Before by Carmen Boullosa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before by Carmen Boullosa

Mexican fiction

Original title – Antes

Translator – Peter Bush

Source – Personal copy

So now on to Mexico in this years Spanish lit month and the debut novel from Carmen Boullosa which came out in 1989.Carmen Boullosa is both a poet and novelist, she has written 17 novels so far and there is seven of those available in English translation. Two of which including this is from Deep Vellum, I have reviewed ebooks from them but have fallen out of love with ebooks and haven’t reviewed them. So as I have had a little extra money the last few months I have bought paper copies of their books to read.

One day in the middle of break. Maria Enela(that was her name, was or that’s what I rememember, and will stick with Enela) invited me into the hencoop with the. There were no hens or remains of hens. I suspected it was one of the nuns projects thay hadn’t taken root .. an abandoned building, clean for some reqason, dark and silent. I went in with her . Then the steps came close and she asked me “What sare those steps?”

“What do you think ?”I replied, nothing gto worry..”

“You know what I’m talking about,” she said “you know very well. I’m being followed … They old me to ask you

The otherworldlyness of the book, is that ghosts.

Before is told in the voice of a small girl, we see here looking back on her puberty a right of passage as she became a woman. Her sisters and her play with simple white pebbles together in the book make fantasy countries in lines with the stones but then they disappear. Then trying to find out which Turtle was in the turtle shop they had one day the story moves at times into almost a ghost story as strange things happen around the young girl things she has trouble explain or understanding .The story is a fragmented story as thou from a child time is flipped in place and events run against each other in times. There is the mother but the father is the man in the dark is he there or has he gone or died.A book that shows how frightening growing up can be and we see things that maybe or ghost or just fragments of our imaginations as we try to make sense of this world.

The pebbles that I “collected” from the neighbours yard were small, white, and were used by them to decorate the window box adorning the front of their house.

Collecting them was an adventure because they were just beyond our reach and because they were “cultivated” pebbles, “pedigree” pebbles and not stones from the street, so nobody should see us when we got them.

I lived the image of stealing those pebbles we all did something similar as a kid didn’t we !

As I said this is what Mexican writing does so well the short punchy novella from Juan Rulfo with Pedro Paramo which also has a sense of otherness to it written before this novella and a work after by say Yuri Herrera’s signs preceding the end which has a ghostly feel to the text and came out after this book. I also saw a comparison with Guadalupe Nettel’s work  that also touches on times on growing up. There is a style to Boulosa writing that is gripping to the reader given the great translation from Peter Bush. The girl’s voice has a real feel of a young woman looking back and the way you miss as a child the mundane in life and also the way we look at others and events in those years.A tumbling collection of remembered thoughts. Have you read any of her books?

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Expanding Spanish lit month into Spanish and Portuguese Lit month August

I have reviewed so few Novels from Portugal , I have decided to add some next month and expand our Spanish lit month through to its Iberian neighbour Portugal there has been some great Brazilian Novels and I want to read a few more writers from Portugal. So I treated myself some books from my first wage in my new Job and choose ten books  eight  of which are from Portuguese translation.Here are the titles I have ordered.

  1. Fields of Fate by Fernando Namora
  2. Crossing a story of East Timor by Kuis Cardoso
  3. Equator by Miguel Sousa Tavares
  4. The ultimate tragedy by Addulai Sila
  5. A God strolling in the cool place by Marie De Carvahlo
  6. The piano Cemetery by Jose Luis Pexito
  7. The painter of birds by Lidia Jorge
  8. The three Marias by Maria isabel Barreno , Maria Teresa Horta and Maria Velho da Costa

I have this selection from my shelves to read-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Novels by the Brazilian Master Machado De Assis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A classic from Miguel Torga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One from the old master Saramago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A modern novel from Portugal

I have a few other lying around not sure will make the cut but here are a few choices and be nice see some novels short story collections from around the Lusophile world especially some African works maybe! Have you a favourite writer from Portuguese ?

