The foxes come at night by Cees Nooteboom

Source – review copy

Translator – Ina Rilke

This is Cees latest collection to be translated in to English ,Cees Nooteboom is a dutch writer ,he has written numerous books fiction and non fiction .He has won numerous awards and I was lucky enough to interview him yesterday on the blog .

Now this collection is a theme collection of short stories ,the themes are ,memories ,death looking back at life’s lost moments ,lost loves .As you can tell this is Cees looking back on life ,when I first heard of this collection and read the synopsis of the book the book that sprung to mind was  Kazuo Ishiguro nocturnes came to mind even more so when the first story was called Gondolas ,but this is so much better the stories all stand alone and don’t feel as thou they been worked at  to fit a theme as a couple of the nocturnes stories did.These stories are touching and thoughtful works ,a man who thinks of a past love Paula then the story is flipped as she sense he remembering her this is drifting story of dreams memories and love ,we drift through the Mediterranean through ex pats ,these  stories are meditations on lives lived and lovers lost ,Cees is a craftsman at his writing and Ina Rilke the translator who managed to keep the wonderful poetic feel to these stories ,I don’t want give away too much as I think you need to read these to appreciate them .Memories and old age which is what this book is really about is something that I love having worked at the beginning of my vocation with older people and done some work on memories involving a play worked from the collected memories of the people I looked after ,this book gave me that feel it wasn’t Cees life more a collection of   people stories and experiences thrown together and blended by Cees to these small gems and flashes into people’s lives  .Lizzie Siddal said she felt uncomfortable with the looking back feel of the book ,I didn’t but working with people and experiencing death a number of times I was touched by them .

Back in his empty apartment in Amsterdam he waited for news from her ,letters written in an unaesthetic ,almost naive american hand ,margins splattered with zodiac and scillian signs to ward off the evil eye ,and wondered what on earth he had written in reply .He no longer knew which of them had stopped writing ,   but he had a clear memory of the excitement he had felt ,a good twenty years on ,at receiving a letter written in the old familiar scrawl

from the opening story Gondolas .

Another thing unbook related that this collection reminded me of was the work of the late Johnny cash his American collection of albums which rung with his life and people he’d known like this collection ,these two artists in later years both looking back ,but still making wonderful art ,like Cash’s work which I love, Nooteboom seems to have got better with age here is a writer that knows his craft and how to use it without feeling like he is going oh yes I m Cees Nooteboom ,like you get with some of his contemporaries in english do from time to time .The collection is 150 pages long and I read it on the train to London which wa perfect as on a rainy day I was transported to Spain , Italy and other places .So I d say this book is a perfect wet Sunday afternoon read ,it is one that will stick with you for a long time after you put the book down .

Cees Nooteboom talks to winstonsdad

I ve been lucky enough  to Ask The best Known Living Dutch writer Cees Nooteboom ,the prize winning writer is often mentioned as a Nobel prize winner for his body of Work so to tie in with his newest collection of stories being released in English and Iris of Iris on book Dutch literature month some questions About his books and Translation-.

  1. You are a travel writer ,art critic ,poet and literary writer – of these which is closest to your heart ?

The combination. My prose would not be the way it is without my interest, both as a writer and a reader, in poetry. Poetry goes to the heart of things, finds new ways for words, forces one to be precise,and at the same time implies an enormous freedom of thought and expression.

  1. How do you manage to find the time to write so prolifically ?                           Time is always there, it depends what you want to do with it. Couperus, who was more prolific than I am, always claimed that he was lazy.
  2. In this latest collection of stories to be translated  into English ,which came first The theme or The stories  ?                                                                                        The theme belongs to my age. Friends separate, colleague’s die, people disappear in all kinds of ways, and one finds time to reflect on all that, which belongs the work of memory.
  3. In the Foxes Come at Night how much of your own life has been invested into the stories ?                                                                                                                              This question was often asked of Marcel Proust. After all, the protagonist of his 4000 page book was called Marcel, like the author, and many people wanted to recognize themselves and others in his book. But he was adamant and said it was all fiction, including the author in the book with whom he shared a first name.

