Echoland by Per petterson

Echoland by Per Petterson

Norwegian Fiction

Original title – Ekkoland

Translator – Don Bartlett

I was in the library the other day looking for some new books to read that may be on the Man booker international longlist when it comes out next month. Per Petterson won the old IFFP prize in 2006. This is his debut novel which has been translated into english for the first time it is nice to see that  it has been but a shame that it has taken over ten years since the success of Our stealing horse and twenty years since this book itself came out. But that said time hasn’t effect this book no it has a timeless nature to it .

They sailed across the sea to Denmark. Along the Fjord the bonfires lit up the summer evening and Avrid stood by the railing gazing twoards land, pretending they were stars. The lights rose and fell and they shone on the water and he heard laughter and singing from the shore, but the ship was quiet

maybe the last line of the opening paragraph should be a hint of what is in fromt of him

Echoland is the story of Avrid , he is twelve and like many lads of his age is just become an adult. he is on his yearly family holiday to Denmark to the small island that his grandmother lives on . But he has reached an age where this small island is maybe to small . He captures a couple in the dunes in the middle of the act . He also sees the tension between his mother and Grandmother that he has never seen before , the family coping with the loss of a child  and meanwhile we see a young man struggling to cope with his growing up that awkward sense you have as a chap at that age. Then there is the outfall of previous visits and then we also in the ending what his raging Hormones drive him too.

He wasn’t alone. Some distance away a man was jumping up and down in the water. the man was laughing out loud, and the Avrid saw the man wasn’t  on his own either. A knee was stuck up on either side of his chest above the water and when the man turned Avrid saw her face against his neck. Her long dark hair hung straight down, heavy and wet . She was quite still, clinging to the man and Avrid walked off through the water in the opposite direction, back to the rushes .

Avrid sees a couple up to more than he expected in the beach as he wandered .

I loved this the book Avrid has been in another Petterson book I read and I also know is in another i have yet to read  so he is a character that he revisit through his life. This is like the year after stand by me , I remember the lines in Stand by me about being a boy before you see girls well this is the year after that when hormones get you at the worst times . This is a classic growing up story but like many young men we miss sometimes the world around us the deep scars in his parents relationship that he doesn’t really see. I remember my own youth when my own parents split i was ten but for years I never really saw the fall out in their own lives till I had grown up in retrospective. I remember the years I was like Avrid a holiday in Spain about the same age when I had just discovered girls and my hormones where raging so could connect with some of the situations Avirid finds himself .I wouldn’t been shocked to see this on the Man booker .

Have you a favourite Per Petterson ?

His name is David by Jan Vantoortelboom

His Name Is David

His name is David by Jan Vantoortelboom

Dutch fiction (Flemish)

original title – Meester Milraillette

Translator  –  Vivien  D Glass

Source – review copy

I was sent this by the dutch based publisher World editions it is their latest novel in English  by Jan Vantoortelboom is a Flemish writer born in Zeeland he still lives in rural Zeeland . he wrote his debut novel in 2011 which won three regional book prizes . This is his  second book won a booksellers book of the month and also Zeeland book of the year and is his first to be translated to English. The book was also on a dutch talk show as one of there book club reads .

The closer we got to the village tof Elverdinge-the tram had just passed the stop of brielen, the village before elverdinge-the edgier I felt. Wheat country, meadows with Islets of daisies and buttercups.Field of maize. Everything slowly drifted past me. occasionally, some boys would leap on the footboard to chug along for a bit before being chased off by the ticket collector.my belly rumbled a mixture of excitement and fear.

David on the tram to his new job is full of joy and fear for what is ahead .

His name is David is the story of a teacher in a small rural school in Flanders which he had been sent to work at by his father. This rural village is a small village that has descend into back biting and hatred . David is a sensitive soul . He wants to try to teach the children that what they see in the elders is wrong he does this by getting them involved in a play about good and evil black and white as he splits the class and shows that life is more than black and white to his pupils . But in doing so he has made enemies but he also made a friend in one of his pupils and has feeling for the boy’s mother. This is all told in flashbacks since the at the start we see David is facing a firing squad and then we also see what made david the way he was his father a handy man pushed his son ti be better but also in a way pushed him away , but that past has one event that colours his life today .

