A naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava


A Naked singularity by Sergio De La Pava

US fiction

Source – review Copy

A Naked singularity  definition

A singularity is, roughly speaking, a region of extremely high density into which matter or light is attracted. While Steven Hawking Eric Weisstein’s World of Biography has proposed that physical singularities can occur only inside Black holes where they cannot be seen, physicists Kip Thorne and John Preskill believe observable (“naked”) singularity can exist

Source Wolfram 

Sergio De La Pava

Is a New york based Public defender ,he had spent nearly a decade writing this book and then five years and numerous rejections from publishers lead to him getting  a self publishing deal ,then the book grew slowly as word of mouth til first Us publisher Chicago university press last year and now Maclehose press have given the book a full publishing deal .The book arrived wrapped and with a letter from Mr  Maclehose telling  me ,how important they felt this book is ,this started me worrying ,was I worthy to review this book  ,but I was chosen so must have been .

“Fine ,if you define proof stringently enough ,I suppose I can’t really prove that unicorns don’t exist ,yet I perfectly reasonable in not believing in them .But all that is beside the point as it relates to our rat friend .Because whether god exists or not ,there is still such a thing as justice .Justice exists ,and this rat is getting what it deserves under its mandates .This rat is evil .

I loved this passage summed up a lot .

The book itself follows the life of one man Casi he is a public defender in New York rather like the writer himself .Casi is 24 ,his caseload as a public defender is mainly immigrants ,their case give him much sorrow ,but he has also won all his cases .He is a sensitive soul ,but is slowly losing faith with the system ,The book like the definition is heading to a point a situation  where his perfect life may take a twist ,where Casi and Dane  his friend  try to work out how to talk about the perfect crime and how to do it .Then we also see his home life the neighbours including one that endlessly watches the Honeymooners just restarting every time he reaches the end of the show as he feels all life is in this one show  . Which leads to numerous discussions about the characters in the show particularly Ralph the main character played by Jackie Gleason .Here is a clip of that show for those unfamiliar with it  which I was but loved watch a couple of episodes .

Then we also hear Casi  talk about philosophers and life in general like many 24 year olds do what is life ? What does it mean ? then there is  also Boxing and boxers particularly the Peurto Rican boxer Wilfred Benitez.I ve upload a link to one of his most famous bouts with Sugar ray Leonard .

There is also a collection of different styles of writing ,court records ,letters ,poems ,recipes in fact loads of content .

David hume was his favourite Alyona once said .This was during one of our first real conversations ,at the end of which I think we exchange keys to our respective apartments although I almost immediately misplaced his ,I said I guessed there was nothing wrong with Hume provided it was acknowledged that Descates was the man .At the end of the conversation I went home and made this list







Casi’s favourite Philosophers fromstart of chapter 22

So as you see this book is complex ,this is the modem New York ,not the one I know from watching Woody all or early Spike Lee films .This city is huge and its hard to pindown So Sergio hasn’t he has tried to show ones man journey through it as completely as he can .There is a number of ways of writing huge books Epic sagas ,Catching a moment and expanding it out .Pava has chosen to use one mans life and use it .Sergio is the anti creative writing writer for me ,because this book does everything your told not to do ,not make your book to long ,don’t mix style and keep to a simple story arc .No this book  is long, it mixes styles in a mix tape way he uses the best of what he has ,what he knows you feel with a lot of the legal based documentation is very close to real life ,Given his job is also a public defender (one of the things I feel after reading this is a greater insight into the New York Justice system ).Digression is something that he does superbly and realistically ,I for one am a person that can easily go from point A  to point K then back to point A .So to the rub what is the book like as a whole well I tried to think of other books yes there maybe is something of Deillo’s underworld in the scope and Of course I have seen numerous mentions in review of Infinite  Jest but having not got far in that book I can’t say .I fell the book is neared the new US TV shows like breaking the bad ,The Wire and The Sopranos .I could see a show with Casi as the leader character ,but the only think they would have to dumb it down because this is more complex than any of those series and is maybe what America has been trying to grasp for a while the current Great American Novel (I always view this not a one book more as a collection of books that catch the current Zeitrgeist ,which this does ) America is now a mixing pot of people and De La Pava has caught this wonderfully .

