cat and mouse by Gunter grass

Gunter Grass is a nobel prize winner ,a noted SDP part support ,he grew up in Danzig ,was in the ss during the war and in many respects along side Henrich boll is the best known of Germanys post war writers ,this book is the second in what is known as the Danzig trilogy .the first part being The tin drum a book dealing with the rise of nazis in Danzig ,a book I read in my teens ,the third part dog years I ve yet to read .The book focuses on a group of boys in danzig schoolmates,The main narrator is Pilenz ,is freind with THE GREAT MAHIKE ,a boy with a huge adams apple also a bit of a clown and the leader of the gang in some ways ,the boys play by the sea ,learning to swim ,playing in and around a broken minesweeper from th polish navy ,they see the u boats and there crews visit the school and give a talk  ,they meet girls get up to sexual adventures together.Mahike in the hitler youth attends miltary school .Joining the army becoming a tamk commander and going back to school to talk to them,but is refused he has won the iron cross,this was something he really wanted to do show his classmates he wasn’t the clown they thought ,so he returns to the minesweeper with Pilenz although there realationship has changed over time .

and one day after Mahlike had learned to swim ,we were lying in the grass ,in the schlagball field .I ought to have gone to the dentist ,but the wouldn’t let me because I was hard to replace on the team .My tooth is howling .A cat scauntered diaggonally accross the field and no one threw anything at it ,a few boys were chewing or plucking at blades of grass .

the opening of the book.

The book is part coming of age ,part anti war , friendship ,I did find it tough going in places ,also found the main characters hard to associate with at times also the book seems to drift in places ,there seemed a lot of hidden means referring to cats and mouses all the time .the book deals with how boys are attracth to war and how one freind is effected by his direct involvement .This wasn’t my favourite book by Grass .

winstons coffee and muffin

Winter draws in the long nights are here and I m looking forward to a literary night out in a couple of weeks to see the poet and writer Owen sheers his WHITE RAVENS ,was one of my earliest reviews ,a book I found wonderful a retelling of the Welsh myth Mabinogion and part of a project to retell al; the stories using modern tales .

which leads nicely on to my taking of the reading the myth challenge and my own round the world challenge ,my own round world challenge ,will be a week every month focusing on one country from round the world ,books and a translator of the books were needed over a week and also a post on the culture and cuisine of the place I have Amy reads in a way to thank partly I was inspired from her Nigerian week .so I ll start with –




that is it so far .


Party Going by Henry Green


Henry green the non de plume of Henry Vincent Yorke  was one of the bright young things of the twenties ,he was born Tewksbury and went to Eton and Oxford he knew Anthony Powell and Evelyn Waugh his two great contemporaries of the time .and was considered a modernist writer along side Virginia Woolf ,frank Kermode describe the book as a mythical allusion .

The book centres on a group of the bright young things  as they are due to travel to a country house party all the rage them days ,but are delayed over night due to the london fog ,stopping the train and are confined to the nearest hotel ,the station hotel .so as the hotel fills we meet max and his beauty of an on off girlfriend the beautiful Anabella ,in no doubt based on one of the numerous beauties of the bright young thing era .,we also dash in and out of the servants as the dutifully look after the belonging of the party ,so over the space of the book and the next four hours we find out bits about the characters and there lives which on the surface seem rich and for-filled ,in fact aren’t that much .There lives being quite one dimensional party ,image and keeping up with the friends.

It did make Julia nervous and she moved to Alex where he happened to be teasing Angela because he might be nervous too which would comfort her .People who weren’t nervous were useless because they didn’t know what it meant ,but however he was ,and if he wasn’t than Julia felt she would like to make him be ,he would comfort her after all he was a man .

early on Julia and Max and the station

The is much humor in this book and also pathos for the characters as there obviously based on some of greens circle at the time ,the story does at time darts here and there and is quite hard to follow at times but it all adds to the hustle and bustle of the busy station ,on surface this is a great story ,whether Kerrmode’s was right about the links to Greek myths is right I can’t fully tell there are passages in this book that reminds me of what little I ve read of greek myths ,but I ve not the knowledge of greek myths to go in to full depth so as a story of four hours in a hectic station hotel as a group of characters in  the thirties it works for me the shallowness of the main characters is all to easy to see ,also how the people who deal with them I.E the servant struggle at times with their madness .A great read and there first of the three bright young thing books I ve chosen to read a review of Waugh decline and fall will follow .and a review of Anthony Powell very soon .

