That was the month that was Feburary 2022

  1. Geography of an Adultery by Agnes Riva
  2. The End of Eddy bt Edouard Louis
  3. Jealousy by Alain Robbe-Grillet
  4. The Voice imatator by Thomas Bernhard
  5. Marzhan ,mon Amour by Katja Oskamp
  6. One in Me I never Loved by Carla GuelfenBein
  7. Necropolis by Boris Pahor

I am on too 16 books reviewed on the blog which is just under my target of 100 reviews for the year I have currently read 26 book this year so am on target to read over a 100 books. I started my reading this month in France with three french novels two about aultery one real and told with a sparce use of emotions a more clinical nature to the affair in Riva’s Geography of an Adultery. Then in Jealousy we saw what could have been imagined affair in Robbe-Grillet novel that sees a husband glimpse on his wife and fill in the gaps. Then my other french book saw a hard childhood described from a son that is different to his family. Then we have Thomas Bernhard his flash fiction culled from news headlines remind me of ALexander Kluge somewhat, Then In Berlin we meet a podiatrist a writer retrains and sees a community through there feet. Then a divorce and an affair from two different eras are told in One I never loved. Then we ended the month with a powerful description of s[lovenian writer Boris Pahor and his time in c=various concentration camps as a prisoner then as a  medical orderly.My reading has slowed this month as it usually does I always race through books in the new year and then hit the wall. I have written a lot more words than this time last year as my reviews are slowly growing. How has your month been ?

Book of the month-

Necropolis is a powerful telling of the horrors of the Holocaust from the perspective of being a slovenian and the various camps he went to during the war. As I said it is a book everyone should read.

Non book event this month

It has been a very quiet month for me I am off work at the moment  so have been at home a lot we have had our usual walk in the peaks and trips to Bakewell and town for coffees. I have listen to a lot of comfort music mostly shoegazing which is a genre I love and bands like the cure and REM the sort of musical equivalent of comfort reading there is something reassuring in these bands also I drift away with the likes of Slowdive and My bloody valentine. I  also went for comfort tv things like new tricks also been indulging in youtube videos I like book tube but also vanlife, cottage core, productivity and  pen and stationary vlogs it is a rabbit hole that I hadn’t watch a lot til this last few months. Do you have comfort music ?

Next month-

Well it is Man booker  longlist time in March. I have read a few books  I think may be there that I have to review yet as I usually do in the weeks before. As we have 10 days to wait and see what will make this years list it is always a highlight of my year the longlist coming out and seeing what the Judges have chosen there is so many books out there it will be a hard call to chose just 12 or 13 books from the selection that is out there  I imagine. I am doing the shadow Jury  again. Which I will be doing again this year it is always a highlight for me as a reader and last year the chance to chat with everyone on line was amazing. As  for  the  blog Til the list is out it will be a mix of what I am reading  at moment and what \I have read including Grey bees by Andrei Kurkov which has been on my tbr since I was sent it last year and now seems the right time to read it I am also in the middle of The morning star I also would love to get a couple of Arab books in this month as it has been a while since I have reviewed any. I had tried to stop reading multiple books but I needed to read grey bees so made an exemption. from the 10th it will be what ever I haven’t read of the longlist and can get when the list is released I know in recent years there have been books not available when the list comes out which is annoying especially when I can’t get them. I hope to review a few more books this month. What are your plans for next month ?

 

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Necropolis by Boris Pahor

Necropolis by Boris Pahor

Slovenian Memoir

Original title – Nekropola

Translator – Michael Biggins

Source – personal copy

We all have books that sit on our shelves for years and this is one such book I had brought it bout two or three years after it came out so about 8 or 9 years ago intending to read it I had seen a review and it looked but as we all do it got stacked and then forgotten well not forgotten it had been in my line of sight in my reading room as it a Dalkey Archive book and their section is nearest my chair so maybe when I was flicking through the tv guide I tend to prefer to record and watch things these days as so much that is on is just pants it was late last month when it was Holocaust memorial day or near it I saw a programme and saw Pahor name and was reminded I had intended to read this as he has written about it and isn’t Jews he is also from Trieste in Italy as he was an Italian Slovene. Anyway, I watched the show which if you live in the UK should still be on Iplayer The man who saw too much. It saw Alan Yentob visiting Boris who is the oldest surviving Holocaust survivor he was in his mid-twenties when he end up in the cap after the fall of Italy when the German took over they sent him to a smaller camp the book came about from his return to the camp at Natzweiler-Struthof one the smaller camps.