Total Chaos by Jean-Claude Izzo

Total Chaos by JEAN-Claude Izzo

Total Chaos by Jean-Claude Izzo

French crime fiction

Translator – Howard Curtis

Original title – Total Khéops

Source – Review Copy

Early on, in this blog I reviewed on of Izzo’s   stand alone novel by Jean-claude Izzo ,A sun for the dying that wasn’t a crime novel ,I really fell for Izzo prose style ,he was very good at atmosphere .So when the offer to review the Marseilles trilogy came from Europa editions , as part of their new imprint World Noir ,I couldn’t say no .Jean-Claude Izzo was born and died in the  City of Marseilles ,He was initially sent to technical school in Marseille as he was an immigrant ,but then took a job in the book  shop got involved in a movement for peace  involved in the catholic church  called Pax Christi   ,then he did his military duty  in 1964 in France and Africa during this time he started to write for a military paper and published his first novel in 1970.This book was published in 1995 Europa have published five of his books in English .He died sadly in 2000

The gun .A present from Manu , for his twentieth birthday .Even then , Manu had been a bit crazy .He’d never parted with it ,but never used it either .You don’t kill someone like that .Even when you were threatened .That had happened to him a few times , in different places .There was always another solution .That was what he thought .And he was still alive .But today he needed it .To Kill a man

Manu was always the wayward on in the group of friends .

Well Total chaos follows three old friends Ugo ,Manu and Fabio ,these three all grew up on the streets of Marseilles close almost you could say blood brothers , but as they grew there lives took different paths Ugo and Manu were drawn to that dark underbelly that the city is well-known for and joined a gang ,on the other hand Fabio went into the police and is now a detective .Then Manu is killed ,Ugo who has been living away from the city comes back to find out who killed his friend and does and in that classic gangster way like in the bible for  it’s a body for a body  in Ugo’s view ,but he is captured by the police in what seems to be a bit of a set up , then steps in Fabio ,like his friends he is an immigrant child of this dark city  . Fabio is drawn by a promise the three boys made to watch out for one another no matter what feet he treads on or what rules he may break ,this draws him into the dark heart of the city he lives in as he finds who wanted  his friends dead !

The aroma of coffee woke me .That was something that hadn’t happened in years .Since long before Rosas getting her out of bed in the morning was no easy matter .Seeing her get up to make coffee was little short of a miracle .Carmen maybe ?

Izzo is so good at setting the scenes in the book places and smells .

Well I thought I try this book  before I get to the latest big French Crime Novel Alex ,because Izzo is considered the father of the modern French Noir novel .This book lives up too that our hero Fabio is a flawed man .We have a women Lole she is maybe the classic femme from a classic noir film two of the men have been involved with her .Then we have the city itself and in this book it is a character ,Izzo is the master of setting the city comes alive as a place of dark corners seedy cafe and bars ,inhabited by a cast of what seem like extras from every gangster movie you’ve ever seen .You come out of  the other side  of the book wanting to know  where the story goes in the next two books ,but also feel like smoking a packet  Gitanes,having a glass of wine in one of the seedy bars in the background .

Have you Read Izzo ?

Do you have a favourite Noir novel ?

Raven by Vasyl Shkliar

Raven by Vasyl Shkliar

Raven by Vasyl Shkliar

Ukrainian fiction

Translator – Sj Speight and Stephen Komarnychyj

Orginial Title – Залишенець.

Source – Review Copy

When I was offered chance to read Vasyl Shkliar ,I was happy after reading about him and what he does .Vasyl Shkliar is considered the father of the modern Ukrainian novel .Vasyl Shkliar was born in Hanzhalivka in the centre of Ukraine ,his grandfather was a Cossack Warrior ,who too like this novel fought in the Ukrainian Uprising  against the Soviets in 1920 .Shkliar went to a school in a nearby town and spent his summers like many youths in his day working on the farm .He eventually went to university and became a journalist ,whilst doing this he was covering the assassination of a well-known Chechen leader .This later became the basis of his first novel  which in part was based  on this event .The Black Raven was published in 2009 and won the Ukrainian book award that year .