 

Ash Wednesday by Miguel-Anxo Murado

 

ASH WEDNESDAY

 

Ash Wednesday by Miguel-Anxo Murado

Spanish (Galician) fiction

Original title – Mércores of cinza

Translator – Carey Evans-Corrales

Source – Review Copy

It wouldn’t be Spanish lit month without have at least one books translated from either Galician or Basque. So it is the second book by Miguel-Anxo Murado to be translated into English from the small press Small station. Murado is a writer, screenwriter and Journalist. He has written four books so far. He is also a commentator on Spanish politics for the BBC world service, Guardian and BBC four. His earlier books Soundcheck was based on his experiences during the Balkan conflict and is also published by the Small station press.

Dying blossoms, still white and pink,slowly letting go of the twisted boughs, wafted away by the gentlest of breezes, and children looking on. what are they thinking? the blossoms fall, time moves on.

This image interrupted the suffering of professor I… the image on an ordinary postcard, a simple photograph.He held it i n his hand and looked at it with some effort. It tired his eyes. Actually all of him was tired. He turned over; Ueno Park, tokyo, from his old friend of his, a colleague at Kyoto University, a marine biologist.

A man decides to see the blossom after looking aat tis card at the start of the story.

This is a collection of very short stories most less than ten pages all sixteen only take 136 pages. THe stories range around the world. From the last story which sees Professor visiting Kyoto to watch the annual Cherry Blossom. But this also reminds him that he himself has little time due to ilness. Then we have a ship that is sinking and the description of one sailor as he escapes the burning boat trying to escape and in the water watches his fellow crew members drift away as the currents catch them as a helicopter tries to save others. Then we are in Hong Kong with a visit to get a suit made over night at Wang’s.We see the Chinese ladies that work so hard to make a handmade suit over night. A classic story of two boys falling for a girl both in a gang they try to get her rather like the classic Babel tale of two men and a woman red Calvary.

Master Wang would greet his customers at the entrance bowing his way to the room he used as an office. In that tiny space, under the ceiling that seemed on the brink of caving in , was Wang’s inner sanctum

Wang Kept a collection of hundreds of buisness cards under glass on a table. Over the course of several years passing travelers and buisnessmen from all around the world would have some shorts or a jacket made at Wang’s or maybe some trousers.Most were people unable to spend  much more than twenty-four hours in the city. That is why the would go to Wang’s: Wang’s one-night-ready shop. He never failed on his promise to deliver the work the following day.

I remember Michael Palin getting a suit made on around the world in 80 day in Hing Kong in a day like in this story.

I read the first collection from Murado and loved it but it was a couple of years ago when I had a bad patch blogging so I never got round to it so I am pleased to have finally got to him. This is a universal collection of its themes. we see  Loss, inner strength, love, facing death, celebrating life although dying how we all deal with the extremes of life. This is a collection that shows how small the world is really from China to Japan, to London(a story of two Galician children attending a wake). This as I always say is why we have small press those collections that would never get published otherwise Murado has won many writing  prizes in Spain but not one of the big ones.

The secret of Evil by Roberto Bolano

 

Image result for the secret of evil roberto bolano

The secret of Evil by Roberto Bolano

Chilean fiction

Original title – El Secreto del Mal

Translators Natasha Wimmer and Chris Andrews

Source – Library book

Well, Spanish lit month wouldn’t be a spanish lit month over here at winstonsdad without a Bolano book on it. So far I have reviewed eight of his books on the blog. I still have to add 2666 and Savage detectives at some point. I read both pre blogging days. I may do them next year on the 15th anniversary of his death. Well like most great writers that die early there is bits left over especially nowadays with computers this is the bits and piece from Bolano’s hard drive some connected to earlier pieces and others essays and pieces on Lit.