The shadows of the dead are far away. But maybe they approach when darkness covers the mountain and the terraces are buried under the snow, for there are no tourist then. When the shadows come, they do s they used to; they lay the dying down on their snowy biers, then stand in formation, not waitingfor a man in boots to count them. In total silence they asses and wieght the meassages that drift towards them from the noisy world of the living

There is so many horrific pasages like this that prink to life the unliveable events in the camps.

As he heads to the Camp he is sent back and the book is him recalling all the events that happened in the 13 months he was in the camps. There is always an event or some stroke of luck or is it luck that happens that meant certain people managed to live to tell the story. This for Boris, it is the fact that as he says Slovenians have a real knack for languages he spoke his own and Italian but also a number of other languages when this is discovered by a Norweigian doctor at the camp he is given the task of Medical orderly as he does this it means overtime he goes from camp to camp as he observes the horrors of what the concentrations camps had from the piles of clogs to the disease dysentery described in such detail it will make your skin creep as he tried to help those he could but in most cases it was hopeless.

On a later morning tthe Dachau parade grounds are an enourmous garbage dump, with countless shovels heaving paper, wet rags, broken clogs, and filthy striped bundles onto it out of washrooms windows, among the mattresses that cover the large field are unwrapped paper bandages, worn wooden spoons, and a knife fashioned in prehistoric times, Mattress with wet stains empry, lacking the forms that made the identations in them.Mattresses with naked bodies. Bodies with wounds.

I’ll stop there as the rerst of this passage is so horrorfic.

I won’t say much more as it is a book I would love others to read as he is still alive at 106 is a real testament to the will of a human, I was reminded of a man I looked after that was in his mid-80s and had long outlived what others had expected him to live. What I liked about this is that it is one of those accounts we haven’t heard much about that is of the smaller nationalities that the nazis persecuted. In fact, he had fought in the Italian army in which he was conscripted earlier in the war. He does capture here the real horror of the camps things like that bodies being brought to the ovens so horrific as much as you don’t want to read always say you have to read to remember then events like this won’t happen but as events in recent days show one man will or fear can have a real effect. One of the recurring images in the wooden clogs they wear is the way they over time seem to grow bigger as they shrink in weight but also the piles of those taken of the dead. Also the striped uniforms they wear.  His voice needs to sit alongside the likes Leivi or Appelfeld or Rachjamn as all survivors of the camp he is one of the last. I was so fortunate to have met  Aharon Appelfeld years ago just shook his hand. when he won the old IFFp prize and heard him speak a real honour and one of the moments I won’t forget.  I also visited our UK Holocaust memorial Museum which is in Nottinghamshire a small but poignant place they have survivors come and talk it is a place worth visiting and remembering the horrors. Have you read this book or another book about the Holocaust from the survivors I think those are the ones we should read as they show the horror as they lived it which no one else can quite capture as well.

Winstons score as I always say I won’t score a book like this just say read it !!! books like this need to be part of every reader’s journey.

One in me I never loved by Carla Guelfenbein

One In me I never loved by Carla Guelfenbein

Chilean fiction

Original title – La estación de las mujeres,

Translator – Neil Davidson

Source – Review copy

One of the things many years ago that annoyed me at the time is when you discovered a writer you had enjoyed and then find they hadn’t anything else translated this is something that over the time I have been blogging happens a little less so it was great to get through the port another book from the Chilean writer the third to be translated and it is the second I will be covering here I loved her first book to be translated to English which came out in 2011 The rest in Silence. I did read the other book that was translated but never got round to reviewing the book In the distance with you although I did enjoy that as well so when this arrived I knew it would be one I like she is another of those great female latin American writers she has worked as the fashion editor and also the art director of Elie in Chile she has won a number of prizes and the title of this novel was The woman’s station in Spanish I prefer that to the English title myself.

My body unlike his, is expanding and collapsing alittle more each day, creasing, wilting, falling in on itself in weary rolls. Sometimes I hardly regonize it as mine

Someone else’s body is a place for your mind to go

Today is my fifty-sixth birthday. It’s ninein the morning and I’m sittingon a bench carved with Jenny Holzers texts. Phrases of hers gone onto t-shirts, golf balls, caps, mugs, and even comdoms. The bench is oin the public garden opposite the gates of Barnard college, where dozens of shameless butteflies flit in and out withkirts up to their crotch and backpacks of their shoulders. I watch them.

She mentions the comdom on the first page with her husband.

