How do you read you shorts ?

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Just a quick question .I’m wondering how does every one read their  short story collection ,.Over last few years I have been collecting a number of collections of short stories mostly of course in translation , as I want to add a side section of short story reviews from next year now I usually read a collection cover to cover reading one story at a time , say one in the morning and one in an evening then maybe move on too something else this seems to work but I’m still tied to start to finish and one book at a time , I wonder is every one the same or is it ok to pick one story here and there ? Do you want a selection of short stories in translation ? I for one am a novel reader but love listening to short stories and love certain collections and want to discover more and promote more in translation here . So rather like Bart Simpson would say how do you eat your shorts ? Do you have a favourite short story writer in translation ? For me I love Borges and Neuman but want discover more from around the world .How would you like short stories reviewed , I used love Fobaroundbooks daily post on short stories and have missed them . What length I feel couple hundred words on a short is ok , maybe as I do more reviews this may grow .

OUP Teales series of translated tales

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Winstons books the sunday bumper version

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Well its warm hence I’m in my shorts as I take pictures of some recent arrivals at winstons tower . First as I have read it again is the Murakami biography what I talk about when I talk about running , which I have read but never owned so a cheap harback was a must buy this week and I have read this again that evening .Next up Angre Gide after reviewing the Vatican cellars last year I decide to buy any by him I see so Le symphonie pastorale I brought (although I may have it already not check shelf of old penguins yet .Then there is the classic the romance of the rose a 13th century french classic .Patrick Hamilton was a book I had seen a few times in the oxfam and finally decided to give it a new home also he captured the dark side of the war years at home .Lastly is Peter Hoeg short story collection tales of the night one for my top secret project for 2016 .

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Next in is the best known novel by the Italian writer Antonio Tabucchi Pereira Maintains , which is set in 1938 Portugal a country where the writer spent a lot of his life . A man arrives at a old widowers house and changes the small world around them . Part of a series of great books Canongate have brought out in a new series called the canons .

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Last is the Dedalus collection of Slovak literature , they say it is the most important selection of Slovak fiction to come out in english >Well I haven’t cover a Slovak book so this collection that has writers from20th century is surely a great diving board into this nations fiction .

What have you given a book home to recntly ?

The Ogre by Michel Tournier

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The Ogre by Michel Tournier

French fiction

Original title – Les Roi des aulnes

Translator – Barbara Bray

Source – personnel copy

Belligerent ghouls
run Manchester schools
spineless swines
cemented minds
Sir leads the troops
jealous of youth
same old suit since 1962
he does the military two-step
down the nape of my neck
I wanna go home
I don’t want to stay
give up education
as a bad mistake
mid-week on the playing fields
Sir thwacks you on the knees
knees you in the groin
elbow in the face
bruises bigger than dinner plates
I wanna go home
I don’t want to stay

Another school in Manchester The smiths talk about there brutal school days .

Well I had a lucky day a few weeks back I found this and Roger Vailland book the law both Prix Goncourt winners . The Goncourt is the top french prize for fiction and one of the original prizes for fiction around the world . Michel Tournier . Was born on Paris , but has always had a connection to Germany , he studied german and spent many a summer in his youth there . A number of his books have a German connection like this one .He is often mentioned as a possible Nobel winner .Although with Mondiano winning last year it may be to late now

Febuary 8 1938 , sometimes you have to reach bottom before you at last see a glimmer of hope pierce the clouds .It was the  Colaphus that revealed to me for the first time the astonishing protection I was to be the object of , and which still hovers over me .

When do we know what is bottom thou ?

The Ogre or as it was also published The erl king is his most well-known book . The book is the story of one man growing from a shy boy to the so-called Ogre of Kaltenborn . Abel Tiffauges tale is one of what nuture can do . The story is told by Abel and narrated as we see him move from a simple man working at a garage , a keeper of pigeons and then he joins the army and is caught by the Germans and ends up working at a Nazi school were his job is to recruit kids for this school . How does this bullied school boy become the Ogre of a Nazi school ? When will he see the world for hat it is around him .

He had to make a superhuman effort now to overcome the viscous resistance grinding in his belly and breast , but preserved , knowing all was as it should be when he turned to look up for the last time at Ephraim , all he saw was a six -pointed star turning slowly against a black sky .

The closing lines of this book as he sees the world slightly differently .