Traveller to the east by Thomas Molfo

source – library

Thomas Molfo was born in 1876 in Bestho now Lesotho in southern Africa ,he is considered the first African novelist ,He is best known for a later novel Chaka a story of a Lulu king .

The story centres on Fekisi a young man in the Basutoland ,,he works looking after the herds and is the chiefs son but he seeks something more .After witness some acts ariound the villages questions his postion and his village , so sets off to the east and what lies ahead,This journey she the young man witness murder and eventually convert to Christianity by the white men in the east  ,meanwhile there are sections on how the village copes when he leaves ,discussion of circumcision school where all the boys Fekisi age are taught how to be men in preparation of circumcision .

There was a feast of the boys being held .The son of the chief was coming out of circumcision school .This son was the first-born child of the chief ,the son of his first wife .He it was who would attain chieftainship and follow his father .It was feast if the heir .

Fekisi struggles with position and life .

This book is short at only 80 pages ,It encompasses a mythical feel but also a worrying christian angle ,I view from some research into the writer it was use to convert people  alongside Bunyan’s pilgrim Progress ,his wiring style is in the storytelling tradition and easy to read ,Just the second half of the book didnt grab me I may try his novel as his style and the translation where both great ,just disliked the christian propaganda at the end of the book .but the first part in the village and the journey was some of the best southern African writing I have read .there is a museum in Morjia In Lesotho and a web page on the region and its history here .the book was orginally published in episodes in a news paper It was translated by Harry Ashton .


Jo Labanyi is professor of spanish and a director of king Juan Carlos 1 of spain centre at New York university ,she founded the journal of Spanish culture .This is one of the OUP series of very short introduction ,I requested a copy from OUP ,as I thought it would give me some guidance and back ground information on Don Quixote and its writer Cervantes and also where to carry on my reading in Spanish literature ,The book is divide in to numerous chapters under 4 main headings  ,multilingualism and porous borders ,spanish literature and modernity ,gender and sexuality and culture patrimony .the first section deals with the moorish influence on the literature on spain,via epic poems like el Cid ,the rise Alfonso in the 13th century and his influence on the written word ,french ,jews influences .WE also find out about the post Franco rise of works in the various spanish languages ,such as Manuel Riva’s in Galician ,Basque with Bernardo Atxaga and Carmel Riera in Catalan ,under Franco these languages were suppressed .

The  second section deals with how spanish literature has fared through time ,been influenced and shaped by its writers and external writers .Also in places lead literature but was forgotten and other novels held up as the first .

Getrudis Gomez De Avellaneda “sab” (1841) ,the first spanish language anti-slavery novel , anticipates uncle tom’s cabin by ten years .

There is a focus on the 1920’s surrealism and writers of the time such as Federico Garcia Lorca .through to the new wave of spanish writers such as Zafon and Perez-Reverte ,the generation X influenced books of Ray Lorca .

The last two short sections deal firstly with female spanish writers ,Homosexual writings a focus on Monique Lange and her husband and probably the best Spanish writer in the 20th century Juan Goytisolo .the last section deals how Spain has dealt with its writing heritage and its history ,its reverence of Cervantes and his masterpiece Don Quixote .

I found this book a wonderful insight into spanish literature and gave me loads of background information on the writers and the history ,I certainly via this book have many years of Spanish literature to enjoy ,from Miguel De Unamo ,via Juan Goytisolo ,Lorca and the new spanish voice in america Ray Loriga ,Molina .




the read a myth challenge 2011


Now two great bloggers jov of biblojunkie and Bina of if you can read this have come up with a wonderfull challenge for 2011 to read books based round and about myths now I love books based on myths so jumped at the chance to join in .Now I d love some suggestions for some books on myths got few ideas but recommendations more than welcome along usual books of my choice in translation especially African be welcome .You can sign up here ,hope so sounds great fun


THE BAD GIRL BY Mario Vargas Llosa

Well I had this down to rea on my around the world in 52 books list .Having read a couple many years ago by him ,after seeing the aunt Julia film which had a great performance from Peter Falk .Well if you didn’t know Mario won this years Nobel prize being the first Nobel winner from south America since Gabriel Garcia Marquez in 1982 .Mario Vargas Llosa was born in the Peruvian provinces in late thirties ,he went to military academy the subject of his first novel ,his books are both historic and have modern-day setting he often uses his own life experiences in his books .