I love novels that are composed of vignettes or short stories and this is what we have here an interlinking collection of stories that take place in two-time frames in the present we have the story of a woman Margarita who is turning 57 that period in our lives where you are looking forward to your retirement and such. But her life is spun out of control by a number of events first her husband a teacher is having an affair but also the concierge in her building a young woman called anna has disappeared but was reading a book about how we can all disappear in America what has happened to Anna. Then an older friend ask her to help find someone that many years ago helped change the course of her life. Then we have a second thread around the poet Gabriela  Mistral and the letters she wrote in the late forties to her love Doris Dana add to this we discover that her young lover had a fling with another woman near her own age. An image far different from the one that was portrayed of Mistral all this is packed into a short novel and uses a number of styles part epistolary part spoken and part detective at times.

It is half past eleven one moning in this year of 1948. Light through the unopened letter is, Doris Dana can almost see it sinking into the counterpane of her unmade bed. Her head rings with the fish sellers unending whistling and the clatter of his cart on the cobbles. And woth the knife grinder’s howls “BRiiing out your kniiiiiives and scissoooors! she knows him. His name is Sid, and boasts of being the finest knife grinder in New york. She covers her ears with her hands then presses her fingertipsto her tired forehead. It is the third letter from Gabriela in five days. Or the fourth? she does not need to open it to know the words are bitter

I loved the lost nature of this opening to Doris’s story especially the word counterpane as someone i looked after used it all the time !

I loved the patchwork nature of this book it isn’t really about the plot more about glimpses into the private lives of a number of women over two different eras. That is why I prefer the Spanish title have we caught them at a point in their lives almost like being at the station where are we going there are many options and that is what is here piece of lives some answers, not all of them it is one of those books that leave you after you have read it filling in the gaps making you own conclusions and for me, this for some people is annoying it is like those films that don’t end with all the threads fastened in neat bows and that is because life isn’t neat and tidy it is about life and love lovers cheating husbands cheating people disappearing find someone once lost so many threads this is something I like in her other books and that is she is a writer that is able to squeeze so much into her writing it is intense and like one of those finger food collections where we have little versions of things that have the taste and feel of the bigger versions of what they are meant to be this is a micro view of these life just little bits small moments of Margarita life also what is happening round her then also the lovers in the late 1940s and a betrayal. Have you read any books by Carla Guelfenbein ? or another female writer from Chile ?

Winstons score – B a novella  with a yearning to be that Epic “honey I want be a big novel !! “

Marzahn, Mon Amour by Katja Oskamp

Marzahn, Mon Amour by Katja Oskamp

German fiction

Original title – Marzahn, mon amour: Geschichten einer Fußpflegerin

Translator – Jo Heinrich

Source – review copy

I have been a fan of Peirene press since they started and have reviewed most of their books of the time of blog which is about time they have been bringing out books they bring out their books out every year around a theme and here is the first book in this year’s series a book that was chosen for Berlins one book where the city all read a book at the same time I love that idea. Any way Katja Oskamp is from the same area of East Berlin and was well received with her first work the Halbeschwimmer a collection of short stories that dealt with the falling of East Germany from the view of a teen swimmer. This book is the first since she trained herself as a podiatrist a job she has been doing for the last seven years. This book also follows a middle-aged writer in what is called in the intro of the book those invisible fizzy years when you are too far from the shore you started and it is out of sight and is not near enough to the end shore of life. I love that description as someone caught in the fuzzy time myself.

Frau Guse parks her walking frame and hangs her jacket on the coat stand, breathing heavily. She waddles into the chiropodist’s room with her shopping bag and sits down on the chiropody chair. I help her take off her shoes and socks and roll up her trouser legs. Together we lower her feet into the footbath I’ve prepared, I pluck two gloves frk their box and slip them on, turning to frau Guse who mentions as she does at this point every time, that she has had breat cancer, I nod and say as I do at this point every time, that her her operation was almost seven years ago and that the tablets she’s had to take ever since have terrible side effects, such as shortness of breath and diarrohoea.

One of her first clients Frau Guse.

The book is a series of vignettes of the clients our newly qualified Podiatrist meets when she retrains as one as she is struggling to make ends meet as a writer so when she starts working she meets the locals of Marzahn a run-down part of Berlin as it is described in one of the German reviews outside the ringbahn the central part of Berlin. Starting with an elderly lady Frau Guse a survivor of Breast cancer as she rubs the dead skin of her feet she sighs a colourful woman in loose clothes hiding her missing breast I love the detail she observes in the people whose feet she works on. One that really struck me as she says the is those that feel that Marzahn has many former GDR bigwigs or Sed officials but it isn’t except for one of her clients the cold Herr Pietsch as she described him as a dye in the wool party member he has a sort of detached manner with her that is in contrast to most of the other clients in the book. I’m only mentioned three of the clients as it will leave loads for you like me the reader to discover the last is Gerlinde as she says the area of Marzahn has many refugees and she is one from Prussia that fled to Berlin near the end of the second world war often in her plastic shoes how with her family fled on a ship called the Lappland back in the day. but never got that far when the ship didnt’t get too far and they end up on a refugee train and end up in Berlin.

