Thanks all Henry Green week wrap up post

Firstly I want to thank every one who took part and read and reviewed Henry’s novels we manage to put up reviews of six  of his nine novels .Thus increasing his profile on the web I hope our reviews make more people pick up his books and maybe see some of his books return to print .here are the full round-up of reviews –

Back by Henry Green reviewed by Mel of reading life ,great This is one I ve not read but will after reading Mel’s review .

Party going by Henry green reviewed by Annabella of Gaskella who call henry Green quite a discovery .

Party Going by Henry Green Gary of Parrish lantern also reviewed it calling the main characters Empty vessels .

Blindness by Henry Green Simon of stuck in a book start with the first of Green’s works his debut and loved it .

Loving by Henry Green David of follow the thread read this and said green had produced something utterly distinctive .

Back by Henry Green Fay  of Readramble also reviewed this ,and found echos of Waugh and Beckett in it .

Caught by Henry Green Sarah of  rat in the book pile  also read this like my self and calling it a sparkling jewel of a novel .

Living by Henry Green Harriet of Harriet Devine Blog review this and said how completely in love with Henry Green’s writing she is .

Loving by Henry Green by Tanya of 20thcenturyvox ,she felt that there was something symbolic in the novel .

Loving ny henry Green Karyn of a penguin a week also review this and felt it was more complex than it first seems

Loving by Henry Green Anbolyn of Gudrun tights found it a unique take on the love story .

Caught by Henry Green Helen of  Galimaufry agreed with me the scandal this book is out of print and very expensive to get second-hand .

Party Going by Henry Green Caroline of Beauty is a sleeping cat thought this was comedy of manners .

Thanks every one for your reviews .

more henry Green Posts

Here are some more Henry Green Posts from round the Blogospere –

Caroline at Beauty is a sleeping cat review his novel Party going ,read here review here

Rose city reader used the first line of living she is reading at moment for the opening sentence  meme 

I will bring more posts as they come out if I missed your post let me know .

Caught By Henry Green

Caught is one of his lesser known novels now but at the time was heralded as a future classic ,when it was published in 1943 during the middle of the war and two years after the end of the blitz which is what the book is about Henry green or  Henry Yorke as he was in real life was in the Auxiliary  Fire Service in London during the height of the blitz ,this book was a result of the time he spent putting out fires during the war.

When Roe first joined the Service ,when nations were still declaring peace,it seemed ludicrous to be trained by fire men in a real fire-station .He signed on because he had for years wanted to see inside one of these turreted buildings ,and had also he had always been afraid of heights .

Maybe green describes the reason he joined the Auxiliary fire service

Caught is the story of a team of firemen and focus on two of them they have a link that goes back before the war and they joined the fire service .They are Richard Roe ,he is upper class and I would imagine this is Henry Green himself and Pye  the sub officer of the fire station ,who like most of the team is a working class chap but a man who has a lot more to himself and his life than it first seems .He has a very disturbed sister that Richard roe the other main character in the book  had a run in before when he his son  Christopher  was held  hostage by her in her room  for a time until Pye rescues him ,this forms a barrier initially between the two men ,but we see ebb and flow of them at work and rest  that at heart they are both flawed men. I always think this is one of Green’s strongest writing traits is that of the  flawed man a lot of his characters are flawed in one way or other  whether it is class or secrets  something always makes them seem more interesting than the normal characters in most novels .There are scenes of the blitz  which are exquisitely written and bring you into the heart of the blitz  but come towards the end as we also see the build up to the blitz ., but like all good drama based round the fire service it is the  quiet times in between that is the most interesting seeing the interactions of the men as they wait not certain what the night holds or even if they’ll be their next day ,This I feel this is  probably  as Henry Green experienced the war ,he was in Middle age when  he volunteer to join the fire service  in London something he didn’t have to do give his station in life as the fire service was made up mostly of working class men during the war  and sure he spent many hours chatting like Pye and Roe ( there is a clever pun by Green on the two leads Name ).Roe Has lost his wife and via the fire station finds a new love .This book is also a great look at class before during and in a way after the war when the barriers to classes interacting in everyday situations were broken down some what .The cialogue also forms the backbone of this book the interaction between character is all spoken never thought or described as Green said in the piece I quote from wood he thought what people said was the most important bit of the book .This book is out of print but second hand copies about I got mine cheap in Oxfam

Have you read this book ?

