Lemon by Kwon Yeo-Sun

Lemon by Kwon Yeo-Sun

Korean fiction

Original title – 레몬)

Translator – Janet Hong

Source – review copy

I now head to South Korea and a collection of interlinking short stories from the Korean writer Kwon Yeo-Son. She has won a number of Literary prizes in Korea and is known for her style that shows the cracks in Everyday life it says on her Korean Wiki pages with an honest and unstoppable voice. This book was initially a short story. she has published ten books and this is her first work to be translated into English. The book follows what is called “The high school Beauty murder” that happened in 2002 as the World Cup was happening in Korea it is a good way of framing the timeframe of the events as the world cup unfolding helps form a time line of the events.

I imagine what happened inside the police interrogation room so many years ago. By imagine, I don’t mean invent. But it’s not like i was actually there, so I don’t know what else to call it. I picture the scene from that day, based on what he told me and some other clues , my own experience and conclussion. It’s not just this scene I imagine. For over sixteen years. i’ve pondered, prodded and worked every detail embroiled in the case known as “THe High school Beauty Murder” – to the point I often fool myself into thinking I’d personally witnessed the circumstances now stamped on my minds eye.

The opening lines of the first chapter of the book as Han Manu is at the police station but in hidsight his view of events maybe isn’t the same as then!

The book opens with the integration of Han Manu he was on his scooter when he saw Kim Hae On and is one of the two main suspects of the killing of the teen Beauty queen. He is getting interviewed but never charged and as the threads and suspects all run cold the case is dead we then move back and forward in time as we view the three points of view that make up the collection of eight short stories. As we see what happens and has happened since the murder. It is more about the ripples from that event and the two main narrators are the sister of the victim Do- on she is stuck after her sister’s death and eventually takes steps to look like her sister more and we see that her sister boyfriend who had an Albi but maybe is more involved in the death as he was the other person apart from Manu that spent the last evening in his SUV that he was driving kim around in the evening before she was found murdered. The other narrative is kim’s classmate Sanghui now her narrative gives another angle on the events during and after the Murder.

I asked myself; Did I want to go back to that time, too? When I’d been so wld about Joyce that I’d written my poem ” Betty Byrne, maker of Lemon Platt?” if we could actually go back to that time would I ? I didn’t know . But I still remember  the first lines of that poen

Today again I burned the platt

nothing ever goes right for you, Betty Byrne

The connection to Joyce is here about Da On and Eonni chat about her poetry

The book is told in A Joycean style  well a little. As the book it isn’t about finding who killed Kim at the time.  it has dark elements also a lot about the class system in Korea. The difference in how the two suspects are viewed is the rich Shin thew boyfriend and the poor delivery boy that is suspected more even though he says Kim wouldn’t look at him. Kim was rich but it is more a look at the aftermath of the killing of High School Beauty Murder.  There is a part where James Joyce is discussed there is a stream of conciseness style I also felt it had a fragmented nature to it like little clues to what had happened and what had happened since almost like a puzzle and we the readers, we can fill the gaps as we want. It looks at the aftermath of death on a family members Murder like Suicide is such a life-changing event for those living behind it effects last forever. I enjoyed this book it is an interesting look at murder that isn’t really a crime novel in the sense of a dective novel more a series of reflections and glimpse of what happened on that night. As it says the facts and what happen to the people on that day can blur and had.

Winstons score – -A near-perfect look at the aftermath of a murder from three perspectives.

3 Minutes and 53 Seconds by Branko Prlja

3 Minutes and 53 Seconds by Branko Prlja

Macedonian fiction

Original title – 3 минути и 53 секунди

Translated by Paul Filev

Source – personal copy

Branko Prlja grew up in Sarajevo graduated from the Josep Tito high school in Skopje which he moved to in his teens as the Balkan conflict start and Yugoslavia fell apart he made his home in Macedonia. He is a writer and graphic designer he set up the first prize for Electronic literature in Macedonia as well as the KAPKA (Creative activism through parody, criticism, and allegory) organization. This book came out under his pseudonym Bert Stein which he has published two books under that title of this book is a nod to the average length of a single but is about the time it takes to read each of the chapters that follow the 20 years from 1984 as we follow an Unnamed character growing up in similar circumstances to that of the writer. One boy growing up as the place he remembers fell apart and he start a new life in Skopje.

