Memoirs of a Woman doctor by Nawal El Saadawi

Memoirs of a Woman Doctor by Nawal El Saadawi

Egyptian fiction

Original title – ” مذكرات طبيبة

Translator – Catherine Cobham

Source – review copy

I decided to take a detour from the Booker list and I had read this when I was sent it and never got to it which is a shame as I really enjoyed it and I admire Nawal as a person called the Simone De Beauvoir of the Arabic world she has long been a champion of women in the Arabic world. former movements for both female rights and human rights within the Arabic world. She was also a doctor before being a writer. I was grabbed by her a  few years ago when she was on the BBC show Imagine talking about her life she even showed the first practice which is in this book.

I hated being female. I felt as if I was in chains – chains forged by my own blood trying me to the bed so that I couldn’t run and jump, chains produced by the cells of my own body, chains of shame and humiliation. I turned in on myself to cover up my miserable exictence.

I no longer went out to run and play. The two mounds on my chest were growing bigger. They bounced gently as I walked. I was unhappy with my tall slender frame folding my arms over my chest to hide it and looking sadly at my brother and his friends as they played.

The years she becomes a teen and more visible as a woman.

This is a fictionalized version of Nawal’s own journey in many ways. The narrator of the books is a driven young woman growing up in fifties Egypt. Her observations as a child reveal much about the society of the time.  her older brother always has the best in there home the larges slice of meat at breakfast that she sees as unfair. The best things are always his and as she grows even thou she is younger she is bigger than her brother. she is determined to study medicine. This is a wonderful female take on the Bildungsroman genre as we see her fight the male-centered society from her fellow students when studying medicine. She cuts her hair and avoids the arranged marriage her parents try to push her into. Then when she becomes a doctor her patients are shocked she is so beautiful as a doctor this line made me laugh as thou the beauty of the doctor made a difference. A failed marriage against her parent’s advice but when he tries to tell her what to do in the home she decides he isn’t the one. She is battling all the time is that perfect man just around the corner.

I left my room and went to sit in the big common room. I opened a medical journal and tried to read it, but I couldn’t help my thoughts straying to the doctor’s wing where the colleague on night duty was nownow asleep. For no obvious reason it occurred to me that i was alone with a man in the middle of the night and only a closed doorseparated e from him. Althouh I was wide awake this idea came to me like a dream and I felt afraid …. No,Not afraid,worried..No, not even that, for I felt desifre, or not quite desire but a strange disturbing feelin that made me glance furtively at closed door from time to time

It is hard for her at the medical school as this pasage shows.

This is a very short book easily read in an evening. Great feminist work about how determined women in a very male-centered society could make her way even with hurdles put in front of her. The shock of her first view of a naked male when she was at medical school when she had to cut up a dead male and this was her first view. I felt the latter part of the book was maybe trying to put too many years into too few pages which is a great shame as the early family years and the time studying were very captivating. But the later times were maybe lightly covered. This was her first novel and it was a great debut I was sent the other books that  Saqi brought out in there Saqi bookshelf series.

Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann

Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann

German fiction

original title – Tyll

Translator – Ross Benjamin

Source – review copy

I had thought I reviewed Daniel Kehlmann before but I had read F when it was on the old IFFP list but I didn’t get round to reviewing it rather like this year I think the time was running against me I had half read this in prep for the Booker prize but when it came to picking it up again I started and read it through in a couple of days. As I said I had read F by him and this is one I was sent and had planned to read as it mixes folklore, historic and a nod to the present in this work which is considered his best book.

Weeks pass before his legs allows him to get back on the rope. On the very first day, one of the baker’s daughter appears and sits down in the grass. He knows her by sight; her father often comes to the mill, because ever since Hanna Krell cursed him after a quarrrel he has been plagunesd by rheumatism. The pain won’t let him slepp, which is why he needs claus’s protective magic.

The boy consideres whether to chase her away. But first of all it wouldn’t be nic, and secondly he hasn’t forgotten that she won the stone throwing contest at the last village festival

As a youth learning the ropes.