The bad girl follows the life of Ricardo ,we meet him as a teenager in the 50’s in lima a love affair with lily or as in the title the bad girl starts and ends due to the difference in class etc ,Ricardo does well in his studies and ends up in paris working as a translator in numerous languages ,this is in the sixties so there is a backdrop of the city in the sixties with its protests and bohemian atmosphere ,Ricardo meets Comrade Arlette ,this women reminds him of lily in so many ways they have a passionate affair ,the book continues on the same path him traveling to different cities and meet women with the spirit of Lilly and having increasingly passionate and kinky love affairs .this takes us through london ,Tokyo back to peru and ending up in paris ,all this with a sparkling cast of friends including a mute boy .We see the history of times hippies ,seventies and Japans rise .

My only contact with Peru ,for by now I rarely saw Peruvians in paris ,continued to be the increasingly desperate letters from uncle Ataulfo and Aunt Delores always sent me regards in her own hand ,and from time to time I would send her scores for playing the piano was great diversion in her invalid life .

Ricardo family struggles at home in Peru unde General Alvarado’s dictatorship  .

Now I loved this Llosa has a real flow to his writing that draws you in bit by bit ,there is a lot of sex in this book but it is well written and helps the plot also gives you the true scope of the affair or affairs there is a question whether it is the same women or different women with the same spirit this isn’t answered but I felt form a man falls for the same spirit in different bodies ,the affair is a life long passion the encompasses the world ,these part the cities and times they were written really feel like they are from Llosa own life and that he’d been in paris and in London and Tokyo during the periods described in the book .Worthy nobel winner yes his books are always readable and  meaningful .Like Aunt Julia that was made into a film I could see this novel-making the move into a great film .The book is translated by Edith Grossman ,she has previously tranlated 5 of his books previously as you’d expect is perfection from the best translator of Latin American fiction

Have you read him ?

have you seen the films made of his books ?


Well the telegraph light up a minute ago and with a dash ,dash and a dot dot the 1910 booker winner was announced and sent to Winston towers down the wires .well shock of shocks the favourite the history of mr Polly by Wells has lost ,and the winner is Howard’s end ,a wonderful book about class ,this new group in the capital called Bloomsbury based round the Bloomsbury area of london ,centre on the Woolf’s .The book follows three families and there different social standings .A great and worthy winner for booker 1910 .

Also in the club on the paper table I read the Manchester Guardians Not the booker winner for 1910 ,their young feature chap Samuel Jordison runs this the readers write in with a book that missed the cut and the chaps at the guardin=an add it up and make a shortlist and announce the winner the same day as the booker winner and this time it is a truly worthy winner clayhanger by Arnold Bennett ,this story and coming of age of Edwin Clayhanger set in Arnold’s hometown of stoke and the five towns around it ,he was quoted as saying well at least my northern friends recognise me ,having missed booker cut this time .

now I look a hundred years hence and may see a book called C by Tom Mccarhthy winning maybe .

What do you read when trapped underground?

As the Chilean miners are on the verge of a Thunderbird like rescue after 65 days underground in a small area .yesterday I wondered on Twitter if one of the great Latin American novelist would right this story ,the miners have been visited by Isabel Allende and she donate some of her books for the miners to read .so I wondered what books would be best for them to read ? For me I thought of life of pi by Yann Martell maybe a tale of survival at sea would be a way to escape to a wide open space ?

A comedy novel by Wodehouse maybe ?

Ones of those epic novels 2666 ,moby dick , Ulysses ,Proust  ,the man without qualities ?

What book would you want to keep you company ?

I hope and pray they reach there families safe and sound soon

Second half of readathon


Well 13th hour its nearly 2am here in Chesterfield ,just about to finish book one of readathon the bad girl .

Pages read 350
Time reading 360 minutes
Try to do every challenge first half might be hard now as posting via mobile phone app

How is everyone finding it ?

15th hour
Pages read 430
Books finished 1
Time reading 410

Half way through short novel ,loved the bad girl ,have had to do some work last couple of hours .


pages read 570

books finished 2

time reading 490 minutes

well second book finished traveller to east thomas molofo it is only 88 pages long ,had to do some bits at work then walk home ,walk winston so have lost a far bit of reading time

currently reading -along came dylan a guilty pleasure I love books about dogs being a dog owner myself

20 th hour ,I m bowing out ,I m reall ytired and back at work tonight ,MANY THANKS FOR CHEERS HAVE MADE MY NIGHT

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October 2010


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