The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide

Japanese fiction

Original title –  猫の客

Translator – Eric Selland

Source – personal copy

I now head back to Japan for the third book for this years January inJapan event and I decided to look at my TBR pile of books and one I had brought just because I liked the Cat on the cover I worried the book was going to be one that I wouldn’t enjoy but I decided as I had just brought another Japanese bestseller about a cat it was time to read this cat book. The book was written by the Japanese Poet Takashi Hirade he was born in Moji and lives in Tokyo with his wife who is also a poet. He was described by Kenzaburo Oe as a poet who creates new prose from poetry. He has published over twenty books and edited a series of books in Japan.

Another one pf Chibi’s characteristics was that she changed the direction of her cautious attention frequently. This active behaviour wasn’t limited to her kittenhood. Perhaps because she played alone most of the time in the expansive garden, seh reacted strongly to insects and reptiles. And there were times when I could only conclude that she must be reacting to subtle changes in the wind and light, not detectable by humans. It may be that most cats share the same quickness, but even so, in Chibi’s case, it was acute – she was after all, the cat of Lightning Alley. My wife got into the habit of pointing to the cat whenever it went by, extolling its virtues.

Early on in his time with the couple.

The book in some ways is autobiographical to the writer’s own life as he was a writer. The story follows a couple in the mid-thirties in the mid-1980s as they move into a small house that is part of a larger estate within the grounds just of an alley in a quieter part of Tokyo. When they rent they are told early on that they can have no children or pets. They are a writer and proofreader so spend their days at home. So when a cat appears a white cat with patches of brown(I thought of my parent’s cat truffles she was pure white but in that coat, you could see what was a tabby pattern in white anyway back to the book) The cat they invite in as a guest to there home and Call him Chibi’s and his independent nature and his skill when he plays with a ping pong ball. He initially bits the wife but she gets to like him. The cat gives this couple that is in the same house but may be caught up in themselves something to focus on. The cat comes and goes as we view them interacting with him and what he meant to them as they see the world starting to change due to events around them.

We made a door to the rooom that only Chibi could get through, not any other cats.Below the lagrge window on the south wall, there was a floor-level window of frosted glass about sixteen inches tall running the full length of ones above it, for sweeping out dust. By opening this window just three inches , a gap was leftnwhich allowed only Chibi to squeeze through. In order to prevent cold air and insects from getting in, we hung a thick cotton curtain of royal blue over it.

On the wooden floorbardfs in a corner of the Japanese style room, we placed a cardboard box, which had orginally contained mandarin oranges, to act as Chibi’s own special room. we put a  towel in the box and a dish for her food. Then we set a bowl for milk beside  the box.

They make him feel welcome as their guest with his own door and box !!

This is one of those gentle books that are a pleasure to sit and read at its heart is maybe the loneliness of city life even a couple can be a part in the same small cottage til Chibi’s appearance. Also, another thread in the book is the garden is so well described with the bird’s trees etc described the garden is almost like an oasis in the city. This is like those films I love and Myamanda happens and that is where nothing happens but the world we see and are drawn into is the beauty of the journey. The time in their house gives them a breathing gap in the chaotic world of Tokyo this oasis and that stray white cat that has come into their lives is may be a way for them to move on in their own lives anyway that is what I felt this is one of those books that was a bestseller because it is one of those books that grab the imagination of the reader and gives you a couple of hours in the company of a couple and their guest cats. Have you read this book or any of his other books?

Winstons scores – B The tale of a cat that likes to visit families as a guest.

Winter Flowers by Angélique Villeneuve

Winter Flowers by Angélique Villeneuve

French fiction

Original title – Les Fleurs d’hiver

Translator – Adriana Hunter

Source – personal copy

I move on in the books I think maybe around the Booker international longlist when it comes out and to an old favourite publisher Peirene and the second book from their series of books for 2021. Angélique Villeneuve was born in Paris and has lived in Idia and Sweden before she returned to France and became a writer she has written books for both Adults and Children. known for how she portrays the lives of women challenged by events in her life in one of her most recent books. I was looking forward to this book as it struck me it could almost be a companion book to another french book I read many years ago pre-blog day but had a lasting Impression and that was Marc Dugain’s The officer’s ward which follows a soldier that was in a ward like the husband of our main character in this book as he recovered and had facial reconstruction. This book is also like the famous book The return of the Soldier by Rebecca West also follows what happened when the soldier involved in the great war returned to their home.