That winter the temperature dropped below -20`C, but it didn’t prevent my dad from taking me skiing on Mount jahorina.

The song ” Where the streets have no name”, whioch was playing on the old cassette player of pur green 1982 Lada Riva, sounded as it it was coming from afar. The rhythmic sound of the guitar mixed with the hum of the car going up the mountain road as snow -covered evergreeb trees sped past. My dad delibertely jerked the steering wheel left and right, causing the car to skid and spin toward the shoulders of the road covered with huge deposits of snow, while we nearly split our sides laughing. I was happy

I remebr U2 in a VW Golf as we crossed germany years ago.

This is a slice of Bildungsroman that follows our narrator as he grows up from being seven when he first here Michael Jackson thriller remember the video which was a nod to the 80s horror genre of films what follows is a memoir of sorts that ties the music of each year to the growing up of our narrator from the USA to Africa song the following year the end year of Tito reign is seen through the young boy’s eyes. the last few years after the Winter Olympics as the cracks slowly appeared as the country of Yugoslavia becomes a collection of what is now six republics. He was listening to songs by U2 and Simple Mind’s accompanied his memories of the time. Those little memories like a thing alike the design of a cigarette packet was maybe a nod to the future graphic designer. The turn of the nineties saw him in Skopje as he had hoped to return to his home town but as events unfold he has to stay and start his life in Macedonia. What follows is his teen years I loved the music he picks most of which I remember and loved some I didn’t but it showed the power of music as a trigger to memories as he start to publish his first books.

The Guitar on U”‘s “Numb”, catching the world unprepared. Music became a thumping heartbeat, a machine propeller, a car engine … I listened to ant thought about my Einstürzende Neubauten, who’d been making music like that for years … it seemed that opop rock music was evolving and catching up with rap, which was always experimenting. Insane ion the Brain by the timeless Cypress hill and Bacdafucup by the short lived Onyx breathed new life into the scene, whil Body coubt blended metal with rap was a challenging concept. my heavy metal friends teased me for doing it, but hey , that’s a completely different story.

I remember all these I missed seeing EN when they keft a U2 tour early back in the day.

I enjoyed this book I like a bildungsroman as a genre of fiction. So whatever the time and place the is always some connection to our own years of growing up and Brankop choice of music is such a great way to connect to our past what I re3member as ai read is not just Bramko characters memories which is a thinly veiled of the writers own life. Songs Like U2 remind me of my time in Germany, Nirvana I remember drunkenly watching the shambolic first tv appearance on The Word then lastly Chop Suey which My best friend loved and his young daughter danced to all those years ago. This is a short read as Peirene call a movie book a book to read instead of a movie and here it will bring you memories if you are my age of the songs and the times I worked with a number of refugees at the time the Balkans fell apart so could connect to Brankos memories I work with a lad that had grown up in Sarajevo and was in German in the early nites a story similar to the story of the character and many at the time. Do you remember these years and does music connect you to memories? Another hidden gem from Dalkey.

Winstons score A – A Bildungsroman that is a thinly veiled story of the writers own history

That was the month that was November 2021

  1. Dispatches from Moments of Calm by Alexander kluge and Gerhard Richter
  2. ONe day a year by Christa Wolf
  3. Child of All Nations by Irmgard Keun
  4. All the Land By Jo Lendle
  5. Home reading service by Fabio Morabito
  6. The High rise diver by Julia Von Lucadou
  7. Down and out in England and Italy by Alberto Prunetti

 

Well, I managed 7 books this month with a strong German feel to the list this month. We started with Alexander Kluge’s reaction to the pictures Gerhard Richter had used in Die welt to replace the actual news photos that day what came out of that is this book with Kluge’s usual clever vignettes attach and using the pics as a springboard to stories. Then we had the latter art of Christa wolf’s decade long project that saw her write a full diary entry for the same day for decades a view of a great writer ageing and seeing the post 9/11 changes. Then we meet a cheeky teen just as the war is on the horizon in the late thirties as we see her families efforts to escape the Nazis and the darkening clouds. Then we meet the Arctic explorer and scientist Alfred Wenger as he is caught in the middle of the icefield as the winter has trapped his camp and he looks back on his life as an explorer but also as a family man the struggles of the life he wants and what he achieved. Then I had a change of location as we headed to Mexico and the story of a middle-aged man sentenced to read to the elderly and disabled of his home town a task he does with pout jumping into the books he is reading mostly classic til a poet and a connection to his father sparks his interest into his fathers past and this poet. Then a dystopian world of a sports star trying to break free of the world that follows her every move and the person hired to try and bring her back in line? My last stop this month was back to England and Italian finding work in takeaways hotel cleaner and handyman.