The book focuses on the character of Till Eulenspiegel ( renamed Tyll Ulenspiegal here) the character has been in dutch and German folklore. He is a wandering chap a minstrel and jester all in one. But here we see him three hundred years after he first appeared in folklore since the 1500s the story here is set during the thirty years war. We see him growing up walking the rope in his home village that is like other villages but has a Grimm like feel with mentions of goblins and witches here is where the lines between the history of the time and the folk tales of the time. We see as he grows and events happen he has to leave his village to get into the wider world. Then as he leaves we see the events of the 1600s as he heads to the heart of what was called the never-ending war. The bloody battlefield real-life characters from the time are all interlink in what is a series of episodic nature as he meets mary queen of scots mother and her husband the king of Bohemia, counts and see the great battles of the thirty years war.

The fat count nodded and trued to imagine someone seriously shooting at him, aimingover the iron sights. At him, Martin von Wolkenstein, who had never done anyone wrong, with a real bullet made of lead. He looked down at himself.His back hurt, his bottom was sor from days in the saddle. He stroked his belly and imagined a bullet, he thought of the burnt goosehead, and the metall magic about which Athanasius Kircher had written a book on magnets: if you carried a magnetic stone of sufficent strengthin you pocket, you could deflect the bulletdsand make a man invunerable. The legendary scholar himself had tried it. Unfortunately, such strong magnets were rare and expensive.

The great german thinker Kircher

The story for me was a bit to fragment at the time I have scarce knowledge of the thirty years war and given time constraints I hadn’t time to read up which when I have time I would have done, Tyll is an interesting figure there is something of classic jester about him with his clever at times insight. Then there is a large chunk of Grimm here with talk of goblins and witches =. But then a  nod to the times with the madness of court life at times I was reminded of Blackadder here where the court is shown for its pompousness through Tyll’s eyes. Thi has a pinch of historic fiction a pinch of Grimm add some Tolkien and classic historic comedies. I may come back to this at some point when I have more time to read around the vents and setting but it is a book with a nod to the present as well with a reminder of what has been as a warning for what is happening.

That was the month that was March 2020

 

  1. The Other Name by Jon Fosse
  2. Mac and his problems by Enrique Vila-Matas
  3. The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rilneveld
  4. Serotonin by Michel Houellebecq
  5. The enlightenment of the greengage tree by Shokoofeh Azar
  6. The Adventure of China iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara

Well, this month’s book journey was all from the Booker longlist. From Norway and two people with the same name in the same place. To an elderly Spanish writer whose work keeps ending up sound like other writers. Then a death leads to strange events and abuse in the Dutch countryside. Then a man tries to chase his dream by going to a place he was once happy. Then a daughter sees her family plight during the Iranian revolution and then we end up in Latin America with a classic of Latin American fiction being retold with a feminist and lesbian twist.

Book of the month

 

 

 

 

This month’s choice is from Jon Fosse he is often mentioned as a potential Nobel winner well this is the start for a seven-volume work this book worked around two people with the same name from the same lace but with different paths in their lives it shows how alcohol affects one’s life. Another Fitzcarraldo Gem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Non-book events. Well, we’ve had put our charity swim on the back burner till this coronavirus is out of the way.I had to have a week at home with a cough but thankfully that is all it was. At the start of the month, I managed to watch dark waters at the cinema, The telling of how Dupont poisoned one town over a number of years and hid it with side products from there wonder material Teflon. I enjoyed this it has a great lead role from Mark Ruffalo an underrated actor in my opinion.  I loved his understated role in the film Margaret a few years ago. Music-wise James the great Manchester underdogs had there first few albums come out in a compilation it appeared on Spotify this month the only miss was the song Sky falling which was on a tape compilation years ago I had the tape but lost it years ago but loved this song.There is a copy on you tube.

 

Then there was the second album from Porridge radio whose single sweet from the album  Every bad is a great ix of angst punk may be perfect for these angst times we are in.

The month ahead.

Well, I am behind the curve of where I want to be reading-wise we announce the shortlist for the shadow booker prize international. We will announce a week after the actual announcement. I am fighting to finish all the shortlist in time I have struggled with reading the last month with all the news and lockdown and this falling on my birthday and anniversary of my mum’s death which fell on the same day as Mother day. I knew this may be the case over the years but it was three years this year and felt hard. Just meant reading was on the back burner this month. But I will try to catch the slack from this month over the next few months. But the main target next month is to hit that 1000 books reviewed I hope to add a couple of new countries before I get there and wonder what will be my 1000th review will keep tuned !!