This book is an example of what happens when a simple man in a way meets an evil world . Abel becomes like the world around him but how easy it is to get drawn in by the Nazi mindset . Abel is one man but he maybe is also the voice of so many that fell foul of the Nazi regime those how came to blindly believe  at what they are told . But given his past you see how that lead to the present . I was reminded in a way of Alex in clockwork orange especially near the end of the book were both characters see what their effect on the world has been. What we have here is a book full of ideas and how ideas can change the world for good or bad  , The book has been made into a film in the 90’s which I must try to find to watch .Has anyone seen it ?

What is your favourite Prix Goncourt winning book ?

Spanish Lit month

Well I’m late announcing my Spanish Lit month announcement . Richard announced a few days ago we are doing it again this July for the third time . WE have choosen a short book as the group read . The invention of morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares a book by the great friend of Jorge Luis Borges .

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Well I ve chosen to reuse my first post for spanish lit month for this intro again  I’m excited to see what books every one has chosen but if your still struggling for a book to read for Spanish language lit month ,I ve a few tips here to help my co host richard has done two posts of book lists .the first has 200 books that have been picked on various lists  the second had a further list of 100 plus books from classic to the modern age from spain and latin america .

Right another great port of call is the complete review Michael the guy behind complete review has many more reviews of spanish fiction here  and Latin american fiction here .Mostly modern but it has best selection of Latin american fiction I ve seen .

The site for new Spanish books available to be translated is a great site to see what is happening in Spanish .Nick Caistor and Stefan Tobler advise on here two  people I know are trustworthy .

Then I ll give you five to read from my blog

1.Don Quixote –

This is the head water of all modern european fiction we may think use in the english speaking world got the ball rolling on the novel no its  this book has it all ,meta fiction ,playful story lines ,History and oh the mad don and his faithful friend .2015 I will maybe reread this next spanish lit month in 2016 as that may be the time Terry Gillam has his film of it out or nearer being made .

2 Three trapped tiger G Cabrera Infante

The cuban Ulysses the call it but actually it is very different it has a very cuban feel you can feel a jazz beat as your read about a day in Havana just before the revolution . 2015 A lost classic this one .I have another by him on the blog both worth trying .

3 I the supreme by Augusto Roa Bastos

Another classic of latin american fiction ,the story of a 19th century dictator in latin america echos of the present in the past image ,controlling the media and writing your own history still go on in the present day .2015  One that everyone interested in the dictator fiction

4 Kamchatka by Marcelo Figueras

One of my favourite books of recent years ,the dirty war seen through a young boys eyes .It is touching and entertaining  and with a believable child narrator .2015 still a hidden gem !

5 Exiled from almost everywhere by Juan Goytisolo

He is the wonderful master of spanish fiction I ve read a few but this only one since I ve blog a wonderfully wacky tale that maybe needs a wider audience  . As does Juan he may win the Nobel one day soon and if you’ve not read him you’ll kick your self .2015 more exile tales to come this year from the same writer .

Oh and needless to say Borges is a must read anything by him is going make your reading life a little brighter .

Back to 2015

Again I must start my Borges project , I have read a second Goytisolo for this year already the first of his best known  trilogy marks of identity .I have Desire for chocolate by Care Santos a prize winning Spanish novel due out in August . Also a couple of books about the Peron years in Argentina .

What books may you read next month .

 

Happy 6th birthday winstonsdad

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Well its been a strange year for the blog my beloved Winston sadly passed away last year , I dislocated my elbow and I lost a beloved stepmopther  . Book wise i did another shadow IFFP another spanish lit month and  went to london book fair for the first time .But that said I managed to do 170 posts and 100 of those were reviews of books which isn’t bad going . looking forward after a slow and quiet blogging  wise start of 2015 my life is slipping back to its normal routine .So loooking forward I’m looking forward to Spanish lit month and then trying catch up with my backlog of books . I can’t believe I’ve manage to last six years doing this it has for me opened the doors to a different world and made me many new friends from around the world so here is to another year and a year closer to that first decade of winstonsdad .So we have 1086 posts on the blog and 542 books under review from nearly 100 countries .

Leica Format by Daše Drndić

 

 

Leica Format

Leica Format by Daše Drndić

Croatian fiction

Translator – Celia Hawkesworth

Original title – Leica Format

Source review copy

Sixteen years
Sixteen banners united over the field
Where the good shepherd grieves
Desperate men, desperate women divided
Spreading their wings ‘neath falling leaves.

Fortune calls
I stepped forth from the shadows to the marketplace
Merchants and thieves, hungry for power, my last deal gone down
She’s smelling sweet like the meadows where she was born
On midsummer’s eve near the tower.

The cold-blooded moon
The captain waits above the celebration
Sending his thoughts to a beloved maid
Whose ebony face is beyond communication
The captain is down but still believing that his love will be repaid.