At first Jeanne stays rooted to her chair, entirely consumed with watching him and avoiding him.She knows what should see, through, where she should look, but bounces about, slips away from her. What she does grasp is that hes taller and handsome in his unifor, and unfanilar too.

She  doesn’t think,He’s here, she thins, it’s here. This unknown thing thart’s coming home to her. That she’s dreaded, and longed for. It’s here. It’s going to come in, it’s going to make its life with her, and with Leo too, it will come here, into this room that the two of them have shared so little since they left Belleville

On his return you can just see the way the tension comes into her thoughts of his reutrn!!

What happens when a family is reunited after the war Toussaint left his wife and then returns to their small apartment after two years away. who has worked as a seamstress through his time away to make money now has to try and make a life with a man that isn’t the man that left not just the effects of the war he has since then spent time in the Val de grace hospital having his face rebuilt but he no way looks like the man that left them two years ago.  Now home unable to talk the dynamics of the home has changed Jeanne and Leonie have struggled and become very close so when Toussaint returns this man his daughter has no idea who he is and Jeane has done what many of the women left behind in both wars and that forms her own circle of friends. mainly woman around her but has you feel grown as a person in the absence of Toussaint who is maybe now a burden on her as she is now in the traditionally male role of the time as the breadwinner for the family. What will happen will the two ever be able to reconnect and build a new life. How much more of recovery will he make? All this in a time when support for things like this happening was rather thin on the ground?

Tousaint introduces something new. not just within the walls of the small fourth-floor room, but also into Jeanne’s life and, to a lesser extent, into Leo’s ; silence.

For the first few days, curled ina foteal posistion under the eiderdown or sitting in the armchair with his head lolling forwardm he sleeps a great deal, although it’s not clear whether he’s boundlessly tired or if this withdraw; is in fact to eradicate his whole body.

The mother and daughter whisper around him, in the narrow spaves requished to them by this silence.

Toussaint is a home but still a burden it seems and there is a sense of unease around him !

As you may tell from my description of this book I loved it I have always been a fan of the books the Peirene choose every year they seem to pick three great books and that is maybe why three gives them chance to find gems around a loose theme. For me this book sits with other great books about war Little woman for example this is one little woman but it follows what happened after. the connection to The officer ward really struck me as almost a follow on to that book that followed soldiers in world war hospital also having facial surgery. The fear in Jeanne at his return is clear both the fact they have got used to him not being there but also the man that returns isn’t the same one! Also at the heart of the is the hardships of the war on those involved struggling to get by and keep themselves going. It is another gem from Peirene a glimpse into one family and through them, there is a wider story of the families during world war I. Have you read this book? Do you have a favourite book about world war One?

Winstons score – A a well written and translated story of three lives changed by war

#ProjectSolenoid lets get ready !!

I am starting a project around the forthcoming Publication of the first English translation of Solenoid.I felt as though as a reader it was above me but then I decide why was that the case?  I have read 1100 translations over the last twelve years  of winstonsdad have many people read many more?  I often belittle my knowledge as often it isn’t that I haven’t the knowledge of books etc. I am not able to often make connections etc this is mainly due to time as most reviews I write in an Hour as I hate loss reading time, But Now the time is to maybe turn this around and this is why I am starting Project Solenoid if you like me have felt that people are discussing a book and you feel as thou it is above you why? I used to feel this about Uylsess a book I have read umpteen times but over the year I pushed and pushed reread the book listen to podcasts read lots of books about Ulysses and Joyce’s world. This is a book that is very similar to  Joyce’s work so let’s break it up to little bits and build a base to start are reading from if we have read books abut the time, influencers on his writing, films from Romania etc let’s get to the heart of  Solenoid and lets discover ourselves !!  I have read 8 books from Romania more than most, in fact, I have read a lot of Eastern European fiction  This is a book from the Romanian writer Mircea  Cărtărescu a name that is often on the list of potential Nobel winners he has had a number of books translated I have already read one by him Why we love woman. A lesser work but to me, it seemed a great intro. Now there is a great post about the book from The Untranslated here. I am wanting to start a simpler guide to the book before we read it or even just I read it what I have in mind is using this post and any interviews I can find  I have this one so far from Music and Literature Here where we see him mention a number of Books to build a reading list of books that could be read before the English translation comes out. So where to start I decided that maybe the history of Romania at the time be worth it reading so I found this to start Paul Kenyon history book came out a while ago I have ordered this to read from the Library.

