The dwarf by Pär Lagerkvist

Image result for the dwarf par lagerkvist

The Dwarf by Pär Lagerkvist

Swedish fiction

original title – Dvärgen

Translator – Alexandra Dick

Source – personal copy

When Simon and Kaggy announced the 1944 club, I searched the list of books published that year and this was one that jumped out at me especially when I saw the cover. Par Lagerkvist was a Nobel winner. He grew up in a house where the books he had to read were the Bible and the book of common prayer. But in later life he didn’t turn against religion he was a socialist but had a deep interest in what man his symbols and God. What man’s position is in that world. This book is a perfect example of what he did in a lot of his writing question what is good and Evil.

What abput the Prince ? Does he suspecgt nothing? or maybe everything?

It looks as thpugh the matter of her secret life did not exist for him. But cannot tell, with him one can never be quite sure of anything. He consorts with her in the daytime, and it seems as though he himself were daytime in person , for he is so utterly irrahited with the light of day. It is odd that such a person should be  beyond my comprehension – just he! but perhaps that is because I am his dwarfm and again – he does not understand me either !

This passage does make you wonder is Piccoline is just another side of the Prince .

The book is narrated from the point of view of the dwarf of the title he is the court Jester  Piccoline. He is in the court of an Italian Principality. He has the ear of the prince. He is also told secrets by other members of the court such as their lovers and who is doing what which gives him a greater insight into the inner workings of the town. But this little guy has a real twist of evil in him he is a true Machiavellian figure. The town they live in is in many a feud with the local towns. This is et in the 15th century Italy around the same time as some of the other villages built great big towers here they have hired Bernardo to do some painting (This character could be a version  Leonardo Da Vinci) The town could be Milan but the time and place isn’t ever really mentioned so for me it is just a mixture of tale of the time when Italy was made of small towns and states that were at constant battle what is the problem here is the dwarf they all see as just a jester in a way is twisting them and helps the prince when he has to poison someone for the Prince he does this as he hates the person but he hates everyone around him he isn’t the jovial figure they think he is as we see how he sees the downfall of his town and the violence he has in part he has unleashed.

I am no blasphemer. It was they who blasphemed, not I , but the prince had me clapped in irons for several days. The little jest had been intended to amuse, but I had to spoiled it all and the guests had been very upset, almost scared. There were no chains small enough so they had to be specially mad, and the smith thought it was a great deal of trouble for such a short sentence. But the prince said that it might be as well  tohave them another time. he let me go sooner than he had planned

Again is the dwarf real  and does the prince really see the dark side of him and what he has inside him .

I was drawn in by Piccoline narration of his life he is truly a dark figure. He is maybe more of a dwarf on the inside and that is the question is he a real figure or maybe just the dark side of the Prince of the town. His dark inner child in a way the acts and thoughts of Piccoline has that childlike way of seeing good and evil as he views the world as very black from his mere 26 inches. This is the reason I love events like 1944 club is they make you look out older books. I have always tried Nobel winners when I have seen their books around second hand so I would have got to Lagerkvist at some point but this coming out in 1944 meant I got to it sooner. Lagerkvist does seem to question through Piccoline what our actions are when we are faced with violence and conflict around us. A lost gem of world literature as this seems to be out of print at the moment!!

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Kaputt by Curzio Malaparte

Kaputt

Kaputt by Curzio Malaparte

Italian Novel

Original title – Kaputt

Translator – Cesare Foligno

Source – personal copy

Now, it is a nice coincidence that my last read for NYRB fortnight happens to tale in with the 1944 club that officially starts tomorrow. There is a lot of talk recently about Autofiction being a trend but it has been around for years and here is a perfect example of Autofction. Curzio Malaparte was an Italian writer he was sent by an Italian paper to cover the eastern front. This book is what he observed and is an account of the inner workings of the Germans and how they were in eastern Europe during the final years of the war as he saw the end was near.

During the summer of 1941 i was in Pestchanka, a village in the Ukraine, and one morning I went to visit a large Kolkhoz close by  the village; the Kolkhoz Voroshilov. The Russians had left Pestchanka just two days before. It was the largest and richest Kolkhoz I had ever seen . Everything was left in perfect order but the cattle shed and stables were empty; there was not agrain of wheat in the granges, not a blade of hay in the lofts. A horse was limping  around the farmyard; it was old , blind and lame. At the end of the yard, under a long shed, were ranged hundreds upon hundreds of agricultural machines , mostly of Soviet manufacture, but many were Hungarian and some were Italian, germans , swedish and American. The retreating russian had not set fire to the Kolkhoz, to the ripe crops, or to the forest of sunflowers seeds.