The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara

The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara

Argentinean  fiction

Original title – Las Aventuras de la China Iron

Translators – Fiona Mackintosh and Iona Macintyre

Source – personal copy

I had chosen on my own list of the books I wanted to see on the Booker longlist the book Loop was one from Charco I had already read, I have so far reviewed a number of books from Charo press over the last few years. including Die my love which made the longlist two years ago and I had reviewed the other book from Gabriela Slum Virgin. So when this made the list I got it straight away. This is her last novel to be published in Spanish and the second to be translated into English. This is a historic reframing of the Classic poem Martin Fierro which is considered an important work of historic Argentinean literature.

It’s difficult to know what you remeber, is it what actually happened? Or is it the story that you’ve told and re-told and polished like a gemstone over the course of years, like something that has lustre but lifeless as a stone? If it weren’t for my dreams, for the recurring nightmare I have where I’m a gruby barefoot girl again, with nothing to my name but a sweet little puppy and a few ragged clothes; if it weren’t for the thump I feel here in my chest, the tightness in my throat on the rare occasions that I go the city and see a skinny , bedraggled little creature hardly there at all; basicaly, if it weren’t for my dreams and the trembling of my body, I wouldn’t know what I’m tell you is true

The opening of the chapter wagon from China black about her journey!

The book takes a woman that could be Martin Fierro’s wife she has a husband that has left her behind like in the epic poem. Her name is China Iron(Fierro is Spanish for Iron). She has been left in a remote encampment so when she sees the chance to leave with an English woman who is heading off in a wagon the Woman Liz is a Scottish woman fierce in spirit. The two women and another rancher Rosario looking for fertile land for his cattle. The trio well the story soon ends up as the two women as we pass through the hinterlands of Argentina. We see the wonderful countryside which is wonderfully described. As the two women draw closer Liz teaches China about the Brtish empire as the head through the pampas and fort. Then they hit Indian territory as the women grow closer the is an awakening of other feelings in them both. Later on in the book to add a twist Martin Henradez the writer of Martin Fierro is added as a character. A book that adds a feminist angle to the Argentinean classic.  It also gives a voice to the LGBT characters at a time when they would haven’t been able to have a voice.

While the land grew into a whole globe in front of me, another world took shape on the wagon. Me, Liz and Estreya were a trinty, within a rectangle strating from the oxen,, one line along the roof, another at the trunk to the rear of the wagon and one running along the ground

“Only here in the pampa could a wagon create a birs eye view, observed Liz and so I found out what prespective was and noted that indedd, the few animal thst stand out on

Later on when the wagon is in the Pampas

I really liked Slum virgin and in parts, I loved this book we have in the shadow panel talked about it and I think a deeper knowledge of Martin Fierro is maybe needed especially later in the book which with its poetic [assages and the introduction of Hermandez mirrors the poem even more. Bolano also mentioned Fierro in his book the secret of evil that had a piece about it and Pynchon also referred to it in Gravity’s rainbow this work is the Argentinean Don Quixote it is at the heart of what makes the males in argentian what they are in a way so when Gabriela takes a side shoot at this work and reframes it around the woman left behind doing something similar to what Geraldine brooks did with her work March which swaps the classic Little women from the female narrative to the male narrative of Mr. March heading homing here Gabriela has done the opposite and taken a female narrative to a great male narrative and also add a twist of a love affair and set all this against the unspoiled background of 1872 Argentina and the wanting of British to come there add many threads to this work but I still felt Had I a deeper reading of the poem I had read the first couple of pages to get a feel of it but felt a closer reading would be required. Have you read this book?

The Enlightenment of the Greengage tree by Shokoofeh Azar

The enlightenment of the Greengage Tree  by Shokoofeh Azar

Iranian fiction(Australia)

Original title –  اشراق درخت گوجه سبز

Translator – was named in the Orignal Australian copy but has since been removed from the UK and US editions for their safety

Source – Review copy

Shokoofeh Azar left Iran as a Refugee in 2011 and settled in Australia. She had written many articles and children’s books and was the first Iranian female to walk the SIlk road (I hope we read a description of this journey at some point). This is her first novel since arriving in Australia it was on the shortlist for the Australian version of the old Orange prize the Stella prize and was her first work to be translated to English. This is the latest on the Booker longlist this year.