Dylans changing of the guard is about his journey as this book is a journey for a place

Well I promised you all a second Croatian novel this week and another from a female Croatian writer , that I have met . I was lucky met and spoke quite a bit too Dasa at the IFFP when he first book in english was up for the prize  .She is quite a character and had a lot to say about lit around europe . So when the chance has come to read a second book by her . I am excited as she is considered one of the leading lights of modern Croatian fiction a real heavyweight writer .This is her second title she has written more than 11 books so we have a lot more to come .

This town has many constricted parts , lots of small organs  , it has an appendix .

When I think about this town , that is , about life in this town , my stomach begins to churn , my jaws clicks like a padlock , it closes up , I turn my eyes away although they never rest on anything  anymore , I shake my head , I don’t yet rock backwards or forwards , I don’t sway , cowering in the corner of my empty white room like people in films , not yet . I don’t yet hum , that’s the current situation

I love Dasa passages like this that drift off

I wondered where the title for this came from so I translated a number of interviews with Dasa from the net using Google translate . I knew Leica is a camera and format is the prefered style of picture for documentary photographers .Dasa has described this book as in the style of documentary photos snapshots of a city . The book is a story in fragments we dive in and out of people’s lives it is the story of the city from those newly arrived to those who have lived in the city for years . It is a story of secrets people not being whom they seem a woman on a train told she isn’t who she thought she was ? Dark secrets leak out like the drains in the cities .The book unfolds as a history fo all the dark deeds of the 20th century .How this once proud city has become insular and smaller over the century .The city reflects the whole region in a way .

Don’t trust your memory , your memory is a net full of holes , the past and the present slip through it everything slips through your memory , your memory is a hole .

How true is this passage .

I loved the style of this book one of the interviews I translated compared it too Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Doblin , the great german novel that capture that city so well and yes it has a bit of that , one could also compare this book to  something like Italo  Calvino’s   book invisible cities . This is a book of parts a mosaic so to speak that mix style of story and narrative like say John Dos Passos had used in his epic book USA .Of course Dasa has captured her homeland that has seen so much of what happened in the 20th century from the start of world war one , being involved in world war two Tito and then the break up of Yugoslavia .This is one of those books you need to read to know about it is so full of ideas strings and characters .

Have you  favourite female writer from the Balkans ?

 

Spanish lit calling

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You know I was just talking last night an out Spanish lit month on twitter turned and decide to start Beings a collection of Peruvian short stories I was sent earlier this month .I have a couple of books from Peru on mu blog and one story in this collection is by Cueto who I have reviewed before .Then  if by Chance today in town I was busy shopping and found The invention of morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares second hand which I saw as a sign so I need to chat to richard my cohost and we need choose some books for next month but as you see I have two already do you ever get Book deja vu like finding the Casares today and seeing it as a sign of where to go in you reading ? I for one am a sign reader if I hear something see something and connect to a book I tend to read that book next .

Bloomsday Music this year

Well its that day again the 16th of june the day James Joyce choose to be the day in Ulysses , in the last fiftry years this day has become a day to celebrate both the book , it’s writer and the city of the book in a way Dublin .I have done post before about the book which for me is a classic that I plan to reread again probably for this time next year (?the original plan was this year but as so much has happened I decided to leave it ) So this year I’ll bring you some great songs and singers from Dublin and Ireland .

Hothouse flowers debut album has for some reason been a favourite of mine for the last twenty five years and this song of a man ordering drinks trying to forget a women is my favourite track on the album .

I loved the film Once with Glenn Hansard and Marketa Irglova as a couple from different places falling in love in Dublin of course Hansard has been in an earlier film also The commitments

Andrew strong the singer in the Commitments had one of the true great white soul voices .I do wish they had made a follow up to this film they do so many bad sequels a great one off like this deserved one .

My bloody valentine are Irish we often forget this as they are so busy working on their records in recent years (decades)  seeing them live was a highlight years ago for me .

Not a dublin singer bu Divine comedy Booklovers brings this back to writers and books and also has James joyce in the song .Of course I missed U2 but I couldn’t pick a song by them as so many I like .

have you a favourite Irish band ?

Gender , publishing and reading fuck that lets do a year of publishing translation !!!!