I have also ordered books that were mentioned by E M Cioran and Thomas Ligeti . Also The Gadfly by Ethel Lilian Voynich I am now reading which is mentioned in the book and meant to be a book widely read in Eastern Europe at the time. There is also a mention of The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann which I did read years ago but will be reading and reviewing here. He also mentioned Giacomo Leopardi I have read most of Zibaldone when it came out great work and I’d be interested to read some of it again and see how it inspired Cărtărescu and see if it is an influence on the book.

I can also link in with Thomas Bernhard reading week as he said in the Interview this was a writer he like.I then look at the cinema and have discovered there was a new wave of films after the  Ceaușescu years as ever there is a Wiki page here about the films made. I have ordered a DVD of The Death of Mr. Lazarescuand on Mubi the is a recent film from Romania THe happiest girl in the world. 

What I am thinking is just starting a discussion before I get my book when it comes out later this year I am not after a copy of the book this is just about wanting readers like me that maybe read a lot but often feel as though a book is maybe above you as a reader as if  !! I want to promote reading a challenging book I want to show we can all understand and build the knowledge to open a book I did the same years ago with Joyce and have sat back and just done my quick-fire reviews mainly due to time and ofter just it is a habit quick easy template and boom it is done it is that easy and often that is all I can do after a couple long day but this is to work toward longer reviews that open books to other readers bit by bit which is something I feel I can do to help other readers which I am sure there is many that worry lets do it together lets start our Project solenoid !! What would you add I have started a good reads group here.  MY next stop in regards Cărtărescu’s  is Nostalgia next month. I am reading Gladfly at the moment come in join in add books to the GoodReads thread etc (I am no expert at these groups at Goodreads this is my first group ) I hope people join in and let’s get a great book to a wider public not just a few!

 

Stu’s first post covoid library trip and lets do Bernhard week 22 next month

SO much for a break a couple of hours and it is like an itch to blog these days I am not in the mood to review as I just write muy reviews then and there it is hard to think sometimes with a fuzzy head as I have just done a set of night shifts for my job is stressful at times as although we have few patients the patients we have are in real need of help care and our patience which is very draining but compared to people on covoid wards etc it is a lot less drain and hard. Anyway enough of me moaning anyway I had intended to do this post when I got the books last week from the Library. As many of you fans of this blog may know I used to use my Library a lot as Chesterfield is one of the Libraries with the Highest loan rates in the Country it is often in the top 20 busiest in the Country. But I haven’t been one of those inj the last twelve months I am a lover of shelf browsing looking for books I may have missed or just not been able to afford to buy. So the main time I order books in is Booker international Long list time which is growing close again for another year. Anyway, I had tried ordering a book and found I couldn’t I first thought I had an unpaid fine but didn’t just need to tell them I am still living where I am which I am. SO I had a look around and found some real gems  even thou I had one book on my shelves lol anyone done that themselves?

Anyway, after a quick look I didn’t even go through all the fiction books I had six books which seemed enough to me I may not get to them all but I hope to try and read a few I have already read one of the books here. SO let’s see the others I got to read.

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen, Yes I am a fan of his and I have this last year or so been buying a number of music Biographies and related books Bruce is a singer I have always loved from being in my early teens. I read a couple of music biographies a year but never mention them but I may start to mention them more as I have a lot to read I’ve brought but mainly around music I grew up with Factory records and The Fall but this is from Bruce caught my eye. Have you read this book ? do you have a favourite music related book ?