Herr pietsch, taking off his shoes and socks, stares out of the window. By now I know the routine: he is always wary at first , only to drastically overstep the mark later. I bend down, push the footbath into place and look up into his protruding eyes – two bulging orbs. Herr pietsch speaks with a Thuringian- Saxon accent, a little indistinctly as he’s  on his thiurd set of teeth: “There are certainly a few things I’m not happy with, but I”m getting by. I’m on top of life ”

One of her clients as she bserves is an old party Type!!

As you can see I loved this there is a warm heart to these little vignettes and to the characters she meets someone’s foot maybe tell as much as a  hands do about our lives. what comes across is that even in the most down and out areas like Marzahn as it is observed by one of the characters it is built on a former sewage farm site. The character with her job occupies the same space as the Hairdresser or the barman someone that people tend to open up to maybe a little more than they would in over situations small talk but over time as in these vignettes it sometimes grows and yes like frau use who seems to have a script of her life or maybe this is also a sign of her having dementia as she often recounts the same story over and over again. This is a slice of those that are often passed as I described in a review years ago the flotsam and jetsam of the world those that can’t escape where they are or maybe just have always been there I was also reminded of the Character that was played by Curt Bois Homer an elderly poet in the film Wings of desire or in its German title Der Himmel uber Berlin another glimpse behind the net curtains and high rise of Berlin. Characters who like Homer is looking for a way home to their past this is the case in a lot of these vignettes the past weights heavy in their tales at times it ? if you are a fan of interlinking stories or stories about everyday folk this will appeal. Have you read this collection ?

Winstonsdads score – +A A great collection of vignettes about the locals of a high rise rundown area of Berlin.

The Voice Imitator by Thomas Bernhard

The Voice Imator by Thomas Bernhard

Austrian fiction

Original title – Der Stimmenimitator

Translator – Kennerth J Northcott

Source – personal copy

I am a little late start this week Bernhard week sorry anyway it is the second time I have done a week dedicated to the Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard. I am a fan of his work he has a style I like his characters always seem to be at odds with the society they are in and he has a very caustic way of looking at the world around him till now all the books I have reviewed on the blog have been novels or novellas nine of his books I have reviewed I also have a piece from the last Bernhard week by the writer Andrej Nikolaidis he wrote for this blog about his love of the writer and his importance to his journey as a writer. So welcome to the third Bernhard week well let’s say fortnight this week and next week. Have you a favourite book by him? I now get on to his collection of microfiction

A man from Ausburg was comitted to the Ausburg lunatic assylum merely because, throughout his life he had claimed at every possible opportunity that Goethe’s last words were mehr nicht ( no more) tather than mehr licht (more light) , something that in the long run and as time went on, is said to have frayed the nerves of those with whom he came in contact that hey banded together to get this ausburger , so unhappily obsessed with his claimm comitted to a lunatic assylum. It is reported that six doctors refused to commit him to a lunatic asylum but that the seventh immediately arranged to have him committed. This doctor was, as I learned from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, decorated with the Goethe badge of the city of Frankfurt for his efforts.

The story the Claim about a man that refused to change his mind of Goethes last words!!

This is a collection of 104 stories or more snippets none is more than a single page most are just a few lines he has taken headlines tales he has heard and turned them into 104 stories there is a number of recurring themes in the stories such as Madness, bad luck, death and suicides these characters all have a little touch of what you expect from Bernhard he has touched on Madness in Wittigensteins Nephew which was set in an asylum which a number of these stories are one had a real tongue in cheek comic turn a man sent to asylum only after a number of doctors had refused to the last doctor said yes what was up with him as he refused to admit that his version of what were the last words of Goethe was no more (Mehr Nicht) as opposed to the given which is more light (Mere Licht). Then an orchestra plays and the audience claps encore after encore only to be told they had played to the Deaf school. The death of a woodcutter reminds me of the title of one of his other books. A man that was Tito’s double these tales he took from all over the place and range from comic to sad to profound to surreal.