You don’t want to get off on the wrong foot , eh? You’re new to Elverdinge. you need to make friends, not enemies. I hear things about you and they aren’t all good. Don’t look so surprised. You don’t believe me ? You’ve already stepped on the toes of a number of people here. And those fellows don’t forgive and forget. No, schoolmaster. men like them are quick to take offence, and settle their scores in their own time .

david is warned to calm things down in the school as he has upset some folks already in the village

This is a book about morals and good and bad and I think maybe a very Flemish book , I read a piece about this book that mention another Flemish writer who I aim to feature at some point. Stefan Hertmans that says the great problem with world war one is it left Belgiaans questioning their own moral values after the war. This book is a perfect example of those moral issues and also the small mind world they lived in pre war . David is a catalyst for change but he is interrupted by the war that will engulf them all and leave them all change. This is a wonderful insight into a village on the verge of collapse due to it being so wound up in its own world in the verge of the great war.

The Attempt by Magdaléna Platzová

 

Image of Magdaléna Platzová’s “The Attempt”

The Attempt by magdalena Platzova

Czech Fiction

original title – Anarchista

translator – Alex Zucker

Source – personnel copy

the end of last year I was reading through the world literature todays best translations of 2016 and decide to order a couple that caught my eye and this by the Czech writer Magdalena Platzova caught my eye. She Studied philosophy in the Us and UK after this she became firstly a journalist then she became an editor and  also writes a weekly column. She has published a number of novels this is her second book to be translated to english and is based partly on the true story of Alexander Berkman and his life long partner Emma goldman and the attempt to kill the industrialist Henry Frick in 1892 .

One of the books, published by a small university press in the United States, was an anthology of biographies of the most important anarchists.Andreis B wasn’t one of them, but he did play a supporting role in the story of Louise G .. an anarchist of Russian origin

There were two photos of him. A portrait from 1892 , when he attempted to assassinate Kolman and a snapshot from the mid-thirties: Andrei on the promenade in Nice, wearing a light suit, cane and straw hat in hand , running to catch up with a group of friends, dominated by the short, broad frame of Louise G

The book about the two that Josef has leads to a theory Jan maybe her great granddaughter .

 

The book set in the present day as we follow a Czech historian Jan as she is trying to find out more avout Andrei B he is a fictional version Of Alexander Berkman , and his affair and life with Louise G a fictional version Emma Goldman , One of jan’s friend a fellow historian has a theory that Jan’s on family line comes from the child of these two. So Jan has become entranced with these two and like them decides to cross the ocean to America. This is just at the time that anarchist’s are in the forefront of the news with the occupy wall street movement is in full turn. Jan is here to study the Kolmans files about the time the Kolmans is a stand in for the Henry Frick who was the real target in the real life events of the attempt on his life.

I hit on the plan of how to get to Kolman’s daughter while I was in the reading room of the New York Public Library, looking through a book about Kolman house that Eleanor herself put together thirty years ago.

I was amazed at how much kolman’s taste changed in the space of a few years , how perfect the New York collection seemed in comparison with what was on display in the rooms of the first family residence. It encapsulated the difference between a metropolis and provincial city , between the mentality of cultured art dealers like Duveen brothers and the outlook of an unsophisticated businessman, who accumulated works of art solely for his own pleasure .

