That was the month that was October 2019

  1. Agnes by Peter Stamm
  2. Under pressure by Faruk Šehić
  3. The jeweler by Caryl Lewis
  4. Faces on the tip of my tongue by Emmanuelle Pagano
  5. Bellevue by Ivana Dobrakovoa
  6. Vile bodies by Evelyn waugh
  7. The Rebels by Sándor Márai
  8. Murder at the vicarage by Agatha christie
  9. The Funeral Party by Ludmilla Ulitskaya
  10. The night circus by Uršuľa Kovalyk
  11. Falstaff: Apotheosis by Pierre Senges

I managed to read eleven books this month and I have got back on course to read 100 books this year. I read books from eight countries and I had books from three new publishers to the blog I start off with a german Novel set in the US a story of a unit in the Balkan conflict. A jeweler that connects with the people who owned the jewels the quirky french countryside a Slovenia girl goes to Southern France for a Job in care. Then it was to the swinging thirties in London then a group of Hungarian schoolkids and back to a small English Village and a Murder in the Vicarage. Then back to the Us and a Russian Emigre dies another set of quirky stories this time from Slovenia and then to finish of a reworking of Shakespears Falstaff’s life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book of the month

I joined the Kickstarter for this book I had read his first book to be translated into English. The book is an interlinking collection of short stories that tell one unit’s time in the Balkan conflict, Faruk himself lead a similar unit so this is a wart and all account of the Balkan conflicts. A great pleasure to see how Kickstarters are able to bring us books in translation maybe a few more publishers should try for those unusual or that second book from a writer.

Non-book events

I have been swimming for the last few months and am now starting to feel the benefit of it and although I am not losing weight I am feeling fitter and healthier. I have also been a fan of a new band last while the band Warmduscher has a wicked single midnight dipper very catchy song. How was your month ?

Falstaff:Apotheosis by Pierre Senges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Falstaff: Apotheosis by Pierre Senges

French Chapbook fiction

Original title –Falstaff : apothéose

Translator – Jacob Siefring

Source – review copy

I was pleased when I was sent this from a new small publisher in the US Sublunary editions that are specializing in shorter text pieces and prose they also have a monthly mailing which is the cornerstone of the project. They have also brought some chapbooks out. That is how I first saw them when Jacob the translator of this chapbook and some I follow on twitter had sent me his translation of a length for the novel by Pierre Senges which I loved. Seneges is an unknown writer to us in English he has a baroque style and is clever in using characters from other works as the cornerstone of his works as  Jacob says in the Afterword his initials are the best guide to his writing a post scriptum. As Jacob says in his afterword Senges belongs among the likes of Calvino and Borges as he uses actual and fictional historical figures as a starting or as Javier Cercas says a blind spot.  Senges here uses a single piece that in scene five when Falstaff falls and appears dead and Percy Hotspur is wounded. Here is what Falstaff said in HenryIV

Didst thou? Lord, Lord, how this world is given to
lying! I grant you I was down and out of breath;
and so was he: but we rose both at an instant and

fought a long hour by Shrewsbury clock. If I may be
believed, so; if not, let them that should reward
valour bear the sin upon their own heads. I’ll take
it upon my death, I gave him this wound in the
thigh: if the man were alive and would deny it,
‘zounds, I would make him eat a piece of my sword.

A quote from Shakespeare’s HenryIV falstaff about his death that wasn’t on the battlefield.

What Senges does is build a short tales that reinvents his loveable rogue cowardly that spends his days hanging around the Boars head drinking with the wrong sort. Here that is changing and his playing dead on the field of battle and reinventing the man as a heroic knight. How avoiding death lead to him choosing to die as he puts in one part to be the master of ones of death. Even the drunken Falstaff in his bed is raised to a heroic form with his sheets from Holland, silk from China and cotton from France. He says about Falstaff on the floor Falstaff dying he will get back up again once the assassin has flown. Falstaff being tranquil to keep silent like the sunflower.