He shows how the Russians didn’t leave behind ruins when the Germans taken over the countryside.

The book starts as the reporter at the center of the story is in Sweden after spending time in Finland this is a reporter with connections as the opening page sees him in the company of a Swedish prince. Then he is sent to Ukraine where he first sees the brutal side of the \german forces. this is based around real events he saw in 1941 in Ukraine. Then in the Balkans, as he goes around he chronicles the brutal and violent nature of the Germans and their views of the people whose countries they have occupied.as the book moves on he starts to see the cracks in the German regime. When Leningrad happened it seems in this as it proved a turning point. One of the hardest scenes in the book is where he is shown around the Ghetto and how proud the Germans were of this but he shows how there were so many people living in such a small space. This is a glimpse behind the lines of world war two and the Nazi when they were still at the top but the downfall had started by the end of the book.

The German soldiers returning from the front line, when they reached the village squares, dropped their rifles on the ground in silence. They were coated from head to foot in black mud, their beards were long, their hollow eyes looked like the eyes looked like the eyes of the sunflowers, blank and dull. The officers gazed at the soldiers and at the rifles lying on the ground, and kept silent. By then the lightning war, the blitzkrieg, was over, te Dreigjahrigerblitzkrieg, the thirty year lightning war had begun. The winning war was over, the losing war had begun.

Malaparte sees the war turning in the face of the soldiers returning from the front.

This is one of those books I wasn’t sure I would like to read Malaparte himself is a questionable character. But he did manage to get inside the German regime and see far more than many other people did the inner workings from the Generals and leaders hobnobbing it and living it largely to those in charge of the Ghetto, those SS troops and the horror of what was happening to the Jews and others around Eastern Europe. Through the disdain, the troops on the ground felt as the war was turning near the end of the book. What makes this readable is the way Malaparte describes the world and the is unblinkered in the full horror of what he was seeing. You feel the decay decadence sheer horror of this world where the people were turning a blind eye to the horrors or saw what they were doing as normal. Malaparte used his own experience in this novel and he used them to make the episodic nature of the book it has no real plot as such just follows a narrator as he observes the places he is sent to and the people he meets. The cover is also wonderfully creepy. This is a great example of Autofiction and makes some of the modern versions seem pale in comparison.

Midnight in the century by Victor Serge

Midnight in the Century

Midnight in the century by Victor Serge

Russian fiction

Original title –  S’il est minuit dans le siècle

Translator – Richard Greeman

Source – Personal copy

I left it to the last weekend to cover my last two NYRB fortnight reads. The first is the second book by Victor Serge I have covered on the blog I reviewed Conquered city a few years ago I went out and got a few more books from him. Serge had an interesting life growing up in an exiled family in Brussels at the turn of the century he was a firebrand and an anarchist in France in 1912 he was sentenced to five years and then expelled to Spain in 1917. He went to Russia in 1919 and joined the Bolsheviks and after that worked in the communist Press service until in 1928 he fell foul of the government and then in 1933 was arrested by Stalin’s police and held for 80 days and the sent in exile in Orenburg a remote city in Russia. He left Russia after two years there.

Mikhail Ivanovich Kostrov, who was not at all superstitous, had a feeling that things were about to happen in his life, They were heralded by almost imperceptable signs. So it was for his arrest. There had been the perculiar tone of voice with which the rector had told him: “Mikhail Ivanovich, I’ve decided to suspend your course for the moment …. you’re up to the directory.* aren’t ypou ? ” Fear obviously, of allusions to the new political turn “So” the rector continued, “prepare me a very short  course on Greece”.

The start of the troubles and Exile for Kostrov when he is called in and arrested.

That two years in Exile is the backbone to this novel and is about a city of Exiles. Chenor also called Blackwaters is where these exiles all live. The place is a mix of Old Bolsheviks like Rhyzik and the narrator, young workers Rodion a man that has taught himself and a splattering of Orthodox church believers and all those that Stalin didn’t want are thrown into the melting pot that is Chenor. It is an insider view into what it was like in Stalin’s Russia as we find out how people got there the fear that everyone at the time lived under the hopelessness of being stuck in exile and no chance of escape. This is the burnt embers of those that shone brightly but were stubbed out by Stalin’s policies and violent regime. We see how Kostrov at the start of the book is sold out by a colleague that was the reason he ended up in Exile. The book sees one of them trying and succeeding in escaping the city.

