September 2019 that was the month

  1. Welcome to America by Linda Bostorm Knaugard
  2. Years like Brief days by Fabian Dobles
  3. 10 minutes 38 seconds in this strange world by Elif Shafak
  4. Milena, Milena,Ecstatic by Bae Suah
  5. The Marquise of O by Heinrich Von Kleist
  6. Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann
  7. Quichotte by Salman Rushdie

Book of the month

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the first time, I have picked a none translated book as my book of the month but this is one of those rare books that is undefinable it is a monster of a read but the rhythm in those lists where she jumps from here to there in them. My reading journey this month saw me head from a chaotic family in America through Costa Rican village, then a dead prostitute in Istanbul relives her life in the last ten mins of her life. Then a Korean filmmaker meets a strange woman. Then a german classic in a new translation as a marquise tries to find the father of her child. Then I finished it off with a Reworking of Don Quixote by Salman Rushdie. I am still behind on the books read this year on 68 books reviewed want to get to 100 this year I will need to pull my socks up a bit but with german lit month soon I feel I can get there hopefully.

Next month

I have a number of novellas to read from around Europe I can’t see me reading the other booker titles they are just too long especially as I have a 900 pages modern german masterpiece and an even longer Italian novel to read before the end of the year.

Non-book events

I had some time off work and visited the Holocaust museum in Nottinghamshire it is very small but touching it has two exhibits one is about the Holocaust and the other follows one ten-year-old boy’s journey through the Kindertransport in recreations of his home school the boat that brought him here. We also went to see Major Oak the 1200-year-old Oak tree that is in Sherwood forest held up it is huge tree. In my nostalgia tv corner, I have been watching the father Downing mysteries which featured Tom Bosley is best known for playing  The father on Happy days he was also a sheriff in Murder she wrote this series sees him as a vicar investigating crime a fan of Sherlock Holmes with his sidekick a streetwise Nun.

 

Quichotte by Salman Rushdie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quichotte by Salman Rushdie

English fiction

Source – Library book

I am now on the third of this year’s Booker shortlist as I said the three books I have read so far were ones I may have read anyway. I have read Midnight’s children, satanic verses, Haroun and the sea of stories and the ground beneath her feet so I haven’t read anything by him for at least twenty years as my reading path went towards translation I moved away from his works but this being based on Don Quixote caught my eye when it made the longlist which was before it came out when I read he was using that classic tale as a background to a road trip through middle America I decided to read it.

“Sancho”, Quichotte cried, full of a happiness he didn’t know how to express. My silly little Sancho, my big tall Sanch, My son, my sidekick, my squire! Hutch to my Starsky,Spook to my Kirk, Scully to muy Mulder, BJ to my Hawkeye, robin to my Batman! peele to my Key, Stimpy to my Ren, Niles to my Frasier, Arya to my hound! Peggy to my Don, Jesse to my Walter, tubbs to my Crockett, I love you! O my warrior Sancho sent by Persues to help me slay my meduas and win Slama’s heart, here you are at last. “Cut it out,,”dad”, the imaginary young man rejoined. “Whats in all this for me?”

He imagines Sancho as his sidekick

As in the other books by him, I have read by Rushdie he uses various stories within his novel. here we have a man an anglo Indian writer of spy novels that is alone his son has left him. He has wanted to write about a man traveling across  Middle America this is where he comes up with the Character of Quichotte an Indian salesman Ismail but he takes the name Quichotte. A man who has spent his evenings and all his free time watching the trashy side of US tv those odd reality shows and dramas and quiz shows he is a sickly man and has fallen for an Indian tv star Salma R he writes to her and decides to travel across America and get to this woman as he does this he invents a son as he sees it all those great Tv stars he had seen had a sidekick so he has a son called Sancho along the way he meets many racists in Middle America in one small town they become Mastodons this is a nod to the Absurdist work of the Italian writer Ionesco his play Rhino about the rise of fascism in Italy here is echoed with a warning with the undercurrent of Populism that Trump has brought to the fore that has a whole heap or racism entwined in its heart. So as he heads across the in his battered old Chevy Cruze meanwhile the writer of this story sam sees his story of Indian salesman having echos of his own life! Will Quichotte get to Salma R?

