Thumbing through thoreau


This is a collection of pieces brought together by Kenny Luck from various Thoreau books ,Henry David Thoreau in my opinion was one of the greatest american writers in the 19th century his influence is still felt today via books films and political movements ,a writer that is hard to pigeon-hole ,my first encounter with Thoreau was via the film dead poets society where he is mention by on of the characters .he is most well-known for Walden the book he wrote after spending 2 years 2 months living in a log cabin by Walden pond in the 1850’s ,which make up the first part of this collection ,he was also a noted journal writer which the later part of the books covers .

The book is a collection of what Hector in the film History boys would call gobits ,little gems that capture beautiful the feel of Thoreau’s writing ,along with the gobits ,there are illustrations by Jay luke and Ren Adams ,the illustrations are all black and white and what may be described as primitive in style or maybe simplistic like japanese block art they wonderful capture the nature of Henry David Throeau’s work .the is a video on you tube about the book .Kenny luck who compiled the book is a writer on the weekender and also has a masters in history and political science .

So where to start as my e reader broke just as I got the book I ve had to read it via my adobe reader on the computer over a week or two .The book is also nice set out using various size typography to draw you into the quotes .In places I felt Kenny may Have picked different quotes from Thoreau but like most things every one has their favourites and on the whole it gave a great view on Thoreau’s writing and made me want to get his Journals something I ve want to read for a while ,this book would make a great coffee table book to be picked up and glance through all the time also is a great gift for someone who maybe wants to try Thoreau but is a little nervous of Walden .It is also good for kids as a intro with the pictures .the book also received the full approval of the Thoreau society .

there has been a number of stops already on the tribute book tour for thumbing through Thoreau ,you can also follow tribute on twitter .


translation blog award

I ve set another blog to run a blog prize focusing on books in translation and reviews from different places best blog ,interview so pop over to translation award blog .Let me know what you think .

DON QUIXOTE a break !!

I ve decide to leave week 5 for a week to let every one that has fallen behind catch up so next monday will be week 5 ,hope everyone understands some people have fell behind my self inculde a busy family weekend left reading time very short .look forward to next monday and catching up with everyone

winstons coffee and muffins

Well it is bank holiday weekend in the uk and I ve family staying .Its been a quiet week at Winston’s towers book wise I ve been busy working and sorting things for family visit ,But here are some news and new book here with me –

News –

Three percent had the shortlist for the French – American translation prize earlier in the week they have both fiction and non fiction shortlist well worth looking at the fiction shortlist is wonderfully strong here is a link to three percent ,I ve two of the books and the other three on my wish list as ever .

Quercus put me on their blogroll which was really nice ,there worth visiting there new digital  pr guy Mark Thwaite ,is writing a great blog and they publish loads of great translations also the revamped Steig Larson site is worth checking out !

#translationthurs the day people on twitter are asked to suggest a book in translation to every on is going from strength to strength many thanks to @mardixon on twitter who has really helped and got people involved ,so if you search  hashtag on Thurs you’ll always find a couple of new books to read .


Well I ve had two parcels this week –

The first one is caribou island David Vann ,a novel; set in Alaska like his first book legend of suicide which I loved ,this book about couples and one starting on their marriage another trying to mend there’s ,sounds wonderful .won from Joe pickering penguin PR it is signed by david as well ,very cool .

Are three books from my fellow blogger and great friend Simon of inside books ,we like a lot of same books so send books to each other quiet a lot these there are –

the Luneburg variation  – Paolo Maurensig – a new italian writer a psychological book about a murder ,with fable like dark overtones

Prater violet – Christopher Isherwood  about writing a script for a film a novel deals with this ,being Isherwood should be great .

Sarajevo Marlboro – Miljenko Jergovic  – short stories about the Bosnian conflict

for a fuller review visit Simons blog where he has reviewed them all

white tiger & passport winners

my 9 year old nice pick the number out as winston is in kennels at mo –

for white tiger she picked no 2 which was rise .

for passport she picked no 7 which was valarie

I ll e mail winners for addresses and send in the next week ,thanks all for entering shall do another give away soon


Stefan from &otherstories e-mail me a while ago about their group and its project ,which includes group reads of books in the original language to pick books to be translated in to english the is a great choice of groups with books from spain ,Lithuania and Argentina ,The writers they ve choose all seem to be highly talented writers having won awards in their own country .Lithuania has a booming lit scene post communism like the other Baltic states and the chance to get to read in english will be great .please all look at their site or join the good reads group and find out what is going on in this new NON PROFIT publisher .They are also looking for volunteers to help them along the way so I m sure Stefan and the other from &other stories will be pleased to hear from you .they are also on twitter .

red dust and hard lives



This is yet another one of the wonderful heinemann african writer series .Dambudzo was a Rhodesian /Zimbabwean writer ,he grew up in a trouble family studied at university in Zimbabwe and Oxford but was expelled from both due to causing unrest he lead a turbulent life and left very little writing behind him but what he did leave is considered the best south african writing of its period ,he did in 1987 aged only 35 .the book is a 80 page novella and 9 shorter stories they stretch from his native Zimbabwe to his student days in Oxford ,a lot of the african stories are set in the ghettos of Zimbabwe and encapsulate the struggle of growing up in this war-torn and poverty stricken country ,the stories set in england mainly discuss alienation of being a african in the uk ,there is a strong sense of the tales being based in part on Dambdzo own life .sometimes they don’t made easy reading but essential I would say in the post colonial southern africa he is potraying via the stories .