The forest line grows darker at the horizon. A little over two centuries ago, peasants fleeing serfdom built this little town on the bluff overlooking the river bend. They thought they had gone far enough into the inclement North to be forgotten. They were only half right, but what could they do? however far you flee, your grandchildren will have to flee one day in their turn.

This captures the hopelessness of living in Chenor set up by those that fled serfdom has now trap those there two centuries later.

This is one of those books that draw you into the world he saw that of being an exile and also of living in everyday  Stalin Russia where no one is what the seems. The dreams of the early days of the Bolshevik revolution seems very far and distance in the Russia they are living in. I have read other accounts from the like of Arthur Koestler Darkness at noon (strange the title has a similar tone to the title of this book) also Solzhenitsyn wrote about the cruel nature of the Stalin regime. This is an Orwellian world from the start when our main character is sold out by a colleague at work. Serge is one of those writers that is able to turn his own experience no matter how dark and black they were into touching and heartfelt prose in this great translation.  This is another example of why over the last ten years of the blog I have slowly been buying NYRB books my only wish is they were easily available to buy locally I have brought a few in Sheffield but most I have to buy online. Have you read Serge.

 

A School for Fools by Sasha Sokolov

A School for Fools

A school for Fools by Sash Sokolov

Russian fiction

Original title – Школа для дураков

Translator – Alexander Boguslawski

Source – personnel copy

I’m a bit late joining in Lizzy Siddals NYRB fortnight. I have a lot of there books on my shelves and haven’t reviewed too many on the blog so I had hope get a few more read but I have managed this so far and part way in two other books. This is what we like about NYRB well I do they seem to republish books that may have not got put out again this came out to a seventies as it had been one of those books that when it came out in Russia was put around underground in Samizdat copies. Sasha Sokolov. Tried many times to escape Soviet Russia once via Iran he was caught and only family connection saved him from a long prison sentence. He then manages in 1975 to escape and eventually became a Canadian citizen. He has published another book that has only just been translated I have that on my tbr pile. This is considered a modernist masterpiece.

This is what the teacher Pavel was saying, standing on the shore of the Lethe. River water dripped from his washed ears, and the river itself flowed slowly past him and past us with all its fishes, flat bottom boats, ancient ssailboats, reflected clouds with those who are invisible and those who will drown, with frogs eggs, algae , relentless water striders, torn piece of net m grains of sand from the beloved seashore and golden braclets lost by someone, with empty cans and heavy hats of Monomakh

Surreal passages like this make me wonder if there was anopther level we miss in english in the original Russian but the richness of his words can be seen like treacle going slowly down your throat.

Now this is one of those books that you get to the end of and really need to start again , but this time around I haven’t time anyway the book starts with one narrator telling of his school the school of fools( a school for those disturbed kids)  of the title and his summers at a dacha cottage that many Russian do during the summer escaping the city. His romance or lack of it (yes it is one of those books that you are never quite sure what is real ) with Veta. Now that sounds enough but then we get a second narrator that seems to be another side of our first narrator telling is a more far-fetched tale. This other voice is almost a monologue at times. The action flips from summer to the school and at times is surreal things like a bizarre dress code from the headmaster of the school. As time and what is life drift and we see the world through our narrators disturbed views of the world a hard world at times and memories of summers and school days all get mixed as well as strange digressions here and there as the book goes on. It is like a memory of a drunken few years glimmers of lives mixed with the dreams of life.

But Veta dosen’t hear. During the night of your arrival in the land of the lonely Goatsucker, the thirty-year-old teacher at our school.Veta Arkadievna, the strict teacher of botany, biology, and anatomy, dances and drinks winer in the best restaurant in the city with soem young, yes, relatively young man – funny, mart, and generpus. Soon the music will end – drunken violinist and drummers, piano players and trumpeters will get off the stage.

Veta is someone he is in love with at times and other not during the book !!!

Now this is one of the oddest books I have read it is hard to get a handle on and is what we well I read translation for Sokolov himself is considered a master of the Russian language on par with the likes Of Joyce with English of Schmidt in German and those two are two I have picked as for me it has nods to the Schmidt novella I read a few years ago with detached and strange Narrators and the stream of consciosness style at times is a nod to Joyces style. It maybe is also a way of capturing the madness of Soviet Russia at times the two extremes of the world the summers at the Dacha and the school reflecting Soviet life at times. Also, the playful nature of the words sometimes reminds me of how Anthony Burgess used language the translator is a lifelong friend of Sokolov so kept some Russian words in the text. He also wrote the intro. A great first choice for my NYRB fortnight.