A so- called Chamber Music asscociation famous for playing only ancient music on original tnstruments and for having only Rossini, frescobaldi, Vivaldi, and Pergolesi in its repertoire was playing in an old castle in the Atterseeand had its greatest success since it was founded. The applause continued intil the Chamber Music Association did not have a single encore left on its program to play. It was not until the next day that the Musicians were told that they had been playing in an institute for death mutes.

The story The most successful concert an orcestra plays a number of encores and then are told the truth.

 

I had wanted to try a few of the other things he had written so choose this for this year I will next year be doing either the poetry collections of his plays. This collection reminds me style-wise of things Kluge does in his writing where he uses snippets of this and that to build a whole and this is what happens here as the stories unfold themes grow like the books by Luis Sagasti his two books have underlying themes and his style of storytelling is very short like these. a writer that jumps to my mind a couple of times in some of the stories was Saki yes Saki there is a similar feel Saki had a great way of being quick caustic and comic at the same time something Bernhard pulls of so well here. It shows he must have worried about his own sanity at times it crops up a lot in these stories as people end up in what would be on a ward like the ward I work on but not for LD patients. As over the years I have read so many books by him you can see in his work he walks that fine line of depression and stress it is almost as thou for Bernhard his writing was an outlet he had very bad health for most of his life. I enjoyed these collections as it was more accessible than his novels and has a little bit of what is in all his books. Have you read this or any other of his plays or poetry?

Winstons score – A – as much as I loved this in some way it is dated in the terms used and also some of the stories are close to the bone these days but they were written in a different era and most of them are great still.

 

 

I’m going back to one book at a time

The current state of my TBR pile, when we got to the new year I decided I try and read multiple books I have read two books when I have a very long book to read over the years .but mostly read one book at a time if under 500 pages I can read 200 to 300 pages a day when I’m not working.I  have a job that means I have four days off a week and when it isn’t very stressful which it has been these last few months I am actually off work at the moment. I had tried after watching a number of youtube videos on how to read more I think as readers we all like to try and read a bit more but for me, it isn’t a new system like multiple books reading the problem is I have read 21 books this year I have had a number of books on the go and yes I read 21 books but most of them I read in a single or couple of sittings I started one then put it to side then I start another and I’m not getting back to the first books I was listening to the feeling bookish podcast(a new discovery that I am loving ) and they were talking about falling into reading rabbit holes and I am as a reader like this although I jump from place to place in my reading I often have a thin thread between books in my head anyway and can as I said in my recent library loot post easily get sidetracked by sparkly new books and new plans.  so after 46 days I am going back to normal and just reading one book at a time as I have indicated I am in pursuit of being more efficient not just on here but outside blogging I am now weekly planning and working on the shopping lists and menus all this for many is a given but for me a very disorganised person a side effect of Dyspraxia as my ability at times to get my thoughts across in a coherent manner even when I talk this happens some times. but over the years I have found this so much easier as I have blogged the words come much easier than they used to be something I feel much easier doing and hence the word count on my post is climbing year after year. One advantage I have is a wonderful photograph memory for places and events I can recall small details from family events and places we have been. Anyway, there I go on a sidetrack again the problem wasn’t helped by reading multiple books no actually better time planning I started to use an app called Forest which means I avoid using the phone and just read the screen can be a real distraction at times so this means you set a time and don’t touch you phone for that time. The next move on the do list is planning more time to blog which I struggle to keep to I need to find a system to be more organized with posting but it will come I have books to review and now I am back to just one book at a time except reading the books of Jacob along side what I am read for next week or two. I will be back tomorrow and later in the week with two books for Thomas Bernhard week I have read Extinction and the voice imitator. Which of course I enjoyed it reminds me how much I loved Bernhard. what is your reading regime and what is your blogging regime? I’m always interested in other readers tips and other bloggers ideas I love finding youtube videos about productivity and other book bloggers something I am just getting into vlogs I’m sure I have said this before but the productivity ones I have watched although mainly around studying I have learnt about better reading time management  anyway I’ll go now

Stu’s library loot

I returned the two books I had read from the library and I had a look on the online catalogue at what may be on the Booker longlist that I didn’t own and was on the shelves at my local branch which is the main one in town I found two books and then when I was there three other books grabbed my eye. Anyway let’s go through my loot this time I may get to these I may not but I am getting better at renewing books I must have funded a couple of booker list worth of books over the years in fines but with my productivity drive for 2022 in full swing, I need something at the moment as a sidetrack and books are that a way to release some stress.