Veremii’s gang has reappeared in the Hunskyl forest and comprises of 80 infantry and 30 cavalry ,with two maxim machine guns and 5 lewis guns .The bandits  made a sudden raid on Zlatopol in broad daylight ,robbed the local executive committee telephone exchange and captured the chief of police ,who , by some accounts is believed to work for them .It is known  that it is the custom among the bandits that when the leader dies one of them takes his name ,but there is  reason to believe that the chieftain ,Veremii was not killed and continues his bloody business .Efforts are being made to confirm this .

The authorised officer ,Diakonov

One of the reports from 1921 from the soviets .


The book Follows A gang of Ukrainians that are fighting against the Soviets in 1921 .The gang is led by a man they call the Raven ,he was a former Tsarist officer ,he is described as thirty years with a black beard and long black hair with deep-set eyes and uncompromising .The group of bandits he leads is about 300 infantry men , 75 cavalry and heavily armed bandits ,they operate in zvenyhocodka ,Cherkassy and shpola forests .We see this band of men causing trouble in these regions we follow their  story as they initially do well ,but then things start to go wrong ,  but at the end of every chapter we follow the soviet attempts to capture these men ,in the form of reports as  ravens gang as they wreak havoc .We see how the gang gets on .We follow the highs and lows of this uprising against the Bolsheviks .we feel the dirt and hunger at times ,the power struggles ,mistrust and also how good comrades can be .Also what it meant to be a Cossack !

Raven passed through villages ,forests and fields to reach the Bohunovi farm by evening .Which was just at the edge of the lebedyn forest .It had grown dark early for ,which was laid up at Yevdosia’s Saint Varvava had increased the night , but not the day ,The silver German pocket watch ,which the raven took out of his pocket .

Indicated it was only 5pm  night had already begun to fall

Things get hectic and the raven is constantly moving later in the book


This book was very eye-opening as I had never heard of this uprising in Ukraine against the soviets ,but also the divides it caused to everyday life .I also felt this book given the time it came out and the fact the Shkliar was writing the book for 13 years before it was published ,just as the face of modern Ukraine was developing .Although he has said it wasn’t about the events at the time of writing but the fact the history had echoed the present .Now to the spin on this book it has caused sparks ,a polish director refused to be involved in a project to film the book  ,I believe this film is still being made as an interview here shows and also a number of people protested it winning the national book prize .Now I am not overtly political and just found it a ripping good historic novel about what where brave men trying to fight to keep the country free .If you like corners of unknown history and want to discover a totally unknown writer in the west I suggest this is the book for you .

Conquered city by Victor Serge


Conquered city by Victor Serge

Russian Fiction

Translator – Richard Greenman

Original title – Ville Conquise

Source – Library

Well I  have been wanting to try Victor  Serge for a long time after reading a few review of his NYRB reissues , then I check my library catalogue and saw they had a 1970’s copy of Conquered city So clicked the button to get it sent up from Derby  .Victor Serge is a Russian writer ,Born in Belgium and wrote in French  ,he became involved with Marxism and Socialism around the time of the Russian revolution he support the anarchists during the revolution ,he was in Petrograd at this time 1919 .This is the setting for this novel .Post revolution he start to become critical of the Stalin and the regime .Serge’s real  life reads like a grand Novel. I love  at some point to read a bio of him one day ,He reminds me of other great writers of Russia that followed him Grossman and Solzhennitsym that have also question the regime .Although 80 years old this book still feels very modern .

The long nights seemed reluctant to abandon the city .For a few hours each day a gray light of dawn or dusk filtered through the dirty white cloud ceiling and spread over things like the dim reflection of a distant glacier .Even snow ,which continued to fall ,lacked brightness .This white silent shroud stretched out to infinity in time and space .

setting the scene in the opening lines of Conquered city


So Conquered city follows what happened in St petersberg ,Petorgrad or Leningrad as the city has been known in the 20th century this is the story of the revolution in that city ,as I said before Serge was in the city at the time of the revolution so although this is a novel it has a feel of almost reportage at times .So we get glimpse the main character of this book is the city and the people who  lived in it during the revolution and afterwards  (well that is hard to say because for a lot of the people it wasn’t living as such ) .We see how well-meaning people with Ideals get easily drawn into doing the wrong things in the white heat of war .We also see Serge question the reason for the revolution and also who really won the war and what happen due to this .

