift professional movements he patted the man’s pockets .Clean as a whistle .Nothing in them at all

Maigret checks the body that maybe Pietr on the train toilet .

Pietr the latvian is a well known con man due to arrive in Paris and Jules Maigret has been assigned to try and capture him ,this man has been causing crimes all round Europe and is now heading for Maigret patch any way the train arrives and there is a body in the toilet of the train and it matches what they have been told about this Pietr ,but then they think he is dead they hear of another man appearing at a posh hotel the prime ground for this high-class con man who the man they were tracking Pietr is  ,so Maigret is now faced with the dilemma which is the real Pietr and what happened to get the body in the train ?

But what had he got against the American millionaire Mortimer – levingstone ? within an hour of the arrest ,the US embassy would lodge a protest ! The French companies and financial institutions on whose boards he sat would wheel in political support .

An homage to holmes in the name but what has this US millionaire to do with this story .

 

Well I hadn’t read this one and I must state from the start even thou the man describe as Maigret is younger than the one I have when reading the book which is a figure resembling Michael Gambon who had played Maigret in a uk tv series .So does this old book warrant a new translation well yes we see the greats of English crime fiction repackage and reissued .So yes its nice to see a translated crime book published in same way in a new version as English crime does .As to the book it is an easy read not taxing but I did find a couple of things as I read that I may not that is two nods to the great crime novelist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at one point it is said holes sat and smoke three pipes ,rather like Holmes in the red-headed league when he said “It is quite a three pipe problem ” ,then there is a character called Mortimer as any Holmes fan would now he is one of the main character in the hound of the Baskervilles .So I think I will be getting one of these every month as they come out I have already brought the next two on my kindle to read .

Have you read Maigret ?

The misfortunates by Dimitri Verhulst

The misfortunates by Dimitri Verhulst

Belgian fiction

Translator David Colmer

Dimitri Verhulst is a Belgian writer and he grew up in a broken home and spent a lot of time in foster care .This is often reflected in his fiction .He has written several novel and short stories .The misfortunates ,was made into a film in 2009.The film won a prize in Cannes .

I add the trailer ,which to me seems to capture the character in the book so well .We follow Dimmy the son he is at school and is at a point where he could follow his father and his uncles into a life of drink and misadventures or he could put his head down and study .Now we follow a period as Dimmy begins to see his family are maybe a little different from the normal family .That time as you turn from a child to a teen and a young man ,he is 13 as this happens .

The male members of the Dimmy’s  family,  Dimmy’s father and his uncle’s Potrel ,Herman and Grider  spend a lot of time drinking in the pub  and ending up doing thinks because of the drink like having a naked cycle race this made me smile as I love cycling and the fact that grown men decide to copy the men they seen by doing it naked was funny .They did this as Dimmy was getting drawn towards cycling and being more disciplined in his life .Now Will of Just William compared it to Shameless with chips and Mayo .Which I agree with ,I also got visions of saturday night sunday morning and a hard-edged version of the northern Kitchen sink drama relocate to Belgium and scripted by Irvine Welsh . As the quote below shows this is even linked in the book .

It was only later ,when I read Alan Silltoe’s best known work ,The loneliness of the long distance runner ,that I realized that it had been pure logic that had turned me into a runner as a child .

I loved this quote linking his life a bit with Kitchen sink drama classic loneliness of long distance runner .

 

This book has a feel of a roman a clef  slammed with a coming of age novel .I feel this is Dimitri looking back in some ways to the point he became the writer he is now ,a Robert Frost moment take the trodden path that his family has taken or that unknown one that he seems more drawn too .The book can tug at the heartstrings this is a tough world ,but also a world that has a certain pathos to it .

I enjoyed this book ,I felt this was a very realistic book  given the writers own history ,I read an  interview with him here ,which was interesting in both a small insight into him and also an insight into Belgium .As it is mainly about the Flemish/Wallonia divide that has appeared in recent years in Belgium .I really want to watch the film and hope it gets shown or a uk DVD  release which it hasn’t seemed to as of yet .

 

The character of rain by Amelie Nothomb

Source – Library

Translator – Timothy Bent

Amelie Nothomb is a prize-winning Belgian writer ,she was born in Kobe in Japan and lived in Japan til she was 5 she learnt some Japanese whilst there ,she has had numerous books translated into in English .I ve enjoyed her other books before blogging so really look forward to this and it didn’t let down .

The book focus on Rain a child ,her thoughts as she approaches her third birthday .This is a time the Japanese think think children are gods til the age of three  the Okosma or lord child  .Now this is why I wanted to read this book in particular to compare at some stage to room to see who had caught a child’s voice the best .Now Rain has a wonderful voice, if a bit adult at times and also very funny at times ,she explains how she says mama as her first word and then quickly  has to say papa as she sees dads disappointment that it wasn’t his name first , her brother her sworn enemy ,you she how wonderful the world can appear to a two and half-year old and might I say how down hill it can be from when you reach three .There is a great scene when friends of the parents come with there little boy Hugo ,who Rain initially likes but then he makes friends with her brother ,this is like a first heartbreak but wonderfully funny ending at the same time .

Hugo was a serious and reserved boy .He had made a good impression on me until the moment he went over to the enemy -my brother .The two boys became inserable .To punish him I decided not to name him Hugo .

A first heart-break maybe …

The book is obviously based  partly on her own life ,rain is a child of a Belgium family living in Japan ,this book deals with growing up in a foreign land  been spoken to in two languages ,near the end of the book rain discovers and is fascinated with water ponds river rain .This is a very Japanese way at looking at the world a culture than loves the changing seasons and elements .I love rain she so jumps of the page and became a precious two and half-year old in my head .

Have you read any of her books ?

Do you like books set in Japan by non-Japanese writers ?

wonder by Hugo Claus A.T.W52 POST 1

Wonder was published late last year by archipelago books .It is one of the few Claus in print at the moment ,Claus was one of Belgians major writers having won a lot of prize and also courted controversy with his subject matter and even his own death due to euthanasia .This edition is wonderfully translated by Micheal Henry Heim who also translated my century by Gunter Grass .

   The book is about Victor de Rijckel a teacher in a small town in post war Belgium ,the chapters tend to jump from time to time and are inter speed with what are date notebook entry’s that are written by de Rijckel whilst in a sanatorium in transpires ,in describing events de Rijckel talks about school local people and ends up going to a masquerade ball where he sees and follows a woman to a small village and a meeting of post war fascists including the sinister Crabbe a former member of the ss this eventually leads victor to lying and despair as he question his on morals and people round him at this point he cracks .

14 November ,about 8 o’clock

….and I ve stopped writing .Korneel keeps goading me.Two lines a day and we ll make it he says.Frozen feet .losing weight .draw out vapor.This table was once used for cleaning herring ;you can smell it in the wood.Draw out vapors.Write a fair hand,all curlicues and cues .I don’t want this pen squirting shame on the paper ;I don’t want any regrets;the past clouds sail past.didn’t I say they were spots?Like butterfly spot? I did I sit

     the book its self is square nicely printed ,with a Goya print on the cover

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