Have you read any other books based in London during the war ?

Another interview and the first review of Henry Green week

Well I ve found another online interview not by green but by one of his friend on Jstor website it short but worth a quick read .A quote from James Woods How fiction works and strangely Woods is a Green fan it seems as he quotes from three of his works in the book .

In 1950 Henry Green gave a little talk on BBC radio about dialogue in fiction Green was obsessively concerned with the elimination of vulgar spoors of presence whereby authors communicate themselves to readers : he never internalized his characters thoughts hardly ever explained a characters motive ,and avoids the authorial adverb, which so often helpfully flags a character’s emotion to the reader (“she said grandiloquent” ) .Green argued that dialogue is the best way to communicate with one’s reader and that nothing kills “life ” so much as explanation”

A great quote on why we sometimes find Green hard to read from Wood’s  how fiction works .

Elsewhere in the book he talks about Caught which is a book I ll be reviewing that lives up to what green said in the BBC interview it is very dialogue heavy .

The first review was on Sunday from A penguin a week Karyn review Loving Green’s fifth novel and one that was sparked by a story he heard whilst in fire service in world ward two

Henry Green Week

Well it is here Henry Green Week .I decide to Honour him with a week following a discussion on twitter with the editor of folio society ,about green the have a forthcoming edition of his one of his books .But we also said how he had dropped a bit of the radar for most readers .I felt it was a shame for at the time he was around Green was held in the same esteem as Evelyn Waugh .His writing is inventive and thou he hate being called a modernist ,it has traits of the modernist style although as you see in the link to the Paris review interview here  he   said he wrote living and he hadn’t even read Ulysses .I ve read Caught  his wartime novel about the fire service in London in which He served during the war .I m just in middle of concluding a book set in a school on a single day .So please let me know of your review at end of week I ll do a round-up of posts from round the web .I m looking forward to seeing what people made of his works .

winstons coffee waterstone’s 11 what not one translation !!

Well sure you’ve seen around the blogosphere these last few days post about the Waterstone’s 11 for 11 debut novels due out this year or already out .Well I m disappointed as not one of the debuts is a translation ,as ever books in translation are not considered for this list .Well I thought for those who may like a few tips on debut books in translation I give you a few books that are due out and are debut’s or reissuses worth looking into  –

The coming by Andrej Nikoladis – A debut from the european literature prize-winning Montenegrin writer .A detective investigating a crime in a small town is drawn in to an odd world as the library burns down and you take a trip through the past and a medieval heretic that announced the second coming  also events that might happen . from the  new publisher  Istros books .

The brothers by Asko Sahlberg – the first of Peirene press year of small epics a book from finland about brother that thought on different sides of the war of 1809 between  finland and russia ,Meike calls it a historic novel in miniature form .

Trieste by Dasa Drndic A women waits to meet her son she hasn’t seen for sixty odd years after he was conceived under that nazi regime as part of the lebensborn project for pure Aryans .an inventive novel that use many styles of writing  and one that has been on my wish list since its first mention last year . I have mention this before but its publication was put back out next month .

Faces in the crowd by Valeria Luiselli  a mexican novel set in present day Mexico city with a 21st century Emily Dickinson and 1950’s Philadelphia  and the tale of lost Mexican Poet one of the most exciting voices from latin america and has been compared to Roberto Bolano another great voice from Mexico .due out may .

The family of Pascal Duarte by Camila Jose Cela – Not a debut but one of spain’s most highly regarded writers and a noble winner nice to see Dalkey Archive bring him back .A  murderer looks back on his hard life of poverty hatred and depravity whilst on death row .

The islands by Carlos Gamerro .I reviewed an open secret by him recently now and other stories are publishing his next book Felipe felix is given a mission that makes him remember the Falklands war and find a witness to a crime for a manganate .If it is half as good as open secret it will be excellent

I burn Paris by Bruno Jasienski  a controversial book in its day that lead to its writer being deported from france ,a man poisons Paris water supply and we see how it affects the population a classic of polish lit in english for the first time from twisted spoon  .