Falstaff’s Apotheosis was to have played dead on the battlefield, to have tricked the assasin without letting tje spectators down, to have gotten back up without a single witness, and to have gone on living a year por two after that first droll sacrifice.Back at the tavern, newlly confronted with his never ending money troubles, his unpaid bills, his promise to old maids, friendships looked on like platters of seafood, Falstaff is a harbinger when the dinner bell rings, for the ressurection of glorious bodies.

Falstaff Apotheosis opening lines.

This is an interesting little chapbook taken from a piece he wrote for a Quebec based magazine Les Ecritsin 2012. There is a dry wit here in the books Jacob says this in his afterword that his editors saw this as well in the book. He also described the Fineline in the translation of the work walking a Fineline between the past and present in the syntax and diction that sounded right. Senges is clever at using historic figures and rewriting them in his own tales he is like Borges in that regard. Borges chose to inherit Shakespeare’s memories as his turning point for a Shakespeare based tale. As in the afterword, the need to invent a character is bypassed especially when one chooses a character as rich as Falstaff to work a new tale around this is something \senges has done in his other books from Captain Ahab the german scientist and aphorist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg and Antonio de Guevera in the Major Refutation which I reviewed here . He is a master of baroque twists of great characters of the past. Have you read Senges?  this new chapbook is a great little intro to an interesting and so far overlooked writer.

 

The night circus by Uršuľa Kovalyk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The night circus by Uršuľa Kovalyk

Slovakian fiction

Original title – Travesty šou

Translators – Peter and Julia Sherwood

I come to the second of three Slovakian writers currently touring the UK in part to celebrate 30 years since the velvet revolution. Her we have another strong Female writer. Uršuľa Kovalyk is a feminist writer and also works as a social worker. She has published three she has won the short story collections and two novels one of them is also available from this publisher Parthian. She has won the most prestigious literary prize in Slovak the Anasoft litera award and also the bibloteka award.

“That hair of yours is going to blind me one of these days” I say,  winding the car window down. Paula tosses her red mane and bares her teeth at me flirtatiously. A predator, I think. Not even a corpse could resist Paula’s sex appeal. She isn’t all that young or beautiful nor even particularely fit, but every time I see her I’ m ensanred by her charm, like a fly falling into a pot of honey. I tried to puzzle out what makes her so attractive. It must be her velvety voice or perhaps those taut blue veins on her beautiful neck that put me in this wicked frame of mind.

Predator her friend isn’t stunning but is appeal to twist men around her fingers.

This is part of the collection mention but has had a few stories added it is still a very tight collection of stories mainly female voices and also very short stories this collection is 98 pages long and in that we have 16 stories. We start with two women driving in a car that picks up a hitcher but one of them warns the other one Paula who she says is a predator, not a woman that lets the men hunt her but hints the men so when they pick up this man she is told to leave him alone. An unnamed person wakes in a room with a fridge that has parts of a large white dog that opens into another world. This story is maybe the most surreal in the collection. THen a woman Julia has sex with a man but her mind seems elsewhere before during and after the act itself. she is described as a porcelain doll, in fact, is described as a ghost.  A dying woman talks about sex with her three daughters. The title of the original collection Travisty show sees a fading star that was a famous singer but over the years her demand wained until there is a time when no invitations to events arrive at her door until a reunion invitation where she ends up at a strange stage show of her life with earlier versions of herself.

The evening takes the faintly lit room in its lazy embrace. Julia has just finished washing her body under the shower. It seems even paler than usual against the backdrop of brightly coloured towels hanging in the bathroom, She rubs in some aromatic oil and looks at her face in the mirror, lost in thought. The sound of an engine starting can be heard through the open window. He is waiting in bed. Julia is rubbing the oil into her dry skin, \slowly, her skin gfeedily devours the greasy drops of oil. It is white. Like a china bowl,Julia thinks.

Julia a pale girls just about to sleep with her partner but her mind seems elsewhere.

This is a tight collection of stories no weak tales each has a strong female voice the only one that is different is the dogs in the fridge which is a surreal tale. the others are mainly set at home. from the Julia in her bathroom then the bedroom, three daughters around the bed of there dying mother. There are other strange events transporting us to the rainforest. The real world is here but just to the left at times each character views the world through there own prism making this an interesting collection of stories of modern women’s lives in Slovak. Slithers of life and like real life itself some of these tales haven’t that big punch but leave you thinking. Have you read anything by this writer? I must also not this is one of my favorite covers this year.

