The red notebook by Antoine Laurain

The red notebook by Antoine Laurain

Original title – La femme au carnet rouge

Translators – Emily Boyce and jane Aitken

Source – Review copy

She drove her mother’s car, ’twas a 2cv
I was most impressed by her casual dress
I was most impressed
Inside her rented room colored deepest blue
I suppose we found some kind of happiness
To fill the emptiness
We were simply wasting precious time
Hiding from the cruelest summer sky
She took her mother’s car to get away from me
Heaven knows that i, I can sympathize
Oh I can sympathize
For we were never close if the truth were told
All we ever shared was a taste in clothes
Oh we were never close

I choose another romantic Lloyd Cole an early song 2CV  obviously a slight link in the title  to france as well .


Well another visit to france today .This is the second book by Antoine Laurain , I have reviewed here on the blog .The first The presidents hat was a real hit with me when I read it . Antoine Laurain has written five books and collects antiques .His books have translated into many  european  languages . There is a short questionaire with him on the Gallic books blog .

Laurant had never opened a woman’s handbag . He hadn’t opened his mother’s when he was a child and he hadn’t opened claire’s either . Occasionally he had been told , ” Take the keys from my bag ” or “There’s a pack of tissues in my bag ; you can take those . He had not touched a handbag without explict prior authorisation , more like a command that only vaild for a very limited time .

How this made me smile , I think most of us men have similar a expereience .

So The red notebook is similar in  premise to the presidents hat . Again the story starts with a lost item . This time it is a hand bag , unlike presidents hat the finder of this bag doesn’t know who the bag belongs too . The bag is in the hands of laurent Letellier a bookseller , when he finds  the bag  outside his shop .Having been lost when it’s owner was attacked in that spot  .He looks through the bags contents and comes across the red notebook and a few other items .One of these items is a signed novel by Patrick Modiano   . But none of these give a clue to the bags owner . So Laurent reads the notebook and through its content is drawn to its lady owner . what follows is a journey through the notebook and it;s notes .Along the way laurent meets the recent French Nobel winning writer Patrick Modiano . Can this notebook lead laurent to this women he has fallen for without even meeting . The charm of this story is a shy is guy trying to discover this women that to him seems very interesting .

He paused . Laurent stared at him . Only Patrick Modiano could tell you he didn’t remember the woman he had met in the street then immediately go on to give you a description that would have delighted any police force in the country .”Thank you , ” said Laurent in a low voice .

Had pick a line with Modiano in as it shows his respect in France that Laurain include him in this book

I was charmed again by this writers fiction .It’s not very lit , but has the same charm as you find in say the french films by Tati . What we see is one mans journey through Paris to find one woman . Along the way Laurain pays homage in a way to Modiano  both by putting him in the book as a character .But also the style of the book is in a small way  an homage to Modiano a detective novel without being a detective novel .This book is a perfect holiday book or train journey book . I love a book that leaves me with a smile after I have put it down . Sometimes we all need something that is both a page turner and fun to read . I really can’t wait too Gallic hopefully publishes the next book by him .


Limonov by Emmanuel Carrere

Limonov by Emmanuel Carrere

French fiction

Translator – John Lambert

Original title – Limonov

Source – Personnel copy


I dreamed I saw Phil Ochs last night
Alive as you and me
Says I to Phil, “You’re ten years dead
“I never died”, says he
“I never died”, says he

The music business killed you Phil
They ignored the things you said
And cast you out when fashions changed
Says Phil, “But I ain’t dead”
Says Phil, “But I ain’t dead”

The FBI harassed you Phil
They smeared you with their lies
Says he, “But they could never kill
What they could not compromise
I never compromised”

I choose this Billy Bragg lyric  as it was like this book a singer paying tribute to another singer . As Carrere had done with Limonov .

Well he almost made it onto the blog a few years ago . As I had a tip his last book may have made the iffp longlist I read it . But it missed longlist and had to return to library before I could review it . So this time I got his book as a gift from family . Emmanuel Carrere is a French writer and screen writer . He has been writing since the early 1980’s , he has had a number of his books translated and made into films . He won the Prix renaudot for this particular book . His most famous book is like a French version of in cold blood  . A  book called the adversary  , which saw him in contact with a serial killer in France . This book was also made into a film .

This dandyism is also what he likes about Jazz musicians his new friends so idolizes . He has no affinity for music , and never will . But he does start reading again . He’d stopped at Jules Verne and Alexandre Dumas ; now he starts again with Jack London and Knut Hamsun , the grand vagabonds who plied every trade and embellished their novels with these experiences .

Limonov growing up in the Ukraine , growing as a reader .

Limonov is a hard book to pigeonhole . Is it a novel or is it a biography ? You see it is the story of the Russian writer Eduard Limonov . Now if you had to pick a writer to write about . Eduard Limonov life is a perfect choice . From his early years in Russia through new York , Paris and Serbia .We see him returning to the Soviet union just as it starts to fall apart . Limonov himself at this point becomes involved in the politics of the falling apart Eastern bloc .First in Serbia , whom he supported at the time the Serbian war was happening . Then he returns to Russia and becomes involved in their politics . As he supports the far right National Bolshevik party .

Pawel Pawlikowski is a Polish born British filmmaker  with whom I share many interests, and whom I’ve run into several times while writing this book . He made a moving documentary about the last months of Venichka Erofeev’s life  – remember , the hero of the Brezhnevian underground  . Poverty- stricken , destitute , alcoholic , and ravaged by cancer , Erofeev cuts a figure that Limonov would judge without pity but which had me in tears .

