The library at night by Alberto Manguel



what can I say about Alberto Mauguel ,he is such an iconic figure to my self ,he is a Canadian /Argentina writer ,he publishes mainly non fiction books on reading the art of reading why ,how and what reading means .He was one of the figures that read to the late Jorge Luis Borges .When he lived in Buenos  Aires  in the german book shop .

The book revolves about what a library is ? it means so many things through time ,howe they came about how they inspired saved and enthralled readers and writers alike .He does all this as he build his huge library in his current home in France a barn contain thirty thousand volumes .I grew up with book my father is a huge reader and has shelves full of escapist fiction which is my fathers taste thrillers ,westerns but a prized collection of turn of the century Dickens in black leather always was loved by me as a youngster .mt gran was same with Trollope Saki etc on her shelves and my grandfathers antique guides and books on all matter of bizarre subjects .As I read through library at night I was gripped with passion like a young boy opening his first Dinky toy .I wish I had posted my quit post and just have read this and all would be well with Winstonsdad I needed inspiration and this was a lifeboat in a sea of doubt in myself .

The library in which I have at long last collected my books began life as a barn sometime in the fifteenth century ,perched on a small hill south of Loire ,here in the last years before the Christian era ,the romans erected a temple to Dionysus to honour the god of this wine-producing area ;twelve centuries later ,a christian church replaced the god of drunken ecstasy with the god who turned his blood to wine .

the opening of The library at night ,howe can you  not carry on after that salvo !

So if you wonder who Dewey was of the Dewey decimal system ,or what came before him .Then again what books meant in Auschwitz during the war well dear readers the answers lie with the cover of this wonderful book .I Have read a number of his earlier books and now will get another to put behind emergency glass for when I wobble as this book and Manguel as a writer is a shining beacon on  a foggy mind . I know want my own barn or large space for the ever-expanding Winstonsdad collection of books as a book lover I just can’t stop rooting round book sales for my next fix of cover art or feel of leather from an aged volume .

Have you read this book or any of his books ?

The lover by Maguerite Duras

Source -personnel copy .

Marguerite Duras was a french novelist ,she was born to french parents in Vietnam ,in 1914 ,she return to france after her parents death to study Law ,she worked in indo china for the french Government in the thirties ,joined the french resistance in the second world war ,her husband was captured at this time and sent to Belsen where he just survived the experience .she wrote countless books ,this work is considered her most autobiographical book ,she in later life became heavily involved in the nouveau roman movement in france .

The lover cause a storm when it was first released in 1984 ,it is set in Vietnam and is the story of a fifteen year old ,young french girl and a rich Chinese businessman son who is a great deal old than girl who have an affair ,it isn’t Hard to work out giving the setting of the book and the age of the young girl 15 ,that this was something to some extent that Duras had experienced .The affair is sparked by a chance lift offered the girl by the young man .He has deep feelings for this young women but after time and outside pressure from his disapproving father breaks the affair .

For a long time I’ve had no dress of my own ,My dress are all a sort of sack ,made out of old dresses of my mother’s which themselves are all a sort of sack .Except for those my mother made for me by do .she’s the housekeeper who’ll never leave my mother even when she goes back to france .

An idea of the poverty of the nameless girl .

This book was a beautiful read ,I can see why it won Prix Goncourt (a bit like the french booker ) .it has a simple story but tackles it subtle hand ,you always have the sense this is a story Duras wanted to tell but had to wait til the time was right for it to be told  .She never revealed who the man was but he had gone to live in America  in the late thirties .Quintessentially  french novel this type of story is what I love about french fiction simple personnel story .the Book was translated by Barbara Bray,later made into a film Jean Jacques Annand in 1992 starring Jane March and Tony Leung ,it followed the novel and gave the two main Characters no name as in the Novel .It was a bit like a romantic version of a Greene novel ,similar setting to the quiet American although thirty years earlier .This passed a few hour I must rewatch the film at some point .

Merry christmas from winston and me

wow dad snow merry christmas from us

seasons greetings all .Hope you have a great christmas .