My dear miss Salma R<

with this note I introduce myself to you. With this hand I declare my love. In time to come as I move ever closer you will come to see that I am true and that you must be mine. You are my grail and this is my quest.I bow my head before your beauty. I am and will ever remain your knight

sent by a smile,

Quichotte

A letter he writes to his beloved Salma as he heads across the US to her.

 

Another book taking a look at the heart of Trumps America it is interesting that two of the books on this years list take a view of this country at its heart I heard Rushdie interviewed and he said he had wanted to move his book outside the big cities in the US like Duck Newburyport it use the heart of America as Rushdie pointed out the red states the heartland of Trump. What Rushdie captures with Quichotte and  Sancho is that unspoken undercurrent of racism that is just below the surface that he shows him with a brilliant piece of magic realism when they all turn into dinosaurs. A writer that even in his seventies is still trying to challenge his readers. Now I read half of the list I wanted I’m not sure if I will read the other three I do have two books and am awaiting the third. If I do the next book will be the orchestra of minorities

Top 50 books in translation since 2000

Well everyone has seen or heard about the rather translation light Guardian 100 books since 2000 wel I m doing a list of books from 2000 most I have reviewed since the blog but others I read before the blog.This is a personal list in reply to the Guardian list and reflects my own tastes in translated fiction.

  1. Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano
  2. Compass by Mathias Enard
  3. parallel stories by Peter Nadas
  4. Stones in a landslide by Maria Barbal
  5. The coming by Andrej Nikoladis
  6. Trieste by Dasa Drndric
  7. Rings of Saturn by W G Sebald
  8. Satantango by Laszlo Krasznarhorkai
  9. Traveller of the century by Andres Neumann
  10. By night the mountains burn by Juan Tomas Avila Laurel
  11. The anatomy of a moment by Javier Cercas
  12. The briefcase by Hiromi Kawakami
  13. A death in the Family by Karl Ove Knausgaard
  14. Panorama by Dustan Sarotar
  15. The tower by Uwe Tellkamp
  16. Heaven and Hell by Jon kalman Stefansson
  17. Revulsion in San Salvador by Horacio Castellanos Moya
  18. Beside the sea by Veronique Olmi
  19. Colourless Tsukuru Tazakiand his years of pilgimage by Haruki Murkami
  20. Bilbao – New york – Bilbao by Kirmen Uribe
  21. River by Esther Kinsky
  22. The carpenter pencil by Manuel Rivas
  23. The book of Chameleons by Jose Eduardo Agulusa
  24. The mirror of Beauty by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi
  25. Where tigers are at home by Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès
  26. Dublinesque by Enrique Vila matas
  27. Martutene by Ramon Saizarbitoria
  28. Memoirs of a Porcupine by Alain Mabanckou
  29. The whispering Muse by Sjon
  30. White book by Han Kang
  31. Windows on the world by Frederic Beigbeder
  32. The sermon on the fall of Rome by jerome Ferrari
  33. Azazeel By Youssef Ziedan
  34. Bricks and Mortar by Clemens Meyer
  35. Resistance by Julian Fuks
  36. Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov
  37.  Harraga by Boualem Sansal
  38. Shtetl love song by Grigory kanovich
  39. Kamchatka by Marcelo Figureas
  40. The dirty dust by Máirtín Ó Cadhain
  41. Mrs Sartrois by Elke Schmitter
  42. Goodbye, bird by Aram Pachyan
  43. New Finnish Grammar by Diego marani
  44. Fireflies by Luis Sagasti
  45. The corpse washer by Sinan Antoon
  46. Love/war by  Ebba Witt-Brattström
  47. The Years by Anne Ernaux
  48. To the end of the land by David Grossman
  49. Blindly by Claudio Magris
  50. I will mention a few of huge books Zibaldone by Giacomo Leopardi,  Bottoms dream by Arno schmidt and Stalingrad by Vasily Grossmann