First up is a book the first in a trilogy from the Finnish writer Antti Tuomainen his first series and had been brought to be made into a film from Amazon it follows the life of a straight-laced Henri Koskinen his job as a mathematician is calculated insurance and this seems to go over to his own life so when life throws him a curveball of ending up losing his job and when his brother dies he gets an adventure park which he meets Laura and finds love and this is something he can’t work out.I must admit I was in love with the cover of this a while ago as Karen from the publisher had retweeted it and its reviews a lot when it came out.

This was one of the two books I went for as I had seen it on a list another blogger had done of potential booker longlist books and it is one I had seen when it came out just the cover I remember seeing it around Twitter. The book follows a woman that sees an Okapi in her dreams as a foretelling of a death in the village she lives in as you all know I am a sucker for books set in villages as they tend to be their own micro-world alongside life and death.I also want to find some new german writers to read in the future the ones I love have all died and I do have a couple I like still as I said yesterday I read more french fiction than I do German fiction.

I had the first book from him sent to me and never got to it and then also like the sound of his second book this is the problem with me sometimes as a reader I am a magpie I like the next sparkly thing and what happens when you are in the middle of an affair and that moment happens when you reach the point of trust and open up and unload secrets to the other person and then a few days later you split. This is what has happened to Pietro and now Teresa knows something about his past I may finally read a book by him. Starnone may be Ferrante’s husband his wife is one of the names near the top of the list of writers who could be Elena Ferrante.

Then I happened to just see this near the Leky on the shelf it was one of the European writer series that penguin had been bringing out the last few years I had reviewed a couple of the titles. I knew this was a book I will be reading as I can finish it in an afternoon it follows an old woman that wakes one day finds an old fox fur scarf and this seems to spur her into a new playful invented word it all sounds a bit odd and maybe captures those moments when we haven’t a lot and make the best and invent the world around us. Have anyone read any others in the series they could point me too ?

I had been avoiding knausgaard after getting through all six of the My struggle series it isn’t that I don’t like him as a writer it is the opposite I actually enjoy his writing. I just wanted a break but when I read up on this that follows a group of nine different characters in two towns as a huge star appears in the sky but as is usual with him it is all in the detail of those lives he looks into. I had brought one of his season’s books that he brought out after my struggle series. I am intending to get all four before reading them so I will probably read this as I am now wanting to know more and I hope it is on the booker which is a bonus if it does as it is a 600-page novel. Has anyone read this book ?

Any other booker tips welcome and what have you brought back from any recent trips to the Library ?

Jealousy by Alain Robbe-Grillet

Jealousy by Alain Robbe-Grillet

French fiction

Original title – La Jalousie

Translator -Richard Howard

When I noted the other week that I was only 19 books away from 150 french books read I had a look back over all the books I had read from France over the years and looked at my shelves and thought I need a little more depth to the selection is mostly modern writers so I do have a lot of french books as they now are my go-to country to read from when I started the blog it would be German fiction but these days it is very much French literature but as I say more modern french literature. So I decide the next few french books will have a few older books and here we go with a book from the post-war era of French Literature. When we got a group of writers that were grouped together as the roman Noveau the new novel  Grillet and other writers like  Claude Simon (I have my eye on a new edition of his work from The Flanders road I have reviewed him and also a book from Nathalie Surraute. Robbe Grillet wrote a weekly column about his view of the modern novel. He was both a writer and also a filmmaker. This is his best-known novel I have already reviewed A project of a Revolution in New York which was written a number of years after this book. Anyway, I have watched a few of his films in the meantime and also read a bit about him and this book has a lot of common threads that appear in Grillet’s works.

Franck is here agaun for dinner, smiling, talkative, affable. Christiane has not come with him this time; she has stayed home with the child , who is running a slight fever. It is not unusal, these fays, for the husband to come without her like this, because of the child, because of christiane’s own ailments – for her health has difficulty adapting itself to this hot, humid climate – and also because of her domestic  problems, her difficulties managing her numerous and poorl organized servants.

There is an undercurrent of this short passage I felt !!

The book is the first-person narrative of a jealous husband as he is viewing his wife whom we only ever know as A in the book and her interaction with their neighbour Franck with his wife sometimes other times just Franck. We watch as the narrator glimpses on through the blinds. The title in french has a duel meaning as Jaluise is also the French name for Venitian blinds that the jealous husband is observing the action but this itself means that his description of the events is limited to our narrator’s vision of the event and is from the viewpoint that he feels his wife A is having this affair with Franck this love triangle is the heart of the book as we observe that action or well the events it is set in a Banana plantation and this is the time that the French Empire was like the British Empire was starting to fall apart so one imagines that there is a sense of that the heat also will add to the tension of the events happening I was reminded at times of the restored scenes of Apocalypse Now where we follow the evening in the old plantation. There is a feel of what is missed in the narrative also he like in his films jumps from time to time from one event to another event. This is a classic slice of what the New novel as a concept was meant to do and that is to rip up the novel as a norm away from the novel to the bare mechanics of what the work is!