Italian reading challenge

My friend dan on twitter  gave me the eyes up on this challenge by book after book blog .Its a year long Italian reading challenge .The Challenge is to read 12 books over 2011 set in Italy or by Italian writers .I m going to do the later have a number of books lined up for January for a week of Italian reading .Want try and read 12 different writers from Italy over next year . to find out more look here

So I ve Calvino ,Eco ,Maurnsig ,Buzzati ,Sciascia and want to finally get to the collectiive writing project Luther Blisset and the novel Q which I got halfway through years ago but had to give book back to a friend .


around the world in a year -the first year of winstonsdad .

Well the first full year of blogging is drawing to the end and now I look back on the year I ve had highs and lows but am coming out of it looking forward to new challenges and new books to read .But for this year I ve decide to go round world pick best I ve read from various areas of the world .


the purple violet

books read – 14

countries -11

WELL my favourite african book this year is Purple violets of oshaantu ,thisNambian story was a wonderful insight into village life and really deserves a wider audience .other highlights have been the Ben Okri non fiction I read .

Next year I want read more francophile african lit and some african classics .




Highlights wonder Hugo Claus has won many awards and you can see why ,a gripping look at post war Beligum ,other highlights have been the three Peirene titles all have been quality novellas ,stones in landslide touch me the most with yet again its tales of village life .also Dion Quixote which is the greatest classic I ve read and the start of novel writing in europe .

next year – the next three Peirene are eagerly awaited here ,I ve a couple of Portuguese novels I want to read as well .





Highlights Mati Unt Brecht at night was a revelation a unusal book from Estonia , circus Bulgaria as well is probably my book of the year by Deyan Enev .

Next year -plan to read a Serbian novel and some polish novels also the long haul of war and peace starting in the new year .also my Hungarian week is planned have 4 novels ready .



Highlight Coconut unlimited loved ,loved this coming of age novel ,also vivanne  and I was a great Biography .

next year book three of Powell and got Ballards autobiography to read .





to the end of the land is the best book from the israeli point of view and Yalo a powerful book about Lebanon .

next year -More same really maybe some Saudi lit next year .




Highlight the end Salvatore Sciobona ,a huge new talent from america maybe the heir to Bellow .

Next year – got a mexican week planned have 5 novels awaiting to be read .Also the new David Vann novel Caribou island to read in January .




Bolano saves my reading block

Highlight ,Library at night ,just read and yet to review it enliven my mind and made me want to blog on ,Nazi Literatures in Americas was a quirky book and show Bolanos love of Borges and my last highlight is Borges Labyrinths which I ve just finished .

Next year have a book from Paraguay I want to get and read also Cesar Aira is some one I want to read next year .




highlights the Korean novel the guest was a wonderful look a the divide in that country ,also the patience stone from Afghanistan was a harrowing tale of a women’s life in that country .

next year -aim to read more asian lit next year it is my real weak area of world lit and I need to get some more depth ,have a chinese novel and a books from New Zealand and Malaysia to be read .




I ve enjoyed the Nordic crime fiction I ve read this year Jo Nesbo is some one I ll read More of ,but Tove Jansson has been my favourite female writer of the year and someone I treasure .

Next year – got danish and Icelandic novels on TBR PILE ,want read more Jo Nesbo and start on the Martin Beck books later in the year .

well that is the year shall round up December in new year .



source – personal copy

John Steinbeck was probably on of Americas greatest writers in the middle period of the twentieth century ,his books caught the character of America in the depression .He won the Nobel prize for literature in 1962 .He is a name that makes many people jump after being made to read of mice and men at school ,but would ask people to give him another try this very short novella is a perfect book to get yourself reaquainted with him or discover him .

The book is set in a small Mexican fishing village and follows a poor Mexican fisherman Kino   .He finds a huge wonderous Pearl .

And the beauty of the pearl ,winking and glimmering in the little candle ,cozened his brain with its beauty .So lovely it was ,so soft ,and its own music came from it -its music of promise and delight guarantee of the future ,of comfort ,of security .

Kino looking at the pearl .