Around five O’clock the next morning , dad, Beeta and I woke up n the thick morning fog to see the last foxes returning to their dens after hunting Razan’s  chickens and roosters and to feel the wings of the hoopoe just inches away. Mom had once again returned to the highest bough from her peregination among the planets and cities villages, islands, and tribes in time to hear ghd song of thousands and thousands of sparrows, and to see a hedgehog curl up and roll down the forest slope because dad had moved.

The magic realim in this one pasaage grabbed me early on

Shokoofeh was born the same year as I was and the narrator of her book is a few years younger than we are as she is thirteen and narrating the book and the events in the book after she has died Bahar tells the story of her family and the events that followed the Iranian revolution the violence and fervent religious zealots that run the country and the knock-on effect on one family. The family is an academic famil there is much talk early on of the books she loved to read from her father’s precious library. He had already been expelled for the university early on for his socialist views. They lead Tehran thinking that this will save them from the madness of the capital but as they settle in the village of Razan the revolutionary guards reach even reaches there as the country turns mad as this place that was until recently so remote it was years behind the rest of the country also adds a sense of Persian storytelling to the story. as the lines between the real the living and the dead blur, there is a dash of magic realism at play but there is a sense of a young girl using those great stories as a way of avoiding the worst of the violence. the mother disappears, then her brother dies. As the books they loved are burnt music is banned as the regime cracks down this is the portrait of one family’s implosion during the Revolution.

We counldn’t bear the wailing of Shakespeare and Rumi, Hafez and Confucius, Zoroaster, Budha and Khayyam any longer, so we set off towards the house. En route from the village square, towards te alley and up the slope to our grove. I sa with my own eyes how clumps of dad’s hair had turned grey. For seven days after that, no one in the house said a word. Standing in the porch as the fire and smoke from the books filled the valle, and the breeze spread far and wide the burnt smell of the feather by Matheson, even Mom cried meanwhile, Sohrab was keeping watch from atop a distant tree. The house had abruptly become devoid of cheer. It became silent, Empty. Hollow

The shock of losing there books as they are burnt.

I admit this had passed me by before the longlist although my fellow Blogger Lisa at Anzlitlover was a huge fan of the book when it came out. It came out a few years earlier via the greatly named WIld dingo press I even missed her enthusiasm which I should have noted she is someone whose opinion I value. Anyway, this is one of my favorites from the longlist so far it mixes a bit of Salman Rushdie, a dash of Marquez  and maybe a dash of Mo Yan and moves it too Iranian. A brave book that could only be written from the distance of Australia now more than forty years after the regime still isn’t willing to have a novel written that questions what happen to people those educated ok Western but still through there love of books very much in touch with there Persian world. This is what I love about the booker it always brings a couple of books that Had passed me by completely.

Serotonin by Michel Houellebecq

Serotonin by Michel Houellebecq

French fiction

Original title – Sérotonine

Translator – Shaun Whiteside

Source – Library book

Well, I move on to the next of the Booker longlist after a week of self-isolation which started with reading this the latest books from the French enfant terrible Michel Houellebecq. This was a bestseller in France and he was appointed to the Legion of Honour when the book came out. I have reviewed his last book which I enjoyed I found some of his earlier books grated me when younger but their premise of this one appealed as it seems to capture an effect that of moving to the country, I wonder if there is a german world the encompasses the nostalgia of moving to the country at a certain age.

I planned my departure for Monday 1 August. On the evening of 31 July, I sat down in the sitting room and waited for Yuzu to come home. I wondered how long it would take her to graspo reality, to realise that I had left for good and would never be coming back, Her stay in France, whatever else it was, would be directly determined by the two months rental notice on the apartment. I didn’t know exacltywhatr her salary at the Japanese House of Culture was, but it certainly wouldn’t be enough to cover the rent, and I couldn’t  imagine her agreeing to move to a miserable studio flat

The last night in Paris as he makes the move to Normandy,

The book is centred around the life of Florent-Claude Labrouste he is at that age. His libido is fast disappearing his younger girlfriend is losing interest and his job for the ministry of agriculture as an engineer is down the pan. All he has is the new pill he has been given for his depression. When he hatches a plan to move back to Normandy and promote the cheese a job he did in his youth. The man that at the start of the book oogles two young women at the garage. So he leaves Yuzu his Japanese girlfriend behind. He returns in his old Mercedes to retrace those places he had enjoyed in his youth but what he gets is a place changed by and damaged by time and the effect of the EU and other events in the last twenty years as he heads further into Normandy his dream of a different life is shattered and even the place has turned dark the is an unsettling section with a paedophile later on in the book as he seems to just lump the horrors of the world on Labroste as the dream is shattered and we see a middle-aged man drifting lost in this modern world.