They look at each other without adding another word.Franck widens his smiles, which wrinkles up the corners of his eyes. He opens his mouth as if he were going to say something, be he doesn’t say anything. A …’s features, from a point three quarters of the way behind her, reveal nothing.

After several minutes- or serveral seconds – both are still in the same postition. Franck’s face, as well as his whole body, is virtually petrified. He is wearing shorts and a short sleeved khaki shirtm whose shoulder straps and buttoned pockets have a vaguely military look. Over hus rough cotton knee socks he wears tennis shoes coated with a thick layer of white shoe polish, cracked at the places where the canvas bends with the foot.

The mechanic of the meet here also the reference to Military lok remind me of Apocalypse now

I said the mechanics as the bones of this book and it is true that he was trained as an Engineer and there is a sense of that type of mind at work I was reminded of my own father’s mind and the way he views the world which is very much how does it work? That is the heart of what he has done here it is like a hotrod of a novel it has been taken apart and rebuilt you can see its influence on other works after this the way the narrated glimpses into this world of his wife and his neighbours isn’t far removed from Jeffrey viewing frank through the slanted wardrobe door. Even the name is similar Franck and Frank! The glimpse of action even has a nod towards Hitchcock which came out before this book it is all about the angle the view we get the glimpses of the action it is shots of the events we are asked to think about what the events are we add the emotions and maybe even fill the gaps! in the book. So it is easy to see why this is considered an important work of post-war fiction as it is part of a canon of writers that wanted to shake up the novel after the war in France and Nabahkov called it the best novel about Love since Proust maybe the best about the despair of love. Have you read any books or seen the films of Robbe- Grillet.

Winstons score – A look at what one man views or doesn’t?

The end of Eddy by Édouard Louis

The End of Eddy by Édouard Louis

French Auto-Fiction

Original title – En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule

Translator – Michael Lucey

Source – Personal copy

Any of you that have followed this blog for any amount of time will know I am wary of what I would call the “It Book “. One of those books that seem to be everywhere when they come out and here is such a book from the current star of French Literature  Edouard Louis a young man that grew up in a small town in Northern France in the Picardy region. In a working-class family in a working-class town. His father had an accident and was unable to work making their lives even harder having to live off government handouts. Anyway, he has written a number of books about his life using that great French tradition of Autofiction so Edouard becomes Eddy Bellegueile from The small French town of Hallencourt which is also Edouard Louis hometown.

The Kicks to my stomach knovcked the wind out of me and I couldn’t cath my breath. I opened my mouth as wide as I could to let in some oxygen. I expanded my chest, , but the air wouldn’t go in, as if without warning my lungs had filed up with some dense kind of sap, with lead. They felt so heavy all of a sudden. My body was shaking, as if it had a mind of its own, as if I had no control over it. The way an agening body that is freeing itself from the mind, or is being abandoned by it, refuse to obey it. A body becoming a burden.

A descriptioin of an attack to him at school.

I was drawn to read this book when I saw it on holiday last year and read the Blurb. I am a fan of Autofiction, although I am not gay I was a skinny backwards kid soft-spoken and into arty things and had a stepfather that made my life hell so I knew that this story is one I would really connect with. We meet Eddy a young boy that is subject to Bullying he has always been out of sync with his family he is just one of those boys that like me at that age stands out. He also has a double-ended problem with school and home life equally being hard. From the Bullies that act him in school a particularly brutal attack in the school corridor reminded me of some of the bullying, I had school I endured at school. Then at home his father lack of accepting his son. We see Eddy’s life the poverty and the homophobia of the town are shown it is a place out of time with other places like many small towns and villages this place isn’t as forward as it should be. Will he make it through?

(WE would go there once a month, it was true, to collect the boxes of food they gave out to the poorest families. The volunteers grew to recognise me and, when we arrived, they would slip me a few extra chocolate bars beyond our allotted share. There’s our little Eddy, how’s he doing ? and my parents would tell anyone, no one, that we go to the food bank, that’s a secret that stays in the family. They didn’t realise thart I’d already understood, without being told, how shameful this was, and that nothing would have made me tell anyone about it. )

The family really struggle with money and have toi go to a food bank such a common occurance these days for so many.

