TTFN Family comes first back soon !

I have two mothers My mum lives in Wales and My step mother  Millie ( I hate that word step just never sounds right ) ,any way Millie is very ill at the moment . So I’m taking a break of at least the rest of may and possibly the first week of June . I have left the shadow IFFP jury for this year as I just haven’t the mind to talk about books at the moment in any depth .I’m going up and down the country a couple of times a week  to spend as much time with a much beloved parent that has brought a lot to my life in the thirty plus years she has been in it .So as you imagine time has been squeezed some what the last couple of weeks and rather than carry on with silly small post or half hearted reviews which is something I don’t want to do . I will still be round twitter and have a few days in scotland at end of the month to charge my batteries .I really want to cry when I hear sun kill moon’s words at moment

Winston’s music from Mali to Paris

Been a while since I’ve done a music post so what is making Winston’s towers rock recently ?

Benjamin Clementine is a huge star in the making and this is his ode to london . He spent time in paris busking before he found fame . Something of nina simone in his vocal style a modern star with a really old voice .

A band I have like since the first album , but with there recent album seem to have really grown into the band they always could be My morning jacket .

I am trying to widen my music in some ways to match the reading of the blog , so a recent world music record i have enjoyed is Songhoy blues music in exile album .Another excellent group of musicians from Mali .

What has been rocking your world recently

Two new arrivals a Czech classic and French Noir

I’ve had a bad week really , some really bad news .So a couple of books arriving has brightened a morning up to what is a sad time at Winston’s tower .

innocence by Heda Margolius Kovaly

First is a Czech crime novel the only novel from a writer better known for her non fiction work the biography  Under a cruel star .Heda Margolius Kovály was a Czech writer and translator , her book about the war and what followed from being a Jew in the Czechoslovakia . she lived in exile from the late 1950’s onwards ,where she worked as a translator translated many books from English to Czech including Raymond Chandler . I mention Chandler as John Banville has compared this book to his work .Set in Prague it follows the investigation into a murder at a cinema and the women that work as ushers in it .This is also translated by Alex Zucker .

boxes by Pascal Garnier

The second arrival today was Boxes the latest from Gallic books noir series , that has been putting out the novels of the Late Pascal Garnier .This one follows Brice and Emma a couple that have just moved into a new house . Their neighbour Blanche lives next to the grave yard and she says Brice looks like her Late father .

What books have you received recently ?

Out in the open by Jesús Carrasco

out in the open

Out in the open by Jesús Carrasco

Spanish fiction

Original title –  Intemperie

Translator – Margaret Jull Costa

Source – personnel copy

 

Well the drums rolled off in my forehead
And the guns went off in my chest
Remember carrying the baby just for you
Crying in the wilderness

I lost track of my friends, I lost my kin
I cut them off as limbs
I drove out over the flatlands
Hunting down you and him

The sky was big and empty
My chest filled to explode
I yelled my insides out at the sun
At the wide open road

It's a wide open road, it's a wide open road.....

I went for a early Triffid's track a band from perth in Australia a desert city source 

Jesús Carrasco is a rising star of spanish literature , this his first novel won a number of prizes ,including being the book of 2013 by readers of the spanish paper El Pais .Grew up in Toledo , his father was a teacher , he studied physical education .But when he started working start as a advertising copy writer .This is his debut novel and a star of the Frankfurt book fair where it sold rights to most of Europe .To tie in with the book a few weeks ago I picked my five favourite spanish readers for Harvil on their blog . Oh and he has one of the best writer moustaches in years !!

From inside his hole in the ground , he heard the sound of voices calling his name , and , as if they were crickets , he tried to pinpoint the precise location of each man within the bounds of the olive grove . The desolate howling of fire-scrotched scrub  . He was lying on one side , knees drawn up to his chest , with barely enough room to move in that cramped space .

the opening lines of the book .