Book of the month

I am becoming a huge Kuge fan he is a hidden gem of German literature. He has a lit of what appealed the first time I read Sebald but he is so much more than Sebald his works go here there and everywhere and fire my berain as a reader every time I read it. Have you read his works ?

Non book events

Well, I have started watching an old police series on Talking pictures tv dial 999 follows an Us detective as he works in sixties London only half an hour-long they aren’t in death stories but have a great nostalgic look at the city that has mostly gone places like the docks and certain nightlife places another world that has gone. Then the new version of P D James Daglish was very well made set in the timeframe she wrote them the seventies we got three of the stories with more to come I believe.  Now I don’t often do gift idea I thing this is the first time but a recent look for gift ideas on youtube gave me two ideas which I got one to send to people the other a personal gift.

 

First, instead of a Christmas card, I found this small collection of Christmas theme poems and prose around Christmas movies there are other titles available from candlestick press , I brought and gave Amanda the selection called Christmas together instead of a card. I love the cover of this one and the idea of this instead of cards.

The second I brought for myself is this small box that has six letters that fold into envelopes from pigeon post a way to keep letter writing alive with these bright designs from Angela Harding. I don’t write many letters but will try to write a few more now I have these. Music-wise I got the new Richard Dawson cd a collaboration with the Finnish metal band Circle with a collection of songs with plants as the title of songs but the diverse subject matters those songs the lead track Lily was the story of his own mother a Nurse in Newcastle his home town.

Next month

The sand of time in 2021 is running out it is that time of year for the end of year list I feel I will do both a book and music ones again this year I will be reviewing the last couple of German lit books I had planned to read last month I did write a more post last month than any month this year but left reviews I had hoped to get that 100 books reviewed mark this year but that has passed me by but I have already reviewed two more books than 2020 so that is an improvement and have written the most words for five years already. I have two epic books to try and read before the end of the year I always like a big book at the end of the year. What are your plans for the last month of 2021 ?

 

 

Down and Out in England and Italy by Alberto Prunetti

Down and Out in England and Italy by Alberto Prunetti

Italian Non-fiction

Original title – 108 metri. The new working-class hero

Translator – Elena Pala

Source – Review copy

I ask to get sent this intrigued by the title a nod to the Orwell book about being poor and finding it hard to find a job. But when I looked up the original title was a homage to the John Lennon song Working-class Heron and the foundry where had worked when they made a 108-meter railing. Alberto has worked as a Pizza chef, a cleaner, and Handyman. He did these jobs whilst and after getting his degree he still wrote and has published five novels and has translated works by Orwell (Hence the nod to his book in the English title ) He has also worked on a series of working-class books for an Italian publisher.

We the cooks of United Kingdon solemnly swear before Her majesty the queen to fight the infamous pathogenic bacteria, given to all manner of vicousness and capable of inducing the most grevious bouts of nausea and vomitting. We will deny Clastridium perfingens access to the British soil – that ghastly, degenrate agitator that creeps into the restaurant and can count on the logistical support of Botulinum. The fearsome staphylococusureus- devious bowel terrorist.- will be pushed back accross the Channel, together with the so-called European Bacillus cereus, which cause abdominal pain and spasms as well as nefarious bouts of blouting.

The opening chapter called The Oath

The book follows the time in the early 200os when after his Graduation Alberto came to the Uk to earn money as he was from a working-class family his father was a steelworker from Livorno in Tuscany the side of the place we never see hen it shown here. I remember the town from its football team which is considered the most left-wing club in Italy historically. Anyway back to the book and we follow Alberto as he arrived in Bristol and he knocks door to door at the local Pizza restaurants when he got a job he falls into a weird brotherhood of the workers a mix of failed actors, Turks that pretend to be Italian.  He joins the club secret group the SKANK (Stonebridge kitchen assistant Nasty Kommittee) a gang of rogue fast food folks. He drifts then through cleaning jobs where he is watched as he goes around the shopping center where he is employed. Cleaning school toilets working with an opera lover toilet cleaner. What we see is that underbelly as he talks about the dying ember of Thatcher’s time still being felt I feel this is something that has grown Brexit has brought even more of a racist feel to our country.