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann

British/American fiction

Source – personal copy

I am rarely tempted by a new book in English but this book grabbed me when I saw pictures of this huge book I was interested in what it was about any way Lucy Ellmann had written a number of books since the late ’80s. She is the daughter of two writers and is married to a writer and has taught creative writing. She had all her earlier books published by a big publisher. But when this book was finished and described to her usual publisher They turned it down. It was picked up by the small publisher Galley Beggar Press. I mean a thousand-page modernist novel that has no plot and is a stream of consciousness eight sentences that makes up the book.

I wish I had nice handwriting, the fact that i also have a few of her favourite sweaters, but that’s about it, beside the stuff she gave me, like some books and stuff, ups, fedex, rolex, X-ray, and my old patchwork quilt that was always on my bed as a kid, the  fact that it’s reall falling apart now, the fact that Jane Austen no longer exists and only ever existed briefly, not long enough to finish  Sandition, tragedy, enormity, Bronx cheer, Graduation Gowns, Choir Robes, paper owels, humdinger, Uber, Lyft, biege countertop, the fact that some people work for Uber and lyft at the same time.

One passage where she admires her moves handwriting then drifts off to something else in her mind.

The book is narrated by a housewife she is from Ohio and that is all we really know. Well, we learn more like she has her own baking business that she runs from her home.  What follows in the book is her thoughts that flow and drift from here to there lists words jumping from words that sound alike. These lists I loved as she had a thought an old productor some such and then from that word jumps to similar words. It then goes to the state of Modern America Trump gaining power. Writers she likes Laura Ingalls her of little house fame and then she references Anne Tyler especially her book The Accidental tourist which maybe of all her books captures modern American life as it follows a family recovering from the loss of a son to a shooting. The book is full of America but also her family from the title that relates to an event in her youth involving her sister. Then she worries about her own four kids in Trump’s world. It is hard like many books of this length, to sum up the world of this book as it is more about the internal mind than the external world and how her thoughts run and that is so difficult to capture.

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s dog was called Jack, the fact that i keep thinking I see the abominable snowmanmoving between those trees down there, a bigfoot, just behind the bushers, gully the fact that ben would be thrilled, the fact that I should photograph it, but of course I don’t have my phone, that that if I had my phone I would be in this mess freezing to death in the wilderness, the fact that I am always forgetting my cell, the fact that it’s so silly not to have it with you at all times, the fact that the people on the planes in 9/11 made good use of theirphone, the fact that I bet every American has carried their cell phone with them since 9/11

Another digression from Laura Ingalls to 9/11 in four lines.

Everyone knows this book as I was discussing one twitter when a friend ask me what I thought of it as they had been put off by the hype and I could connect with that but the thought of a thousand-page book that tries to grapple with the scary world that is modern America. Well for me this remind me in tone at times to Thomas Bernhard as it has at times a similar feeling in the tone of her words if he had been a midwest American housewife this would have been how he wrote even the lack of paragraphs and long sentences are something that Bernhard used in his books. I was pleased when I read that she had given Bernhard to her husband to read many years ago. When it made the Booker shortlist I knew I had to read it I had already got it as a fan of really long novels it was one that grabbed me and showed that small publishers are great at taking chances she describes how she actually added 30,000 words in one edit of the original manuscript how many large publishers would allow that to a large book get larger. I was reminded of Sergio de la Pava struggle to get his Naked singularity like this another huge modernist work that in another way wrestles with the world that is modern America. Ellmann tries to grab what life is like for a middle-aged woman struggling to get by the changing of focus in the female roles with in the world the rise of Trump and does it in a wonderfully poetic and thought-provoking book.