So Out in the open is the story of one young boys escape from his home , but then he has to fight to keep free first evading the people trying to find him . Then the world around him barren desert like  plains , hot sun and people struggling for food .What faces him is how to live and get by in this world .All he has known is violence , does he carry on the circle of violence ? But will a night in this world with an old goatherder change the young boy , what does he gain from the old man and what does the old man gain from the young boy ?

Tiny and dark in the midst of that still-greater darkness , he wondered if he might find something useful on the imaginary line he was following due north . Perhaps some fruit trees along the road or fountains of clean water or endless springtimes . He couldn’t really come up with any concrete expectation , but that didn’t matter .By heading north ,he was travelling away from the village , away from the bailiff and from his father .

He just wants to head north to find a new different place .

Again like last few books I have reviewed it is another nameless character , in this case also in a timeless place .This suits this book as it harks back too , some classic spanish literature in some ways the boys quest so to speak has since early days of spanish literature been a motif , the boy is maybe hunting for a life that is different the same way Don Quixote hunted windmills .The brutal nature of the book remind me of another spanish classic The family of Pascal Duarte by Cela , which sees another violent life and world  .Of course looking further afield it is hard mot to mention McCarthy’s The road as they both see people trying to survive in unfamiliar brutal world . This is a book full of the violent nature of life but so wonderful written it draws you into this dark hinterland .

Have you a favourite book that isn’t tied to a place just about nature of people ?

Fall of man in Wilmslow by David Lagercrantz The death and life of Alan Turing

Fall of man in Wilmslow by David LagerCrantz

Swedish fiction

Original title – Syndafall i Wilmslow

Translator – George Goulding

Source – review copy

 

 

Will you say that we were heroes
Or that fear of dying among strangers
Tore our innocence and false shame away?

And from that moment on deep in my heart I knew
That I would only give my life for love
Brothers in arms in each others arms
Was the only time that I was not afraid

What will you do when the war is over, tender comrade?
When we cast off these khaki clothes
And go our separate ways
What will you say of the bond we had, tender comrade?

I felt Billy Bragg’s  song Tender comrade about gay soldier in the war was a fitting song for a book about Alan Turing !

Now Lagercrantz is a new name as he has written a number of books including ghost writing I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic the biography of the Swedish footballer . This is his first book to be translated into english and is like a taster of what is to come as he was chosen to take over and finish the fourth book in Steig  Larsson’s millennium . Which is coming out later this year . So we get to see a new thriller writer from Sweden . For me the main buzz of the book dropping through my letterbox was it was set in Wilmslow I grew up in Cheshire and never knew it was where the real Alan Turing had died .

He did not like his job . He did not like the salary , the walking , the paperwork , or godforsaken Wilmslow where nothing ever happened . It had got to the point where even now he felt nothing but emptiness .

Corell arrives at the Turing’s  bored of Wilmslow , but is just getting himself started on his toughest case .

The book is a police investigation and biography  of Alan Turing  rolled into one really . The book follows a police detective Constable Corell is trying to discover more about a man who is found dead in his home in the sleepy town of Wimslow .A man is found after dying eating a poison apple . The man is Alan Turing one of the best minds of his genrations a war hero that was never appericated in his lifetime . As Corell starts to piece together Turing life and how he ended up in this sleepy town . The further down the road he gets the darker the past is and the more confused the present becomes .

Turing appeared to find the dream interesting . Corell gathered that the mathematician had a special interest in dreams . He had after all recorded his own dreams in three notebooks , and this conversation also gave rise to a sense of intimacy , and the offence was committed once more .

Corell discover everything about this Genius Turing that has been found dead on his patch !!

This remind me of the film Enigma which mixed history , the second world war , mystery and Bletchley park . The book is like a crime novel but we learn a lot more about the life and times of Alan Turing ,also his rise and fall during and after the war . Add to that the bizarre way he died a poison apple could he have been killed if so whom by ? the story has a great rhythm Corell is more like a guide we see the story unfurl at the same time he does .For me the connection to places I know so well . I must have been passed his house a hundred times during my life not knowing it was his house an old school friend even found an advert from a few years ago when the house was last sold and showed me . I know it is hard to step into the shoes of Steig Larsson , is David Lagercrantz a good choice . Well from this one book yes he seems to pace his story well which for me when I read the millennium series was part of what I enjoyed you were drawn into a world and Lagercrantz has done this in this book .I look forward to see what and where he is taking Lisbeth so if you are waiting to read The girl in the spider’s web ,why not try a bit of post world war two drama .