The atomsphere was, in short , intoerably opressive for us Pizza chefs, and I had proof that my locker was being routinely searched for evidence of my wrongdoing.I remember losing my temper one day, shouting and kicking the furniture in the dining room. It was tin response to the umpteenth punitive task the signora, clearly moticvated by her hatred for the British waitresses, had imposed on the girls after an excruicating shift, she’d ordered them to scrub the legs of all the tables and chairs, it was through such measures that she aimed to puinsh the guilty, encourage the righteousm and warn off the evil-minded – predictably, however, thisonly earned her more insults and abuse

The italian owner of his first place of work in Bristol

I loved this book as it remind me of my own experience which was in the early nineties where I worked in a German packing factory. It opened my eyes to those people we don’t always see those restaurants workers, fast food, drivers who many assume are one thing but Like Alberto was and many of the friends I made working in a German factory a mix of students, Germans and a number of workers from the Balkans I had a great connection to a pair from Kosovohe worked in TV there in the football shows he was a huge Football fan. His wife was a professor of Literature. Like the gang of brothers, he made the way I  connected with these people hardworking and saw the other side of the fence being a foreign worker in a foreign country. even down to the acting Italian, my Kosovan friend had another job in an Italian cafe where he tried to look like he was Italian!!  This also reminds me of the description of the workers that Anthony Bourdain gave in his book Kitchen confidential hard working and on the whole workers from around the world working in the kitchens of New York. He captures those unnamed workers we all see but don’t know as well as we think we do. An eye-opening look at working at the bottom here that I feel is maybe worse now given the Gig economy and zero-hour contracts leaving people on the edge of nothing all the time.

Winstons score – A an interesting memoir about being a foreign and working in the UK !!

 

Grasping the day moving forward as 50 looms what do we leave behind ! time to loses those dark demons !!

The sun is setting on my 40s and in recent months I have been getting so down as I feel I haven’t made my mark in the world. I had thoughts of moving forward but recent events meant a change of plans and thoughts of moving but were that just a way of escaping have I always escaped things I’m not sure I do overthink things in my life to an analytic stage which as Amanda says is my big problem this much is true I always think of things into much depth. I ran away from my youth going between parents in my teens angry at my parents for splitting this anger effected at least the first 30 years of my life but maybe the later years as that again propelled me to do things I escaped to Germany lived and worked there a failed relationship was then end of that thou. Then years of drifting it wasn’t till I meet Amanda I have felt anchored to someone fully she is my rock. So escaping wasn’t the plan is it ever the way so I spent the last week or two contemplating my life in terms of work I haven’t lived up to what I could be but I am very self-critical. I am hoping to progress somehow at work. So I constantly pull myself down but as I have been thinking of what I had failed at in my life. I then thought about what I would leave behind me and that is a successful marriage we are going to be married 15 years next year and are as strong as ever. I am better health than I was when I turned forty I rarely drink stopped smoking ok I have put weight on but am losing half a stone in the last few weeks is a good start. I think I will always struggle with depression but I don’t take meds and am having more happy days this last year or two thanks to using Cognitive behaviour tools even this post is part of that I have to think out things in a positive spin and be more positive about myself. So in that event, the other thing I feel is an achievement in my life is this blog it has connected me with a whole world I would have never met so many interesting people been to great events and places.  It has opened me up as a writer that was in me has sprung forth,  ok not the best one but it is constantly improving and that voice I struggled to find has come over the years ok it has taken million-plus words and 1100 books read to finally feel part of something, not a fraud. I have tried to write more words this year than the last few and am getting near a new highest total for a year. So as I move to 50 next year I intend to do more in fact I may even try some things I have been scared of doing vlogging talking in public which I have done a couple of times but never felt comfortable with but I feel a new confidence in myself and with the blog winstonsdad is an achievement and then I will be looking into writing a work about the journeys in the blog an idea I have long held a book that uses a theme to group books to show that themes and subjects can be connected to show how small the world is so I have ideas to show connections in books with subjects like War, Family, village life, city, road trips these are a few themes I have in mind it is to build a web to entice people into there own journeys of discovery the world of translated books has grown since I started blogging the world is a smaller place. As I turn fifty in March I want the next ten years to be mine to grasp not like the last to wallow in the depths of regret. So if you have any ideas tell me  ? I have in the past maybe been unkeen to do things or even just scared! but now want this blog to carry on and grow more not sure how yet posts are getting longer than they were the average word count tells me that even a post like this is much longer than personal post I have done before. so here is to my 50s from march and to growing winstonsdad even more !!