Jan finds a way to get to the Kolman home to find out about them

This is a clever look at the past that serves at a look at the present. A clever use of  letters notebooks build the picture of the past whilst in the background we see what drives Jan to find out about the characters driven by Josef theory . This is a clash of Ideas Europe against american the growth of wealth that has been the driving force behind the american way of life those collections Kolmann like the real life Frick had seem so opposite to what Jan knows from his european ideas then there is what drives us is money freedom well,no from what we discover about the family but also on the other end of the scale can Anachists  ever be the answer ? well no because some of us need guidance. This is modern and past america viewed through Czech eyes we get the madness of it all like we do in the works of Kafka or more so Skvorecky like Magadlena spent time in North America in his great book The engineers of human souls . that also followed a czech across the atlantic but also looking to europe as in his case he tried to escape his past her we try to discover the past to get the present and as that book title came from Stalin saying of writers being the engineers of human souls this is a book about searching our souls .

Sunday Trio two old favourites and New country

As ever time has caught up with me tonight and I hadn’t time for a review so its back to old sunday trio and three music treats from this week

First up is Mark Kozelek sing Onward which he sang on the soundtrack to youth , i was busy listening to him this week where in his album with Jesu last year he talks about make the song for the film and flying over to europe to perform it for the film .Yes it is getting a bit often I mention Mark but he is one of the best singers around .

I read an interview some on had tweet this week with Tanita Tikaram and I decide to download her debut album Ancient heart on spotify there was a beauty to her voice in that debut album a naive style that she never quite captures after but its been nice revisiting the past .Now after two oldies a new artist .

Now is Aaron Lee Tasjan a great country singer twisting traditional country sound with a new twist on it his latest album is very good .

Two weeks to Go to Pushkin Press fortnight mk two

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A quick reminder that it is two week to the second Pushkin Press fortnight . I am super excited I have order nine books from my library system to go with the three I have already to reading including the The evenings which has been on my radar for ages.file_000-5

I have also ordered from the library Summer before the dark the story of the year beofre the war and a fictional meeting between Stefan Zweig and Joesph Roth in the seaside of Belgium .

 

I have also ordered a couple of the Vertigo crime Novels The Dard novel Bird in a cage that Jacqui reviewed so well . Also Mystery of the three Orchids , it has been a while since I read a Italian crime novel. What have you lined up to read  for Pushkin Press fortnight ?

A dutch pair new arrivals

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This is the first of two Dutch novels to arrive in recent days , I have actually read this one finished it last night it is a tale of one mans story about the first world ar David is a teacher but he has an attraction to a shy pupil that needs a bright world that is what david tries to bring , but the war catches up and as he tries to teach then men un der him about the world and how to read and write he decides to try and escape the horror of the war. This was a big hit in Dutch speaking world it was pick for a dutch talk show as a book club read.

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Then we have a book by a writer I have featured before Otto de kat his man on the move was reviewed here seven years ago. This is story of Emma Verweij she is now 96 and waiting to die and looking back on her life and the war years when her home the house she is in now was stronghold for her friends during the war. As she tries to hide the first husband and the nazis past in Germany. Otto de kat is the pen name of the dutch publisher jan Geurt Gaarlandt he choose the name after a relative also called Otto de kat a successful Dutch painter in his day .

What books have you had arrive ?

Breathing into Marble by Laura Sintija Cerniauskaite

 

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Breathing into Marble by Laura Sintija Cerniauskaite

Lithuanian Fiction

Original title – Kvėpavimas į marmurą

Translator – Marija Marcinkute

Source – review copy

As I said yesterday in my wrap up there was three new publishers last month and here is another Noir press is a new small press focusing on Baltic fiction. They contact me and said This may be perfect as my first book from Lithuania as I had yet to review a book from there. Laura is a prize winning writer this book won the EU prize for lit .She studied Lithuanian become a Journalist and then a writer she has had a number of books published and translated into a number of languages this is her first to be into English and the first by a living Lithuania writer to be translated to English.