The Funeral party by Ludmilla Ulitskaya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Funeral Party by Ludmilla Ulitskaya

Russian fiction

Original title -Веселые похороны

Translator – Cathy Porter

Source – personal copy

when the Nobel was due a few weeks ago there were a few betting sites giving odds less than normal but as ever I marked a few of the names that I hadn’t read and haven’t  got books by and the Russian writer Ludmilla Ulitskaya was high on the list and has had a lot of books translated into English over the years. Her first novella was published in 1992 in Russian she has won the Russian booker and was up for the old Man booker prizes and has won awards around the world. She is known for not delving into the past of her characters but the present and moving forward with the situations they are in.

The heat was terrible, with one hundred percent humidity. It was as if the whole of this great city, with its inhuman buildings, its magical parks, its different coloured people and dogs, had reached the point od a phase transition and at any momentits semi-liquefied people would float up int the soupy atomsphere.

The shower was permanently occupied, with a que of people standing outside, For a long time they hadn’t bothered with clothes, although Valentina wore a bra to prevent her large breasts chafing in the heat; normally she never wore one. Everyone was dripping wet, the sweat failed to avaporate from their bodies, towels didn;t dry and hair had to be dried with Hair dryer.

The opening lines give a view of the heat that summer in New york in Alik’s  small apartment

The book follows the last days of a Russian Emigres Alik an artist as he is dying. Those gathered around him remember him and also in the background there is the Uprising in Moscow where tanks came into the city in 1991 as it is a red hot summer in New York. As his wire Nina a drinker but also religous wants him to come back into the church. He has done artworks around the last supper and is an agnostic but will agree if there is also a rabbi with the priest! Alik has fallen on hard times and his bills are being sorted by another of the women around his bed Irina she maybe shows how some Russian Emigres came to thrive in the US. She was an Acrobat and former lover of Alik but has become a reasonable succesful lawyer and pays her old friend’s bills. The woman he was meant to marry in the US Valentina is there a marriage that never happened. Maria an older woman a motherly figure that is trying to save him with her mix of old fashion herbal remedies. One few other men is Firma a Russian doctor reduce to a lab assistant as he isn’t able to pass his US medical exams. What we see is how each has interacted with this Artist that until now was the glue between these people and a vibrant man to be around. As they visit him this hot summer some of his old lady friends get too hot and a strip off this is all part of the comic side of this book.

Father victor arrived at about nine, without socks and in sandals, carrying an attache case and a bulging plastic bag. He was wearing a baggy hirt tucked into light, shortish trousers, and a baseball cap with the innocuous letters “N” and “Y” on it

He tyook off the cap as he came in and rested it on the crook of his arm, greeting everyone with a smile which wrinkled his short nose.

Because it was Saturday there was a large number of visitors: valentina, giola with the little grey dostoyevskt under her arm, Irina, Maika, Faika, Libin and his girlfriend, all the usual crowd. Also present were the Beginsky sisters, recently arrived from Washington

The crowd around his dying bed every day.especially at the weekend

This book captures the myriad of emigres experiences from the settle and succesful to those broken by coming to the US to follow there American dream Alik himself has seen both sides of this world since his arrival in America. He is a womans man given by the women around him in his last days his wife the woman that should have been his wife his ex-lover and the motherly figure all have deep connections to this man this is what Ludmila does so well in this book and that is build up the layers and connection in each characters life. There is a comic tone at times in this book it isn’t all doom and gloom in this small room as some of the women around strip off shocking some of his other visitors. Lisa reviewed this book a number of years ago, I said then I must get a copy I finally did and enjoyed it tis is a writer I will be reading again at some point Nobel win or not !!

 

Murder at the vicarage by Agatha Christie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Murder at the vicarage by Agatha Christie

English crime fiction

Source personal copy

When I read the list of books for 1930 online I saw that I had the three I have reviewed this week on my shelves so I decided to read them I usually read all translation but I got chance to revisit two writers I have enjoyed in my gran was a huge Chrisie fan she had all those gory fifties and sixties paperbacks wish I wish I had saved a few when she passed many years ago mine is a retro hardback. I picked this copy up in Devon on my Honeymoon as it is set in the quintessential Devon village which is where Christie grew up and Miss Marple lives.