The High Rise DIver by Julia Von Lucadou

The High Rise DIver by Julia Von Lucadou

German fiction

Original title – Die Hochausasspringerin

Translator – Sharmilaa Cohen

Source – review copy

I take another turn in this year’s German literature month. This time I have a new novel from a debut Novelist Julia Von Lucadou. She was nominated for the swiss book prize for this book. She had been working as an assistant director and editor before writing this novel. There is a sense as I read this that the person who wrote it had an eye for tv or film in the way it read as it paints a very visual world of a horrific near-future dystopic world. The book follows the decision of a HIgh rise diver to stop training.

The most popular internet conspiracy theory about Riva’s resignation is that it has to do with relationship dramam tht Riva left Aaston for someone else and that he’s now forcing her sto stay with him against her will A well-known gossip blog regularly posts drone videos of them in their apartment,alleging violent situations. Analysis has shown that the images are current, but were manipularted after the fact. Fans post comments daily on Riva’s offical website, encouraging her to be brave ad urging the police to arrest Aston. Building security has been reporting break-in attempts by fans trying to “Free” Riva.

A world of twisted videos and threoies of what is happening.

The book follows what happens when Riva who is the High rise diver of the title a superstar of her time in a world where her every move is followed by her fans. This is a world where people don’t always have a birth family that they live with or as it is called here Bio parents. But they are bred from Breeders !  and then raised within organizations. So when Riva goes off the rails stops training and resigns. She needs to be brought back in line we meet Hitomi who has to try and bring Riva back to the High rise diving and training and for the investors to continue to make money from Riva. So the world we enter everyone sees everything as the world is now full of camera that follows people like Riva’s every move as we see Hitomi trying hard to push her back into the high rise dive programme all part of a new culture of celebs that the peripheral as they called follow those born and working for these huge companies. What we see is a woman trying to break free in a world where everyone now has a place in this new disturbing world of children growing up in companies without families in a new horrific world. A world not far moved from our own culture these days of celebs and increasingly intrusive media. will they get Riva Back will Hitomi survive if she doesn’t !!

“The smell of the peripheries always made me nausesous as a child. I would already start to feel sick days before a compulsory casting. During the casting, I had to take medication to avoid vomitinf on stage. The heatm the smog. My skin grayinsh, sickly after just a few hours, I showered several times a day. Andorra made fun of me. She didn’t mind the dirt and the bad air. She was ecited when the next casting approached. She believed in being chosen, in making early breakthrough. I reminded her of the statsitics abd thet we weren’t dependent on being chosen. That our education at the institute separeted us from the unpredictability of a casting jury. But Andorra lost any semblance of being a rational person when it came to our future. When I had long since given on the dream of high rise diving.

The world is set the divides are there from the start in this world !

I don’t read a lot of sci-fi but when I do it would be dystopic works I would pick. Here is a book that has a world that isn’t that far from our own. In Riva her character isn’t far from the character of Syliva in the recent Polish film “Sweat that follows her Online world and the consequences of her growing stardom which saw her have a stalker.  The struggle of having to appear on cam all the time !!. In the other parts of this world, the mega-companies as iot seems is another thing that is with us from Google, Meta, Amazon etc. Then if we look at the work culture of Japan where there is a sense of work for a company singing for them etc. Here is a world where Riva isn’t a person more a product to be marketed and sold as a package to her fans so when this product goes off the rails we see how Hitomi tries various increasingly more pressure on Riva to push her back into place. So if you have like books like Handmaiden tale or Orwellian universes this is a book for you. it follows the modern world of a new sports star and the dark turns and corners of a celeb world. Have you a favourite dystopic world? do you think the worlds media is too intrusive these days?

Winstons score – B A clever take on the world of Celeb and its increasing intrusion and commodifying nature

Home reading service by Fabio Morabito

Home reading service by Fabio Morabito

Mexican fiction

Original title – El lector a domicilio

Translator Curtis Bauer

Source – review copy

I take a break from all things German and one of those writers that I feel is at home in winstonsdad as the life of Fabio Morabito has seen him live in two countries and use two languages. Born in Egypt to Italian parents he grew up in Milan until his parents emigrated to Mexico when he was 15 although he didn’t speak much Spanish but learned and has since written all his books in Spanish. he has written four collections of Poetry and also four of Short stories. He has also translated a lot of Italian poetry into Spanish. He won one of Mexico’s biggest literary prizes with this novel.