Many years ago, before V.S. Naipaul – a writer whom I hold in high regard, by the way – won the Nobel prize, I tried to write a story about him , with the title ” Scholars of Sodom” The story begain in Beunos Aires, where Naipaul had gone to write the long article on Eva Peron that was later included in a book published in Spain by Seix barral in 1983 . In the story, Naipaul arrived in Beunos Aires , I think it was his second visit to the ciry and took a cab that is where I got stuck

The tale of this story in the sory scholars of Sodom

This is a collection of small stories a couple feature Belano the character from 266 as he returns a successful writer to Mexico he meets a band and then his son in 2005 in Berlin. Then a number of non-fiction pieces one on VS Naipaul a sort narrative about the story itself and his visit to Argentina after the Junta has fallen and meeting Borges. that links nicely to a story called Labyrinth about a group of friends reminded me of Borges in the style of its retelling. Then a character from Nazi Literature in the Americas Daniela, tells how she lost her virginity to a 25 to 45 ranch hand at the age of 13, she didn’t consider it rape (but may explain why she is in the Later book. Then a great piece about the Lit of Argentina from Martin Fierro through Borges, Bioy Ceasres, Soriano, Arlt, Piglia and even the later two connection with Gombrowicz in a piece entitled The vagaries of the literature of doom.

Belano , our dear Arturo Belano , returns to Mexico city. More than twenty years have passed since the last time he was there. The plane is flying over the city, and he wakes with a start. The uneasiness he has felt throughout the trip intensifies. At the airport in Mexico city he has to catch a connecting flight to Guadalajara, for the book fair, to which he’s been inviited Belano is now a fairly well-known author and is ofteninvited to international events’ although he doesn’t travel much. This is his first trip to mexico in more than twenty years .Last year he had two invitations and he had to pulled out at the last minute.

He has finally got back to mexico after missing a number of chances to return what will happen when he returns !

I am a huge Bolano fan but even I wonder if this was a good collection to put out. But that isn’t my decision and like all great artist, this isn’t the first collection to be put out. I think how much stuff came out after Jeff Buckley died another artist I am a huge fan of and like his piece the secret of evil shows the lesser piece some of these are maybe ideas for bigger pieces rather than short stories. It also shows how he didn’t like to let go of certain characters like Artur Belano which had appeared in his two main books, also in Amulet(still to review here I do have a copy at hand ) and in the collections The return and the last evening on earth. Belano is like Frank Bascombe or Rabbit an alter ego of the writer.

Wolf Moon by Julio Llamazares

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wolf moon by Julio Llamazares

Spanish Fiction

Original title –  Luna de lobos

Translators – Simon Deerholts and Kathryn Phillips-Miles

Source – review copy

Here I am with the second of three books from Spain from the recent Peter Owen World series. The second is a highly regarded novel by the Spanish writer Julio Llamazares, that originally came out in 1985 and was one of the first books to deal with the Spanish Maquis those rebels that carried on after Franco took over control of Spain after the civil war. LLamazares has written in a number of styles from film scripts, essays, short stories and Novels. His novels have been noted for the description and use of nature this one, in particular, remind me of a book from a few years ago that must have been influenced by this book.Out in the open also followed an escape into the backlands of Spain, in that case, a child in Wolf moon it follows four men on the run from Franco’s Guardia police.

 

 

We walk across the mountains for two long nights without stopping to rest, in search of the home we left a year ago.

We sleep by day, hidden in the undergrowth, and when night falls, when the shadows begin to stretch out across the sky, we start off again, hungry and tired.

Behind us, asleep in the depths of the moonlit valleys, we leave behind villages and hamlets, sheepfolds and farmhouses, barely discernible lights, faniting away in the night, on old river courses or under the desolate, weritcal shelter of the mountains

The harsh reality starts to set in on the four .

