Autobahn to Van the man

Well I was going to do my music post tomorrow sunday as usual , nut I went to bed late last night watching west wing episodes til half one in the morning then was back awake before half seven this morning so today I have just chilled somewhat .But as the opening video is by Van Morrison , I feel it is worth saying it is a great week for his fans as finally he has reissued on digital format for the first time most of his classic albums , this song from Avalon sunset is a favourite as I know the place he mentions in the song especially strangford lock  wheere I got the ferry earlier this year .So if you have itune apple music or spotify it is worth checking out his albums he has made so many great albums

Strangford lough by Me

Then I want to talk about a debut album from a band that come out of leeds , which over time has provide a few good bands Wedding present and sisters of mercy to name two .Autobahn (I’m suprised there isn’t more bands used this name ) come out with a sound the coukld have come from the heyday of the sisters and wedding present , to me I get a tingle of Joy divison fronted by Andrew Eldrich the sister of mercy’s lead singer , I don’t know about anyone else .I’m pleased I saw them mention in the Guardian as these are my find of this year so far and this track seizure links back to joy divison .here is there labels page  .

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Weekend reads Kassel revisited

Well this is a feature I have been doing a few weeks featuring the books I hold the spotlight on two books I plan to read over a weekend , not that I do but on  whole it is what I read that weekend .But today is a perfect example of what happens , best laid plans and that I had originally had another book in mind , but after work I was checking my emails and saw the library had email to say this had arrived .

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The latest book by Enrique Vila – Matas called The Illogic of Kassel ,I so pleased this came today so I can get to it straight away .This again is a piece of Metafiction with Enrique Vila-Matas going to the Germany city of Kassel to the Documenta (this is a collection of modern art piece around the city every five year ) ,I used live in Germany and my Partner of the time father lived in Kassel , which we visited during one of the Documenta’s the city has a number of pieces around it by Joseph Beuys which strangely came from the city I actually lived in Germany at the time  Kleve .So you can imagine a book describing this city and visiting it plus modern art is just amazing .A bonus being one of my favourite writers as well

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My good blogger friend Lisa is to blame for the second book this weekend she is running her Indigenous week on her Anzlitlovers blog again .I picked this classic of African fiction Lemona’s tale by Ken Saro-Wiwa a member of the Ogoni people of Nigeria , he was a spokesman for them during his life this follows last day in Lemona life as she sits in a prison .The writers own life was mirrored somewhat as he was arrested and killed in the 90’s by the military Government of the time .

 

This should be written in the present tense by Helle Helle

 

This should be written in the present tense by Helle Helle

Danish fiction

Original title -Dette burde skrives i nutid

Translator – Martin Aitken

Source review copy

Being boring

I came across a cache of old photos
and invitations to teenage parties
‘Dress in white’ one said with quotations
from someone’s wife, a famous writer
in the nineteen-twenties
When you’re young you find inspiration
in anyone who’s ever gone
and opened up a closing door
She said we were never feeling bored

’cause we were never being boring
We had too much time to find for ourselves
and we were never being boring
We dressed up and fought then thought make amends
And we were never holding back or worried that
time would come to an end

I choose this as in someways it is maybe a writer looking back on her youth” her twenties “

Helle Helle is one of the leading writers in Denmark .She studied literature in Copenhagen , she started writing after that she has worked in radion and written childrens books .But with her adult fiction has won a number of big prizes such as the PO enquist prize . This is her first book to be translated to english .I am pleased to add Helle Helle to the list of writers I have reviewed this woman in translation month .

I slept soundly that night .I didn’t hear a peep from the couple in the front room , or from the trains ,or the boiler in the utility room next door.It must have kicked in during the night , the place was sweltering when I woke up .My cheeks felt like they were on fire .It was light outside and the sky was blue .I stared emptily at the bark of the old pear tree for a minute , then came another gentle knock on the door and after a second it opened .

Haven’t we all slept and then woken in a newish place expecting it to be one way , I once woke thinking it was Germany but found out I was still in Holland !