I never knew if the Jimenez brothers had been married beofre. The thing now, as old men, they lived together like bachelors. Their home, and judging by the long hallway thart connected to living room to the rest of the house, it must have had lot of rooms, or at least I imagined it that way.

Luis, the one who looked a little dimwitted, was crippled andf seemed to be the older of the two. It was difficult to knpow if he really was dimwit or not. While I read out loud., he sat stifly in his wheelchair.

The opening lines as he read to the two brothers.

the book follows one man Eduardo he lives in the Mexican town of Cuernavaca. He has been sentenced to one year of community service and the task he has been given for his sentence is to read to the towns old people and disabled.  As his father says it was a misfortune that cause the sentence and loss of his driving license. So he sets forth to read to these people. So as he starts to read the books to his collection of listeners and in one case lip readers, he isn’t really absorbing books like Henry James or Dostoyevsky. to an odd cast of characters that makes up the people he has read to. People like the two brothers one mute that the other one speaks to a retired colonel (I was reminded a bit of Marquez, he had a lot of retired military men in his books) an opera singer in a wheelchair a deaf couple with hearing children. But as time moves of=n what happens is we start to see Eduardo a mna absorb in himself even though he lives in a crowd home with his father who is dying with cancer, his sister and a Celeste the women she looks after. But it is later on when he discovers his father had a long time ago Isabel Frarie as he reads this poetry it finally dawns on him all this reading and this poet’s words unlock a door. This is a tale of a man discovering a world he hadn’t seen that isn’t the violent Mafia lead world of his town.

What I was sure of is that Papa didn’t know Isabel Faire, and that it hadn’t ocurred to him that he could have known her. For all he knew, Isabel Faire could have died thrirty years ago or already have been dead when he’d started to read her poems.

I ;ooked for the poe Papa’d copied in his ledger and I found it right away. I wpndered of he’d copied the poem to read to margo. I took it out of my briefcase to compare it to the orignal.Papa’d copied it out perfectly without adding or omitting anything, and that unfailing fidelity made me sad.

As the door opens and he discovers his father like the poet Isabel Faire !

When this arrived I knew it would be one for me. Eduardo is a man that isn’t moving anywhere fast in middle age living with family it isn’t to this sentence sends him around meeting people he didn’t know was there and people that slowly along with the discover life in a book that mixes dark parts of the world they all live in but also past romance those people getting by day to day. so what we get is a mix of dark humor at times and discovery of his own family’s past through the poems his father had once slowly copied and spent time writing for a romance many years ago. Another interesting writer from Mexico. as it is described it shows the healing powers of words and how they can transform one man’s life. If you love poetry and fiction and the power they can have this is the book for you it shows how we can all be touched when the find that key to unlock the door to the library of literature. All through Eduardo’s eye an everyman for a lot of modern Mexican men stuck in a groove just above being a criminal. Do you have a favorite book that involves books and reading?

Winstons score – -A nearly perfect read.

All the Land by Jo Lendle

All the Land by Jo Lendle

German fiction

original title – Alles Land.

Translator – Katy Derbyshire

Source – Personal copy

I’m on another of this year’s german lit choices. l I am now in Greenland partly for this book based on an actual person Alfred Wenger the son of the Minister for Berlin in the early thirties he was an explorer and scientist for the next book for my German Lit month books. A novel from Jo Lendle the Publisher of Hanser Verlag, he is the editor of the lit Magazine Akzente. He has lectured on German literature been involved in German pen. He has also translated a number of books including books by Jachym Topol. He has published a number of novels this is the first book by him I have read.

Alfred Wegener had more siblings than one would wish upon a person. They stood around him and stared at him, elbowing each other and pointing at him, some even grabbing over the woven edge of the willow cradle to pinch him , out of love.