The book follows the lives of four Spanish Republican fighters on the run in the mountains. The four Angel, Ramiro, Juan and Gido escape to the valleys where they grew up and the mountains they now so well.Firstly they find an old mine to hide in, whilst trying to carry on the fight and survive the harsh conditions. They struggle to eat hide and avoid the family that is helping them as their homes are all so near . from getting caught. The action follows the four over a number of years..Angel is the one who ventures most often, his father helps them and says to use the mine after they are nearly caught they use a Cave in the mountains. They all venture to see family but are in danger every time they do so .This carries on until  1946, seven years after the civil war finished. Angel is the last in the mountains he chooses to return and is shocked to see the effect the civil war has had on people that have aged overnight h=in his eyes in the decades since he left to fight.

We wait atleast five minutes without moving a muscle, in complete silence, listening to the footsteps move away, first along the platform and then along the track, heading towards Ferreras.In the darknessof the office  ramiro still has his handgun trained on the station master, whoose face is now so pale it looks like a death-mask.He must have been on the verge of screaming in public.

Thewy have to rob sometimes to get by in the mountains.

The book follows the four through highs and lows and shows the tough times the Maquis faced after the war on the run and trying to survive. But also trying to keep in touch with family and stop them from being caught and involved in being caught. Then there is sheer tough nature of living high in the mountains, this is like one of those series you could almost see on the History Channel.Four men on the run, get by on scraps from family see” the men of Wolf Moon”. This is a book like Out in the open that has the surrounding at the heart of the books and the descriptions bring the world around the four men to life. A modern classic from Spain brought to us by Peter Owen only  32 years after it came out!!

 

Severina by Rodrigo Rey Rosa

 

Severina by Rodrigo Rey Rosa

Guatemalan Fiction

Original title – Severina

Translator – Chris Andrews

Source – Personal copy

This is the second book I have reviewed on the blog from Rey Rosa, the first was the African shore like this book was published by Yale Press. Rey Rosa travels after school, this is where he meets the American writer Paul Bowles in Tangiers, where Bowles translated his books into English, also on his death made Rey Rosa in charge of his estate. This book is a love story of sorts both of a relationship and the life long journey we all take as readers through the city of Lit and its many turns.

The next time, two or three weeks later, when I saw her come in , I said good afternoon and asked if she was looking for something in particular.

“Yes, I’m looking for a present ” were the forst wprds I heard her say .

“Can I ask who it’s for ?”

“For my boyfriend,” She said. She had an unidentifiable accent.

“well, you’re the best judge. There are  some new books  in the Japanese literatuere section ”

Her face lit up

“Ah ,” She said.”I love Japanese literature”

He saw her take some Japanese books on the previous visit, this passage made me Laugh

Severina is the name of a girl, we don’t find this out till later in the book. We first see her in a bookshop being observed by the narrator who is also the owner of the said bookshop “La Entrenida” that he and a group of friends they choose to open due to paying so much for their own books. This is a boring Monday afternoon when he observes the girl he had seen before but this time he follows her around the shop noting each of the books that she has picked up and hidden on a couple of occasions. He lets her off but is drawn into her life. Where we see both her life and his life of a bookseller. But also as a lover of lit from the writers he reads and his friends reads.Again another book that mentions Borges and his Mirrors and maybe the Narrator sees a mirror in Severina  Then Ana Severina grandfather falls ill and this changes the picture between the two main characters.

“I rushed to the door and down the corridor , ran up the stair, but she had disappeared. I returned to the bookstore. My head was spinning. A pemonition sent me back to the shelf beside which I had kissed her, and I discovered that she had taken another book. A hardback edition of Faulkner’s The Wild Palms, translated by Borges. Rather than anger. I felt a strange relief. I went to the cash register and added Faulkners novel to the list of stolen books.

Wild Palms was a book that was influnencial in the latin american world after this translton by Borges .