What are your thoughts on writers carrying on series after the original writer has died ?

 

A perfect crime by A Yi

a perfect crime A Yi cover

 

A perfect crime by A Yi

Chinese fiction

Original title  -Xiamian Wo Gai Ganxie Shenme (下面我该干些什么)

Translator – Anne Holmwood

Source – Review copy

 

 

live in a town called Millhaven
And it’s small and it’s mean and it’s cold
But if you come around just as the sun goes down
You can watch the whole town turn to gold
It’s around about then that I used to go a-roaming
Singing La la la la La la la lie
All God’s children they all gotta die

My name is Loretta but I prefer Lottie
I’m closing in on my fifteenth year
And if you think you have seen a pair of eyes more green
Then you sure didn’t see them around here
My hair is yellow and I’m always a-combing
La la la la La la la lie
Mama often told me we all got to die

I choose a murder ballad from Nick Caves murder Ballad album another teenager going round killing people . source 

I said when this one arrived it was the first Chinese novel I had read the blurb of and thought I would like . I’ve not really hate the other Chinese novels I ‘ve read for me they miss what I want to see and that is the experience of living in a mega city or living in a country that is so in flux and yet so traditional in other ways . A Yi was a police officer for five years then turned his hand to writing first as editor at Chutzpah a lit magazine and he then moved to Xiron publishing where he set up a literary imprint “Iron Gourd ” he has written numerous short stories and has his own blog in China .He was on a list of 20 future literary giants in 2010 .

it struck me with an incredible force that she was letting me kill her . It wasn’t my decision to make . She was the one in charge , walking in front of me , leading me up the stairs towards her death .

“Why are you still wearing your cap ?” She said

“It’s part of the plan ” , I said

She didn’t understand , so I repeated . “It’s part of the plan ”

He is rather delude in some ways !!

A perfect crime this isn;t that at all ,of course the perfect crime is the one where the person doing the crime doesn’t get caught ! This book follows one teenager as he kills the Aunt whom he shares the house with and then tries to run away and get away with the crime .He kills her stuffs her in a washing machine and then decides to run . He some how in a country of billions manages to get capture where he is interrogated and sentence by the court  and then … Why did he kill her , why did he run ? The book follows a bleak teen into a bleak world .

My body kept sinking and I had to fight for the right to rest . Sometimes my poor hands would let my feet take the burden , sometimes the other way round .

“I need a pee ” I shouted at one point , the response to which was the sound of clanging from outside and then “go on then ”

In the middle of the interrogation after he is caught .

The book is told in short choppy chapters you see he is a writer that is maybe more at home with a short story eac h chapter is self-contained . Yet tell a part of the whole story  from the early stages to deciding to kill his aunt the killing then we see how he runs off in three chapter then we see the judicial and police process from the teenager view point . The whole story is told in the first person .This shows a brutal crime and the outcome . A Yi style is trimmed and brutal , he hasn’t hidden Chinese  police and justice systems behind rose-coloured glasses , no this shows the brutal nature of justice in China ! Now the cover mentions Kafka , Camus  among others . For me I was reminded of communist writers like Herta Muller a book like the appointment which like this book shows the inner working of the bureaucracy of Communism .But it is also about a world that is being lost clashing culture the aunt generation and the hi speed ,hi tech world of the teenager .A novel that lifts the veil of growing up faceless and in this case nameless in a nameless city that could be any one of a thousand small cities in china !

Have you a favourite Chinese novel ?