It cost his mother some effort to hold the children back. The birth had taken twenty-four hours, a whole day . It Hard to unsettle a woman like Anna Wegener, but attempting to restrain this horde had her at her wit’s end

his Birth and the Orphans gather round see his birth

I hadn’t heard of Alfred Wegener when I read this book I read his Wiki page and got the sense he was like many of the British explorers of the time. What we see here is him in 1930 as he is stuck trying to survive in the middle of Greenland one of the most remote places in the world on the mid -ice as it is called and also one of the coldest on the planet as he and his team have set off to see if they can get by and to study the weather and survive the conditions this was his fourth trip to Greenland the first was around the time he had to meet his with Else. The book sees his attempts to be both a successful family man.  He was brought up by his parents in an Orphanage so he want to be a real father and husband. The fact he was called into to fight in world one means that the years away from his wife they have drifted apart. We see the romance and his earliest years growing up. He tried his best he thinks but as he looks back we see that wasn’t always so. this is what he is most famous for in a way his studies of weather and things like continental drift. This is a tale of one of those men that like his British counter parts tried to push back the barriers of what men can do endure and see. the furthest the coldest etc.

Early in 1906, he read in the newspaper about a plan for a Danish expedition to north-eastern Greenland, which was to spend two summers charting the coastline. Under the writer Mylius Erichsen’s command , they would attempt to cross the ice of the greenland sea to ereach the spot where the Germania expedtion had been forced to turn back in 1870, and set up a base from there, they hoped to explore the unknown section to cape bridgeman,

A base station in the ice. All that could be studied there! Wegener closed his eyes. It required some effort to gather his wishes.

The  report that maybe inspired him to do his expeditions to Greenland, a few years later.

This is the second novel based on this last expedition on his Wiki page for Alfred Wegener it said this last expedition had inspired John Buchan to write his novel A Prince of captivity three years after the events. What we have here is an in-depth novel about his life that mixes the actual facts with what Lendle feels must have been Wegener’s thoughts of his own life as they sit in freezing weather and looks back over his life. I loved the flow of the book I ‘ve always been a fan of stories around the pole regions things like the worst journey in the world which in parts this reminds me of or a film like Scott of the antarctic the is a part where they cut back on what they are carrying you can see where the story will end it reminds me in parts of Scoots story or more so the Shakleton Television series that followed his life as the relationship of husband and wife when they spent time apart was similar. Have you read any books by Lendle or have a favorite book set in the Polar regions. So if you like a tale of a man how tried his best in everything and in many ways was very human this is a book that you should enjoy. As he is a flawed character but aren’t we all !!

Winstons score – B+ A well-written novel about a man that we should know more about!

some new arrivals at winstons towers

I have’ not the last few months brought the books I have brought and as I have decided to buy more new books and less second-hand books it be a good idea to do a post as I may have to wait a while to have so many second-hand books. I just running out of room so need to slow down till I have a good sort out of books to keep and then donate somewhere. A problem I’m sure we all have from time to time. I fetch these first two books today from a small shop in Bakewell that I often visit as it always has a gem or two.

The first is Thomas Pynchon’s epic against the day one of the few books from him I didn’t own and to find a nice condition hardback is rare. I have read a number of his books over the year. This is another Historic novel that starts around the Chicago world fair. A book that has used a number of styles of storytelling that were the vogue during the time frame the book is ser from 1896 to just after the first world war. I can’t see me getting to it for a while as it is over 1000 pages long and with a 900-page polish novel, 700 pages translated Indian novel and a 600-page French novel I am wanting to read before the end of this year. I can see maybe this time next year as I always feel winter is the time for epic novels in Winston’s towers. Have you read Pynchon ?

The other book I fetch was a later work from another great writer Saul Bellow’s The dean’s December a writer I loved years ago that I am wanting to try again and have brought a number of books from him in the last few years. Follows an academic returning to his wife’s communist Romania as her mother has died and a view of a totalitarian regime. Bellow maybe isn’t in fashion these days have you read his works at all ?

Now a trio of African novels. Firstly two from the African writer series A cowrie of hope by Zambian writer Binwell Sinyangwe set in the ’90s follows Nasula and her daughter as they seek a better life. I haven’t review a book from Zambia so it will add another to the list of countries covered by Winston’s dad. The second novel is Gods bits of wood by the Senegal writer Sembene Ousmane follows the strikes of the late forties on the Niger railway. I love the African writer series so to get to more is great I have reviewed a number over the years.