The Marquise of O by Heinrich Von Kleist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Marquise of O by Heinrich Kleist

German Literature

Original title – Die Marquise von O

Translator – Nicholas Jacobs

Source – review copy

Well I have only one before reviewed a book where it has two translations that was the double translations of Cre Na Cille that came out a few years ago well I have an updated translation of one of the greatest German writers works that of Heinrich Von Kleist a writer that influenced writers in particular Kafka he was describer in the encyclopedia Britannica as Kleist’s whole life was filled by a restless striving after ideal and illusory happiness, and this is largely reflected in his work. He was by far the most important North German dramatist of the Romantic movement, and no other of the Romanticists approaches him in the energy with which he expresses patriotic indignation. I have reviewed this a part of a collection a number of years ago but didn’t focus on this story.

In M -, An important town in Northern Italy, the widowed Marquise of O – A women of impeccable reputation and mother of well-brought up children, made it known through the newspapers that she had inexplicably found herself in a certain condition, that the father of the child she would bear should make himself known, and that out of regard for her family she was resolved to marry him. The woman who under the pressure ofirremeediable circumstances took such a strange step, risking universal derison with such fortitudewas the daughter of Colonel G

A sort of whose the father Jeremy Kyle style forthe time

The Marquis of O is a novella set during the Napoleonic wars. it starts with a startling piece from a newspaper THat in M a town in Northern Italy has found herself in a certain condition and she wants the father of the child to make himself known. She is the daughter of Colonel G and has arrived at his home in this state after her husband died some years earlier. The early part of the book follows the events leading to the Marquise ending up this way. which saw her home overrun by Russian soldiers and at the risk of being used by them she is saved by Count F who then saves her but later appears to have died and then return and he tries to gain the hand of the Marquise but in the meantime she has been cast out and is returning to her dead husbands estate.

THe Marquise came with her two children to the forecourt of the castle where shooting, now at its heaviest, was already lighting up the night, forcing her, out of her mind where she sould turn next, back into the burning building. Her she was unfortunate enough to meet a band of hostile riflemen just as she was intending to slip out by the back door. At the sightof her they suddenly fell silent and slung their weapons over their shoulders and took her with them whilst making abominable gestures.Tugged and pulled this way and that by hte terrifying pack fighting among themselves

Her fate seems doomed her when she ran into the gun men by her old house

This has many twists in the tale and like the best of Kafka there is a little of not knowing who is who here with no full names just Colonel G , count F and Marquise of O remind me of the way Kafka never used characters full names them there is the hint that the Marquise may have been raped not clearly in the book but there is a feeling that something is wrong with how the baby was conceived.. Will the count ever be able to make the Marquise his Countess ? The book leans on the lines that see the Count take the MArquise when she is very tired from the group of Russian soldier is this when they had relations? it isn’t said but implied. It is also a studied into how people react under stress Her father the Marquise, the Count each act differently.  I enjoyed this new translation I remember the story didn’t grab me much in the collection as I choose two other stories to describe in the collection I hope that Pushkin get some of the other Von Kleist works to translate especially An Earthquake in Chile and Michael Kohlhaas which where the two stories I liked in the other collection.

Milena, Milena, Ecstatic by Bae Suah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milena, Milena,Ecstatic by Bae Suah

Korean short fiction

Original title – 밀레나, 밀레나, 황홀한

Translator – Deborah Smith

Source – review copy

I read Bae Suah Wiki page and was interested. That she had studied Chemistry and was working in the airport on the disembark desk and had taken writing up as a hobby when she got a story published. An inspiration to all writers I think. I also read there she had spent a year in Germany and has translated books from German in Korean including works by Sebald, Erpenbeck and Kafka. This short book is only 35 pages long.

On his occasional visit to a cafe, he onlyever drinks espresso – It’s the only kind of coffe whose flavour is strong enough to neutralise the taste of machine. He always orders two singles rahter than one double, drinking one first, then the other, so as to experience the difference in temperature, foam and mouthfeel – just like he does at home. It jappens to be a mild day, when the cries of the collared dove can be heard, he set the cup on the table by the window, so the coffee receives the morning light. Cold coffee doesn’t bother him especially. Neither does feel the fine granules against his tongue and against his throat.