But what sets this apart is how evenly he tells the story it is written with an eye that hasn’t painted the world with a biased brush no this is a view of someone in the eye of the storm observing the storm. The poverty, the bullying, the racism and the homophobia are all written with the sense that they can’t help their views and having grown up in a similar environment with the Bullying and a hard father in my stepfather luckily we weren’t as poor as Eddy to add to his woes. But this book is the first step in books like this that show the horror of being in the eye of a storm you can’t stop the storm only batten down and brave it then tell others about it when you make it to the other side a survivor of the events and that is what this is a person that got through those events and struggles when many others didn’t and so it is a powerful work. I regret leaving it so long to read this book in fact the same thing has happened today with another book. Have you ever left a book because of Hype or do you think it may not be a book for you? Do you love connecting with books on a personal level, for me this is what reading is connections inspirations and discoveries an endless journey we should all be on?

Winstons score – +A – A tough childhood told without prejudice even though they suffered it so much.

 

 

Geography of an Adultery by Agnes Riva

Geography of an Adultery by Agnes Riva
French fiction
Original title – Géographie d’un adultère
Translator – John Cullen
Source – review copy

I always like discovering new french writers I have reviewed so many french books over the time of the blog. It averages out at an average of about ten books a year from France This debut novel was on the Prix Goncourt first novel list a list that had has winners such as Kamel Daouad and Laurent Binet both of which I have featured on the blog. The book came out in France in 2918. Agnes Riva lives in the Suburbs of Paris this is where she drew her inspiration for this novel. in the Urban landscape, she sees. The book was just published by another press many thanks to them for sending me a copy to review.

The interior of Paul’s car s[ace rtather limited in volume and distributed with a certain stringency. The design of the four egonomic seats is so precise that squeezing a fifth person into the back would be pratically impossible. The front seats are seperated by a short armrest half their hieghts, it contains no storage console and provides no place to put such small objects as sunglasses of CDs

WIth its leather seatsm aluminum door sills, and stainless steel pedals, the vehicles’s passenger expresses its owners intention to posses a car that offers all available comfort abd luxury,but in miniature, and for the price of an entry level model

Paul smell pervades the space

The opening chatper and it is about the small car luxury but small and maybe that says sometjing longer term abiut Paul ?

The book follows a selection of sites where a couple is having an adulterous affair. The book has a tone that is almost scientific observance a very detached observation of the events detached of the emotions it just shows the events So we meet Ema and Paul as they start an affair that happened when they meet through their jobs on an industrial tribunal which they are both on and start an affair they both have partners and Children so their clandestine meetings take part out of sight as much as possible each chapter is one of these locations Starting with Ema looking as they meet early on in Pauls car describe the car and what it is like grabbing a quick liaison in a car. Then a corner out of sight in a house a chapel as they snatch the quick pieces of passion but there see,s to be two views on this affair as we view it in those small snapshots of the meeting not seeing the event outside the meeting as we don’t see the other side of the affair the home life isn’t shown just the meetings and details of each corner and place they sneak a moment a collection of moments.

The corner they retreat to is located between the sink and the reffrigerator. On one side, along the back wall, a storage cabinet. On the other, the sin and a work counter. Above this space, a stretched fabric forms a decorative false ceiling, in which leads to a bel shaped metal oven hood. Behind the gas stove, a window with two sliding casements overlooks the garden and , on one side, the veranda of the house next door.

Narrow though it is, this space proves in the end to be better suited to quenching their thirst for physical union than inside of Paul’s car, where they move stiffly and clumsily

There second liasion isn’t much more comfortable as they find a corner in Ema’s hpouse out of site of the neighbours.

This is a novella and is written in a wonderful detached style as we get what are Polaroid-like glimpses of an affair I would love pictures to accompany the book that is just me I love the way she has described her observing the Urban landscapes around her home in the Suburbs how to avoid the preying eye is at the heart of an affair and that is what is shown here also the different way the couple view the events Paul is just after the sex really after that initial attraction you always feel Ema wants more maybe the intimacy isn’t what lead her to the affair or is this just me reading to much into the events I do this sometimes anyway this hasn’t a lot of passion or even sex etc it is more about the clandestine nature of the events that unfold it is just a collection of secret meeting places and the meeting and maybe in the description the events then become an anti-climax at times. This is a great debut novel that has a slightly new take on the novel dealing with Adulterous affairs. Have you a favourite adultery novel ?

Winstons score – B is a solid debut novel well translated by John Cullen he has really caught the detached emotionless nature of the book shines through.

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