Griselda is nearly twenty years younger than myself. She is most distractingly orettyand quite incapable of taking anything seriously.She is incompetent in every way, and extremely trying to live with. She treats the parish as a kind of huge joke arranged for her amusement, I have endeavoured to form her mind and failed, I am more than convinced that celinacy is desirable for clergy. I have hinted asmuch to griselda, but she has only laughed,

The vicars wife is very much younger and he worries she may have her eyes elsewhere later on in the book ?

Now I have seen both the tv versions of the book both miss bits from the book which I forgot when I reread this book. The book revolves around the Murder of Colonel Protheroe. He is a churchwarden and wants to see the vicar about a problem in the church accounts the opening is narrated by the Vicar where he says that Prfotheroe is the type of man to make a mountain out of a molehill and very much wants the  ways kept as they are not like the new high chuch curate wants it in the church. So when he is due to meet the vicar at the vicarage and is found dead by a shot in the head. Miss Marple is well placed as she lives next to the vicarage and has been in the garden at the time the shots where heard and saw the comings and goings firstly the Colonels with before the shot and the artist in the vicars garden. The Artist Lawrence is painting a number of ladies in the village the vicars younger wife Griselda who around this time says she has been somewhere but was seen elsewhere?  he is painting the colonel’s daughter who has a huge crush on him and hates the colonel’s current wife. A mysterious woman renting a local house that the colonel may have known an odd acting curate. An archaeologist and his secretary that has been working on the colonel’s grounds. The Vicars maid the spinster next door a Mrs price ridley all could have done it as the vicar said the man dead would make the village a better place! even Miss Marple says there could have been seven suspects who did it who will put their hands up and what time did he die all these set the tale twisting and turning to a shocking ending.

“If miss Marple says she had no pistol with her, you can take it for granted that it is so” I said “If there was the least possibility of such a thing, miss Marple would have been on it like a knife”

“THat’s tru enough. We’d better go and have a look at the studio”

The so-called studio was a mere rough shed with a skylight. There were no windows and the door was the only means of entrance or egress. Satisfied in this score, melchett announced his intention of visiting the vicarage with the inspector.

The chief constable and inspector know MissMarple so respect her insights into the dress the colonels wife was wearing that day!

This is the classic christie mystery in a way a cast of characters an unlikable murder victim that means there is a whole host of possible victims then we have the twists of the crime what time did he die ? was it a shot that Marple heard that killed him ? each means the closer we are getting to the truth. How is the mystery woman and why did Lawrence redding chose this particular village to set himself up as a painter ?why did the archaeologist and his secretary come to the colonel’s land for the dig? when these are answered we get to the bottom of the tale this is a classic book from the golden era of crime that uses a microcosm of a small village to show how easy a turn here and there can have wider effects on people’s lives. A nice final choice for 1930 club wonder where we will end up next time round?

The Rebels by Sándor Márai

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rebels by Sándor Márai

Hungarian fiction

original title – A zendülők

Translator  – George Szirtes

Source – personal copy

When I was looking at the list of writers and books published in 1930 I saw this and remember I had it on my Shelves, in fact, I had read embers before I started blogging which is Sándor Márai is his better-known novel in English, I brought this to read this was his first novel. He was born into a Nobel Hungarian family. He traveled growing up spending time in Berlin, Frankfurt, and Paris. He did consider writing in German but chose to write in his native Hungarian. He wrote more than fifty books in his lifetime he has only had a fraction of his works translated into English.

For ther years Abel sat in the middle of the third row from the door. Erno was stationed behind him, Tibor to his right in the front row. That’s how they spent three years . One day at the beginning of the fourth year ABel was staring blankly ahead, bored with physics, slowly surveying the rows of other desks when his gaze settled on Tibor who had his head in his hands oblivous to evrything, absorbed, reading a book under the table. It wasn’t that Abel was particularly taken by the sight, nor was he the subject of some miraculous instantaneous illumination.