A gothic soul by Jiří Karásek ze Lvovic

 

 

 

A gothic soul by Jiří Karásek ze Lvovic

Czech fiction

Original title – Gotická duše

Translator – Kristen Lodge

Source – review copy

 

I’m your only friend I’m not your only friend But I’m a little glowing friend But really I’m not actually your friend But I am

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch Who watches over you Make a little birdhouse in your soul Not to put too fine a point on it: Say I’m the only bee in your bonnet Make a little birdhouse in your soul

I have a secret to tell From my electrical well It’s a simple message and I’m leaving out the whistles and bells So the room must listen to me Filibuster vigilantly My name is blue canary One note, spelled L-I-T-E My story’s infinite Like the Longines Symphonette It doesn’t rest

I choose birdhouses in your soul as I used a lightbulb in my review as a metaphor for the narrator .source 

I love it when Twisted spoon bring a new book out as they seem to choose books that firstly would never see light of day in the uk , secondly are important in the context of where they are from . Here again they have published a book from the Czech decadence movement .A counterpart of the French books at the time this book has a much darker feel than the French decandence movement books I have read .Jiří Karásek ze Lvovic was a novelist and critic .He found the modern review a well-known magazine of the time that published the best French and Czech decadent movement writers  .

But he didn’t die

He arose from bed even paler than before . The sound of his voice was more somber . He looked even more terrifying . His eyes now disturbed anyone who looked into them .They lacked luster .They harboured a secret that seemed accusatory , though it could never be expressed in words .

His struggle is beyond words in the world around him .

The book is the story of a nameless narrator and his struggle in the world he is living a world that is caught under an empire that has changed from the world he knew. He wanders the town seeing these changes around him  .As much as it is his story it is also the story of the city he lives in which is Prague the city at night jumps of the pages .He seems to be struggling with life and death as the book goes on the world around him seems to dissolve to the struggle with in him .He is the last of his line losing faith in the world around him .He even goes to churches to try to find solace but struggles too .

He left the church .

Where he wandered after that , he could no longer remember .

Today everything that had occupied his soul back then was revived .He knew he would not be able to escape the dank tomb of the past into which he had descended , to free himself from the enchanted circle of overwrought blood and nerves in which he had unexpectedly become entrapped from this atmosphere could not be approached without incurring punishment .

A torture soul which even the church can’t save .

This is one dark book a man’s soul is on the line and we see how he struggles with it .A way to look at the book is the context of when it was written in 1905 the world has just entered a new century . The Habsburg empire is harked back to a lot the book  this of course in hindsight is showing the first ripples of the start of world war one . The narrators worry about his own world and the city of Prague maybe show the greater picture a world that has grown a modern age the is fast approaching them . This shows how one man gets caught in the world in flux  and like those early lightbulb he is trying to light his night , his dark places  but maybe is about to burn out! .

Have you a favourite book from the decadent movement  ?

 

 

African Returns and Exits

IMG_20150425_104736 (2)

A new arrival this morning tied up nicely with another book from earlier this year . The arrival was The lights of Pointe-Noire the memoir of Alain Mabanckou return to his home town in Congo after nearly twenty years away .I have reviewed three of his novels and have another on my kindle to read so it is fair to say this is one I will be reading soon .But as Alain returns to his homeland I was reminded by another arrival yesterday .Of a journey to europe from Africa in Swedish

20150425_122408

The latest edition of Swedish book review reminded me of the great books from Sweden I have been sent this year already but not review Johannes Anyuru book follows a father a son as the father left Uganda to seek a new life in europe and his son now in Sweden is living in Europe and ,making his way .The wandering pine is Per Olov enquist fictional account of his writing life and the pitfalls and dramas he has had along the way . The Hellios disater is a story from the Swedish wife of Karl Ove Knausgaard Linda Bostrom Knausgaard .Then there is the story of Alan Turing told in the novel the fall of man in Wimslow by David lagercrantz whom has been chosen to continue the Millenium series of Steig Larsson by writing book four which is due out later this summer .

The salmon who dared to leap higher by Ahn Do-Hyun

The Salmon Who Dared to Leap Higher

The salmon who dared to leap higher by Ahn Do-Hyun

Korean Fiction

Original title – 연어 이야기 (연어 그 두 번째 이야기)

Translator – Deborah Smith

Source – Review copy

 

 

“War Of Man”

The little creatures
run in from the cold
Back to the nest
just like the days of old
There in the safety
of a mother’s arms
The warmth of ages,
far away from harm again.

