January round up and feb plans

Well that flew by doesn’t seem five minutes since new years day and here I am at the last day of the month well ,I ve read a lot of Italian novels this month as planned .so here is what I read this month

  1. 2666 by Roberto Bolano (Chile)
  2. Hare with amber eyes by Edmund du Waal (uk)
  3. Norwegian wood by Haruki Murakami (Japan)
  4. Khirbet Khizeh by s. Yihzar (Israeli)
  5. If on a winter’s night a traveller by Italo Calvino (Italy)
  6. The Luneberg variation by Paulo Mauersig (italy)
  7. The leopard by Giuseppe Di Thomas (Italy)
  8. Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco (Italy)
  9. The tartar steppe by Dino Buzzati (Italy)
  10. The fugitive by Massimo Carlotto (Italy)
  11. A song for carrying water ,collected Somalia tales (Somalia)
  12. My dead dad was in ZZ  top by Jon Claser(us)

Twelve books was three better than Last January and enough to keep me on track ,need to catch up on reviews but time has got best of me this weekend .

Favourites –

2666 & if on a winter night a traveller – two modern great that I d been scared of reading but enjoyed both for different reasons both still have me thinking 2666 in particular as I struggle to capture what I felt for the book .

February plans –

The country of focus this month is South africa ,I plan to tackle some more african books this month as well and another Bolano and Murakami ,Plus planning for a special announcement that will come tomorrow and be planned over next month ready for March .

What did you read last Month ?

Italian food

I thought I do a small post on the Italian food ,I  Love Italian food ,I grew up going every sunday to an Italian coffee and ice cream shop ,choose different mixes of ice cream the coffee and nut ones were nu favourites every weekend and when I got a bit older a espresso or a real lemonade .I then discover fresh pasta ,I have a pasta maker that my wife got me but have yet to try my making my own pasta ,I hope too at some point this year .I do make ragu sauce of sorts ,I was going to make it and photo it ,but this week there is just me here and it would be a waste of food but I ll give you my recipe of sorts –

  1. chop an onion in to small pieces ,place a large sauce pan on hob to middle heat add olive oil add onions and a glove of garlic in there crushed or finely chopped and a pack of minced lamb .fry til mince brown and onions nice and soft .at this point add some very finely chopped carrot .
  2. add 500 ml of lamb stock ,a jar of pulped tomatoes and a glass of very good red wine (as you can drink the rest as you cook )
  3. at this point you can add dried Italian herbs or leave it and add fresh herb a little later .now turn  heat right down or as I do place in slow cooker and leave for a good hour till the liquid has reduced to a thick sauce .
  4. serve with lingue pasta .very tasty .

Hope you enjoy it is fairly simple and tastes great,part of Italian reading week .

The Leopard by Tomasi Di Lampedusa

This is Probably the most well known Italian classic .It is a set text in Italian school I was told by Hersilla press the new Italian crime press .Tomasi  was the 11th prince of Lampedusa this was his only novel and was published after his death in the late fifties this was also made into a film by Visconti starring Burt Lancaster he loved the book and was dubbed into Italian for his performance as the Prince .

The book is based in Scilly in the YEAR 1860 and follows a real event and some real people mixed with fiction characters .The main character is the prince of salina ,he is faced with a huge change in his life as Garibaldi red shirts are en route to Scilly to bring it into the Italian unification movement as Giuseppe Garibaldi fought to topple the feudal system that was still part of Italy at the time .So we find a man facing a uncertain values in regards his place in society  but also a changing society round him .The course of the book follows the prince journey dealing with this travelling round the island meeting his mistress and his good friend Father Pirrone that gives him some wonderful advice with what to do about his future .

The old man looked at him with amazement ,he had wanted to know if the prince of Salina was satisfied or not with the latest changes ,and the other was talking to him about aphrodisiacs and light for Golgotha .all that reading driven him off his head poor man .

a section from chapter with Father Pirrone and the Prince talking .

