Busy few days

I ve a busy couple of days at work coming up a course and then a long day trip to Skegness a seaside town about two hours from here with the people I support so .I m not going to be blogging again til  friday as I just won’t have time ,hope every one has a good week .


As ever I m late signing up for a challenge ,seen other people doing this challenge so thought why not ,the theme seems to be books dealiong with dark subjects so  I ve choose these to try and read –

Artic chill by Arnaldur Indritdason –

An icelandic novel ,following detective Erlendur ,investigating the death of a dark skinned young boy and his missing half brother .

The she devil in the mirror by Horacio Castellanos Moya –

Not quite sure if this fits in ,but follows Laura River who best friend has been killed and Laura won’t rest til she finds out ,all set in the chaos of post war s=San Salvador .

The haunting of hill house by Shirley Jackson –

follows four ghost hunters staying at Hill House a haunted house i,from the well known short story writer consider a classic horror novel .

There are my three books ,what you think ?


Well at home today it is coffee and chocolate brioche today ,well another busy week here at wonstons towers ,I read my first graphic novel for a very long time last night .well there are a couple of bits of news .


Earlier this year Amazon announced that it was starting it’s on translation press ,called amazon crossing to publish their own books  .well this week there was a press release announcing the first titles in the range .These include titles from Germany ,Argentina ,China and Ukraine here is there press release

also PEN in America announced their prizes winners for 2010 ,the book in translation prize winner was Wonder by Hugo Claus trans Michael Henry Heim ,I read this Belgian classic earlier this year ,here is my review also some more info on the translator from earlier this year including A video of him talking about wonder .


Well I had two books arrive this week ,after getting a e -mail from Malcolm at Oxygen books I received their city lit books for Berlin and Amsterdam ,I have spent time in both cities ,so am hugely looking forward to these anthologies of writing by various well-known writers and a few celebs about the cities and their history .




The book is an autobiography come biography about Vivian Mackerrell and about Colin’s own life ,Vivian may be part of the inspiration for the film character Withnail from the film Withnail and I .Now Bruce Robinson has said he was part of inspiration and knew Vivian when they shared a house whilst at drama school ,Colin Knew Vivian from an earlier time growing up in Nottingham .THE book starts with a bit about both there childhoods and Colin’s reason for writing the book .The first thing he does is trying to find relatives meeting his brother and his partners .He also contacts Bruce Robinson he didn’t want to be interviewed but offers photos and letters also other people Colin may talk too .Vivian grew in Nottingham spending time in his late teens round the playhouse in Nottingham this sparked an interest in acting and lead to him going to london to study where he meets Bruce ,David Dundas a musician and composer ,Micheal Elphick a fellow actor ,they live the usual student life drink meeting women etc .post college Vivian struggled as a jobbing actor ,he had talents but was difficult at time ,with his acid wit and wry humour ,Eventually he made his way back to live in Nottingham ,had a great partner Kate who he was close too ,he always drank and loved pub culture being sat in a pub talking to people ,he worked on and off over the years for the designer Paul Smith a friend of his from his days in Nottingham ,eventually life caught up with Vivian and he spent time in hospital and had some fun at times whilst in hospital ,he lived a colourful and eventful life.

“It’s a present from Dodgy Dave ,the fucker who stole my television .He was working at Raleigh and I bet him he couldn’t nick me a bike .Well he did it in bits ”

I can’t imagine you ever riding a bike

but it’s not any old bike ,It’s a Raleigh chopper .A real seventies icon .He’s been nicking parts for weeks .The rest is in my back shed you don’t fancy putting it together do you ?

a friend notices Vivian television is missing but there are some handlebars in his front room.

I loved this book ,knew I would like most people of my generation the film Withnail and I is a real icon ,so this biography of the man who may have inspired the character was a must read for me .Now whether or not he did inspire Withnail doesn’t matter Vivian’s own story is a real touching story ,not one person who meet him seems to have a bad words in fact the opposite he seems to be a fondly remember guy who like a drink and had a huge if under used talent as an actor .i m sure in most big towns there are a number of Vivian’s the guy who tells wonderful stories in the pub as you sit and have a drink with him.A true testament to a true english eccentric ,he like the actors he admired Harris ,Burton was a large than life figure and truly deserved this touching portrait by Colin Bacon.


Source – second hand copy brought at book stall .