The boys at school and the gazes between them.

The rebels is set in a small Hungarian town that given that it is May 1918 is empty of male role models as we meet four boys that are just about to Graduate from School. Of course, this means that they may have to join the other missing males of the town at the front. There father range from a religious Zealot to a Colonel that expects his boy to do his duty. So these four Abel, Tibor, Bela and Erno decide they aren’t following there-fathers and brother that have gone to the front. They buy cloth to make a costume to wear and they rent a room to hideaway in. This club is their way of growing up as they try to be adult in there costumes and parading in front of one and other. There is a feeling of homoeroticism the same feeling you get in the novels of a writer like E M Forester, in fact, the growing relationship between the boys and the background of war remind me of the homoerotic undercurrent in J L Carr A month in the country as the bodies return and the try to set it aside in the club world this was like the working on the church and trying to forget the horrors of world war for the two characters in A month in the country.

The boys – this gang – in whose midst he suddenly happened to find himself, who seemed to have materialized around him, were not entirely what he would have chosen. He never dared to confess this to anyone. He was ready to sacrifice his life to the gang because the gang would have sacfificed theirs for him.The military ethos of his father had somehow percolated through to him and excerted a certain inluence. All for one and one for all.That “one” was Tibor.

There is an echo of three musketeers here with the all for one one for all !

This is an early book from this writer but he has so many more books to be translated into English. He had spent time in London in the twenties so I imagine he would read Foresters books maybe even have been aware of forester there is the same feeling of homoeroticism that he has in some of his works the sort of male friendship that all-male school or university get. He also captures the fear of the war on the youth of the day 1918 as the bodies come home the time has ticked as this is May and the have the club but then someone appears that could end the boy’s plans of being in their own world. It’s about rebelling against the expectations of society the fear of war also about discovering one’s self. an interesting second choice for the 1930 club! have you read this book?

Vile bodies by Evelyn Waugh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh

English fiction

Source – personal copy

Well, I enjoy Kaggy and Simons year club this time we are now back in 1930 this time for the 1030 club and when I looked at a list of books published in 1930 this one was jumped out at me as I have read this a few times before it is one of my favourite books in English. I may review mainly translated fiction these days but in my youth, I loved the works of Waugh and have in the past did a small weekly blog event for Waugh. This book for me maybe captures those bright young things at the best and worst the only book that comes near is Henry Greens party going.

“French, eh/” he said. “I guessed as much, and pretty dirty, too, I shouldn’t wonder. Now just yoy wait while I look up these her books? – how he said it! “in my ist. Particularly against books the home secretary is. If we can’t stamp out literature in the country, we can at least stop it being brrought in from outside. that’s what he said the other day in parliment, and I says “hear,hear,” =Hullo,hullo,what’s this, may I ask?”

The custom officer confiscating his books and his own manuscript as he arrives back in the UK.

The book focus on the ups and downs of the life of Adam Fenwick Symes as he returns to London after time in America trying to write his magnus opus of a book which he has in his Case. The first down for him is that he loses this book and the money he was going to get for it from his publisher as it is seized by an over efficient custom officer with a hatred of literature. Putting at risk his marriage to Nina Blunt this on-off marriage runs through the book as he on a number of occasions tries to get her father a rather mad colonel. He returns to his hotel and by chance doing a magic trick wins a sum of money which he is persuaded not to keep but by a Major to let him bet on a sure thing outsider horse that is running at 33/1. So when the horse wins he needs to find this Major this is another thread in the book. Also, he is given a chance of a job as mr chatterbox by his publishing tycoon boss in a chance to redeem himself as Mr Chatterbox. A role Adam jumps at but then as his predecessor in the job got in trouble he is pushed by Nina just to make up characters and events and trends like a green bowler hat which leads to fact and fiction blurring as people start wearing them. Will Adam get Nina will he get his money or even his book back?