Then the third is another writer from Senegal Boubacar Boris Diop he recently won the Neustadt prize la prize much in the vein of the Nobel for the body of a writer’s work in fact a number of past winners have also won the Nobel! this described Rwandan massacres from the point of view of a Rwandan history teacher. This is his best-known novel. I hadn’t read him so his best-known work seems to be the place to start.

I always run down on German literature after German lit month so I sent for another from Boll. I haven’t many left to review from him but there is a few out there I still have to get this short story collection from him children are civilian too. Have you read Boll? if not there are eight of his novel under review on the blog. So the short stories will be a change from him !!

Then lastly is a recent book from Portuguese writer Antonio Lobo Antunes follows the tale of an African boy that comes to the Portugal when a soldier that destroyed his home village brings the young boy back then later he kills this father figure that was enough to pique my interest in this book. another writer in with a chance of winning the Nobel. I have reviewed three books by him on the blog. Have you read anything by him?

What new books have you got recently?

 

Child of All Nation by Irmgard Keun

Child of All Nation by Irmgard Keun

German fiction

Original title – Kind aller Länder

Translator -Michael Hofmann

Source – Personal copy

We go back with my next read for German Lit Month and a  modern Classic a book that seem to be everywhere last year I hadn’t read anything by her I was vaguely aware of her connection to Roth not sure if I heard a review of one of her books or read it in another book. She had been married but left her husband in the early thirties when he got drawn in by the Nazi party. She then had a relationship with a Jewish doctor then spent time with the writer Joseph Roth and she traveled around Europe he was a huge influence on her writing. it is felt that the father figure in the book is a write like Joseph Roth. Like Roth, he also criticized the Nazis Keun herself had seen her books withdrawn by the Nazis. A gem of pre-war german Literature that signaled what was to come and the attempt to flee from the shadow of the Nazis.

Then my father suddenly walked into our hotel room where I was crying and my mother ewas groaning, and said to my mother. “Well a mircale has happened – it might yet save us. I’ve just had a call from Tulpe. You don’t know him; well, I don’t know him either, I crossed paths with him once in Berlin. He reads my books , heard I was in town, called me. He travels in Ladies underwear, I beleive; probably has a bank account- rock solid character. Two thousand francs will be enough to get us out of trouble. I can’t pay him back with the fights to the polish translations. The money for that is due in the next few weeks.

Her father tries to scrape together enough money for them to get by.

I am a fan of child narrators when done well and here in Kully the ten-year-old daughter of Peter a writer who is outspoken about the changes he has seen in the time since the Nazis seized power in Germany (much the same as Roth did at the time). This means that Kully her mother and her father are exiled from Germany what we see is the journey around Europe from hotel to hotel as they head from country to country as their visas, funds, and options dwindle a journey that many made at the time. But as this also happens her father is still talking and wanted. He is a chancer and liar to ht mother and her. He is trying to get as they are constantly on the run though he is constantly wanting the family to move on from hotel to hotel but as he heads out to settle them in a new hotel leaving her l=mother and her to sneak off. We see a girl that is a bit wild she smokes sees what is happening but has that childlike view of what is happening she is just caught up in the journey here there and everywhere. A path that many did in those pre-war years.

My mother says my father can’t settle the hotel bill from Warsaw anyway, because the Polish goverment dosen’t alow you to send mony out of Poland. My father often tells fibs to get a bit of peace and quiet. We’re happy about that sometimes, though he performs miracles and everything he says comes true.

My mother is crimping her hair in front of the mirror, she wants to have a round curl either side of her fac, to make her look beautiful.If she looks beautiful, she feels better abiout walking through the lobby, or talking to people to ask them for money: I don’t mind not looking beauitful.

I loved this image of her mother very thirties sounding

I said I like Child narrators when they are done well and Kully voice is so evocative a girl that is a little wild due to the lack of boundaries she is a brat but she is caught in this downward spiral of running from Place to Place. This is a book I am pleased I tried I tend to be put off when I see translations that seem overhyped or here there and everywhere. In  Peter, we have a writer that is like Roth a writer that stirred up the Nazis Roth himself like Peter went out of Germany when Hitler came to power. Roth never got fully away. This is like the Passenger I read earlier this year we see the journey of trying to escape the the Nazis. This is a path that many trod at the time and here we have an angle from the view of a child grasping at the facts seeing her father pushed out aware of what happens but in the black and white nature only children have. I must read her other books which would you recommend?

Winstons score – B a child’s eye view of a horrific time

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