“I can do without everything ” comrade Zverena would say ,in the full voice of unction “except flowers ,don’t laugh at me ” she would add ,”I have had such a sad life !”

One of the comrades with ideals ,but do they last long !

This novel is hard to describe because it breaks the bounds of what a novel is more of a non fiction feel  to it at times we get a glimpse of people and action almost like a collection of piece written at the time and put together at a later date  .There  is a lot of rhetoric in the book as well , given this book was written in 1932 ,when it was obvious Serge is  looking back at the time of the revolution  ,but also what happen to the city since that time under Lenin the Stalin took charge of Russia has change his view of what he was fighting for at the time but also what his comrades where fighting for as well .Bleak is his outlook this isn’t a book the sings the glories of the Russian revolution no this is a book that lifts the lid of revolutions and what happens in them ,timely was my reading of this book ,given recent events in Egypt how strange it is you change the names and the settings and the story could be the same almost at times .

Have you read Serge ,if so what would you say to read next ?

Has he had a good Biography written ?

Special Delivery by Iselin C. Hermann


Special Delivery by Iselin C. Hermann

Danish Fiction

Translator – G. Forester

Original title – Prioritaire

Source – Personnel copy

The other day Alan was asking about modern Epistolary novels ,I of course mentioned Love virtually and its follow-up Every seventh wave two of my favourite epistolary novels .But in the back of my head I had a nagging thought that I had recently brought another epistolary novel and so I had it was this one so looking for something short to break up a run of long novels I choose to read Special delivery .Iselin C hermann is a Danish writer that studied the Theatre at university and then moved into working at a publishing hose specialising in art books ,then in 1998 became a full-time writer .This book was her début novel and she has since written ten other novels .

Delpine Hav

I was very pleased to get your post card .

I was pleased because I know that feeling exactly .A particular poem by Walt Whitman does the same to me ,and so do some of Beethoven’s late sonatas .I’d go so far as to say that at the same time as I feel I own these things ,not that anyone can own them ,I have a feeling that the piece of music or the poem in question has been created specially for me .

The opening of Jean-Luc first reply to Delphine

Well the book starts with a young Danish girl Delphine writing to a French artist called Jean-Luc Foreur .She says she may not own the picture ,which she saw in a gallery in Paris but she says “the picture is mine” out of the blue she gets a reply and thus starts a correspondence between the two .This exchange of letter is like a slow blossoming of a flower the letters get more and more sordid in their town .Now Jean-Luc is married and is middle-aged ,his letter are spaced ,Delphine is a youngster (here aged is never fully revealed but the is a letter where she writes what she can and can’t do due to her age , but  I would have said she was between 19-22 ,she loves writing to Jean-Luc one can almost see her letters as  young girl just coming to realise who she is as a women .Jean-Luc on the other hand is hard to read as a person , via his letters who he really is he tells Delphine how much he wants her but in doing so rarely lets her other than little glimpse know a lot about his life . They are drawn towards a meet  after 18 months of writing to each other ,but at this point Jean-Luc seems reluctant ,then we have the huge twist at the end !

Thinking about you is a pleasure and a curse .And I think “I am wasting my time missing him ” or “Does one miss most what is impossible and what is unattainable ?” But I also think :”The real waste would be to go without him and what he does to me ”

An extract of a later letter where you see Delphine’s feeling have grown somewhat for Jean-Luc

Now I love the books Meike does for Peirene ,well this would have been one they would have done for sure it is one of those Novellas it 126 pages but feel much larger than that.What is at its heart is the paths love and attraction can run .Can a couple of fall in love without ever have met or seeing each other ?   It maybe shows how we can trust too much at times although this is an exchange of letters it brings up the current use of Facebook and messengers and young women talking to men that may not be all they seem .To me this book should be a modern classic it is just perfect and although I ve decide against scoring books this one would be a 10/10 for sure .A great take on the epistolary form one that maybe should be more widely used even these days as so much of what we communicate isn’t face to face but in the form of messages ,tweets ,e mails and via Facebook .

