Hate A romance by Tristan Garcia

Tristan Garcia was born in 1981 (so very young ) ,his parents are teachers .He studied Philosophy and is a published writer on philosophy .This book is his debut.He has also worked on french television .He currently teaches at the university of Picardy .You can find out a little more about him via an interview here from bomb magazine 

I read the blurb about this book when I got it from library as it was one of the books on the list that had dropped under my radar  so intrigued me as to why I’d missed it when on the surface it would be a book I d read .Hate a romance is a story of four people and follows them from late teens through growing up although Leibo is older than the other three They are three men and one women in the early 80’s .This as an idea for the book  made me thing of two things. When I read it the first as AIDS is mention was it going to be a'” french Line of beauty “Hollinghurst novel set in 1980’s also about the gay experience at the time also we a good chunk of politics like this book .The other thing that sprung to mind was this life the tv series that had a Gay character but also young hip people at the heart of it ,also at times they used have state of the world discussions which this book has also conflict between the gay and straight characters as this does .So who are these  four – Will

Will never understood what happened ,though he worried and worried about it .Something occurred between them something scandalous and wrong…,

from first chapter that describe Will a bit .

Now will and Doume end up as really close the sort people you can’t separate as they fall in love on first meeting  .But Doume is a trouble man at the time he advocates having unprotected sex early on in the AIDS crisis .He also struggles as his best friend changes over time .

Dominique Rossi had alway looked handsome in a mature way ,responsible and lightly chiseled .The trouble was when he was twenty it didn’t suit him .He had to wait to look his age .

I love thought of Moume having to grow to look right I remember people I grew up with looking wrong then right when older .

We find out about these two via Liz an art journalist and the main narrator of the book she knew these two men and Jean Michael Lebiowitz her professor and Doume best friend she is the link between them all .As she meet will and introduced him to Doume and Leibo .So that is how it starts we find a twisted web of love politics ,aids ,backbiting as love does turn to hate as in the title .We see Liz watch these three men grow up .

I loved this in parts it has a choppy style shortish chapters ,almost a non fiction style ,but it has been described as a good example of the Roman A Clef style of fiction where real life crosses over into fiction .So these must be people Tristan has come across at some point on the paris arts/culture scene So has first hand knowledge of the people who may be the characters as the review for this book in the guardian revealed the real people who the characters maybe based on names aren’t two different to the real characters .I also think his other job as a philosopher has a large part to play with the way the book is maybe more about concepts and how people react to certain situations the main ones in this book are love ,betrayal and the Aids crisis oh and maybe a bit about the attraction of Leibo as he seem to move more to the right during the reign of Mitterrand .My only quibble was it maybe need fleshing out a bit at times also could have  been double the length .He won the well-known french prize the prix de Flore which has a number of well-known earlier winners including Michel Houellebecq .

WHat did you think of this book ?

Do you like books in the Roman a clef style ?

Walking in Kerouac’s boots my wild years

If you’ve not seen yet  finally a film version of Kerouac’s on the road is finally being made after more than 20 years of false starts it reaches our screens in the summer .I first heard of Kerouac as a fourteen year old when my friend Andy loaned me some Doors music, but also Jerry Hopkins AND Danny Sugerman’s wonderful biography of the Doors lead singer Jim Morrison “no one here gets out alive “.early on in the book  Jim’s  describes his reaction to reading “on the road “and how it led to him following the rest of the Beat group of writers figure such as William Burroughs ,.Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti .So me as bookish young teen and in some ways looking for something to mean something to me , made my first move it to the world of the beats  he’d read and got a copy of Burroughs’ naked lunch I know not the best first choice but I lapped it up in a couple of days and then moved on to On the road and lived in Jack’s footsteps and his friends as I found out the book is as much about Kerouac’s real life at the time .At this time I had a very tense home life I don’t get on well with my stepfather and there was a constant sense of unease at my home.So these books gave me great escape but also as Jim and Jack had both hitch-hike I start missing college and hitch-hiking round firstly in Cheshire and Manchester as I spent my days escaping the impending doom of coming home at night to an unsettled feeling at home I found beauty in the world whether it seeing the world moving or a bird  or plant as I waited for a ride .I became a more open person due to this as Hitch-hiking forces you to talk to the person  who has  picked you up .Well this  carried on even after I left and moved to Northumberland to live  with my father. I read more and more Burroughs and Kerouac thanks in two ways to the newly opened Barter books in Alnwick where I lived and the wonderful stock Alnwick library which even thou a small Library  had a number of William Burroughs books so cities of red night ,nova express and others fell through my hands as I tried to live as a beat in a small way ,drinking, seeing the world  , writing poetry (bad poetry looking back but loved typing on an old typewriter I’d been given ) and maybe in some way trying to  escape impending  adulthood in a way , this I did till well in my twenties and managed to  reached Germany as I still had wanderlust and now a romance , had a ball with my German girlfriend seeing different places and cultures first hand was something I’ll never regret  .I know look back and have fond memories of what one small book has brought to my life and also a tinge of sadness as it must be over ten years since I read a beat writer but with a new collection of william Burroughs letters out by Penguin this month I feel a summer dive into some beat writing is called for ,I m sure I said that two summers ago but this summer I m going get on the road again anyway in my mind as I know have a wonderful home life with my dear Amanda and Winston ,so the need to run has gone some what .I ll leave you with the trailer for on the road .