 

This was a book I read the back end of last year , I quickly read through it this week just to refresh me of parts of the book .This should be written in the present tense is a vibrant book about being young it is the story of Dorte she has just left home moved into her own flat near the university in Copenhagen .Well that is what everyone thinks she is doing busy studying .But no she is busy well doing nothing much other than a journey of her own to discover who she is as a person .As she is busy doing this in the shopping district of the town with her poet friend and her boyfriend Per .What we see is the stor is a series of episodes of Dorte’s life rather than a straightforward short glimpses of a young womans life .As she finds friends herself , men and the wider world instead of studying at university .

One day I went for a bike ride while Per was having a nap .I cycled aimlessly in the direction of the nursery ,it was late afternoon .The forsythias were in bloom in a few small front gardens .I was soon too hot in my jumpers .I stopped to take it off , then carried on in my t-shirt.A smell of seaweed and salt waters hung over the fields .

Smells bring back the memories of growing up .

Maybe books are like the countries they come from ? well if that is the case maybe this book This should be written in the present tense is the perfect novel for how we see Denmark and the danish ! Maybe this book is clean in the way it is written as I said it has a epsodic nature about it and the passages are little gems of writing maybe like little lego blocks that we put together one by one to build what is a model of Dorte and her world but in that lego way all clean lines and bold strokes .Now that title where did she get this should be written in the present tense from , I did wonder and found out she was parapharse a quote from Samuel Beckett ,whilst doing that it said in the same article in Danish (using google translate )I discovered that she views the book as her most personnel book and parts of it is autobigraphical .I loved Dorte’s life it remind me of my younger years I was a wander in my teens instead of college I used hitch into Newcastle most days and wander arond this city meeting and observing the world .

National dog day some books with dogs .

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Well as you all know dogs and books are connected here on this blog .I debated whether to do a post today , but as much as I miss Winston I love dogs and had reviewed last year a great book about one man and his dog .John and George the dog follows the story of John Dolan a homeless man , whose path crosses with George the dog , whom he starts sketching the dog and selling his sketches leading to a way out of the streets as an Artist .Here is my review .

 

The Guardian has a list of ten dog stories today as well .There is two great dog books missing Niki the story of a dog by Tibor Dery The story of a dog in post war Hungary , I have read this a couple of years ago but never reviewed it .Niki and the other book I will mention are both from NYRB the other book is MY dog Tulip the story of Critic JR Ackerley and his mad dog Tulip a larger than life german Shepard . I love this book but also this book has a had a great film made of it .

As for me I am taking a break for a year or two from Dog ownership after twenty years or so off owning my first two dog . But the important part of today is to remember there is so many rescue dogs out there both my dogs I got via rescue dog centres as puppies .

What is your favourite dog books ?

Thank you for not reading by Dubravka Ugresic

thanks you for not reading

Thank you for not reading by Dubravka Urgesic

Croatian non fiction

original title – Zabranjeno čitanje

Translator – Celia Hawkesworth

Source – personnel copy

At the record company meeting
On their hands – a dead star
And ooh, the plans that they weave
And ooh, the sickening greed
At the record company party
On their hands – a dead star
The sycophantic slags all say:
“I knew him first, and I knew him well”
Re-issue! Re-package! Re-package!
Re-evaluate the songs

Paint a vulgar picture by the smiths is about how music is a product .

I mention this book a week or so ago and how blown away by it I was .Ugresic had long been on my list of writers to get too , so when this work of essays and observations on writing was in a recent sale at waterstones in Nottingham ,I couldn’t resist it . Dubravka Ugresic studied Russian literature at Zagreb , she  has written a number of novels  her best known books in the jaws of life , described as post modern .She  left Yugoslavia in 1993 ,since then she has lived in the US and most recently the Netherlands .

What does this all have to do with literature ? Almost nothing .Then why mention something as trivial as Joan Collins pink suit ? Because trivia has swamped contemporary literary life and become , it seems more important than the books .A books blub is more important than the book itself , the author’s photograph on the book jacket is more important than it’s content , the authors appearance in wide circulation newspapers and on tv is more important than what that author has actually written .

Joan Collins or any celeb writing a novel is just the sad state of books and reading .

Thank you for not reading is a collection of essays all based around books , the market for books and her observations on coming to the west to promote her books . , it starts when she is at the london book fair in the 90s and the fair is being opened by Joan Collins . This is the first of a number of observations by her of what is the market force lead western , well english book market . This is contrast with her memories of growing up under Tito where books and writers where values how the soviet system treated writers in one way and then in other ways both good and bad but they were valued for what they wrote not who they were !