Have you a favourite Epistolary novel ?

Have you a favourite Danish novel ?

German book prize longlist

Well today saw the longlist for the German version of the booker prize to be announced I’ve only read books by three of the writers Nobert Gstrein ,Clemens Meyer and Uwe timm . These books may reach us in English by being on this list here is this list .
• Mirko Bonné: Nie mehr Nacht (Schöffling & Co., August 2013)

• Ralph Dutli: Soutines letzte Fahrt (Wallstein, März 2013)

• Thomas Glavinic: Das größere Wunder (Hanser, August 2013)

• Norbert Gstrein: Eine Ahnung vom Anfang (Hanser, Mai 2013)

• Reinhard Jirgl: Nichts von euch auf Erden (Hanser, Februar 2013)

• Daniel Kehlmann: F (Rowohlt, September 2013)

• Judith Kuckart: Wünsche (DuMont, März 2013)

• Olaf Kühl: Der wahre Sohn (Rowohlt.Berlin, September 2013)

• Dagmar Leupold: Unter der Hand (Jung und Jung, Juli 2013)

• Jonas Lüscher: Frühling der Barbaren (C. H. Beck, Januar 2013)

• Clemens Meyer: Im Stein (S. Fischer, August 2013)

• Joachim Meyerhoff: Wann wird es endlich wieder so, wie es nie war (Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Februar 2013)

• Terézia Mora: Das Ungeheuer (Luchterhand, September 2013)

• Marion Poschmann: Die Sonnenposition (Suhrkamp, August 2013)

• Thomas Stangl: Regeln des Tanzes (Droschl, September 2013)

• Jens Steiner: Carambole (Dörlemann, August 2013)

• Uwe Timm: Vogelweide (Kiepenheuer & Witsch, August 2013)

• Nellja Veremej: Berlin liegt im Osten (Jung und Jung, Februar 2013)

• Urs Widmer: Reise an den Rand des Universums (Diogenes, August 2013)

• Monika Zeiner: Die Ordnung der Sterne über Como (Blumenbar, März 2013)

A man in Love by Karl Ove Knausgaard

A man in Love

A man in Love by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Norwegian fiction

Translator –  Don Bartlett

Original title – Min Kamp Andre Bok

Source – library

Well its over a year since part one of the six  vol collection was released ,I reviewed it here and now am reviewing part two .I did a lot of bio on the first part of the collection so will get start into part two of My struggle .This book is a huge hit in his homeland they even had to make days to not talk about the book at work it was such a water cooler moment book  in his homeland .

29 July 2008

The summer has been long ,and it still isn’t over .I finished the first part of the novel on 26 June ,and since then ,for more than a month the nursery school had been closed , and we have had Vanja and Heidi at home with all the extra work that involves .I have never understood the point of holidays , never felt the need for them  and have always just wanted to do more work .

The opening lines of a man in love

Well in part two we have seemingly jumped a few years and Karl is settled and is struggling as a writer ,he is married and as the title says a man in love ,the book does start very slowly as we meet Karl at a kids party .The story does tend to drift but it has a sense of times being recalled a natural feel as we all do sort mixing or memories  into a mix tape of our life so we move back and forward but it isn’t jarring .We see a man who like most of us  (I turned forty over a year ago and this book rung true too me ) is struggling to discover who he is man .On the surface this could seem boring it is just an ordinary story of a middle class man in Norway ,living having kids ,looking after kids .But it is the brutal honest nature that Knausgaard has in his prose that lifts this from being a man in mid-life drifting towards crisis .I also love the interludes into books and music splattered through the book .

When I went back up Linda had put some music on , one of the Tom Waits CDS that had come out after I lost interest in him and with which I therefore have no associations other than that they were Tom Waits-like .Once Linda had reworked some Waits text for a performance in Stockholm ,which she said was among the most entertaining and satisfying stuff she had done and she still had an intense ,indeed intimate relationship with his music .