(… Masked parties, savage parties, victorian parties, greek parties, wild west parties, Russian parties, Circus parties, parties where one had to dress as somebody else, almost naked parties in St John’s wood, parties in flats and studios and houses and ships and hotels and night clubs, in windmills and swimming baths, tea prties at school where one ate muffins and meringues and tinned crabm parties at Oxford where on drunk browbn sherry and smoked Turkish cigarettes, dull dances in londonand comic dam=nces in Scotland and disgusting dancesin Paris – all that succession and repetition of massed humanity …Those Vile bodies

In his Mr Cgatterbox piece we see the title as Adam describes those bright young things parties and what they get up too !!

Well this is a book that is timeless in fact since the last time I read it Adam stint at Mr chatterbox seems more apt than ever we live in a time that Gossip is now news it seems ever more to me every time you see a red top paper there isn’t news just gossip as news and also the angle of Fake news the reporting of green Bowler hats a piece of fake news that drifts off into reality,. The book is based on Waugh own life and his circle of friends at the time from the batty to those near the prime minister of the day mad relatives. It is for me his funniest book his later books have humour but also the tinged  by world war two this is a moment between the wars that saw as Stephen Fry retitled the book for his film those Bright Young things were able to party and be carefree just before the crash and far enough away that hope had grown after world war one. A perfect first choice for the 1930 club have you read this or have you a favourite Waugh book?

Bellevue by Ivana Dobrakovoa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bellevue by Ivana Dobrakova

Slovakian fiction

Original title – Bellevue

Translators Julia and Peter Sherwood

Source – review copy

I was sent three Slovakian books as part of a tour that is happening in the UK by the writers of these books here is the first of these three books Ivan Dobrakova. Considered a leading light in the blossoming contemporary Slovak scene with her books reflecting part of modern Slovakian life and that is having to live abroad so expat literature of Slovakian abroad. She has been compared to writers like Rachel Cusk or Deborah Levy in English as OI haven’t read them it is hard to compare but for me, she captured the experience of living abroad as an expat.

There were five sleeping bags on the floor, and holdalls, pillows, handbags, bath towels, cosmetics, sunscreen, bits of clothing, books lay scattered all around the place, a complete mess. I helped to carry the stuff to a two-bedroom flat in the annexe reached through the main building.past a big drainpipe and a flowerbed, accross a short metal bridge above some sort of crater filled with gravel and finally down a long balcony, the second doo on the left. The flat was very clean, light, with a view of the building opposite, a bathroom, a toilet

When she first arrives at Bellevue and tries to settle.

Blanka has accepted a job in France, well in Marseilles at the Bellevue a centre for people with physical disabilities that has volunteers at a camp in the summer to help out. As she boards the night train for Prague to venture across the train to cross Europe it is full of fellow young people from East  Europe like Poles all trying to get a better life in Europe. She arrives and the Bellevue centre is there on the top of the hill. She arrives and is drawn into the lives of her fellow volunteers and works at the centre looking after the patients but also the love affairs and relationships within the group as she starts to meet people Martina Patrick and Drago some of the  European people at the camp is a mix of Them and Algerians working there. she is drawn into the world of the camp one of the beach days and nightclubs and work. Behind all this Blanka struggles to fit in she is a sensitive 19-year-old a fragile girl maybe this trip wasn’t the right choice for her !! But then a single event hinges a change in her life meaning she is injured and a reversal in her role with Bellevue!!

I’m trying to be helpful, I see that he’s exhausted, he’s fed up with me, he seems to be avoiding me, as if he, too wason the brink of a nervous breakdown, so I brig him fruit, stroke his hairand hand him cloths to fling at a hole in the wall, I’ve no ideawhy he enjoys that, tossing dirty tea towels at a hole in the wall after lunch, I keep begging him not to be cross with me, to forgive me, I know I’m being impossible, I know how difficult I make things for him. but it’s just the time being, I’m sure everything will be all right again soon , just bear with me for a little longer, I don’t have anyone else, everyone hates me, please Drago

Here we see how she is pushed out at times with the line everyone hates me as she is the squre peg in the round hole of the camp.

This tale captures a mix of Hope the dream of the French Riveria and working there for the summer against what is Blanka main problem and that is she has depression and very little self-belief in herself. What is seen is the usual your life of a group of young people when gathered together but her we have Blanka view which sadly is that of an outsider inside the world she is when her life hinges on that one event later in the book you wonder what will happen to her that is the question. Blanka is a different character than I expect she is fragile and in that case unreliable as a narrator at times. Well this is an interesting strand of Slovakian fiction one that I have seen in other books from Polish writers that is the one of the expat experience as I have said before this is a genre that will grow over time a sort of European version of what is the Windrush lit scene that of being an outsider in a new place.  Have you read any books from Slovakia?

