Stories by Sergio Ramirez


Stories by Sergio Ramirez

Nicaraguan fiction

Translator – Nick Caistor

Source – personnel copy

Sergio Ramirez trained as a lawyer ,he worked in Costa Rica in the early 1970’s for the central american university then went to West Berlin to start a writing scholarship ,he was  also was vice president of Nicaragua he has had numerous books published and was a leading figure for the sandinista  as a member   group of twelve people who support the movement in the fight to free his homeland  .

My shoulders had broadened , my waisted had slimmed down , and my legs had firmed up .Scarcely four years after that big bully had kicked sand in my eyes ,I was a different man ,Ethel one day showed me a photo of the mythological god Atlas in a magazine . “Look” she said , ” he’s just like you ” Then I knew I was on the right track and would one day fulfil my dreams .

From the story Charles atlas also dies .

Stories is a collection of eight stories ,we travel from his home to the Us and Old west Germany .We meet a young man who has fallen in love with body building via the works of Charles Atlas and then is shocked to discover how his hero has fallen ,I was reminded in this story of the film  Geordie with Bill Travers where a Scottish boy meets a body builder (Charles Atlas )he had followed only to find a broken man I wonder if this was the inspiration for this story ? as the film was from the fifties ,Next is Jakie O  about  to visit his homeland of Nicaragua and set a country club on edge but is all it seems ? an ageing baseball player  occupies another story   ,also the perfect game of baseball  is another story  ,,a family in West  Germany end up with a Latin american student as the rented Santa Claus  over their festive period !

The news that Jacqueline Kennedy was to visit Nicaragua caused a great Commotion in the smartest circles .What passes for high society felt both immensely flattered and at the same time confused ,left in the dark as to the whens ,where’s and hows ,that is , when Jacqueline (Jackie to us ) would be setting foot on our soil

Is she coming from the story to Jackie with all our heart .

As you see there is some with in these stories  ,A look into the lives of ordinary Latin Americans and there dealing with them  both at home and in the wider world  with a chunk of satire and a wry eye at people’s views of the world .He maybe isn’t so well-known these days , but Ramirez was a major voice in central and latin american literature in his day  and a large political figure as well .I have also his novel a  thousand deaths plus one has sat on my shelves for a number of years but will being get read for next years century of translation project .Have you read him ?

They were counted by Miklós Bánffy

they were counted

They were counted by Miklós Bánffy

Hungraian fiction

Orginal Title – Megszámláltattál

Translator – Patrick Thursfield and Katalin Bánffy-Jelen

Source – Review copy

Miklós Bánffy was in his lifetime  a diplomat , MP and even foreign minister of Hungary ,at this time he signed treaties and brought Hungary into the league of nations .He published this book the first of his famous Transylvanian trilogy in the 1930’s  oh and he also designed sets and costumes and was a graphic artist .He had one daughter as well .It is her that is the co translator of this book

Though Balint realized that he would see Adrienne that evening the thought had little effect on him .It caused neither joy nor that slight irritation he had felt previously when he thought of her marriage .

early on we meet Balint and Adrienne

They were counted is set in the noble families of the Austro-Hungarian .We meet to Cousins both Counts Balint and Laszlo .Through these two we see the decline of the world around them the world war is not upon them but the early seeds of this are blowing in the wind Balint is drawn to the struggling peasants from Romanian and starts to champion the rights of the poor ,whilst his other cousin is drawn into the world of the upper class gents of the time gambling at the gaming tables .This is 1906 and the world around them is speeding up .All this set in the grand house and shooting parties of the upper class of the time .The family castle as we see Balint and Adrienne twist and turn round each other .This book fits his career as a set designer you feel he draws the world around these two in the book and we’ll get to see what happens in the following volumes .

Laszlo had taken his cousins Balint’s advice to heart .While they had been together in Vasarhely , and in the train until they had seprated at Marcos-Ludas , Balint had tried hard to make Laszlo understand the problems he would have to face now that he had chosen musci as a career , problems that would never be solved  unless Laszlo contrived to be freed of his debits .#

The cousins have their own problems Laszlo is money .

Well I kept the description brief this is a huge book and too much for a review .I was reminded of so much I ve seen before from the other side yes this is like the first series of Dowton Abbey the one before the war these cousin are like an Austro Hungarian version of the cast there is even an on/off love affair at their ancestral castle home  .I was also reminded of the film shooting party that follows an English shooting part just on the eve of world war one maybe a bit after this book is set but you get the same feel of a world in the background in flux .This book was lost til rediscovered after the fall of communism and is one of those books you’ve seen and maybe even heard of but I say you should pick it up I really can’t what to see what happens in this world in part two how does the cousins world turn out will the gambler Laszlo come a cropper ,will the socially mind Balint stay so ?There is numerous names mentioned on the cover Tolstoy ,Proust being two I ve seen in connection to this book .I felt his echoes in books b modern Hungarian writers the scope of vision remind me of Nadas ,The upper class world is also like Waugh’s world at times the manners and customs also different at times show how much these worlds had in come before they went to war on either side during world war one .

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October 2013


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