Got say I’m with Linda on this I still get Waits

I loved this although as I said it is a very slow starter one of those books that you have to slowly get into ,but it is his power of describing his world that kept me there ,I feel he above all writers I ve read in the last few years can make the ordinary seem extraordinary .In his hands even child care ,which to me isn’t the most appealing subject to read (sure some people will disagree with me ) appeals as we see Karl grow into a new role of being a father and of course ,trying to avoid what mistakes his own father made when bring him up . It is also feels at time like Karl is looking to admit maybe he struggled (great insight Stu as the book as a whole is called my struggle )  but it is hard to admit where we fail in life and Karl is the master of this  IMHO .I know await part three of this collection .

Have you read these two books

Winston sketches a glimpse into a book lovers life

Well I could be procrastinating on not writing a review ,but that’s not the case I’m back at work tomorrow after a fortnight off work and I’m sure my old routine will slip back into place .No this is an idea to give a glimpse into what it is to be a book lover (book mad really ) ,I really enjoyed Robs reading notes when he did them but this is something different , a whole view I’d love to say daily but I imagine it will be sporadic .These post are also easier for me to write as I can write on my phone as Amanda is using the laptop at the moment while she searches for a new job .So to the sketch for today which has been a perfect book day without much reading .This morning I had chance to spend a hour or two with the iPad so caught two programmes on sky player that had caught my eye .The first was Buy the ticket ,take the ride a documentary on Hunter S Thompson I don’t know about you but I have always had a fascination with him as a person and as a writer .I’ve only read three books by him but was always touched by how much of him was in his books and how much of the time he lived in was in them as well .Rhis film gave me a further insight into this unusual character lots of interviews with Hunter himself the two actors Bill Murray and Johnny Depp who have portrayed Hunter in film ,his peers and friends Well worth a view .The other show followed the recent Revival of Not I by Samuel Beckett a one woman show that is just a black out face with a mouth talking ,Beckett want this show done at the speed of thought so this piece comes out like a machine gun as we follow the dialogue.I feel this is a piece I will need to watch again to fully comprehend .Then a book buy was the greatcoat by Helen Dunmore The first book on the new hammer imprint a ghost story set in the fifties has been on my radar for a while and at £1.99 at sainsbury seemed a bargain and a great Halloween reading choice .my day is ending catching the podcast of BBC open book in and around. Cumbria with the current writers and poets and a look to the past well Wordsworth mainly .
What you been doing bookish recently ?

To score or not to score

Well it’s telling me on the WordPress post counter I’ve reached post 750 and I feel like a change in reviewing previously I’ve been quite against scoring books I’ve read partly because I feel that I tend to be over generous .But after 354 book reviews maybe I should my reviews tend to be basic and maybe I don’t give out enough of what I thought of the book ,I used do a pictorial score of a book giving more a feel of a book ,when I was a naive blogger it was fun but never gave my own view .So the question is should I ? I was nudge a bit by Sam of Sam still reading saying they had only given out one 10/10 score that had set me think and actually there maybe is ten books in the 354 I’ve read I’d actually give ten out of ten too . So if you’d like to see me score books let me know . Many thanks to those still here after 750 posts .

BBC front row on translation fiction

Last nights edition of the uk arts show Front row had a translation special find it here it on iTunes outside UK .What I was shocked about was the writers reaction to reading translation these were from O do read a few to I pick and chose and then a writer that didn’t read any as he always felt he wasn’t get the full picture . I was rather upset as these are the people that should be promoting fiction in translation .Over last four years my views on translation and its importance in reading them had grown .My admiration of translators and what they do has grown their challenge isn’t just to word for word translate the book no because as one famous translator mr Wynne who was on the show doing a translation slam observed to me he feed a novel through a translation program and what came out was useless .So there work is an art to take what was written and rewrite it as best to be understood by the English reader ok sometimes it doesn’t work but when it does boy it does .I’d missed a joycean influenced vision of Cuba which with put a translation of Joyce to Spanish wouldn’t be written , a German love affair in emails , being an African leader and his down fall ,south American recent dark past and many more events .So to mr Baddiel who said he didn’t I say look what you missed as the English novel is quite boring and predictable at moment I say VIva la translation let them free pick them up read them discover yourself !!!! As robert frost said

I took the road less travelled


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