Alice by Judith Hermann

Alice by Judith Hermann

German fiction (short stories)

Translator – Margot Bettauer Dembo

Judith Hermann is from Berlin ,she grew up there studied German and philosophy ,work at German newspaper as an intern after that .The got a grant from the Berlin Academy of art to live in Alfred Doblin house ,she then published her first collection summer-house ,this Alice is her third collection and is darker than her earlier works .Judith Hermann is part of the new wave of female german writer like Julie Zeh AND Jenny Erpenbeck .Alice made the longlist for the independent foreign fiction prize and is from the new press The Clerkenwell Press  first collection which is an imprint of Profile books .

So what is Alice about well it is a collection of five short stories ,rather like the collections from Kauzo Ishiguro and Cees Nooteboom in the last couple of years these are theme stories but also all contain the same person Alice ,the theme is death  so maybe it is a composite novel of interlinking stories ,but these two recent short story collections sprung to my mind straight after reading the book .We see how Alice is effected by these deaths and the deaths are of people she is connected with the first few are friends ,some she really isn’t that close to then by the fourth story Malte her gay uncle and lastly her own husband and how she deals after he suddenly died  .I must admit I wasn’t overly bowled over by this collection ,I found the first there stories very similar in tone Alice was there some one died ,the writing is beautiful but I felt the first three stories were very similar in tone and feel also other than place Alice as the heroine ,friend and a little bit about her as a person ,as the first three men die ,Misha is dying zweribruken with his wife and children Alice is there to help ,then a couple she vaguely knows in Italy invite her to stay  and lastly a friend in berlin as he knows his death is impeding planning out what happens during and after his death she visits him and his wife  .

The last time she visited richard and Margaret she’d brought peonies at this same stand ,having first thought about it for a long time .Seven peonies please ,and don’t add anything ,an uneven number a superstition ,five were to few and she didn’t have enough money for nine .

Details is something Hermann does well like this thought on buying flowers .



I just wasn’t  very inspired by this collection ,I m not sure if that is at moment or it’ll be one of those books that six months down the line I ll go yes I get it  totally and what Judith Hermann was trying to do . As an insight into death and coping with it’S aftermath it is well written the way every one copes those stages of grief  as something I ve dealt with via work for over twenty years  I struggled to connect with Hermann’s vision and using  Alice as the motif through the stories   thou we do see her interact with the dying , bereaved and her own grief  ,she never leaped of the pages as a character for me to connect with .I felt she was just there to drive the stories not be built on as a character in herself  I know it is come in short stories for us to know little of the character other tha the situation we meet them in ,I just felt Alice’s character maybe need some more filling out .I must admit Dembo has done a wonderful job in translation as Hermann’s writing is beautiful in parts she has a real eye for details that was enough to keep me going to the end ,in parts remind me a little in the skeleton prose of Carver and Cheever  .Those thin slices they brought to life so well  ,in this case it is death we’re dealing with but unlike carver and Cheever Hermann just hasn’t hooked this reader yet .I will try her other books at some point .Oh I must admit this is strange my first slightly negative review but that is beauty of reading a longlist like the Independent foreign fiction prize you get to try books you may not normally try out  books out of your comfort zone and this book fell into both these categorises

Have you read this book ? 