I jump from the biggest of the books to the smallest of the books and the one I have reviewed. People from the Neighbourhood by Kawakami you can go back and read my review of this collection of Microfiction. already a favourite of this year.

Oh, a blurred pic but this is The Moustache by Emmanuel Carrere A man shave his moustache after asking his wife she said she wouldn’t recognize him but then seems to blank it when he shaves it I loved the other book I read by him and had one on my shelves he is called by Knausgaard the most exciting living writer high praise indeed.

After Midnight by Irmgard Keun I said when I read Child of all nation last year I would be returning to her soon rather than later and I have borrowed this book set in Frankfurt it sees the characters over a short time but their lives are mapped out ion that time.I can’t wait for this one. As this is a writer I want to read more of have you read this book ?

Another writer I have read before Serve the people by Yan Lianke this is an earlier book that has just been reissued set at the Height of Mo’s power in 1967it is a tale of forbidden love between the bored wife of the commander and one of the young soldiers. an age-old tale set against the backdrop of the Mo years should be interesting. I was drawn in by the cover of this one.

Last but not least is one I thought I had reviewed but when I checked in the library the day I visit I  hadn’t reviewed it on the blog but then when I got home and looked at my shelves I had brought it when these Faber reissues came out I often do this I have so many books these days not being one to keep track I missed I had this one which was one of four reissued the other two I had reviewed and the other one I brought concrete I have reviewed since anyway I have this and frost to review on my shelves oh and the voice Imitator maybe to do another Thomas Bernhard week I did it in July but this time as he was born and died in the middle of February I know it is short notice but let’s do a Thomas Bernhard week again !! from Feb 14-21 2022

So not wanting to do a review forgive me as I did this instead of a break as I love this type of post and hadn’t done one for a long while. Have you been to your library recently?

 

 

Having a break

I’ve decided that I need stop blogging for a day or two

Stu’s year of Books winstonsdad best of 2021

I am late to the mark here with my best-of list basically I’ve been reading other Blog and Vlogs best-of list for the last year and completely missed that I had not done my own hitting the ground review and reading-wise it isn’t till now I have decided to go back over the last year and pick those books that have stuck with me. Now this may be a different set of books from highlights I have pick of the months of last year as I feel books change after we read them some grow some just stay others just wilt away. So I am not a huge stats person to now I am moving forward using Goodreads a lot more as a way to track my reading and also gain some end of year stats. I reviewed 91 books from 30 countries. I had want to read more African books last year I had read a few more but there is room for a couple more this year. I read books from North and south America, Africa , Europe and Asia but missed books from Oceania and the Pacific which I need to fix this year.any way here are my books of the year I am doing them in the order I read them in the year.

At night all blood is black by David Diop

This tale of two African soldiers in the trenches a story that hasn’t been talked about a lot it follows what happens when your best friend is shot and the enemy is there and you have to get revenge.

30th April 1945 by Alexangder Kluge

Anyone that has followed this blog in the last couple of years will know a writer I am championing and absolutely love is Alexander Kluge here with have vignettes fact and fiction that circle the world on the day that is near the end of world war two.  His books are rabbitholes for the mind it is hard not to pick the other book by him I read but I will resist anyway go out pick him up !!

Tower by Bae Myung- Hoon

I read a hell of a lot more Korean books this year than I have previously and this was one that really stuck with me a futuristic tower building a dystopic world of interlinking stories that in place are funny.

A musical Offering by Luis Sagasti

I’m seeing a theme her of interlinking stories in the book here is another collection that has music at its heart and a diving board for the tales with like Kluge a mix of fact and fiction I loved his previous book I think he is my favourite Latin American writer at the moment

In memory of memory by Maria Steponova

Oh well, another book that drifts as she goes through her grand flat she looks back on her own families history and her homelands at the same time a book that is in that grey area between fiction and non-fiction in a way.