I obviously expected that Camille would like the house in Clecy; I had a rudimentary aesthetic sense and , well, I could tell that it was a pretty house; on the other hand I hadn;t anticipated that she would also make it her house, that from the first days there she would want to buy fabrics, move fuinture, that in the end she would quickly come to act like a wife- in a decidedly un-feminist sense – even though she was only nineteen.

Later on with a younger woman but it all turns bad when the move in together.

I like Labrouste often dream of a time when life was great for me it was a time when I was both here in UK In Northumberland a time when my dreams seemed possible and then a time in Germany when life was just about perfect I had a job there and a small group of friends but this is wishful thinking and like Labrouste would it be the same if I came back now no and this is often the case what Houellebecq has done is written an Anti place in the country a true picture of all those middle-aged folks chasing that dream when it goes wrong and In France and just here the world is a different place. He does sometimes like that kid in the class have to push the point too far I felt the whole Paedophile was him pushing the broken dream just a bit too far. Well, I had intended to read this at some point so when it made the longlist it meant I got to it sooner. Have you read Houllebecq .What are your thought around him?

The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld

The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld

Dutch Fiction

original title –  De avond is ongemak

Translator – Michele Hutchinson

Source – review copy

I was pleased when this made the Booker longlist as I had already said I would review it today as part of a Bokenweek tour which I have taken part through over the last few years. I have long been a fan of Dutch lit so when the chance to review a book from one of the rising stars of Dutch Lit Marieke Lucas Rijneveld first came to notice with a poetry collection Calfskinwhich won a poetry prize. She grew up in the North Brabant area of The Netherlands where it is a large dairy farming area and religious as well. Her middle name was initially a fantasy friend when she was growing up but in her late teens, she took the name as a way to show her as an intermediate person. The discomfort of evening is her debut novel like the main character she also lost a sibling growing up.

“But he’s not dead” Mum said to the vet. She got up from the edge of the bath and extricated her hand from a pale blue flannel. She’d been just about to clean Hanna’s bottom, otherwise there was achance she’d get worms. They made little holes in the cabbage leaves. I .  was old ebough to make sure I didn’t get worms and I wrapped my arms around my knees to look less naked now the vet had suddenly come into the bathroom

The vet tells the mother it is fatal but this is the start of the world they know falling apart.

When ten-year-old Jas loses her older brother and one of her five siblings through a skating accident. At this point her world starts to fall apart.she is on the cusp of being a teen discovering her body but also struggling with the loss of her brother. From believing her family ios hiding Jews in the cellar aftermath of Foot and mouth is still felt in the community times are hard for the family these are dark times. From toads under her bed to strange events with cows on the farm Jas is trying to bring her brother back and help her siblings. As her mother stops eating and the father buries his head in the farm. Matthies is dead and they can’t mention him as the family struggles this is a portrait of a meltdown viewed from the eyes of a ten year but a ten-year-old with a weird way of dealing with her grief her self.

“How’s it going in the basement ?”

I don’t look at my mother but fix my gaze on  the floweery meadow on her apron, It’s possible that mum will move into the basement one day ; that she’ll find the family, the Jewish people that live there, nicer than us. What wikl hapopen to the three kings then, I don’t know: Dad is still incapable of evening heating up milk for coffeee. and if he lets it even tht boil over, how could he ever keep his children at the right temprature?

The family is spliting before Jas eyes.