Translator -Helen Lane -she translated numerous novels in Spanish including Martinez earlier book the Peron novel ,and one I want to read when I get a copy I supreme by Augusto Roa Bastos

Tomas Eloy Martinez was born in San Miguel de Tucuman got a degree from there in Spanish and Latin American literature ,then studied in Paris ,he work in Journalism for many years ,then took to teaching at universities in America .He passed away earlier this year .This book was a choice for September shared read by richard of Carvana de Recuredos ,I had got a copy in the summer so decide to join in,

The book focus on the death and Life of Eva Peron Evita as she was known the wife of the Argentina dictator Juan Peron ,the book is told via the people who come into contact with her body as she was embalmed and put on display ,she died aged 33 after 6 years of the wife of the president .we flash from the present to the past as we find people dealing with the body and what part  Peron and the regime had played in their life ,on a couple of occasions his fellow Argentina writer Jorge Luis Borges is mention and his reaction at the time to Peron ,where he used hidden meaning in his works .in the end we find out how much the rise to power had effect this country girl .

In this novel peopled by real people by real character ,the only ones I never met were Evita and the Colonel .I saw Evita only from a distance in Tucuman , one morning on a national holiday as for Colonel Moori Koeing I found a couple of photos and a few traces of him .the newspapers of the period mention him openly and disparagingly .It took me months to meet the widow ,who lived in an austere apartment on the Calle Arenales and who agreed to see me only after putting me off time and time again .

there are clever Meta fiction touches like this scattered over the book .

I found this book a wonderfully researched and heartfelt book Martinez had lived through the regime so knew at first hand the situations described ,Like most shocking events and times it left a lasting impression on him .The veil is lifted on Eva Peron ,a name which most people know by the saccharin musical ,this book shows the dark side of the story as well as the light side .We find how power corrupts people and the effect it has on the people caught up in the corruption and abuse of power ,many thanks for Richard for picking this that may have sat on my shelf a lot longer ,if not for this reading group .


Richard at caravana de recuerdos is hosting the foreign film challenge for the Orbis terrarium challenge so I had a look through my DVD’S i ve about 50 films in various languages and decide on my all time favourite film .


the film is set in berlin and was directed by the German director Wim Wenders his films are always great viewing  probably best known for Pari Texas ,This is considered his masterpiece .the film follows two angels ,Daniel played by Bruno Ganz best known for Downfall now where he played Hitlers last days and Cassiel played by Otto Sander who also appear in Das Boot as a U Boat Captain .The films opens with a flash through different people in Berlin and there thoughts these include Peter Falk on a plane ,the angels listen to these thoughts and wander the city .Then we met daniel she him listen to some kids who can see him ,then he meets Cassiel and they discuss a=what they ve seen a woman closing an umbrella and getting wet ,a man jumping of a building ,as they talk Daniel laments the fact they only see and don’t feel even simple things like print on the paper coming of on his hands ,he says he wants to live not view ,Cassiel disagrees they part ,meanwhile a trapeze artist Marion is practising on the trapeze for what turns out is her last performance as the circus has to close for the winter at this point Daniel enters and is taken by this beautiful young woman played by the late Solveig Domartin ,he follows her into her caravan where she plays her records Nick Caves from here to eternity album the track the carny about a circus performer that has run of and we hear her thoughts about how sad it is the circus is moving on .then he go’s to the main Berlin Library where a lot of angels are listen to people at this point we met the other main character Curt Bois he plays Homer an aged poet who is looking back on his life and what has happen to his beloved berlin ,also Peter Falk is making a world war two film and sketching people he sense Cassiel and Daniel and tries to talk to them .At this point Daniel decides to become human he wakes by the Berlin wall with a suit of armour and he sets of to find Marion in the end catching her at a Nick Cave concert where there is an obvious spark between them .

the filming is mainly in black and white and only in colour when the angels aren’t there ,claire Denis was assistant director who directed Chocolat after this .the city is beautifully shot and becomes a character in its own right ,the dialogue is beautiful the script was a joint project between Wender and the German novelist Peter handke .it uses Rainer Maria Rilke poetry as a spring-board with a recurring theme of Child hood via a song ,it shows how poetic german can be .I love the innocence of the film it is a simple love story of a couple and a city . there was a poor american remake of the film .


Carlos Maria Dominguez was born in Buenos Aires in mid 50’s he has written a number of fiction and non fiction books ,he currently lives in Montevideo Uruguay ,he won the Juan Carlos Onetti prize .This book is one of those wonderful books about book s and people a short book at only a hundred pages it took me an evening to get through ,it is accompanied by wonderful illustrations ny Peter sis who’s cartoons appear regularly in Time and Newsweek .The action starts with the death of Bruma Lennon in Cambridge a unopened package a book then sends a friend on a long trip to Argentina after a book eccentric Carlos Brauer how lives in a house filed with books and a highly personal filing system ,in the end the action draws us to Montevideo and a great climax .

Books change people destinies .some have read the tiger of Malaysia and become professors of literature in remote universities.Demian converted thousands of young men to eastern philosophy ,Hemingway made sportsmen of them ,Alexander Dumas complicated the lives of thousands of women ,quite a few of whom were saved from suicide by cookery books .Bluma was their victim .

from the opening page the touching power of books .