I had never killed a goat before .But it was christmas .and father who had always done it was dead .He had been dead for seven years .My sister Ruth could not possibly be expected to kill the goat .It was supposed to be a man’s job .And mother was dead too .There was the two of us in the house ,Ruth and I was on sabbatical from university and christmas I had hoped would be a break from the book

the start of the christmas reunion where a brother returns home for christmas with his sister

I enjoyed this book so much Dambudzo writing style is crisp and not flowery ,he catches in Rhodesia /Zimbabwe as huge changes are afoot in his homeland and he shows it through his characters eyes ,also he captures what must have been his own experiences in london and Oxford for the uk based stories alienation and also the racist attitudes at times from the british man on the street ,also I read and thought what a great loss at his early age has been for his homeland ,the great changes since the downfall of the Ian smith regime the fresh start but now the trnany of Robert Mugabe ,such a talent writer would have surely have been  a great voice for the everyman struggling under the present regime .A wonderful collection by a talented writer .

Winston’s scores –

I ve gone for something different this time A video and song by K’naan the african rapper about the hardship of every day life in the ghettos this seems to sum up parts of this book wonderfully .sometimes we forget how hard some peoples lives are everyday .

show me the books I ll show you the man ,a life in books

Well I ve come up with a great idea ,I loved the bbc programm rock tree where you follow bands via members and styles in a huge family tree so I was thinking why don’t I do the same with my books start with child hood books over weeks then teen and adult books and show how each book opened up options to other books thus building a reading tree for my self .


Well I ll start with a true hero of mine Sherlock Holmes ,I found this in my christmas presents in 1983 (oh yes I m that old ),it is one of my most treasured books from my mum as my parents separated when I was at primary school I knew it had cost her a lot and was thus valued by myself ,it contains three main short stories collection and three novels ,it gave me endless hours of under the covers reading of murders ,robberies,midget’s and hell hounds .I have always loved any films no matter how bad connect to Holmes and have a good many on dvd and of course the wonderful Jeremy Brett tv series .Holmes gave me a foot hold in adult books at a tender age and led on too .

  1. the other Doyle books like lost world and more adventures ,via the YA Willard price adventure series the adventures of Hal and Roger as they collect creatures around the world in places such as the amazon ,also Arthur Ransomes swallows and amazons books .
  2. Maigret I read a few Maigret books by the prolific Belgian writer Georges Simenon ,this gave me a taste of french life and another great detective to follow ,he is different to holmes as a family man but like Holmes is deep thinker
  3. Alternative fiction ,I read books based on Holmes stories containing sci-fi and stories with Holmes like character ,there are many out there and still new ones being written although I didn’t read many along this line the style of writing use an existing character in other books or a historic character has cropped up in a lot of books I ve read .

 So there is part one of my book history one book three leads from that one book .

What books lead your reading as a child ?

more than just a hatrick ,this brazilian shows flair with a pen



Machado Assis is considered the godfather of south american fiction been born in 1839 he was born in to a poor family and eventually rising to become a civil servant and respect writer in his own lifetime the first writer to develop a unique style of writing with influences from the european writing of the time Maupassant ,Chekov .Now the stories are all based in and around Rio in the late 1800’s ,what seems an emerging city and vibrant characters appear from the pages ,the main title story is of a wife and her attempts to get her husband to change his hat ,in other stories there are students drink rats blood ,a love triangle sailors on shore leave .

the choice of hat is not an indifferent act ,as you might suppose ;its is governed by a metaphysical principle .don’t imagine that a person buying a hat is committing a free,voluntary act;the truth id there obeying an obscure determinism .the illusion of freedom is rooted in the purchaser .

a brief description of buy a hat

Now I want to love this book when I ordered it from the library ,in parts I did but in other places I found his prose hard to connect with ,I have at time struggled with other prose of the era by other writers .But the stories I did connect with shone through and Machado humour and laconic wit shone through ,he is a bit like a brazilian Saki at times with the stories poking and highlighting the middle classes and the foibles ,in this exotic capital as it was finding it feet in the world ,It was a great introduction to a writer who I will try again Kinna at Kinna reads suggest I try one of his novels, so I will at some point ,the translation by John Gledson is neat and functional ,the book may suffer from a little stiffness at times whether that iz due to translation or the writing is hard to say .so a real up and down journey for me through this book but that is sometimes the case with short stories collection .



Don Quixote week five I m in a cage !

Not the best of times for the Don this section also we finished the first part of the book and marked the half way part of our read along ,we hear many new tales the tale of a rich farmer and his daughter ,a Shepard ,the don is brought home and there is much sorrow at his demise by those near him .

Two new things connect to Don Quixote have come to my attention this week ,the first is the polyglot project ,where you can try to read the Don in the original spanish and use their translation tool to get passages translated as you do so ,also I have got the due out soon OUP a very short introduction to spanish literature which I m reading at moment to give a bit of background to the Don also place it in the history of spanish book and where to go after the book .

How has your week been ?

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August 2010


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