Ears ringin’
from the battle fire
The tired warrior
aims a little higher
The black falcon
or the little sparrow
The healing light
or the flash of the barrel.

I choose a song from Neil young his war of man ,which has an eco message behind it .

When this book dropped through the letter box the other week , I nearly put it too one side till I saw it was translated by Deborah , whom I have spoken with on twitter and had a brief chat with at LBF and did talk about this book as i finished it a few days before  .Although the cover was appealing as well . Ahn Do-Hyn has won numerous prizes in Korea including the so-wol poetry prize which is one of the best known poetry prizes in Korea .He studied Korean literature and this is his first book to be translated into English .

Silver salmon had managed to avoid becoming a meal for the fierce eagle .

And yet , something strange – rather than the giddy relief of having cheated death , he feels a pang of sadness at having escaped unharmed . Because the salmon who had been caught – the one who’d swum by his side ever since they left their home river ,

Silver salmon escapes the clutches of a fish eagle .

This book is part of a series of novels that are marketed in Korea as Adult fables (thanks to Deborah for that ) .The salmon who dared to leap higher is the story of one salmon’s journey  the silver salmon  as we follow them from the sea up the river he came from .The journey is a perilous one that sees many of the salmon’s swimming along side . We are told little stories of the companions along side  . The fish have to avoid eagles and bears as they try to get to the river head . Of course the book is more a fable of modern life in Korea and the river maybe is the everyday journey in life of Koreans they are maybe the salmon’s trying to reach the river head and mate have children etc .But also the world around them and the human world .

Bag-of-bones salmon was also in possessions of exceptional memory . His mind was like an enormous storehouse where all manner of facts are filed and preserved .Circling over the riverbed ,he mutters to himself , “Yes , the rapids have increased in height by 35 centimetres since we leapt down over them ”

The salmon remember the world through a sort of collective passing of tales almost their own fables .

I read this in one sitting , which for me is the sign of a book of  120 pages I have actually really enjoyed . This is a fun fable , I initially compared it in my head to Jonathan Livingstone seagull and yes the salmon of the story journey through its life is similar too Jonathan’s journey . But for me this is maybe more based in Korean culture , I was reminded of one of the other books I read from Korea on the Blog please look after mother and maybe this is the same story in a fable manner the salmon as a whole are trying to reach a point but some get eaten and some just can’t make the journey and this is maybe mirroring modern Korea where the country has jumped so quickly in the last fifty years since the end of the korean war .But also serves as a remind of the natural world around them .I feel Deborah did a great job of what must be a poetic book in the original Korean a lyrical feel to the story in english .I must admit I do love the cover art as well and the book has some great illustrations through the book capture the novella well .

Have you a favourite fable ?

What book in translation would I give away ? Thomas Bernhard welcome to second Thomas bernhard reading week in July

20130529-164953.jpg

Well I’ve been struggling finding time to blog or even get in a routine for my blogging of late .But I feel a project and a goal of trying to get my revie pile in order or less by then ,will help this and what better than on World book day to launch a second Thomas Bernhard reading week for the first week august this year it is two years since I did the first Thomas Bernhard reading week and with the books still available in paperback and Kindle both faber Finds and Vintage reissues . Of course there is the much lauded Bernhard letters with his publisher Siegfrieed Unseld to be published in English . I am tempt to improve my german just for the 22 voll collection of his works from his German publisher . I have a number of post here about him  including five books under review and a piece from Andrej Nikoladis about his love of Bernhard .I will sort a new badge for the reading week as I’m trying to do a similar one , but for today I will use the warhol inspired one of two years ago .Which book in translation would you hive away inspired to run a second Thomas Bernhard week for me it would be his Woodcutters .I feel this one would be the best introduction to his work .

woodcutters-thomas-bernhard-paperback-cover-art

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