cracking some series novels

well I ve spent last few days away from blogging looking at my books and planning next year and I really wat to crack on with some series I ve had sat on winston’s shelves to long !


I ve read the first in this cycle of twelve novels ,and am currently reading the second part .It covers england from post world war one to the sixties the main character is Nick Jenkins we follow him from his school days to the roaring twenties through tha war and into the sixties .



A remembrance of things past by Marcel Proust

I ve read the first volume of this but want to restart it I ve manage to buy a 80’s penguin vol in three parts ,the six books in this series were Proust life told in fiction and is considered on of the great must read books ,

Alexandria quartet by Lawrence Durrell

Now this is one of the rob  from fiction desks books and I ve two versions ,the complete modern edition and the original sixties Faber paperbacks that I picked up in a charity shop ,now the books are an event retold four times by different narrators considered a modern classic .

Palliser novels by Anthony Trollope

Now I won these my Gran is a fan of his books this is a collection of six novels .the books are semi political look at Victorian england .


Well I think you’ll see these intersped over the next few months or years as I want to try to read these four series before I move onto any others I may want too .




source library

Miguel syjuco is a Canadian based Filipino writer ,this is his debut novel ,it won the Man asian  Literary prize in 2008 .He got a degree in manilla and mfa in America .The book follows a fictional Miguel Sjyuco as he tries to discover what happened to the last and maybe most important book of a famed Filipino  writer Crispin Salvador ,the writer was one of the most famous commentators on the changing face of his homeland but also the experience of ex pat Filipinos in europe and round the world .the book falls into three different formats a selection of Salvador’s writing ,in these he comes across as a bit of a south asian version of Lawrence Durrell.

These are the broad themes : enigmas , dreams , mythologies , the tyranny of absence , the shortcomings of language , deciduous memories ,ending as beginnings .

from autoplagiarst (page 188) by Crispin Salvador .

The second part of the book is a fictional Biography of Crispin Salvador by the fictional Miguel Sjyuco  the two writers grow close over the time they do the interviews the younger enjoying the elders life and his place in society,also the history he has seen in his homeland and around the world .the lion as he is called grows into a living breathing writer through these interviews and extracts .

The communist party of the Philippines had a very strict agenda ,which Salvador quickly learned was vastly different from that of the foot soldiers actually waging the protracted people’s wat the time in the hills was as he called it “my schooling in the best and worst of humanity “.

extract from the Eight lives lived by Miguel Sjyuco

Now the final strand of the book is set after Salvador mysterious death  in the Hudson river in the new york state his last great novel a look into the politics of the Philippines and the corruption within it ,this book has vanished into thin air ,he meets family and gets drawn into a great story and the political situation in his own country .

These three strands are interwoven as past present and future are spun before your eyes in what is a wonderfully clever work of meta fiction .Syjuco has manage to encapsulate the politics and life of Philippines during the second part of the twentieth century of course the names have been changed but the experience are the same ,there is also a small part of a mystery novel here .Crispin Salvador leaps of the page and you wish he was a writer ,The quotes from his novels are wonderfully written in a different voice than the Sjyuco piece showing the writers ability to use different styles and voices ,this is as good as Bolano ,Borges and even Tom McCarthy’s c .He also makes use of modern communcation including e -mail and blog postings splattered through out .As a debut it works a writer showing his portfolio of styles ,I hope he maybe isn’t so varied in future novels as it works for a single novel but may tire after that ,but we’ll have to see .

Jackie also reviewed this

Winstons coffee and muffins A challenge

One day last week Meike from peierne press was highlighting a blog post on harvil secker about translation and wondered if any one could suggest some well I suggest one from German book list and also said that ulrich holbein was over due translation ,as I said in my post a few weeks ago. He shot up in Nobel betting which remind me of reading a short piece when I lived in Germany in a magazine about him .well the downshot  of this discussion was a challenge from Meike to myself if I could some how generate interest in holbein and that people would want to read and buy this book by Germany’s most avant grade writer ,she will try and publish one of his shorter works in English well I tried to think of ways to highlight him and on the whole have drawn a blank so any one any ideas I d welcome a guest post from one my German friends about him below I ve collect a few pieces from German papers about him .I know Meike has been in touch with his German publishers and she is the first English publisher to show interest so if you want to help and want see Ulrich Holbein in English  contact me or do a post about him !! it would be most welcome .

wiki entry from german wiki need use a translator to read in english

taz interview

A collection of reviews from a german culture magazine

The literary blog hop

Well I came accross this today after couple blog posts in the reader ,I oh and er about joining in I never see this a a literary blog ,but suppose it is and I m a terrible book snob a lot of the time so the question is what is your favourite Literary book and why is it a literary books well here are the ones I reject and why .



MY CHOICE – Underworld by Dom Delillo –

the book wonderfully captures America post world war two from fifties to the nineties,the story jumps around the times so the time-line is all over the place ,it has many interweaves stories a main character Nick Shay that maybe sums up the American everyman perfectly ,the main drive of the book is a baseball from a famous baseball match .The reason I choose this book is it sums up to me what Literary fiction is Delillo is the successor of Bellow , Updike and Roth  ,he maybe came nearest to the fabled GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL with this book ,it isn’t a easy read but rewarding ,it uses a baseball as a way to move the book forward and jumps through history only in literary fiction would a writer be so bold to do this and succeed .

this blog hop is hosted by the blue bookcase ,many thanks and a new addition to my reader .

The hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Well Halloween was wondering what to read and though oh I ll reread the Hound of the Baskervilles it is a short book and can be easily read in a day ,Now this was my first reread since my early twenties of this book ,I first read under the covers as a ten-year old ,this time I was struck by a number of things ,the cleverness of the writing using diary ,and telegrams as different chapters .The way Doyle built up the moor as a character in itself ,dark sorrowful and full of mystery .The other thing I had in my head was a spinning wheel of the versions of this book I ve seen on dvd and film from Basil Rathbone ,Peter Cushing ,Jeremy Brett and their sidekicks ,at different points in the book I had a different Holmes in my mind’s eye .one my favourite lines is .

why should a man walk on tiptoe down the alley ?

he was running ,watson -running desperately ,running for his life ,running until his heart burst and fell dead upon his face .

running from what ?

there lies our problem .there are indications that the man was crazed with fear before ever he began to run

how can you say that ?

I m not going to mention much on the story I think most people know the story SIR Charles Baskerville ,dies under strange circumstances ,his nephew comes to england ,there is a myth of an evil curse of a demon hound on the Baskerville family ,Watson goes the Baskerville seat in devon on the dark moors ,e

he meets the locals reports to Holmes ,then Holmes comes into the picture again and there is a shocking climax ! .Watson is the main character in most of this book ,he comes across as an able doctor ,a fairly observant man and a prefect sounding board for Holmes ,Watson’S view is very black and white he is the parts that Holmes character doesn’t have ,compassion ,able to interact with people more openly .well as ever I loved this book it is a true classic in crime lit and the best of the Holmes novels .Now as I said I imagined the different film versions ,I think the best of them is Jeremy BNretts it is in many ways nearest the novel ,but can recommend the Ian Richardson version as it has Brian Blessed ,doing what he does best shouting .



Is there ageism in literature ?

Over weekend reading the various reviews of Gunter Grass new novel/autobiography .I was struck by how often Grass age was mentioned and the fact the work was weak due to age ,over the years I ve seen this time and time again ,Jackie at farm lane books did a post about relating to writers age earlier this year .Know on whole I don’t look at  writers age ,although have notice some books by younger writers appeal to me less than they would have done ten years ago .so if your a writer in your 80’s does it mean your book is not going to be good as the book you wrote in your forties ? If you believe the reviewers then it is not going to be ,last year I read a great debut by the writer of Mr Magoo ,his debut novel Bowl of cherries by Millard Kaufman when he was 86 a wonderfully wacky and funny novel .so does age matter ?



City picks/lit is a series of books ,all about different cities ,using extracts ,short pieces and journalistic pieces about the cities ,This one is all about the Dutch Capital Amsterdam and was part funded by thee Dutch foundation for translation of Dutch literature .The collection was compiled by Heather Reyes The editor of the whole series and Victor Schiferli A dutch graduate ,he worked for the Dutch translation foundation and as an editor for Penguin .It is published by Oxygen books

The book is divide into a number of sections ,each reflecting Amsterdam in a different way ,I love Amsterdam the first is a general introduction why people love the city Alain De describing arriving at Schipol airport and the trip to the centre of Amsterdam from his art of travel .Then we read piece about the canals of Amsterdam ,Cees Nooteboom talks about the sea and the land a wonderfully poetic piece from Hollands best known writer .

First of all the land .The North sea beats against a row of dunes that resist it and rolls ,green grey ,brown grey to the place where it finds passage .From there it whips around the land ,between the walls of islands and becomes the Wadden sea ,the Zuider Zee .

from the philosopher without eyes by Cees Nooteboom .

Then we Gather Peoples thought on the must see places Geert Mak from his books about the City picks Vondel park as one of the Places ,of course Anne Franks house here described by Indian writer Salil Triparthi  ,then we here writers describe the art ,the wonderful collection of dutch masters Van Gogh is described by the spanish writer Cesar Antonio Molina .

Van Gogh was always obsessed with being recognized and success but if it had worked out like that would he have painted the way he did ?

Molina on Van Gogh

Then we see how Amsterdam is a nation with in a nation ,very different in some ways than the rest of the Netherlands .John Ezards obituary too The Franks lifeline Miep Gies is very Touching this wonderful women ,deserves to be remembered  ,the tolerant Amsterdam is discussed with their liberal drugs and infamous red light district .the Croatian writer Dubravka Ugresic tells us the cost of the red light district in human traffic from Eastern Europe .then the Historic Amsterdam our own Simon Schmama talks about the city through Rembrandt’s eyes .the section on the second world war includes an extract of  Anne Franks diary ,a wonderful piece on a childs eye view of the war ,and the last section is about the future of the city ,

Well that was a quick flick through the book the sections and some pieces I enjoyed ,Cities are like a Living breathing creatures and this book is like a paint of this creature ,AMSTERDAM ,i ve been only a couple of times for the day to this city and loved it this book remind me of the bits I liked the people the canals its wonderful artistic legacy ,this book is great if you want to go there have been there or just want to know about the city as an armchair traveller .Now there are a lot of different writers mainly Dutch but also from around the world ,the translators seem to have done great jobs .

I ll leave you with another person on this great city .

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November 2010


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