Elegy for Joseph Cornell by Maria Negroni

Oh another collection here of prose and poetry piece that area a bio and tribute to the artist Joesph Cornell a lost gem from Dalkey a man that like to wander his home city of New york

The cheap eaters by Thomas Bernhard

A new translation of one of his lesser-known books a man is drawn onto a group of men that eat the cheapest meals every day in a government-run restaurant in Vienna. I am a long time Bernhard fan and it is always great to add another title to the list of books I have reviewed by him.

The return of Caravels by Antonio Lobo Antunes

Like Bernhard Antunes is a writer I love and this a bok that mix the past and those seafarers returning to Modern Lisbon much to there horror a writer that always deals with his own countries past so well and openly.

To see out the night by David Clerson

A writer whose novel I loved returns with a collection of short stories, I said in the review I am not a short story fan well going through this years choice I think I am a bigger fan than I think anyway QC have been brought use some great books from Quebec her we have people turning to great apes and secret cities under cities.

Special Needs by Lada Vukic

As many of you may know I work on a ward caring and helping get better people with Learning disabilities that are in crisis so I was wary of this book as it is hard to capture that voice of someone with learning disabilities without it seeming wrong but for me this is the best such voice I have read it is such a voice of someone with Autisms view of the world.

 

3 Minutes and 53 Seconds by Branko Prlja

A series of vignettes form a bildungsroman using the writers love of music and the songs for each year I like this as a lot of the songs I knew some I loved other I didn’t but it was a great way to show the upheaval in the  Balkans in his teen years having to move to a new city and his use of music to convey that another underrated gem from Dalkey

Three Bedrooms in Manhatten by Georges Simenon

I have been working through the Penguin books as they have brought out a lot of his books in New translations here is a book from his time in the US capturing those dark post-war years before the shining fifties to lost souls in a big city.

Well there they are my twelve books of the year as ever I feel I am on my own journey in books I love books that have interlink stories of vignettes around themes and also champing small presses and writers I have loved for a long time. What were your books of the year where did your journey take you last year did our paths cross?

 

Painting Time by Maylis de Kerangel

Painting Time by Maylis de Kerangel

French fiction

Original title – Un monde à portée de main

Translator – Jessica Moore

Source – Review Copy

I move for the fifth book this month to France to a book that could be on the man booker longlist that I didn’t get to last year a book from a writer I have reviewed another book by her Mend the living. She has been writing novels since 2000 her 2010 novel birth of a bridge was on the Prix Goncourt shortlist and also won a number of other prizes with this book. and with the book I have read Ment the living which was also made into a film. So here I have her latest book that follows a young woman from her student days to her first day in work and also the group of friends she made while studying. What follows is how they develop as artists and people

YOU MIGHT WONDER HOW PAULA KARST, THIS AVERAGE young woman, sheltered and predictable (and a little on the lazy side)_ someone who spends most of her time sitting in a cafe booth in the company of others like her, every ounce of existence frothing in the espresso with the mix of grace and vacuity that grazes genius; hpw this impetuous dabbler, for whom the future was invaribly and comfortably concealed in sfumato, ended up plunging headlong into the large studio on the rue de metal. even more suprising: she rushed there.

As she studies and liuves woth Jonas and has kate about the coffee and the drinks flows

The book follows Paula  Karst and her group of friends she made while studying art at an Institute in  Brussels what Maylis paints is a broad group of people a Female Bouncer from Scotland Kate is a tall blonde with her roots showing big teeth made her lips look thin then Jonas described as having owl-like eyes and lassos for arms these three stay close out of a class of 20 odd students the=ose months of nights out and drink draw them into a close relationship. What they are learning is how to use the techniques that make up the style of art Trompe-l’œi those works made to deceive the viewer but the question is here who is deceiving as she starts to work on film sets working on the sets this work takes her from place to place job to job but she wonders what is the point of this at times is she a real artist of just a Trompe-l’œi herself! this is a young woman that has the techniques but the jobs she is in has closed her creativity to just copying we she here learning how to fake effects with the friends this is ultimately tested when she has to fake the famous cave paintings of Lascaux as she reworks them we get an insight into her and her friend’s world.