This is a very short novella clocking in at 87 pages unlike the African shore this is a story told from the unnamed shop owner a first person narrative. There is a  book revolves around a book that might have been Borges and inspired one of his Mirror stories. I always love the way Borges stories ripple out and touch other writers.There are lots clever names like the shop is Spanish for Mistress the surname of Ana grandfather Mr White to name two there are others. There is also the love story between the narrator and Severina is almost like a mirror.

The Irish sea by Carlos Maleno

Image result for carlos maleno the irish sea

 

The Irish sea by Carlos Maleno

Spanish Fiction

Original title – Mar de Irlanda

Translator – Eric Kurtzke

Source – Personal copy

Now on to a personal book for Spanish lit month one recent book from Dalkey Archive another of the novellas they seem to be publishing. Carlos Maleno was born in Almeria in Spain where he still lives there working as a broker and writing on the side. He has written two books so far this was his debut work and won the Premio Argaria for a narrative work when it came out. It is his first book to be translated into English and came out earlier this year.

WHy am I wearing on my face, at this moment, the mask of an aged Felipe Gonzalez? out of political commitment? No I, feel no political affinity with anyone, not anymore. Lets imagine that our politican or any other politician, has a dog , which he never takes for a walk. Absolutely never. What does it matter to the dog whether this politician belongs to the left or the right?

A very spanish story about an ex spanish prime minister

The book is a collection of stories the stories are all separate stories, but as you move through them you find certain things reoccurring from story to story thus creating echoes of earlier stories. The stories range from the first about Kafka’s influence and how we are trying to match his talent. Then a story about the mask that is an ageing face of a former Spanish Prime Minister. Then Natassja Kinski keeps cropping up in stories also girls with green eyes. A hitchhiking girl who has green eyes who goes across the universe, vacuum cleaner salesmen .Then the title story follows a writer as he starts reading Irish based Spanish novel Dublinesque, then reads Beckett and then ends up in Irland watching another writer being interviewed about his latest book. The there is the frequent mention of the PlanLux a sort Lit sci fi touch from waking up there to phone calls from there as well adding a clever touch to what is an engaging collection of stories from a fresh new voice.

Now Elena and Javier are walking along the cliff road that goes from the hotel to downtown stiges. The wind is cold and she’s shivering: Javier hugs her in a vain attempt at imparting some warnth to her. Frozen, they lok at the sea as they walk. the sky isgrowing dark, and the waves roaring against the rocks. She moves a few steps head of him, staring down faptly at the waves. He watches her. The sea in the background is definitely no longer the meditterranean; no, this is the irish sea. This sea feels like his own. And they aren’t in Stiges anymore, they’re in Smerwick Ba. Insteadof Port Stiges resort, they’re staying at the smethwickHarbour Hotel.

Jaivier ends up in ireland after first in the story reading Dublinesque.

This is one of the reasons you have to look at what Dalkey put out they tend to find those odd gems. This is a collection that is very surreal at the time. A writer trying and mention his Heros, we see mention of the likes of Beckett, Walser, Kafka, Borges (of course ) and Gombrowicz. I also wondered if Greene is a writer he liked with the mention of Vacuum cleaner salesmen in two of the stories the stories test the boundaries people waking up in another planet after their death.  human bones suddenly appearing, a writer reading Dublinesque then starring at the Irish sea and then in Ireland itself.

The hive by Camilo Jose Cela

Image result for the hive camilo jose cela

The hive

 

The Hive by Camilo Jose Cela

Spanish fiction

Original title –  La Colmena

Translator – J M Cohen in consultation with Arturo Bare

Source – Personal copy

A few years ago I reviewed another book by the Late Nobel-winning Spanish writer Camilo Jose Cela and had since then want to try him again so when I recently found this second-hand edition it struck me a perfect choice for Spanish lit month. When the book first came out due to a number of sexual or erotic scenes in the book it was banned in Spain due to the strict censors at the time and first published in Argentina.