Strange read this the day after Pawlikowski won the Oscar for the best foreign film .

I was reminded of another French writer Frederic Beigbeder . I have reviewed two of his books . One of which The french novel was  a tribute to Carrere own novel the Russian Novel .(according to Beidbeger tribute site in France ) . Eduard Limonov is an interesting subject for the book . His life has seen him move from one side to another on the political spectrum . It has also seen him travel the world in Exile . This is the life of a writer .It is in his early years you see Carrere attraction to Limonov . A shared spirit as a reader , he loved French fiction Limonov Verne and Dumas were his heroes  growing up . But in a way Limonov is also the perfect flawed character . His later life has seen him involved in the far right Russian nationalist party . A strange event during the reading of the book was that Ida won the Best foreign film at the Oscars . The director of that film crops up in this book .I was also left want to try Limonov’s book has anyone read him ?


Be back til then here is some music I’ve been listening too .

Sorry I decided to length my blogging break a few days more after I was given the all clear to type a lot , but I decide to wait a bit longer .But  now have a sizeable backlog of books to review as I am up to book 24 of the year .So till I get back hopefully on Thursday I’ll share a few recent songs I’ve been listening too .

The sons of bill latest album has been compared to classic REM in some magazines , but to me it has classic americana roots .

He has been around a while this is his second collaboration with the great Mark Lanegan dark and moody as you’d expect .

Last not so much as a band but a film Frank I watched recently partly based on the great Frank sidebottom who also wore a large paper mache head .Maybe fassbinders best performance .

How have you all been ?

Winstons IFFP and shadow IFFP


Well its been an annoying few days for me at winston towers I did reblog and then remove an advert for people to join the shadow jury  for IFFP .Which I had started  in 2012 , but it served to confused people to who was running the jury so I have  decided to share running the jury with Tony from Tony’s reading list from now on , he has far more admin skills than me and has actually taken part in every shadow jury .This will free time for my new project with Lisa  from Anzlitlovers  .The Winston’s iffp which I will be doing every year from now , in which we will pick four or five past winners or short listed books (mainly female writers as there hasn’t been a female winner ) for the prize , over the years Lisa and I hope to build a back list of reviews for all the books that have been on the IFFP prize list .We choose now to start this as it is the 25th anniversary of the prize this year .So the first five books we have chosen are .




1990 Blue ribbonOrhan Pamuk, The White Castle (Turkish, Victoria Holbrook)

1994 Blue ribbonBao Ninh, The Sorrow of War (Vietnamese, Phanh Thanh Hao)

2004 Blue ribbonJavier Cercas, Soldiers of Salamina (Translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean)

2007 Eva Menasse, Vienna (German, trans. Anthea Bell)

2009 Celine Curiol, Voice Over (translated by Sam Richard from the French)

So basically I’ve given my self a lot of books to read over next few months but I am in the middle of a big reading high (never sure what would be opposite to slump so i just say a high lol ) .Also had chance to work with two bloggers I really enjoy .The Winston’s IFFP list is a good snapshot the first winner , one from Europe , one from Asia and two shortlisted female writers make a nice mix for our first Winston’s IFFP .Be back before the end of the month with my guess of this year longlist  , a few more reviews to go up yet .So there will be a lot of IFFP love from this blog .

The books I got the day I slipped



Now I was actually in town on Saturday to take my books back to library and fetch some more which I just fetch out of the bag today maybe last library books for a couple months from town so what did I fetch starting with the Bolano after returning By night in Chile I couldn’t resist another so choose a short story collection .There is a couple of his stories I’ve listen to in the New Yorker fiction series and I really have enjoyed them so decide to try this collection .The book of fathers by Miklos Vamos caught my eye as it was a historic novel with folk tale and parable roll into an epic sounded great and I love a new writer to me .The anarchist banker is a collection of stories for Portugal which for me is the one country in Europe where the blog is very weak for its size . Then the third Valerio Varesi novel in the Commissaro Soneri series I have the second book on my shelves and reviewed the first a few years ago and want to catch up with this series .


Also here today is White Hunger by Aki Ollikainen a tale of famine and a farmers wife that sets off for food in far north of Finland .Lucky four of these five books are quite slim so cam be held in one hand as I’m having to read and type this post on hand may just be book post not review for a week or so tile adjust to cast on arm and typing .
What books you had received or got recently ?



Well as many of you may have seen on Facebook and Twitter , I had a bad slip on the ice on Saturday .I decided to venture out as the snow and ice we had was melting away and didn’t seem that bad .I managed to get into Chesterfield changed my library books but then walk down to a department store I like too see if they had any bargain jeans in the sale and crash bang wallop I went down extending and landing on my left arm .I was so lucky some kind member of the public game walk me too shop saw the first aid came but as they said it be a while for an ambulance so this kind soul gave me a lift to a&e .I was seen had x ray next think called into a separate room Mr Allen you’ve dislocated your elbow we are going have to sedate you and put  it back in place and you gave to sign this now I’d spoken to Amanda just thought I’d badly bruised it and I’d maybe have some pain relief and go home .So I rung Amanda and let her know she had to maybe come up and help me home .So the next thing was some drugs in my arm some one touching my arm and next thing waking up with my arm in a cast .I’m back today hoping it won’t keep me off work to long and I may get more use of my hand as I’ve had to type this one handed on my phone app .I’m having to read off my kindle as I can use it one handed to read .

February 2015


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