But very quickly, in a pendulum swing that she anticipates mischievously, these same students start to worry about their originality, they squirm, stand on tiptoes to stick their heads above the pack, and stake their  claim to their way of doing things, their unique brushstoke. This thirst for distinction that torments them surfaces again after the shock treatment of their traing in woods and marbles it reappears like a lump in batter, and soon the students make it clear that they see the required exercises as strait jackets, ridgid, narrow, stifling their movements, suffocating their personalities, drying up their desire – this is how they express themselves incensed.

The struggle between the craft of paint and the art of being an Artist is caught well and is at the heart of what is Paula.

This is a book about learning who we are about those boundaries between art and craft Paula has the craft it is the bedrock of her style but like her surname which is an eroded landscape where the rick has been shaped into peaks and troughs, this is maybe a nod to what has happened to the Artist Paula Karst of the book, over time her artistic creative side has disappeared as she becomes a craft person is there a difference to me there is that spark is getting lost in her but she is working that paradox is hard to live with. As she starts working on the sets for Cinecitta. Like her other books, Maylis manages to turn the focus of her book onto one subject a heart her is is painting but what is painting is coping tricking art or craft !! This also maybe says something about her own life and that of her friends and the art. The book is rich in the techniques and study of art and what it takes to perfect the Trompe-l’œi style but at what cost! I read this thinking it would be a possible Man booker international chance after reading it I would be shocked not to see it on the list. I’ve never read a book that captures what it is to be an artist so well the craft of painting as they learn is caught well and then how they then go on to lose the techniques is caught well it is about art more than the people for my opinion. What did you think about this book? did it draw you into the world of art as a reader like it did me?

Winstons score – ++ A. One of my favourite books recent times

People from my Neighbourhood by Hiromi Kawakami

People from my Neighbourhood by Hiromi Kawakami

Japanese microfiction

Original title – 大きな鳥にさらわれないよう

Translator – Ted Gossen

Source – Library copy

I decided to go to the library for the first time in a long time as I thought I had a fine left from pre-Covoid as I had tried to order some books the other week but when I went in I must have paid the fine at the time it was just the card needed an update it was fun to browse again it had been to long and with the Booker international longlist coming up I will be trying to find some books I haven’t read before. One of the first \i found was this very short collection of micro-stories from Hiromi Kawakami who is one of those writers who I had read when she had her debut book out here 9 years ago but haven’t got back to even though I like the Briefcase when I reviewed it so it felt like it was time to try her books again and this was the perfect afternoon read and the second book for this years January in Japan reads. The book is narrated by an unnamed narrator.

A white cloth was lying at the foot of zelkova tree, When I walked over and picked it up, I saw a child underneath.

“What’s the big idea?” Thwe child glared at me, It had narrow eyes but thick eyebrows. I couldn’t tell if it was a girl or a boy.

Ooops. Sporry! I apologized. But the child kept glaring at me. Are you playing hide and seek or something? It shook its head vigorousily from side to side.

“I live her,” it said

The child in the story the secret lives under a cloth under a tree

The book is a collection of very short stories of a neighbourhood very odd one thou, with a collage made of sweets a town full of odd characters and time has a fluid nature as some stories are immediate other last decades. Oh, people changing to pigeons in their habits. I knew this was an odd collection when the first story is about a child that lives on a cloth under a tree that then adopt and stay young and has a weird dance after showers. This is followed by a description of chicken Hell in the second story. Other stories describe a dog let loose they call black that dies. The Dog is a recurring theme as is a girl called Kanae first crops up in a tale about her clever sister then we see her become a model after going off the rails in her younger year a look at how peoples perceptions can change over time.

Blackie was vicious.

Blackie was the name we gave the black dog that belonged to Kiyoshi Akai. He called it John, but there was nothing John-like about it. No a common black Japanese mutt like that could only be called Blackie

Blackie was a barker. Not only did he bark, he nit – and not playful little nips. His bites were serious the kind that draw blood we often saw his victims in the front of Akais house complaining. “Look at the blood!”they’d bellow. “What are you going to do about it?” Yet the boy and his mother always appeared quite unpertubered.