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Sorry to swear but  as Well as many of you will have seen there has been a lot about Females in publishing and a suggested year of publishing female and one publisher has taken up the challenge . Now for me as a male it is hard to comment on this situation , I don’t like counting what I’ve  read or feeling as thou I have to read this many x y or z books to make a quota hell no one is telling me what to read  . I’m taken back to an episode of west wing about feminism and one characters negative  reaction to positive measures for females and why should they have them  if the laws in place are worked probably they are not needed , this was a female character , a right-wing character and in some ways I the arch left winger agreed hell no one is helping me get published or offering me a step on any ladder anytime soon but then I’m just a white northern male !  . It is a hard topic for me to discuss  as a male I don’t want to come across as a caveman , I feel bad as I as a reader tend to be drawn to male voices in the books I read  , but through translation have connected with more female voices from around the world .For me the important thing in a novel  is the story and subject and for these things to push the boundaries for me as a reader whether in style , story matter or characters . I could be shot down but then I say to you go out read books from 100 plus countries and then come back to me and tell me about diversity in reading ! So I wont be doing a year of women , no just same as ever  a year of translation the same as last year the year before and the year before that for me getting more books in translation is the one true struggle even in this I feel the more get translated the more females that will be translated . So a year of publishing women too easy way to easy a year of translation now that would be daring challenging , find new countries , new voices but then as Lennon said I am a dream and maybe the only one .So like Janus I’m looking both ways and dreaming of a day when a year of translated books would seem important to people .I challenge a publisher to just do translation in 2020 for a year of vision 20/20 vision !!!!

Farewell , Cowboy by Olja Savičević

Farewell , cowboy by  Olja Savičević

Croatian fiction

Original title – Adio  kauboju

Translator – Celia Hawkesworth

Source review copy

 

I seem to recognize your face
haunting, familiar, yet i can’t seem to place it
cannot find the candle of thought to light your name
lifetimes are catching up with me
all these changes taking place, i wish i’d seen the place
but no one’s ever taken me
hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away…
hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away…
i swear i recognize your breath
memories like fingerprints are slowly raising
me, you wouldn’t recall, for i’m not my former
it’s hard when, you’re stuck upon the shelf
i changed by not changing at all, small town predicts my fate
perhaps that’s what no one wants to see
i just want to scream…hello…Now

I think the lyrics in this old pearl Jam song elderly woman behind echo Dada return to the town .

 

I have met both the writer and translator of this book earlier this year at London book fair and had intend to blog about it then as things are and rather like this book family happens and things go astray .Olja Savičević is an award-winning poet and novelist , she has six collection of poetry this was her debut novel and was a huge hit in Croatia already been made into a stage play over there . A part of this was used in the Dalkey archive best of european fiction collection in 2014 .

This business with the cowboys was my father’s doing . He started it , and somehow it was his story . Everyone else in Yugoslavia liked Indians best , apparently because our most popular TV series , which had Winnetou , the indian boy as the hero . It was only much later that cowboys came into their own .

Why everyone liked Indians in the Old Yugoslavia

 

Farewell , cowboy is the story of a brother and sister Dada and Daniel . Dada has returned to her hometown to find out what has happened to her beloved brother .This small seaside town in post war Croatia is seeing the first signs of  people from outside the country starting to buy property in this town , add to this a film crew is making a western Dada needs to find out why her brother killed himself by throwing himself under a train . She meets a band of eccentric characters as she starts to piece together her brothers last few months  whilst seeing the broken town see grew up in and mixing her memories with the broken and changing childhood town so badly scared by the war .

Daniel , my brother , died in his eighteenth year , by jumping from a concrete bridge over the railway under a speeding Osijek -Zagreb – Split intercity train .

He hadn’t appeared at school that morning , he had turned off towards the highway , beside the dry stream , then under it through the secret tunnel beneath the road and along the well know gravel path to the railway . I can imagine it clearly

Dada recalls how Daniel lost his life .

Lost men is a theme in this book the siblings own father has disappeared many years ago , he was a fan of Cowboys when a strange thing in Croatia most people who watch western films connected with the Indians in the films not the Cowboys . Of course the film industry paid a huge part in pre civil war Yugoslavia with TITO attracting and encouraging  film crews many of the great western films of the sixties and seventies were filmed in Yugoslavia .I would recommend the film Cineman Komunisto , which Susan from Istros books suggest I watch , so I did it shows how Tito used films  control people but also the great filmmakers from Yugoslavia that appeared  . Anyway back to the book Daniel seems to be in some ways an everyman for the lost innocence of a generation that was involved with the war and the way many men where missing from this generation brother fathers and husbands .Dada is like an old fashion private investigator trying to find out the clues to her brother’s death , in fact in some ways I was reminded of Twin peaks with some of the odd characters she meets along the way . A novel about a country on the cusp of what is to come just after the last bombs and deaths , the new money just coming and old wounds waiting to heal Olja captures what it is like to be a Woman in a country where the men have gone .

Have you a favourite Croatian Novel ?

 

 

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