Milan Kundera wrote that one day , when everyone writes , nobody will listen .The markets , it seems , is creating utopia .But nevertheless , in the whole commercial whirlgig , there is a sad and paradoxical truth :glamour is a populist longing , a sign of absence .Literacy can have an aura of glamour only where literacy does not exist .

I agree with this statement , literacy is so important !

A breif description as it is more my reaction to this book that is what I want to talk about as for me it touches on a point about books that I often go on about , but feel I struggle to get across . I will give an example that mirrors the book I was at the recent launch of Olja Savicevic book Farewell cowboy , which was being filmed t=by the Croatian news to be broadcast on the evening news .There was an air of surprise when I pointed out that this wouldn’t happen here in the uk .Like this book it is a sign of what books have become and this is my constant point the big selling books and writers now can like Urgesic observed can be celeb writings or celeb writers (if you know what I mean !).But the flip of this is what I call “Adding to the critical discussion on books in translation or in general  ” that is raising books to high culture thus making them seem unreadable or unobtainable to the masses  . I mean just today we are talking about giving every kid a library card .It is not just that gets people reading it is making books seem interesting not adding to a critical discussion on books !!  An example  would  be John Buchan was the most wide read writers in the trenches of Flanders when the Everyman was reading his books . Now Buchan is considered a literary writer , but back then was read by the masses , so I agree with Urgesic view that making writers seem like heroes but heroes we can touch ,so in one book she has touched on so much that makes me blow my top the putting of books on high peaks whilst promoting drape books to the masses , it is our right to choose what we want to read not to be told book a is right because we come from a certain social or educational background Jesus would you have been the one top grab the 39 steps out of the hands of the Tommy because they couldn’t add to the critical discussion of books !! I have drift into arant her but isn’t that what a great book can make you do . For me this is the heart of why I read books from around the world knowledge is free to all well here and too most readers of this blog so don’t let books scare you because you are told they may be high culture .This book is funny and possibly ahead of its time when it was written .

Winston’s books Open Letter books and Nobel winner ?

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Well I arrived home to three brown envelopes through my door a real bonus , on a day that had been busy at work . I opened them to find three more books to add to the one I got on Saturday from US publisher Open Letter which is attached to the university of Rochester and their three percent website (a real joy for serious lit in translation fans ).The three books were a collection of Poetry from the Italian poet Lucio Mariani , A  well regard and translated poet .Then there is The physics of sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov , a Bulgarian writer , I have reviewed two books from Bulgaria and have a third on my pile of books to review , so I am pleased to read another what seems by the cover blurb another witty and clever books from Bulgaria and he was suggested back at london book fair to me as another writer from that country to read  .Then last but no means least is  a French novel and writer that has been on my wish list for a good while since I heard of an earlier book Minor Angels by Antoine Volodine , I have want to enter the future world of radical writers and exploring the power of writing this book is part of a great project that interconnects a lot of his books . Then below is the book that arrived is another to add to the 10 other writers I have read from Argentina Juan Jose Saer latest translation is a collection of three stories around Exile and memory .He sadly died a few year ago but is another I had on my radar for a while . I am hoping this may spike interest in the uk to this publisher making it easier to get their books in the uk .I know they are easily available on amazon , but I like to buy my books in a bookshop and the nearest place to get their books to me is Nottingham or Manchester .

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Then I got two books from the library today that I had ordered one writer that maybe should have won the nobel in his time Alain Robbe Grillet was a leading writer in the Noveau Roman movement also a filmmaker , last year in Marienbad was his film .I managed to find my library system had one this one project for a revolution in New York .Then there is a name that has been around as a future winner the last few years and thankful my library managed to find the copy they had at last of Voices from Chernobyl the oral history of  nuclear disaster written by Svetlana Alexievich , I always try to read one or two of the names not mention in regards Nobel Literature prize .

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Female singers for wit month

Earlier this month I did a collection of female singers in bands and said I would be back later in the month with three of my all time favourite female singers well it is hard to pick three but here we go –

I love pj harvey since she first burst on to the scene with her raw rock sound with songs like Sheela na gig  from her debut album , which I first heard on the john peel show .But this performance of down by the water fromJools is just perfect .She is one singer that changes as she has grown over the years each album is  eagerly awaited by me .