The Black dog Blackie is a dog left to room and bite the locals til something happens !!

This is an odd collection of stories. They are very funny and surreal in nature they have a fun feel to them and you can tell she must enjoy using the voice of this narrator and the town she describes. I loved the way she lays in recurring characters like Kanae and her family the black dog and its own a man that no one seems to like and dogs, Birds chickens and pigeons. I was reminded of studio Ghibli films at times with humans becoming like Pigeons was like something out of those films also the neighbourhood with its mix of real and fantasy I have seen in a film like Totoro by them were the modr=ern japan mix with an ancient spiritual past. This book mix real life and surreal things happening like win a wish lottery and how different winners use their three wishes which one man changes his wife which is very funny as it backfires on him. That is one of the things I felt there is a fable-like feel to these stories a warning behind the fun nature of these stories. This is a collection hard to pigeonhole as the stories are very interlinked with the recurring themes and all being set in the same neighbourhood as she builds up the layers it is almost a novella with short chapters or a micro-fiction collection it is 90 pages and read within a couple of hours. Have you read this collection or any of her other books?

Winstons score – B solid fun collection ideal for a commute or an evening read

 

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

Japanese Memoir

Original title – 走ることについて語るときに僕の語ること
 Hashiru koto ni tsuite kataru toki ni boku no kataru koto

Translator – Philip Gabriel

Source – Personal

I’m on my third book of the year and the first for this month January in Japan is a book I’m rereading something I haven’t done a lot of in recent times but this year I thinking I may throw a few books in like this books I read pre-blogging days this one IO had thought I reviewed but it appears I haven’t so when looking for books for this month this one jumped out at me as I had recently seen it mentions in a book vlog video and remembers how much I loved it the first time around and wonder if I would second time round. I am not a runner but like a walk every now and then here and there. The book is a memoir of his running life and how it has had a knock-on effect on others.

I began living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at the end of MAy of this year, andf running has once again becomd the mainstay of my daily routine ever since. I’m seriously running now. By seriously I mean thirty-six miles a week. In other words, six miles a day, six days a week.It would be better if I ran seven days, but I have to factor in rainy days, and days when work keeps me too busy. There are some days. too, when frankly I just felt to tired to run . Taking all this into account, i leave one day a week a week as a day off. So, at thirty-six miles per week. I cover 156 miles every month, which for me s my standard for serious running

He average weeks running and his reigme is comitment six days a week.

The book follows Murakami’s journey as a runner. He used running as a way of keeping fit this was the time of aerobics and Jogging had all become big activities and he moved to Cambridge in the US and then started to put the miles in and build to long-distance running . We get little gems like when he thought he would become a writer he said he can remember the exact moment April fools day in the late seventies watching a baseball game. I think this is where I was first drawn to read his first two books long before they were republished as I read his description of writing and publishing them and then the discovery they were hard to get I ordered mine via library and they came from a US Library. One of his runs that stuck out is the one that gave the Marathon its name when he is in Greece running from Athens to Marathon the Greeks think he is made solo running in the middle in the summer in the Heat. Later another Baseball game and he is in Boston watching the red socks and doing another marathon. He connects the memories oft these runs training and the events around his life give a small glimpse into his life and his motivations

After this, while still running my Buisness, I wrote a medium length second novel, Pinball, 1973 and will working on this I wrote a few short stories and translated some sort fiction by F Scott Fitzgerald. Both Hear the wind sing and pinball, 1973 were nominated for thwe prestigous Akutagawa prize, for which they were said to be strong contenders, but in the end neither won, To tell the truth, though, I didn’t care one way of the other. If I did win it I’d become busy with interviews and writing assignments, and I was afraid this would interfere with running the club

His Jazz club days running the club and his early wriing days here

I enjoyed this second time round I am still not going to take up running but since this came out I have found my exercise thing swimming. I get how it made him feel getting fitter. I also see how the running and his running life is like his writing life is similar all about endurance and building up in a way this is visible just in the length of his books and how they grow in length. The main thing I noticed was the change in reach he talks of CDs, Md players things we don’t use and how tech has changed things like running where the is now just a playlist and we don’t just have a limit of a disc or tape. I do feel it maybe isn’t as insightful into him as a person it is more about the running and his writing than any insight into him as a person which I maybe hadn’t noticed as much the first time I read the book. The book is still a book I loved this time around which is something that always worries me about rereads I liked it a lot the first time round. I did enjoy discovering his running life again and the place he had run also the nostalgic tech made me smile. Have you read this book and even reread it since the tech in the book has moved on?