Dona Rosa comes and goes between the cafe tables, bumping into the custmers with her enormus backside. Dona Rosa her cafe is the world, and everything else revolves around the cafe. Some people claim that Dona Rosa’s little eyes begin to sparkle when spring comes and the girls go short sleeves. I think this is sheer gossip; for nothing in the world would Dona rosa ever sacrifice a solid five-peseta piece, spring or no spring.

 I loved the image of Dona Rosa the heart of the cafe in he story .

The hive is the best description for this story it is like cutting into a beehive, except the beehive is the city of Madrid it is December 1943 and this captures a few days in the city and  a small corner of the city is told from a small cafe in the city its owner  Dona Rosa is the cafe owner nd the story flies out from the guest and into the nearby Brothel and men looking for women like Don Pablo, dodgy businessmen and the jobless this is the city a few years after the Spanish civil war, the wounds simmer under the surface here . This is a book that buzzes as we meet the 300 plus character that appears in the seven chapters of the book some appear in a line others slid through the book mainly Dona Rosa her cafe it the beating heart of this book a place for gossip, meeting, romance or even just to waste time.

The young man who is writing verse licks his pencil and stares at the ceiling.He is one of those poets who writes poems with “Ideas”. This afternoon he has his idea but not yet his rhymes. He has got a few down on paper. What he is looking form is something to rhyme with streem, which must neither seemnor team. He is turining and redeem and gleam round in his mind.

“I’m shut up in a stupid armour, in the shell of a common clod. The girl with the deep blue eyes.. But I want to be strong,more than strong

A poet crops up and I wonder if he is the young Cela putting himself in the story.

Sometimes a city is captured at the perfect moment in a book. Dublin by Joyce in Ulysses, Havana by Infante’s three trapped tigers, Istanbul by Pamuk. This seems to capture a post-war world of Madrid a city getting used to life under Franco. But also the darker side of life in a city the brothels, affairs and fighting. This is a book full of clever observation of human life and human nature the humdrum world in full technicolour as we shine a light over the dark streets. Unlike Joyce and the others there is no main figure in the book no this is a collection of voices situations most just like you’ve walked past them a mere snippet leaving you at times to fill in the gaps of the  stories or what happened next this could have lead to a lot of follow-on stories about the characters here. Note not my cover mine is a sceptre edition, but I liked this old ace cover

Nona’s room by Cristina Fernandez Cubas

Nona's Room

Nona’s room by Cristina Fernandez Cubas

Spanish fiction

Original title – de La Habitación de Nona

Translators – Kathryn Phillips-Miles and Simon Deefholts

Source – review copy

My first book for Spanish lit month is the first of the three from the second |Peter Owen World series were they are every year publishing three books from a certain country the first in the series was Slovenia this second series is three books from Spain. The first book is from Cristina Fernandez Cubas she has bee writing since the 1980’s this is her first book to be translated into English, she has written ten books, including one using a male pseudonym, this collection won National Narrative and critics prize when it came out.

My sister is special. That’s what my mother told me at the time she was born in the bright and sunny room in that hospital.She also said, “Special is a lovely word.Never forget that “. I’ve never forgetten, oif course , but it’s more than likely that the scene I’ve described didn’t happen in the hospital but much later in some room and that Nona wasn’t a newborn or even a baby but rather aa little girl of three or four years old .

Nona isn’t what we think this is the start but as the story unflds it takes more turns.

Cubas is well known for putting her female characters in very unsettling situations or out of their comfort zone. The first story is told by an older sister about her young sister Nona of the title of the book. As the story unfolds as told by a child you sense something is very wrong with her younger sister almost unnatural in a way. The next story follows a young woman who is about to meet a friend in a cafe feels sorry for an older woman Ro as she finds out that is sat by herself in the cafe looking lost and lonely.The young woman called Alicia is in need of a place to stay and this older woman offer hers a place in her flat, encourages her to see the flat before her friend arrives. She does but does she return and is all as it seems is this older lady whom she seems. Then a story revolving around a picture that is a girl looking for something under a bed another strange figure leads a writer to she the picture in person. There are three other stories.