 

The two Nobel’s go too

Its that time of year and a treat today we have two Nobel Laureates one for this year and one for last year. we see if a year away has meant the academy gone in a new Nonanglophile and feminist direction that has been mention in recent years. The first winner for the last year 2018 is Olga Tokarczuk for her encyclopedic writing. I have reviewed her book Drive my plough over the bones of the dead Here is an interview with her

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hen for this year, 2019 we have Peter Handke A favorite for many years to win although he has courted controversy in some of his view but I loved every book I have read and he has also worked with Wim Wenders on a number of films including the goalkeeper anxiety a classic film. Here is a review of slow homecoming by him and an interview IT is from a german paper but worth reading

Faces on the tip of my tongue by Emmanuelle Pagano

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faces on the tip of my tongue by Emmanuelle Pagano

French fiction

Original title – Un renard à mains nues

Translators – Jennifer Higgins and Sophie Lewis

Source – review copy

I loved the first book from this writer when it was brought out by And other stories a few years ago Trysting was an unusual book with the detached nature of the voices with in the work. This is a collection of short stories in the french version there were 34 stories but the translator and Emmanuelle decide to trim this down to give the book more of a collective feel. The stories all, on the whole, have unnamed narrators and managed to capture that certain oddness of the countryside this case the french but many of these could easily be set in Rural areas in the Uk. As I show below I linked with a few stories.

I went to the lake every summer when I was alittle girl, I lived on an aec of beach nordered by wooden fences and a forest so thick that we didnt make dens in the trees but dug them in the undergrowth instead. My uncle had built a house on this strip of shore, then a hut for tools and the pedalo, and some wonky terraces where the landsloped down to the rippling water. Near the reeds, right up close to their rustling song and their birds nests, he hadmarked out a meadow where he went in search of sunshine .

My local lake was all the rage every summer.

So we have thirteen tales in this collection. It seems to want to capture the loneliness oddness and quirky nature of the French countryside. Here it opens with a narrator talking about a lake cycling to it this lake in the middle of the nowhere I was reminded of the lake well old quarry that was filled with water near where I grew up, then we meet the local loony as they say I was reminded of a chap the guy in the story had lost his family the guy  I used to pick up on my journey out for the day center he just appeared in the main street in Rothbury never saw his house he was a real country character disheveled and maybe out of pace with time he had a sad story in his past too. Then there was a story of someone that looked very like a grandmother this was another story I could relate to I have pictures of my own grandfather in his army day when he was a bit younger than me but I could see a lot of me and my dad in the picture. Then a cruel tale that I really connect with as we see women waiting at a bus stop she has a learning disability and was told by a cruel doctor that he wanted to marry her so she goes and waits for him.An interesting collection of stories. I connected with them.

The looney and the bright spark. It could be the title of a fairy tale, a bit like “Beauty and the beast”< a sad storywith quite a happy ending. The full title would be the roadside looney and the bright spark at the construction company, but that has less of a ring to it , for a sad story with a more or less a happy ending. My story is sad too, but it has a sad ending, very sad or rather it never ends its starts badly, very badly and nothing comes rightnothing is resolved.I don’t know where it starts.

The looney a man that lost everything waits for them to return in this anti fairy tale !

I was a huge fan of stones in a landslide an early Peirene book that caught a world well this is another world all be it darker and fun at times in that regard I was reminded of the works of fellow Fench writer Pascal Garnier who like some of these tales saw the darkly comic in the everyday and also rural France.. This collection was chosen by the writer and translators as they seem to link in well together from the original 34 stories which means the book fits Peirene two hour read which is about what it took me I had a quick read through and as I did I  make the slow connections which I do as a reader from time to time to my own life having lived in small towns villages in my youth it was easy to make the connection to rural places. Have you read this collection ? or Trysting by Emmanuelle ?

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