This is a slow unravelling of a family through grief it is heartbreaking dark and mesmerizing at times. In the hinterlands of Holland, a ten year old narrates as her family falls apart from the loss of the eldest son. The parents are there but aren’t there this takes the book into a similar territory of books like lord of the flies. As Jas her sister and brother start to do thing that are strange and odd rituals touching animals touching each other as they have no outlet for their grief their actions turn. As they grapple with the cusp of adulthood and also sexual awakening tinged with disbelief at loss add to the odd world. I was reminded of Gerbrand Bakker twin in the setting a dairy farm in the hinterlands of holland also dealing with death. But this is a darker book than that was it is brutal death is never far away as anyone how has grown up in the countryside nature and farming can both be brutal at times. What are your thoughts on these books ? I reviewed this as part of a boken week tour her are the other stops

 

 

Mac and his Problems by Enrique Vila-Matas

Mac and his problems by Enrique Vila-Matas

Spanish fiction

Original title  –Mac y su contratiempo

Translators – Sophie Hughes and Margaret Jull Costa

Source – personal copy

So now on to the second post booker longlist read and it is a writer that has been featured on the blog three times before and his previous book Dublinesque won the old IFFP Shadow jury in 2013. He is a founder of the order of Finnegan named after a pub in Dublin a group of writers meets every Bloomsday to celebrate Joyce. This is another work of metafiction that works on a number of levels. This is his latest work to be translated to English.

I’m fascinated by the current vogue for posthumous book, and I ‘m thinking of writing a fake one that could appear to be “posthumous” and “unfinished” when in fact it would be perfectly complete, Were I to die during the writing process, the book really would be my “Final, interrupted work<” and that would, among other things, ruin my great dream of becoming a falsifier. Then again, a beginner must be prepared for anythingm and I am just that, a  debutant. My name is Mac

The opening lines and the diary is to serve as an entry to the book he is thinking of writing

This on the surface is the story of a man entering his retirement and deciding to write daily diary about his world and the world around him > The Man Mac has long held the idea of being a writer and since he know has a lit of time on his hands which means he finally has chance to write although his wife Carmen has a suspicion this will all amount to nothing. But mac push on as it is one of the hottest summer in Barcelona his neighbor Starts to wonder why when he gets a collection of short stories from his Neighbour Sanchez that he wrote a number of years ago these stories all to have echoes of other writers as he reads the.collection it mirrors his own life and then his life is getting repetitive the problem is to make is a well-read reader and the works all start to have a feeling of other writers and we see the real and fiction worlds blur and the writers writing blur. As mac dives further into a world of literature as the heat rises his life becomes more like a novel and his diary is having the feeling of a novel, not a diary.

A little early-evening prose. I’ve had my three customary afternoon nips and consulted the horrorscopr in my favourite newspaper. I was astonshed when I read this in the box for my sign. “For Aries, the sun in conjuction with mercury suggest brilliant intuitions that will lead you to belive this prediction and think it;s especially for you

Whoroscope! This time the prediction really did seem to be meant especially for me as if peggy day – the pseudonym of the lady responsible for the horrorscope – had some how gotten wind of my mistake last week

Here is one of the firstg example of how he reads more into things and blurs lines at times

I like this in Parts I love that Vila-Matras is always so enthused about other writers and the works he is a writer that use books and literature as a springboard for his works her it is the danger of writing a diary but having a wish to be a new writing talent but as the book unfold it. We see a man that is drowning in words and novels but as the book goes on the old stories mirror his present and his diary is in the trouble of drowning into a void of fiction as his life cross from the real to the fictional. I felt this was a great idea for a book the references to those great writers the book feels like an idea too far if you know what I mean it has so many twists and turns it isn’t just as snappy as some of his other books which I have loved but I may come back at some time reread it and read a lot of the books and writers that the tales are meant to be like to maybe grasp more of the story. An interesting idea that maybe could be revisited at some point. What did you think of this one ?

The other Name by Jon Fosse

The other name septology I-II  by Jon Fosse

Norweigan fiction

Original title – Det Andre Namnet 

Translator – Damion Searls

Source – review copy

I have twice before reviewed books from Jon Fosse I first reviewed him as he was a name that always is high on the list of Nobel Hopefuls. So when he made the Booker longlist I was happy.  He is a writer that is considered one of the best around the world at the moment and this is the first two-part of seven books. He has won the Nordic council prize and in Norway was given a Grotten one highest honors from the Norweigan royal families for his contribution to the arts. The translator learned Norweigan just to be able to translate his books. That is how good he is as a writer that said he isn’t the biggest on plot but there is more questioning within his writing on many levels.