His odd coffee habit of two singles instread of a double.

This is a third-person narrative of a day in a man’s life. Hom Yun is a bit of hipster in the way Bae describes him he only drinks Double espresso but has them as two single shots. We see his day from a man that loves to read in the bath he has one book a copy of Letters to Milena which links to Bae time in German and also in a way to this story they are a collection of Kafka letters. The letters haunt him and also the former owner of his collection from the inscription in the book. This story then takes a strange turn as Hom is dressed and of to an interview at a Cultural foundation that he doesn’t quite remember to apply for with his film project that is a mix of fiction and Documentary around the Scythian graves that Herodotus wrote about in his histories. Hom is usually a loner in his filmmaker but this is his biggest idea and he may need an assistant so when he leaves the Foundation the secretary from there follows Hom and then spends the night trying to get him to hire them in a strange Kafkaesque even of cross meanings between the two.

HIm yun examines the inside cover. There, someone has written a sentence in German, in pencil stiff and crooked as though the writer were not familiar with the German alphabet and had simply copied out the words, the handwriting scattered clumsily and slanted irregularely and in indvidual strokes that did not join up with each other

“Ecstatic MIlena”

There are no marking other than that single sentence, whichhe absolutely had not written himself. This means that this book is not Hom Yun’s

THe letter to Milena that he owns isn’t his own !

This book has some subtle details in it like Hom habit of splitting his double espresso into two single shots so he can experience each shot at a different temperature. The sitting in the bath reading, the way he dressed in all black made him seem like a real hipster to me. There is a number of nods to Kafka the love of his book the evening he spends with the secretary which takes many odd turns. Then Hom being haunted by his letters to Milena. This is a short novella but feels like much more after you have read it He jumps of the page this hipster filmmaker and his mad film idea is well built around his idiosyncratic behaviors. This is part of a collection of short Korean works called The Yeoyu series from stranger press there are seven other books in the collection.

10 minutes 38 seconds in this strange world by Elif Shafak

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 minutes 38 seconds in this strange world by Elif Shafak

British Turkish fiction

Source – Library

I briefly met Elif when she was a judge at the IFFP prize a number of years ago. So when this made the Booker shortlist this year with a few other books I had been interested in I decide to do a little challenge of reading them and this was the first book of the list it is Elif’s eleventh novel I had reviewed an earlier book by her Honour. She has written books in both English and Turkish. She also speaks of women’s rights, minority rights, Freedom of speech and of course Turkey.

She saw herself as a baby – Naked, slick and red.Only a few seconds earlier she had lefther mother’s womb and slid througha wet, slippery passage, gripped by fear wholly new to her, and here she was now in a room full of sounds and colours and things unkown. Sunlight through the stained glass windows dappled the quilt on the bed and reflected off the water in a porcelain basin, despite it being a chillyday in January. Into that same water an elderly woman dressed in shades of autumn leaves- the midwife-dipped a towel and wrung it out, blood trickling down her forearm.

Mashallah, mashalla its a girl

The midwife took a piece of flint, which sha had tucked awayin her bra and cut the ummbilical cord.

I loved the image of the flint in the midwifes hand cutting the cord.

 

This book focus on what would be in a paper may be a small byline and brief description and that is the murder of a prostitute. The Prostitute in by the name is called Tequilla Leila as she is upturned in a bin her life is drifting away and for the last ten minutes she remembers smells that recall her life in parts as each smell leads to a Proustian recall. From Salt which takes her back to her birth and the midwife cutting her from her mother with a piece of Flint. Then Lemon and sugar and the Grand house of her youth that once belonged to an Armenian doctor each minute drifts by and her life moves forward and the smell of Cardamon coffee and the reason she heads to Istanbul and into the brothels after an event with an Uncle. She falls in with five friends that become her second family a man besotted with her and transvestite, a dwarf a singer and a stunning Somalian. Their stories intertwine with Leila own as the minutes tick down her life draws to an end. To a last taste of the strawberry cake and the second half of the book that starts in the morgue and sees what happens with her friends and the aftermath of Tequilla’s Leila life.