This book is in the grand Argentina tradition from Borges and Manguel ,they always love dissecting books and people ,this book is about the love and lust of owning books ,how this can sometimes drift into obsession and crime ,it also seems a personnel journey for the writer himself ,maybe he is retreating his own reading and people he had come across .There is a fable like quality as well .A definite movie book (like a good movie can be read in a couple of hours ).THE translation is great on of the best from spanish, I’ve read and was by Nick Caistor who has work on translation of a lot of the major latin american writers in recent years .

who wants to help ?

I would love some people to help me out with the around the world challenge have a basic format but ideas and offers of help most welcome .THE IDEA SO FAR IS 11 CATEGORISE no order but a year-long challenge ,thinks I need help with are using mister linky ,making a button for blogs to show any help or offers of support be most welcome . here is what the categories would be –

  1. EUROPE (NORTHERN) -ie Germany ,Holland ,Sweden ,Denmark , Finland,Russia ,Poland ,uk ,Iceland ,Ireland ..
  2. EUROPE(SOUTHERN)-ie spain ,Portugal,Italy ,Greece,Turkey Balkans …
  3. AFRICA (FRENCH AFRICA) The west of africa mainly Senegal ,Cotes de Ivorie including books in other language from these areas in english.
  4. AFRICA (ENGLISH SPEAKING ) southern and eastern africa IE Kenya ,Ghana ,South Africa also books in other languages translated in to english
  5. ARABIC books from the arabic world Algeria ,Egypt etc
  6. ASIA  (Korea ,Japan and China )
  7. ASIA rest of asia
  9. AMERICAS (CENTRAL) plus Caribbean

There are categories I ve in mind and let people read in what ever order they want but one a month for challenge leaving spare month as we all have things crop up and may need time in hand .


I want this to be fun my personnel goal was to read books from 52 countries this year I ve nearly done that in twelve months ,its given me such a scope of books ,I just in a little way want to pass that on to other people in a fun way ,all the best stu and winston .

winstons coffee and muffins

Well had a great week with BBAW posts ,I have loved find some new blogs ,well all that has left news low on the ground but have a couple of piece .

news –

All you bloggers on twitter ,should follow @peirenevoices the second feed from peierne press ,this has been having their writers and translators on-line answering question .I managed to ask F C Delius a couple one was what other german writers he enjoyed he said “death in Rome by Wolfgang Koeppen and the books of Alfred Doblin ,so follow them and get chance to meet their great writers and translators !

The second bit of news is that next year the polish book institution has set up as site to celebrate the 100th year of Czeslaw Milosz birth with a website and a number of festivals and events in his honour ,he is considered one of Poland’s greatest writers and won the Nobel in 1980 a poet ,prose and novelist ,I have his the land of ulro to read so will be next year here is a link to the site which is english ,lets hope this makes some nis books available in english again there are a few from Penguin already .


I received a copy of the new war and peace translation  from the OUP this week ready for the read along in January .shall be posting in next few months more info on times and length of readalong etc etc .

Also going to host an around the world reading Challenge in 2011 ,I have my own around in 52 books challenge but ,want make a challenge for other people Know there is a couple of them running this year ,I want to make a fun ,simple challenge watch this blogger for more news ……….

the long song by Andrea levy

Andrea grew up in britain after her parents came here in the empire windrush in the late 40’s ,a subject she touched on ,in the novel small island .She didn’t start writing til here 30’s and since has had a rise with every novel this is her fifth and is shortlisted for the booker .The novel drifts us back to the Jamaica of the 1800’s where slavery is still in place and the slave July we follow her life from her birth after her mother was raped to her entering service for a vicious english women Caroline Mortimer ,where she is beaten and stab with pins and other things on a regular basis for no apparent reason or little provocation .Meanwhile in the outside world there are great changes underfoot rebellions and just glimpses of freedom for the slaves . to the arrival of a new overseer with a new way of treating slaves ,kindly with is slightly more liberal view of doing the work .

July threw herself upon the floor ,held the dress aloft and yelled, missus ,the dress spoil! Them mash-up your dress .It messed up ,it mess up .Oh beat me ,missus come on beat me ! the dress spoil ,spoil,spoil come tek a whip and beat me I beggin you missus .

July expecting a beating from the violent mistress caroline .

Now this is written in a style of Jamaican english or patois that was spoken by the slaves a relaxed english .July comes across as a highly realistic character that has a hard life and you feel her injustices and triumphs along the way .Levy seems to want to bring some of her own family’s history forward and had done maticlious research for this novel in Jamaica and the uk looking back on records of the time and the slaves life ,Which she described in an interview I heard as a hard task as there was a lot of side information number jobs etc but little or none on how the slaves felt at the time .what Levy has done is capture a young girls struggle to womanhood in the most difficult of circumstances .A book for anyone interested in the history of the time and how slaves lives really were on the plantations

This is one of this years booker shortlist .

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September 2010


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