The pearl has his fortune in it but as it turns out his downfall as well ,at the same time .the book was a retelling of a Mexican folk tale ,Kino his wife Junna and son Coyotito are all effect by the finding of the pearl .The book has a moral theme running through it that is we should be happy who we are and that greed and wealth ,which is what the pearl represents isn’t all it is meant to be .The story remind me of a quote from a Basil Rasthbone Sherlock Holmes film the pearl of death about a famous pearl the bourgeis pearl he said for its beauty it is cover in the blood of many a man and should really be thrown back in the sea .That is what Kino should have done but instead he Kept the pearl got greedy want more and more money for it and eventually when his wife decided the pearl was too much of burden it led to a shocking  conclusion .The book is very short ninety pages long and can easily be read in an evening .The book shows Steinbeck powers of writing taking a simple folk tale and expanding it to a full novella .

Have you a favourite Steinbeck ?

The summer book by Tove Jansson

source – own copy swapped for winter book with Inside books .

Tove Jansson was a finnish writer that wrote in Swedish ,she was best known for her children’s books the Moomin series ,which was made into a tv series ,that I watched as a child and loved its humour ,which is in this book .

The summer book follows the gran Tove and her six-year-old grand-daughter ,on her Island home during a summer ,The winter book I read earlier this year was mainly about coping on the Island over the winter .But summer book is firmly about family and the fun A six-year-old can be with questions ,we also see the ebb and flow of the island ,new neighbours Sophie the grand-daughter missing her father who returns in one of the stories .The stories are rich in the tapestry of life ,fun and simple .Tove Jansson has manage to make everyday life seem bright and Vibrant to the reader .I manage to get through this book in an evening smile and laughing along the way .

Sophie asked her grandmother what heaven looked like ,and grandmother said it might be like the pasture they were just the walking by ,on the way to the village over on the mainland .They stopped to look ,it was very hot the road was white and cracked ,and all the plants along the ditch had dust on their leaves .

Sophie like any young child has a questioning nature .

Passages like this remind me of my own holidays with grandparents growing up ,they always seemed so wise and different and always seemed to have the answer to any question ,like the grandmother .There are new neighbours to deal with a large house new to the island ,The grandmother and Sophie sneak over and have a look at this house and Sophie is surprised by how big it is and then the owners appear with a huge dog the runs and barks ,she gets nervous but grandmother gives him some sugar and the owner says he only wants to play .This story was so funny ,you can see Sophie’s nervousness at  being in the house ,and fear of the dog but this is laced with humor and Sophie saying thinks like

he’s got big paintings .

They’ve found our boat .

Build the tension and humor .The book is now firmly one of my favourites and Jansson one of the best writers I ve read ,her style is uncluttered ,engaging and most of all highly readable ,the translation is perfect the book reads as thou it was originally written in English not Swedish .it evokes this island yet again ,I said on twitter it to someone when reading it ,that it made me want to live on a small island there is something about being away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life .Translated by Thomas Teal .


Well a quick post ,just wondering if any one fancy joining me with a Xmas readalong of 2666 Roberto Bolano’s masterpiece I m think starting about 20th of this month and reading through the Yuletide period and through to new year .I know its a busy time of year for people but any company be great as I tackle my second 900 plus book of the year .I ll be reading the us paperback version ,think it is same page count as UK version .

Thousand reviews and hundred countries challenge

After a day soul searching .I had long think before yesterday post ,but somethings people said struck me this is my own record of what I read ,maybe my challenges were to easy and doing them was good but until today and thought of not having a challenge and how that might stop me reading as much as I have been this year so I ve decided to raise the bar so ridiculously high that I ll spend many years trying to reach it .I want read books from a 100 countries now ,this is going be tough and also reach a thousand books reviewed .this should see me too well I don’t know .A clear head made me realise what fool I am ,I d be losing something I love doingwith all heart and be a fool for doing that plus sure Winston would miss being a star of the blog ! .

So sorry for yest

erday .

all good things come to a end

I ll be leaving the blogging world at end of this month I ve done what I want to read books from more than 52 countries and read over a hundred books in a year ,I m losing blog readers so decide to go out on a high rather than carry on so last review will hopefully be 2666 on 31 december  thanks stu

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December 2010


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