The history of the man in black by Oliver goldsmith

I going try to go through a few irish short stories for Mel of reading lives irish short story month .I was born in Ireland myself co down in the north and my family has a history on my father’s side going back over 300 years in Ireland ,so irish literature is something I read when young with frequent visits to family and friends meant I want to learn more about Ireland .But in the last ten years I ve read less and less so I chosen a few short stories and may try a few novels later this year after my IFFP reading .

so to the story it is told by a son his father was a poor member of a well to do family he had joined the church as a youngest son in Ireland at the time this was normal in middle class families the first son would inherit the second join the army and the third the clergy ,well his son wants some money as he dislikes his families poverty we see how he goes about it in this very short story of four pages ,it does capture a part of Ireland that was in existence for many years .All so shows how quick one could fall from well to do to poor in Ireland in the 1700’s

My father ,the younger son of a good family  was possessed a small living in the church .His education was above his fortune and his generosity greater than his education .

Opening of this short story .

Oliver Goldsmith was a Anglo irish writer alive from the 1720 to the 1770 .he grew up in Ireland went to trinity college in Dublin then went to london after college where he became a member of the club,the exclusive dining club run by Samuel Johnson and Joshua Reynolds ,they meet every two weeks and discussed art and writing .

This story is in my 10 volume collection the worlds thousand best short stories .

Dream of ding village by Yan Lianke

Dream of Ding Village by Yan Lianke

Chinese fiction

Translator Cindy Carter

Yan Lianke Is a chinese writer now based in Beijing he has a degree in literature he grew up in the Henan province  of  China that this book is set ,this book has been long  listed for the independent foreign fiction prize and was also earlier this year shortlisted for the Man asian prize ,unfortunately I didn’t get to it on my man asian shadow group but had been kindly sent a copy by mark and was happy when it appeared on the IFFP list .I first heard a brief interview with the writer last year on a podcast and was struck by the story which I hadn’t heard much of in the uk press at the time  .

The dream of ding village is maybe a misleading title maybe the nightmare would be a better title for the book .Ding village is a village  of just three streets in the Henan province a region in the central china .This book follows the village after the plasma economy that happened in the region between 91-95 this is where people were asked to give blood for money ,over 40% of the people who gave blood due to poor hygiene conditions ended up getting aids ,it is estimate by 2003 1.2 million people had died in the region due to this .This book is a small part of that story told through the eyes of a young boy as he sees the begin during and end of his village whilst they gave blood and what happened as the village then started dying .I was struck when I first heard this story why it hadn’t reached the headlines here in the uk so many people suffering and dying was horrific .

The silence is intense .Yet even in absence of voices or sound .Ding Village lives on ,choked by death ,it will not die .

these few words on the first page struck me hard .

Xiao the young boy who is the main narrator in the book .his family encapsulates what happened in the village and may have caused what happen.  His grandfather is the most respect man in the village ,he is involved in the local school he is keen for the locals to all give blood raise money for the village and themselves ,His son Xiao ‘s father is the man who deals with the blood for the people involved in the plasma collection for the Government he is the bloodhead and is fueled by greed  .So as the villages gets sick they seek revenge as the story of how this strange disease came into their village ,they need a scape goat and this is our young narrator he is poisoned .by the rest of the village .

Grandpa knew everything now .it was as if everything now .It was as if everything my dad had done laid out before his eyes .While my dad was leaving the village ,Grandpa was hurrying back .

The patriarch the grandpa learns what his greedy son did .

The story shows the problems in modern china ,the drive from arable farm culture to a new modern world cost so many there lives .This book in the way it confronted a disease tearing a community apart remind me of Camus plague ,I read it many years ago but the feeling of how people move on after something like this happens and the reaction of people during a crisis like this .A local village near me is famous for losing most of it population due to a plague Eyam also a basis of a novel by Geraldine Brooks ,like Eyam where one person was to blame for the out break , in Ding village it is one family to blame for the outbreak in many in  the village eyes .It shows how families can be torn apart by money and misguided loyalty .Yan lianke has brought this shocking incident to our eyes without being over dramatic ,showing  the rural life of china torn apart by aids ,a disease which china had denied the had in the 80’s .I m not really got hang of chinese fiction but this book is another step towards opening the door to the fiction that is only going to grow in coming years .

Have you read this book?

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