He was right, if only for the simple fact that Proust is dead, and the other Marcel is still very much alive in all these pages.

  1. How closely do you work with your translators ?                                                    Very close, especcially when they need me.
  2. How  important are champions of literature in translation such as publishers lik MacLehose Press ?                                                                                                         They are the salt of literary life, a last bulwark against the ever increasing commercialism of the international booktrade.
  3. I’m doing this as part of Iris on books Dutch Literature month – What is special about Dutch literature for the readers that may not have been introduced to it before ?                                                                                                        The Dutch are a rather special tribe, like the english, but smaller. On the other hand,Holland is not an island. It has taken the world a long time to recognize that there are some interesting writers out there, like Hermans, Mulisch, Claus, Mortier, van Dis, Grunberg, and many others. And of course it does not help that we know much more about English writers than English readers know about dutch literature. A small language can be a prison. Translation is liberation.
  4. Why do you think the English sometimes do not understand Dutch literature ?                                                                                                                                                      For the reason I have just indicated. Dutch literature may be an acquired taste, we are a metropolitan country, very densely populated, forced by size, inclination and the necessity of trade to be international, though lately rather inward looking. There is not enough land to serve as a counterweight to the cities. That makes for a rather special society. The language is spoken by 21 milion sometimes conceited citizens, with opinions about practically everything, in an eternal dialogue with each other.
  5. Do you have a favourite book (If yes please name it )?                           Remembrace of Things past, by Marcel Proust. Ala Recherchedu Temps Perdu.
  6. Which of your own books stands out for you ?                                                           The Knight has died ( De Ridder is gestorven, 1963), which has not been published in theUK. It is maybe not my best book , but it was very important in my writing life, since in it I understood for the first time what writing really was about. It was published in english long ago byLouisianaStateUniversityPress, and as I noticed recently inAustraliaandIndia, some of my fans have been able to find it in the ever expanding labyrinth of the internet where nothing is ever lost.

Cees new collection is out now by Maclehose press ,my review will follow shortly ,Many thanks to Nicci at Maclehose who help me get chance to ask Cees these questions .

Translationthurs for 23 June

Parrish Lantern – is busy reading the post war Japanese potery collection for Jlc 5 ,the challenge to read Japanese literature hosted by Dolce Belleza ,the collection is translated by Harry and Lynne guset ,Have keep eye out for a review from Parrish .

I will tweet ,from the Blog Just Williams luck ,suggest Sjon The mouth of the whale ,His new novel in English from Saqi books ,set in 1600’s in Iceland read Wills review






Mcaclehose Press link to their writer Cees Nootebom reading from his new wonderful collection the foxes come at night  ,I ve read and will be reviewing it shortly a timely collection with a reflection on life and death as the theme to the stories.Lizzy siddall suggest this as well here review of it is here

Oxford world classics suggested their book repetition and philosopher crumbs by Kierkegaard a collection of two works showing his philosophy the say from the best Danish version

Karyn at a penguin a week Choose a Penguin surprise surprise she has a wonderful collection a Georges Simenon  The widow,from the Belgian writer I found three of his recently ,his estate don’t know how many books he wrote as he used a few alias in his time .This has also been reissued by NYRB it is the tale of a widow and a killer Gide consider it better than the stranger by Camus at time it was published ,exploring the space between death and desire

Expatina said you should read the wonderful german writer Daniel Kehlmann his last novel was fame .

Bookworm 1979 suggested Teresa Solano not so perfect crime ,from Bitter  lemon press ,set in Barcelona a noirish crime novel

the wonderful Meike at Peirene picked Sjon’s other book the blue fox ,A bloggers favourite ,I ve yet to read it

Kinna from Kinna reads ,is looking forward to a new Peter Nadas novel soon to be in english and his older book the book of Memories a book in the form of three narratives complex but very worth reading from the Hungarian writer .

Jen and the Pen suggested After midnight by Imgard Keun a Anthea bell translation ,the pre war classic by this German writer that caught the interwar years in Germany ,her books were banned by the Nazis and she had to live in exile during the war .