HIS EYES wer brwn, with irises that seemed as thick as steel- they had none of the softness that would be characteristic of a child.When Isabel was taken to the group, they all simultaneously turned towards the door and a hush fell upon them. Isabel froze in deadly silence, pierced by fifteen pairs of starring eyes. And the a ripple out from the corner, a short, slight stir as the boy pressed his tiny fists into his mounth and his eyes flashed.Hardness was probably his most distinctive quality

She meets Ilya for the first time maybe she saw more than she realised in his eyes there

Breathing into marble is a story of family Isabel , who has a son Gailus , but this lad is suffering from Seizures which are  getting worse, the family are trying the best for him. The Isabel meets an orphan Ilya whom she decides they are going to adopt to help their son and also give him some company.This new arrival to use the old saying is like setting a cat amoung the pigeons and he is trouble he wrecks this quiet families life .What we see is the ripple effect of his arrival on how people get effect by one event .The mother and father trying to maybe replace the faulty child with a new one but he isn’t no this six year cause a rift and doesn’t take to his new step brother .

Galius had never met a person who took up so little space “Its like ILya always trying to become smaller ” he said to Isabel .He behaved as though he was not two but ten years older than his brother. He would not complain to his mother when things began disappearing from the drawers of his desk – pencils and his Tragi-comical everyday reflections – what he called the pieces of paper with his scribblings on them.

The two brothers meet and the older orignal son observes something about his step brother .

This is a tough one to describe in her winning interview about this book for the EU lit prize she notes the books isn’t plot driven its a book of psychology of the human soul she says it is to see how people react to one event the event here is a death at the heart of the story that turns the wife and husbands world upside down . This is like a lot of new fiction around europe about famlies in the worst points , I felt a connection to The Boy which I reviewed last year another novel dealing with the fallout of a child’s death. This also seems to be part of a group of writers In Lithuania writing Noir fiction another influence I felt is Simenon roman Durs novels those psychological novels he wrote about the darker side of human nature at times and how we all react in certain situations . This is a dark look into ome couples past and secrets they had to bury many years ago , death and recovering or trying to recover from it .

 

Jan 2017 that was the month that was

I am terrible at round ups as all of you may know but every year I try to keep track of what has been read and reviewed this year I am just marking books I have reviewed on the page of my blog not read then reviewed.So I have reviewed 13 books this month . I have gone from Belgium via Quebec, Latin America and Africa and back to europe with books from 13 countries reviewed and 8 new writers to the blog and five with books already on the blog. Three new to the blog publishers as well. Last all Translated of course .

  1. Maigert’s dead man by Geroges Simenon
  2. The old king in his exile by Arno Geiger
  3. Brothers by David Clerson
  4. Swallowing Mercury by Wioletta Greg
  5. Otared by Mohammad rabie
  6. Reputations by Juan Gabriel Vasquez
  7. The final bet by Abdelilah Hamdouchi
  8. Cockroaches by Scholastique Mukasonga
  9. The Potato eaters by Manuel Rivas
  10. A horse walks into a bar by David Grossman
  11. The African shore by Rodrigo Rey Rosa
  12. 2084 by Boualem Sansal
  13. Havoc by Tom Kristensen

Now book of the month

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For me it is the Danish modernist classic Havoc , simply a classic of its time worthy of Waugh , Joyce or any of the great modernist writers . 600 pages of a man struggle with drinking and falling down that rabbit hole of drinking to much.

Books read

I have read 13 books as well some I have reviewed this other will be reviewed next month. You can follow via my Instagram what I am reading at the moment  as I have been recording my current reads this year over there .

Non book discovery

Each month I want bring some non book related to the month end and this it is a Tv series I have been enjoying over on Netflix it is the series A  series of unfortunate events from the Lemony Snicket ,childrens books. I missed the film with Jim Carey in back when it came out I had by time the film came out had my fill of Mr Carey so came to this not knowing much about the books or film. So for me it was a treat the series style wise reminds me at times of Wes Anderson the same twee world his films live in  the tales of the Baudelaire children as they try to get by after the death of their parents , as the evil relative Count Olaf wonderfully played by Neil Patrick Harris , was he really that loveable kid Doogie Howser MD years ago here as a mad actor and his troop of actors  trying to catch his three relatives for the fortune. What has your month been like ?

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