Joanna Newsom I first heard on an uncut cd ( a uk based rock magazine ) about the time her second album Ys about a mythical city on the coast of france that was swallowed by the sea . Her voice is rather like Bjork but to me the overall sound and lyrics of Joanna appeals more and also she has a new album due soon .

Well it was a choice for this third singer between Kate Bush , but most people are aware of her work so I went for the Diamanda Galas a true one of her voice is totally unique ,subjects cover in her songs are HIV , death , mental illness and despair .Cheery stuff but this song and album the singer is her most accessible material . I know not really anything to do with Woman in translation month but I do mainly mention male voices in my music posts here .

What is your favourite female singer ?

The hen who dreamed she could fly by Sun – Mi Hwang

The Hen who dreamed she could fly by Sun-Mi Hwang

Korean fiction

Translator – Chi Young Kim

Original title – 마당을 나온 암탉

Source – personnel copy

SKYBIRD
Skybird
Make your sail
And every heart will know
Of the tale
Songbird
Make you tune
For none may sing it
Just as you do

Look at the way I glide
Caught on the wind’s lazy tide
Sweetly how it sings
Rally each heart at the sight
Of you silver wings

I choose Neil Diamonds lyrics from his songs for Jonathan livingstone  seagull

I visit Korea again this woman in translation month . With a best seller in Korea by Sun-Mi Hwang .As a young girl her family couldn’t afford to send her to primary school but thanks to a kind teacher manage to be able to read books after school and got into high school because of this .The book came out in 2000 in Korea and was made into one of the best-selling animated films in Korea also a comic and Musical .

Sprout liked to stare out into the barnyard .She would much rather watch the ducks scuttle away from the dog than peck at feed .Closing her eyes she imagined herself wandering freely about . She fantasized about sitting in a nest on an egg , about venturing into the fields with  the rooster , and about following the ducks around .

THe opening lines and we see how Sprout daydreams .

This book it seems is part of a trend of Korean fiction , like the other book from this genre of Korean fiction I reviewed earlier in the year the salmon who dared to leap higher . These fairy tale / fable tales have a greater meaning under the basic story . So this is well as it says on the tin the story of a Hen her name is sprout .She lives in a farm and is in a cage with other hens laying eggs . But this hen by chance glimpse the outside world and wants to not lay and lose her eggs but also see the wider world beyond the cage . She manages to escape and journey outside to the barn , then she  meets the  ducks .This is where she meets greentop ,whom she adopts greentop is an  orphan duckling , whom she has to help along in life as well as finding her own way in the wider world and does she finally get to fly .

“Baby careful ”

“Mum look where I am !” he waved his little wing joyously . the Lilly pad tipped and he fell into the water .

“Baby ” Sprout panicked ,surprised , Baby flailed about .Sprout ran into the reservoir , but her feathers became waterlogged , and she barely managed to get out .

he motherly instinct comes to the front her to save baby even at the rick of her own life .

I read a lot into this about Korean life in general .I see sprout somewhat as Korea  of today , maybe greentop is North Korea in some way the child you didn’t give birth too but want look after but maybe don’t want to let go off .Sprouts journey could also maybe be seen as Korea own journey into the world and discovering the world after the Korean war . Now that could be me seeing too much into it it could just be a story rather like the kids books like Charlotte’s web or Jonathan Livingstone about someone make the way in the world their own way . You could also connect this in part to the film chicken run which follows a group of chickens as they try to escape by learning to fly .Anyway this is a fun book with some lovely illustrations that the uk publisher commissioned for the book . I managed to find a trailer to the film .

 

Weekend reads Galicia to Glasgow

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Well I’m working tonight so will be taking Vicous with me a modern drama with echoes of Shakespeare a man goes kn the run after killing some one and I alway look to mirror a weekend read James Kelman book translated accounts is an unnamed narrators story of living under a military regime .
What are your weekend reads ?

Moomin readalong ?

 

I wonder if any one would like to read or reread all the nine books from Tove Jansen ?I read a few in my school years and always fancied going back with the film that came out last year I was reminded then how much I liked these books and maybe it would be a good chance to relive some childhood memories or discover this series for the first time .I thinking that maybe October this year through to May next one a month over the winter months would be a great idea .

 

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