The book has a highly personnel feel given Tomasi family history been from a royal family parts of this story must relate to his own ,Also I thing there is some connection to modern Italy at the time it was written ,just after the end of the second world war ,like the Italy of the 1860’s it was in a state of flux .The leopard is part of Tomasi own coat of arms ,The volume I have is the new Vintage edition that includes some separate pieces that were found after the book was published these include sonnets written by Don Fabrizio the prince these add to the book I like the fact that they haven’t been thrown in to the original text ,but the fact that Tomasi had written them and left them to maybe add at some point is wonderful .The book was originally meant to be an Italian version of Joyce’s Ulysses and set over a day but instead it is slices of time over the course of 1860’s .Now I can watch the film it was on over christmas but I left it as I want to read the book .May I also point out at no point was the Garibaldi biscuit mentioned I do wonder how his name got attached to this biscuit .This book was recently picked by our deputy prime minister Nick Clegg as his desert Island book .after reading I can see why it is a wonderfully written book that would stand numerous rereading .

Have you read this book ?

The luneberg variation by Paolo Maurensig

source – own copy from inside books thanks

Paulo Maurensig is an Italian writer this was his debut novel published just after he turned fifty.This is my second Italian week read

The Luneburg variation is book about chess ,secrets and world war two ,it is set in a house where a dead body will appear ,it’s about an old man and a younger man ,the chess reflects life in some ways as the books ,unfolds but that is as much as I know on the chess side I play but am not very good ,but the chess is maybe just a framing device for the way the story turns out .Hans Meyer the young man has come to learn from a grand master the older man Tabori ,the men have spent most of there lives studying this game and although different both have a part to play as they narrate the story ,a murder has happen but also this is linked to the past horror of world war two the dead man Dieter Frisch is a german from Munich ,the action happens in Vienna where the old house is

They say that chess was born in blood shed .

Legend has it that when the game was first presented to the court ,the sultan decide to reward the obscure inventor by granting any wish he might have .The recompense requested seemed modest : the quantity of wheat that would result from putting a single grain of rice on the first of the boards sixty-four squares then two on second and four on the third and so on ..I ll leave the in and outs for you to find out the book is very short 138 pages in my edition.

The great opening and the impossible task of supplying the wheat by doubling up on every square .

The book remind me of Kafka or maybe Zweig a bit apart from the setting there is something Noir about this book dark secrets and a constant building of tension .The description of the house remind me a bit of the house in citizen Kane ,where Kane dies ,that’s how the book felt like a black and white film ,A great find by my friend Simon at inside books that sent it to me .the book was translated by Jon Rothschild

Winston’s score –

the tension in this film is similar to the tension in the book ,also both are set in Vienna and round similar times .

Have you read any books with chess in ?


Source – my own copy ,

Well book one of Italian week is the modern classic by the Italian Mastero Italo Calvino ,the cuban born Italian writers Marmite book ,this is a book for reviews I ve read whilst blogging is a book that either people love or hate ,well what did I think ?

You are about to begin reading Calvino’s new novel ,If on a winter’s night a traveller .Concentrate dispel every other thought .Let the world around you fade .

wise words from the sage himself .


The book is a book that talks ,you may laugh but every other chapter is telling you about how you read the book and what it is to read the book ,this is a unusual to start of with but is witty and a little tongue in cheek ,like my fellow blogger Parish lantern the humour was a real surprise ,the other chapters in between are a thee story of a man in a made up-country  Cimmeria ,this would appear to be italy through Calvino’s eyes ,the is a relationship and some fraud ,but there is also a number of different separate stories on various subject’s .The plot is hard to explain as there really isn’t one this is like a tour of talents like Calvino’s portfolio it him nudging you and going  to you look at this ,the book draws you in to you feel like you were a character written by Calvino .

Listening to someone read aloud is very different to reading in silence .when you read, you can stop or skip sentences :you are the one who sets the pace .When someone else is reading it difficult to make your attention coincide with the tempo of his reading : the voice goes either to fast or slow .

I heard Ben Okri say something similar ,the opening of chapter Four .

Well as you may tell I loved this book ,and my doubts were silly ,I should have known I loved  invisible cities ,I tend to doubt myself with these books that are experimental or off beat novels ,because everyone I ve read I love this brought to mind B S Johnson whose works I loved when I read them .I can see why people don’t like it there is little plot not many names and it is maybe a male book more than a female book .This is translated by the wonderful William Weaver probably the best Italian translator alive .

Winston’s score –

I was going use the leaning tower of Pisa but choose to use my own land mark our twisted spire here in Chesterfield ,If you know how it got there it loses its wonder ,the beauty is in the way it looks and the same is true of If on a winter’s night , analysis it too much and the beauty of the first reading is lost, the feeling of floating on a sea of words  with the good captain Calvino .


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