Zaynab was born a thousand miles away from Istanbul, in an isolated mountain village in Northern Lebanon. Fpr generations the Sunni famlies in the area had only intermarried, and dwarfism was so common in the village that they often attracted visitors from the outside world- Journalists, scientists and the like. Zaynabs brothers and sisters were average sizes and when the time came they would marry, one after another. Among her siblings she alone had inherited her [arents condition, both of them little people

One of the side stories of her friends the dwarf Zaynab !

I loved the first half of the book the Proustian remembrance of Lelia’s life as she laid dying as the tastes of her life from the salt of her skin and being cut from her mother with a sharpened piece of flint to a strawberry cake each leads to events in the life and shows how one event turns this woman life but also lead her into a different group of friends this is a side character of a Pamuk novel brought to Life this is a colorful view of the Brothels of Istanbul and shows how each woman there has her own story of how they end up there and turned into a beautiful work of fiction that brings to life their world. A strange fact is that there is a woman in a bin in duck Newburyport which I am a third into already. I have read a number of other books from Istanbul but none has brought to life this underbelly of the city!

 

Years like Brief days by Fabián Dobles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Years like brief days by Fabián Dobles

Costa Rican fiction

Original title – LOS AÑOS, PEQUEÑOS DÍAS

Translator – Joan Henry

Source – personal copy

I don’t often get to feature a new country on the blog and this is the 121 new country on the blog. This was for Spanish lit month but a bit late. Fabian Dobles was one of the leading voice in the generation 40 group of writers from Costa Rica. This was chosen by UNESCO as a representative work, Dobles was known for his social realism in his writing. He wrote Novela and short stories this Novel came out about twenty years ago. He grew up in a small town and his father was a village doctor like the father of the Old man in this book.

The seventy-year-old man closedhis eyes for a long time, and when he opened them at the entrance to the street, the Alajuela SportsLeague and Heredia Sports club were contending in a veteran match of five a side. It was already five goals to nine when a woman neighbour broke in to protest at the cloud of dust that the boys had raised, and his mother came out on the footpath, clapped her hands loudly and called for order, and the game stopped.( What a pity! When it was begingingto be first rate. Everybody quitened down, unlucky us )#

He arrives back in his home village.

We meet our unnamed narrator he is seventy and has decided to drive home in his old cars to his home village. He takes his wife this is the place where they meet. As he arrives in the village we see the events in his past as he relives his life. He was going to seminary school where he was sent to by his father. Until he was abused by a priest this event affects his relationship and his life especially with his parents. He held back what happened to him to this moment and in a letter to his dead mother. Then there is the father he is the village doctor like Dobles’s own father this man in his memories is a violent man lashing out at animals but he also remembers him standing up for the rights and being embraced in the African American community whilst working in New York as a young doctor. It sees a man looking back over his life and tries to forgive those who hurt him especially his father. Also, he remembers those first sexual awakenings with his wife. He also sees poverty more now than he did in things like the type of horse people have from the perfect Arab of the rich people to the half breed horse of the poor.

Dear mama,

Days became year, years piled up like brief days. One of those day you died. No you’re here, then you went away. I’ll never again be able to say. “How goes it Mama?” Ypu were so old and inoffensive when you went away from us saying farewell for ever, and theat letter,  the last oneyou wrote me, was bever answered

The letter to his mother about what happened all those years ago ..

The writer was seventy when he wrote this book so one imagines a number of events in this book are taken from his own life his father was a doctor and he was also like the character in this novel was sent to seminary school but like our narrator, he left it after a number of events as well. This is a book full of memories it reminds me of the later novel of other writers I have read over the years from Gunter Grass with his biographies or old man and the sea by Hemingway. Both of which share the feeling of looking back over one’s life and seeing the faults and maybe forgiving those who have made their life hard in the past and also the joyful moments like meeting his wife.