Fear of De Sade by Bernardo Carvalho

Bernardo Carvalho is a Brazilian writer and Journalist he has spent time in france and America as a correspondent for a brazilian paper ,fear of de Sade  is his sixth Novel .He has also translated books from English into Brazilian Portuguese by the likes of Oliver Sacks and Bruce Chatwin .

The fear of de Sade is a novel in two act the first is told in dialogue between an unnamed voice and the Baron of LaChafoi a forty-year old that is a bit of a libertine ,he had before been taken to prison had an orgy with three other people and spanish fly in the mix it becomes a scandal  ,he is being asked to remember this by the voice and thus solve what happened and how that some one  had died as a result of the orgy ,all this is set during the terror period of the french revolution .Over time the Baron feels the voice maybe the man he admires De Sade the infamous French noble man   and a man much admired by the baron .

VOICE : And what proves it wasn’t you ? that you’re not lying ? The fact that you don’t remember doesn’t mean much .Who can tell if you’re not really mad, and committed the crime in a fit ?

BARON :Master,I swear it !

Voice: don’t call me master !

BARON: I beg of you .My defence depends on you helping me .

the baron and the voice (de Sade?) talk

This first part does remind me of Kafka ,whether I d call it Kafkaesque I m not sure it is easy to put that title to piece that seem to not show the full picture and people on the edge or caught in the judicial system ,and I often see it mention and it is even ,mentioned on the back of the book ,But I feel this maybe owes something more to Beckett two unknown voices other than the baron’s  name and the act he has supposed to have committed we are told nothing else .I m remind of the plays of  Beckett detached voices ,people meeting in odd circumstances .

The second part of the book is about a couple,following a game that was devised by the Baron on his following of De Sade ,where the partners taken in turn to create fear in the other as the feeling is that when love dies all that can remain is fear its self  ,so we see the acts by each partner crank-up one by one ,but they act as thou this is normal  and thus this leads to the partners getting more radical with there ideas and thus leading to the husband taking a radical final step to put the fear in his wife .Again like the first part of the book this has no names the couple are just referred to as husband and wife .

In one of his books ,a moralising novel in dialogue form ,the baron recounted how he had avenged himself on the wife who was betraying him : he deflowered the illegitimate daughter she’d had by his cousin .Because according to the Baron’s philosophy ,only treachery liberates .Treachery is repaid with treachery .

The couple discover the Barons words .

This book is a gem an unusual and refreshing style of book inventive and an interesting insight into the human psyche .How far people will go in pursuit of an idea .

Have you a favourite Brazilian Novel ?


Winstons coffee Austen fear

Last night I was sat in bed with Amanda ,We started to watch a programme from the other night called unfinished .This was  part of the BBC ‘s on going  season of  Dickens related programmes for his 200th anniversary .What we got was a general show mainly focused on the last dickens novel the mystery of Edwin Drood ,which was shown earlier in the week in a new tv version that had been finished by the screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes ,she had written her own ending based on the feeling she had for the book and its characters .Of course since it was written there has been many books written completing and others wondering what might have happened .Well I m rambling here other parts of the show focused on other books and painting that haven’t been finished .One of these was the last Jane Austen novel Sanditon ,I vaguely knew of this book .But knew little or nothing on its plot which is about the beginnings of a new seaside town called Sanditon and is told by the people who live there using her usual style of insight and social commentary  .I have read three of her novels when in my late teens early twenties so nearly twenty years ago and I was neither a huge fan or disliked them at the time,main reason for reading them was the girls seemed to like her books and it maybe gave me something to talk about as a shy youth  with the fairer sex ,but  I have never gone back maybe because I have a fear of her as I know that to  so many people her writing is important and her books mean a lot to them and I’d hate  to go back and not like her works  .But this book has grabbed my attention I like it when I here a little bit about a book and I grabbed like I am now to go out and buy it .the main reason is  I ve always had an interest in how seaside towns got where they where and how some flourished and others like it seems in this case others were destined to fail .Who like some of the characters  made this happen as on the whole it seems to have been a single or small group of people who lead to the growth of a number of seaside towns .I feel this may be a Book door back to Austen for me as she is a writer I want to like and get to know again , plus I recently brought a nice hard back of pride and prejudice cheap and have been dying yet on the other hand  scared of reading it ,I feel this is a male think with female writers of this time so as this is a rambling type post where I let my thoughts out on subjects. I wonder are there male writers that women are scared to tackle ? and if other male readers have women writers that give them a worry ? 