Alica thought Ro was charming , a charming old lady.

“I’m on the fifth floor.”

Alicia imagined the fifth floor was like. There would be an enormus flat full of keepsakes. It would be a flat typical of the Ensanche district. There would be the dining room and a glazed veranda at one end and the master bedroom at the other .There would be a long corridor, which Ro would struggle up and down a thousand times a day. Ro, she said to herfself .Now she thought about it , her last chance was actually RO

Ok I’ll come in for a bit, just for a bit

Alicia goes to see a flat but is that All ?

This is a collection of  slightly creepy stories , I was reminded of Roald Dahl  short stories, at times she is almost a female version of his tales of unexpected where everything isn’t what it seems on the surface the perfect example is the second story talking to old ladies that until the last third seems a simple story of an older lady offering a younger a place to stay but no there is a classic twist in the tail, which is what Dahl did so well in his tales of the unexpected stories .I’m surprised it has taken so long for her to be translated into English

Love and Garbage by Ivan Klima

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love and Garbage by Ivan Klima

Czech Literature

Original title – Láska a smetí

Translator = Ewald Oser

Source – Library book

I have a number of his books on my shelves, but in my recent visit to the library, this book by the great Czech writer Ivan Klima struck me as a perfect holiday read as i t was under two hundred pages. Klima has lived an extraordinary life where his family and he ended up at a concentration camp aged ten, then as he grew as a writer he spent time in prison due to his writing and even had to take a simple job as a street cleaner which inspired this novella. He has written more than thirty books and has had a good number of those books have been translated into English.

I wrote , for hours and days and weeks. Plays I would never see staged and novels which I assumed would never be published in the language in which they were written. I was working, but at the same time I was afraid that the silence which surrounded me would eventually invade me, paralyse my imagination and kill my plots. I would sit at my desk and be aware of the weight of the ceiling, the weight of the walls and of things which might overwhelm me at any moment with their indifference.

Kafka ran through this also how could you write and write and never have it seen by anyone.

This was published three years before the fall of the Czech regime, but when it did finally get into print in the Czech Republic it sold 100,000 copies. The book follows a street sweeper, but he is also writing a thesis about the great writer Franz Kafka, a piece he knows will never see the light of day. The narrator has a lover Daria she is the sculptor , which is tough as he already married. So as he describes his coworkers a mixture of hard workers that have to be on the job, fools, youngsters as he wanders the streets he thinks of his country the troubled past, Kafka, Daria, writing and Struggling to be heard and appreciated, He feels like the Garbage he is sweeping is the life he is living that he is seeing how human souls and dreams are thrown away like the trash.

Thus I moved in my orange vest through the little streets and lanes of my native city whoch was slowly giving up its spirit, my companions at my side as witnessses. We were cleaning  the town on whoch refuse had fallen and soot and ashes and poisoned rain and oblivion. We strode along in our vesys like flamingoes, like angels of the dying, sweeeping away all rubish and refuse, angels beyond life, beyond death, beyond all , scarcely toyched by the jerkish  time, our sppeech resembled our  age-old brooms, it came from a long way back and it moved along

I loved this Orange vest and flamingoes comparison

Kilima is one of those voice of the Soviet era, that still rings true now. It seems so distant but I remember the scenes when the Soviet bloc fell they seem distant and it is hard to remember how hard it was for those writers like Klima. The narrator in this book is part Klima own story at the time he lived part of what the character did, part Kafka character in the hopeless nature of his existence, writing but unable to be read or heard. The book stands the test of time as the nature of the writing jumps of the plate, the characters in the book his fellow street sweepers the dark sense of foreboding and feeling of oppression on the streets as they sweep. Managing to keep a wife and mistress happy at this time.A lot of action and thoughts in 200 pages.

Have you read Klima?

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