The Art School, I think, and ever since my first show at The Beyer Gallery it was Beyer who’s sold my paintings, I think, and he always manages to sell almost allof them, but sometimes, in the first couple of years. I have to admit, they sold for a terrible price, to tell the truth, but most of the pictures sell for a good price now, and there are always a few that don’t sell for a good price now, and there are always a few that don’t sel, the best pictures too a lot of the time, and beyer doesn’t sell those ones cheap any more, he stopped doing that a loing time ago, He’d rather put them in what he calls the bank, the sideroom of the same gellery. Where he keeps and storees the lictures gthat aren’t in the show

He has brought his painting for years to help him make a living.

Here the question is one of what makes us who we are the two books tell the tales of an Asle and aging painter. They had a happy marriage but is now lonely with only his neighbor Aselik a fisherman and Beyer that runs a gallery that sells his work this is one story. But then in the same town is another painter Asle.  but this is where the paths split as one seeks salvation in people the other takes it in a bottle this leads to the usual questions of life why are we here. This is a slow work nothing really is quick it is a slow descent into the bottle and then the flip side of finding a different path out of grief this is about love but the aftermath of love those space in our world an artist can fill them with art but then as we have seen other time overs break and fall into the bottle. As they asses their lives they see that in the same place and same time things can be different. At times the prose cross and events in one life seem to be happening in the other lives.

You and this faith iof yours. Asleik says

I don’t always understand you, he says

But no one can think their way to god, I say

Because either they can feel that god is near or they can’t . I say

Because god is both a very faraway absence, yes well, being itself, yea and a very close presence I say

Maybe it’s like that for you. Asleik says

But it doesn.t really make sense, he says

God is there as well well faith and what it means at times .

I read an FT interview with Fosse in looking for info about this book he described his books as slow prose. He taught Knausgaard a long time ago. He is often compared to his pupil but I feel they are different this isn’t about his own life. In a way he is the anti-Knausgaard this is slow-moving works that explore the innermost thoughts and desires that drive us all but also those demons yes Knausgaard talks about demons in his life and his family but this is in a different way Asle’s show the flip side we all have like the dice man is life can sometimes just be broken down to a few decisions or events. so yes even a turn of dice can decide a life as death and loss of a loved one can lead to many different paths. I wonder where he will take us in the next five books this is the quiet man’s Knausgaard this is a work from a quiet man that loves to challenge his readers and himself as a writer. What are your thoughts of his writing I am a fan I like Karl Ove but this guy is next level to me he is one of the most human writers you can read?

That was the month that was Feb 2020

  1. Snow, Dog, Foot by Claudio Morandini
  2. The siege of Troy by Theodor Kallifatides
  3. The Happening by Annie Ernaux
  4. A perfect Hoax by Italo Svevo
  5. The Salt of the Earth by Jozef Wittlin
  6. The roar of Morning by Tip Marugg
  7. The Fallen by Carlos Manuel Álvarez
  8. This Tilting World by Collette Fellous

This month I read 8 books to take the total to 16 for the year. I read books from 6 countries. One new country Curacao with the book the roar of the morning there was no new publishers but I started in the Italian Alps with a hermit a long-dead foot and a talking dog. Then a greek island during world war two and a teacher retelling a greek classic tho her pupils. Then a woman remembering the horror of a backstreet abortion. A writer is lead astray by a con man and a simple man goes to war but really would rather be on the trains. As a man contemplates his life in those wee hours of the morning when the world is silent and the mind wanders. The matriarch of a family starts having falls the family gets m,ore fragile and cracks appear. Then a lost world of Jews in Tunisia.

Book of the month

Its been a tough month as there wasn’t a weak read but this book had a great flow to it and there was a real sense of a man weighing up his life at the Roar of the morning when the day comes he has drinks in his hands as he looks back on the major events of his life.

Non- book events

Amanda and I are doing a charity swim for the next few weeks. we are trying to do 22 miles the distance of the channel. we are one week in and over 2 miles swam. I also have been listening to Gregg Dulli from the Afghan Whigs solo debut album.

Next month

I am on the three of the books from the Booker longlist. Which has seen me read about two people with the same name in the same town? A man trying to write about his past. Then a ghost talks about her family move to a small village. I have just finished Three night this morning so will be posting reviews I  have eight books left to read which I think will take up this month although I have a couple of other books I need read.

 

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