Winstons score – -A would liked a little more insight into the man but still loved it as much this time around .

 

The ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas

The Ice Palace by Tarjei vesaas

Norwegian fiction

Original title – Is-slottet

Translator – Elizabeth Rokkan

Source – Personal copy

In my second book of the year we are back in Europe and in the north with one of Norway’s greatest writers. we marvel at knausgaard and fosse for their insight and vision into the human character these days. But Tarjei Vesaas was doing the same fifty years before them and in his time he wrote for more than fifty years his book was mainly based around his rural life his farmhouse is a place of pilgrimage for fans of his writing. He was known for his insights into everyday life he won the Nordic book council prize the biggest book prize in Scandinavia. He was nominated 30 times for the Nobel Literature prize and in strong contention on three occasions. This is one of a number of books that were brought out by Peter Owen a publisher I think has such a great list of writers. So here we have the forerunner to those great Norweigian writers of today.

Unn must have been standing at the window watching for Siss, for she came out before Siss reached the doorstep. She was wearing her school slacks

“It must have been dark?” she asked

“Dark?” yes, but that doesn’t matter; replied Siss, although she had been quite nervous of the darkness and the short cutr through the wood.

“It must have been cold too? It’s dreadfully cold her this evening”

“That doesn’t matter either,” said Sim

Unn said: It’s such fun that you wanted to come.

The night of the event that is at the heart of the book

The book is the story of two girls just on the cusp of being young adults they are the sort of girls that wouldn’t usually get on as one is quiet and the other is boisterous and a live wire. The quiet girl Unn is new to the village and has arrived to live with her Aunt and her friend is Siss. What follows is the outfall of an evening the two girls get close as they get to know each other at her aunts she shows Siss the pictures of her father as they relax in each other company the young girls undress and watch each other. But when they have done this it feels strange and not quite right to Unn after the event one of those things that happen at that age of just having feelings and thoughts that are awakening. So when next Day Unn decides to skip school and head to the Ice Palace of the title a place the girls are due to go to a frozen Ice palace but when she ends up in trouble it is Siss left as she viewed the event very differently. She later has to cope with the gap of her friend that has gone and what had happened haunts her as she struggles to move on with what happened.

Unn had not arrived when Siss hurried into the warm classroom. Several of the others were there. Some of them said casually, “Hi SIss.”

She did not say a word about yesterday’s meeting. They probably expected it, because of the exchange of notes, but they contained themselves. They were probably waiting to see what would happen when Unn turned up. Sdiss had it all worked out: as soon as Unn appeared in the doorway she would go to meet her so that eveyrone should see how things stood. The Idea made her so happy thart she tingled all over.

The next day Siss is awaitng Unn at schoolbut she never comes to school again !!

This is one of those books that takes a single event the one evening that the two girls had stripped and watched one another a strange act but given there age one that happens this one night is the hook for the book the death of Unnn and the aftermath for Siss. It shows how we can view things from different ag=ngles after the event. It is a story of the loss of a friendship broken but there is a third character in the book and that is the place rural Norway the ice palace and all the other places he describes jump off the page this is the second book I have reviewed by Vesaas I will over time review more as I get them. One of the things I love about the time I have been blogging is seeing how a writer like Vesaas has had a knock-on effect I can see his influence in fosse work and other Nordic writers. Sparse in his style this work is hard-hitting in it’s impact this is one of those books that pack a punch far more than its length and will hit the reader hard. It is also short enough to be read in a single sitting which I did. Have you read any books by him?

Winstons score – A, a gem of a book that should be better known.

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