Libraries where does the future lay

Earlier this week we found out that the large department store in london Selfridge is due to open a library for seven weeks to run along side it’s book festival word ,word words .Here is the piece from the guardian .I remarked on twitter that it remind me of a scene from brief encounters where Celia Johnson talks about going to boots (a large chemist chain in the UK for those not from the UK ) ,Boots ran libraries ran from 1898 til 1960 ,people paid a few pennies for each book lent here is an article for info .Also there has been a library in the protest camps for the occupy movement has opened libraries ,here in london they’ve had a few well-known writers including Alan Bennett and donate their books to the cause .So are these signs of a movement with the current cut backs in local government spending here in the uk ,which has hit the UK library system hard with 500 libraries either closed or under threat 10% of UK total library system .As there is no bright light on the horizon with regards governmental  investment in fact there maybe more cuts ,so if we want people to access books that may not have the means or funds to buy them or a kid to read books we maybe need some new ideas like shops having libraries or communities banding together ,with uk literacy at 99% but the truth is one in five people have trouble reading .We need free access to books for the most of the population so even if they don’t want to read I m not a dreamer but if  they are there people have the chance to access them and borrow a book !!

How do you see the library system going ?

How is the economic situation affect libraries in your country ?

The misfortunates by Dimitri Verhulst

The misfortunates by Dimitri Verhulst

Belgian fiction

Translator David Colmer

Dimitri Verhulst is a Belgian writer and he grew up in a broken home and spent a lot of time in foster care .This is often reflected in his fiction .He has written several novel and short stories .The misfortunates ,was made into a film in 2009.The film won a prize in Cannes .

I add the trailer ,which to me seems to capture the character in the book so well .We follow Dimmy the son he is at school and is at a point where he could follow his father and his uncles into a life of drink and misadventures or he could put his head down and study .Now we follow a period as Dimmy begins to see his family are maybe a little different from the normal family .That time as you turn from a child to a teen and a young man ,he is 13 as this happens .

The male members of the Dimmy’s  family,  Dimmy’s father and his uncle’s Potrel ,Herman and Grider  spend a lot of time drinking in the pub  and ending up doing thinks because of the drink like having a naked cycle race this made me smile as I love cycling and the fact that grown men decide to copy the men they seen by doing it naked was funny .They did this as Dimmy was getting drawn towards cycling and being more disciplined in his life .Now Will of Just William compared it to Shameless with chips and Mayo .Which I agree with ,I also got visions of saturday night sunday morning and a hard-edged version of the northern Kitchen sink drama relocate to Belgium and scripted by Irvine Welsh . As the quote below shows this is even linked in the book .

It was only later ,when I read Alan Silltoe’s best known work ,The loneliness of the long distance runner ,that I realized that it had been pure logic that had turned me into a runner as a child .

I loved this quote linking his life a bit with Kitchen sink drama classic loneliness of long distance runner .


This book has a feel of a roman a clef  slammed with a coming of age novel .I feel this is Dimitri looking back in some ways to the point he became the writer he is now ,a Robert Frost moment take the trodden path that his family has taken or that unknown one that he seems more drawn too .The book can tug at the heartstrings this is a tough world ,but also a world that has a certain pathos to it .

I enjoyed this book ,I felt this was a very realistic book  given the writers own history ,I read an  interview with him here ,which was interesting in both a small insight into him and also an insight into Belgium .As it is mainly about the Flemish/Wallonia divide that has appeared in recent years in Belgium .I really want to watch the film and hope it gets shown or a uk DVD  release which it hasn’t seemed to as of yet .


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January 2012


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