Welcome to America by Linda Boström Knausgård

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to America by Linda Boström Knausgård

Swedish fiction

Original title – Välkommen til Amerika

Translator – Martin Aitken

Source – review copy

I featured this on my woman in translation month covers post it is the second novel by the Swedish novelist Linda Bostrom Knaugard is the ex-wife of the Norwegian writer Karl Ove and her mother was a well known Swedish actress. She has written three novels her first glimpse of fame was a dark collection of short stories called Grand Mal.  She has bipolar which was part of a Swedish documentary about her life living with it. She has also written a daily column for a regional Swedish newspaper.

He was dead. All at once, great spaces opened inside me. Spaces the silence filed, An immense calm came over me in the beginning, and the sense that this what had always been missing.

I never let on to anyone about me, god, and my dad. That knowledge was something I had to bear myself

What else did my thought say? They lurked and pounced on me. The were noisy, and I batted the air with my hab=nds, the way you do to swat a fly

This shows how she reacted to her fathers death and the thoughts about him.

Welcome top America has a young narrator called Ellen. Her family is a strange collection her brother is barricaded in his room and is using bottles to urinate in. Her mother is an actress she is also the rock of the family and is acting as thou every in the family is normal. She struggles with her daughters silence and what she says. Ellen is under the belief she has killed her father. The father is mentally ill and he has been institutionalized and has terrorized the family for. years but he has died and the past is shown in Ellen remember how he was with them,. Ellen has stopped talking what we have is her internal monologue on those around her family of light as she says about her family this comes from her mother. Our narrator often wished her father died for the way he had made the family feel so when she prayed for him to die in a fire and that happens it sends her into a mute spiral of guilt.

Before, I would often go with my mum to the theatre. I don’t do that anymore, I hear her go lout and come back The last time I saw her perform she was a fallen statu of liberty wishing the immigrants welcome to America. She was bald, with a shard of mirror stuck on her brow. She’d lost her torch. I loved it. The way they’d made her up. The way she shone and shone on the stage. Welcome to america, Welcom to America

I felt the urge to write those exact words in my notebook. But I stopped myself. You’ve got to be strict. You can’t just follow the impulses that criss-cross the mind in their little tunnels of light.I could see my thoughts.They were everywhere

The lines she quotes are mixed up later with an image of her father saying them as well.

This is a short dark powerful book the paperback is 122 pages but or huge text and well-spaced out so is more of a novella than a novel. It shows the exploding from the child’s view when one has an abusive parent from isolation to silence in the two children and in a way with the in denial it has effect everyone. Ellen is a stark narrator she has captured that child-like view of the world very black and white and how the guilt of prayer for what would be a new life without her father there has cost her the voice and made her withdraw. The mother keeps them together but is also in denial about what happened the title is a reference to the fact she is in a play about the Statue of Liberty and this is maybe a nod to what it says on the statue “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” Tis is just what this family need the light of liberty and the healing of liberty ! A powerful work this is like a mini-series taken down to a great trailer it seems more than it parts.

 

Two new Istros titles A wild woman and a lost place

I am a huge fan of Istros books as Susie the publisher has brought us so many great books from the Balkans and Mittel europa and here we have an example of both here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild woman is set against the tough 1970’s in Croatia as we follow a love affair between to literature students as they plunge into an early marriage only for them to discover her other half is a womanisering freeloader. Stuck in a marriage and trying to break free of him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we have an example of Mittel European literature and two novellas post after his death by the Jewish writer Ludovic Bruckstein he was born in Czechslovakia in what is now Ukraine and grew up in the northern region of Transylvania an area which at the time he grew up had a large Jewish community and the books show the effect of the Holocaust on these rural Carpathian villages and how they were havens of religious and racial acceptance before the dark times of the war and after. Have you read you read any books from Istros have you a favorite?

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