Arablit picked Abduction by Anouar Benmaleks ,a thriller set in Algeria a book with a lot of violence and sadness it seems

Rebecca books who works for Harvil secker has set a face book page or the novel in the sea there are crocodiles ,a true story of a boys five-year Journey from Afghanistan to Italy where he found safety at last a ,heart warm tale of freedom it seems .

Last Tony from Tony’s reading list  is reading F C Delius a portrait of a young women in the original german the 130 page sentence look forward to his review see what he thought I loved Jamie Baluch translation .

Jamie Baluch tweeted he is translating Alissa Wasler ‘s Am anfang war die nacht musik , in the beginning was the night of music roughly ,it is about a relationship breaking up in 18th century Vienna ,not sure who is publishing it .

The skating rink by Roberto Bolano

Source – library

Translator – Chris Andrews

Roberto Bolano the late Chilean writer,wrote this book in1993 and it was his first novel published and was translated into english in 2009 by Chris Andrews .

The book is a book about a murder ,a short of detective book with out a detective ,like his other books Bolano has chosen to use different narrators to tell the story ,it is set in the costa brava region of Spain in the small town of Z .A skater is dropped from the olympic team ,a rich man builds her a rink in an abadoned house  using stolen funds from local council .all the three narrators have contact with Nuria ,Remo ,a poet turned novelist (maybe a veiled cover of Bolano himself ),Gaspar another poet turned night watchman ,Eneric  overweight public official in social services section, these three men give statements in turn to the detective looking into the murder .there is a lot of  finger point during this .

Unfortunately after dinner ,Pillar insisted that we go to a disco ;she suddenly felt like dancing with her husband ,something they hadn’t done for a long time ,and everyone thoughtit was a wonderful idea .Except me .I should have grabbed Nuria and made my getaway right then ,but I thought she deserved a bit of fun .My big mistake ,of course ,was not forseeing that someone would bring up the subject of skating .Nuria’s presence

Enric Rosquelles talking about a night out .

As ever Bolano suprises ,every time I read his books I find connections to his other books but also something new .Now using the three narrators  from in some ways similar beginings that  end up with vastly different routes in life  ,drives the story as we jump from each like athe story of three blind men describing a elphant as we move through each narration we learn something not the whole picture but a glimpse  of the truth of what has happened and what is happening ,as the layers are peeled away we   are lead to the killer ,but also it shows about how competive sport can be via the character of Nuria ,also we learn about corruption and missuse of funds as they are blundered to build the secret olympic ice rink  ,something that happens all over the world .I like this much more than Monsieur Pain which was the last Bolano I had read .I felt it was maybe a early runnning of ideas he would use in Savaage detectives such as  poets mutiple strands and voices ,also a crime .I like the fact that it is a crime book where the crime is secondary to the actual people in the story As this was his début in Spanish it is quite a book .I’ve Amulet next up from him

Have you read this ?

Waugh Wednesday – Fidon’s confetion

Date published -1910 -1914

Age of waugh -7-11

Length – 5 pages

This is another of the very young Waugh’s story this is about Ralfe the eldest son of Gerald Cantonville ,he is playing cards last night when his fellow player kills his father  ,he is arrested but is saved a the trial by Tom his younger brother as the knife used was Ralfe  .At the last-minute as it was the fidon of the title that Killed Fidon in revenge .The story has A moral feel to it about telling the truth .This would fit with Waugh’s later conversion to Catholicism in his late twenties .he was at school at Heath mount Prep school at the time he wrote this piece .As with last week’s work hard to say much ,there are spelling errors but for a boy of Waugh age, when he wrote this are  normal for a seven-year old .I do wonder if these first two stories thou interesting on one level where ever really needed to be published .

Midnight boomed from the old clock tower and still the two men played on .Ralfe the eldest son of Gerald Cantonville had got in debt to villainous money lender and in desperation had taken to Gambling in a great effort to “raise the wind” all in vain on he played and still Baycraw won  .

The opening of Fidon’s confetion  .

Would you like your pre teen stories published ?

Is the a moral feel to Waugh’s work?

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