The dog by Kerstin Ekman

 

The dog by Kerstin Ekman

Swedish fiction

Original title – Hunden

Translators – Linda Schenck and Rochelle Wright

Source – personal copy

I move to Sweden tonight and a fable of man and dog. Kerstin Ekman is one of the best known Swedish writers. She was the third female member of the Swedish Academy, but since a controversy over their reaction to Salman Rushdie, she hasn’t been an active member. She has won a number of awards including the Selma Lagerlof prize and the Nordic Council Prize. Her main body of work is crime fiction. So this book is different from her. It was also made into a short film.

A storm from the west is like a broom, a grey blast sweeping across lake and forest. Afterwards tere’s no trace of ski or snowmoble tracks, of animal or bird, no wads of snuff around the fishing holes, no bait, no blood. Everything is fresh, white and smooth.

Now, the morning after the storm, no one could see the tracks from the man on the snowmobile. The weather had cleared. The sun hadn’t risen and the sky shifted towards green as the day grew light. The silver of moon above the hill faded. Itr looked tenuous and tattered.

The morning when the pup wakes up after he lost his mother.

Now, this is an unusual book as it is told from the point of view of the dog of the title. We join him as a young pup as he follows his mother one winters day into the forest and he ends up losing here as they get caught in a snowstorm and he manages to sleep under a tree overnight and awakens alone and by himself in the world the dark foreboding forest of Sweden he is initially wary of every sound and shadow and movement he sees. We see this world of forest creatures and plants as he starts to find food and discover his way and which animals to follow like the fox for food. the scent of small creatures he can capture as the dog grows. This feral dog starts getting near to the men that live on the edge of the woods in the cabins first wary he smells them sees there dogs. But one starts to leave food and the last third of the book sees this timid feral dog remembering a past and is drawn towards the man will he come home to men or stay feral?

Slushy water and sour lingonberries. Feathers ion the moss, straggly odourless. Nothing but water in his aching stomach, wet paws in the marsh. Push on, push on, slow and soggy chew on feathers, suck on bones. Water dripping on nose, stinging eyes and aching belly. Traipse and trudge. Crouch with belly to the snow. Push on ith nose to the ground.Odourless water, meltwater.Hungerwater.

The moon creeps on the forest. The night is not silent it purls and ripples, it twitters and rustles. Up, keep goiung across pathy ground. Body uneasy, forest uneasy. Patches of moonlight and snow, patches of shadow and dark marshland.

SHe captures the world so well and the dog trying to get through it.

I picked this up as there wasn’t much ij my local Oxfam the day I visited and hadn’t considered reading it till today when I pulled it off the shelf and sat and read it in one sitting, What Kerstin does is draw the reader into the life of the dog the smells sounds and feel of the forest he is in is described in such touching detail as we see the frighten pup grow to a dog ravaged at times but living on his own it is only when he sees the man he starts to become a dog again and the man’s grey dog. This is a fable about nature the savage but beautiful side of nature how hard it is to survive but also in part about how we have to live with nature as we see the forest in the dog’s eyes the sight and sound he sees show him what is happening in the forest. It mixes the classic boy growing up against the odds and coming through. We also see the bond of man and dog. Yes, this is one for dog lovers if you like the incredible journey (the old film, not the j fox vehicle you will see the dog surviving in the wild). It also had some stark illustrations in the book that was linocut in style.

Everyday life by Lydie Salvayre

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Everyday Life by Lydie Salvayre

French fiction

Original title – La Vie commune

Translator Jane Kuntz

Source personnel copy

Another short novella from Dalkey archive and this by a recent Prix Goncourt winner Lydie SlavayreIts been a while since I featured a Goncourt winner. Lydie was born to refugees of the Spanish civil war. She grew up in southern France. Trained as a doctor with a degree in Psychiatry. She has published a number of novels. In 2014 her book Cry mother Spain (English title ) won the Prix Goncourt. That book was published by Maclehose she has also had four books including this one published by Dalkey.

I omitted one detail. She stinks.

The new secretary wears a vetiver scent, and I detest the smell of vetiver. There’s nothing I detest more in the world than the smell of Vetiver (After milk). It makes me listless, it gives me the vapors, migraine headaches. It makes me dizzy, nauseous, It makes me vomit

Every morning when I crack open the door of my office, the obnoxious stench of her perfume smacks me in the face. I stager. I can’t help it, I ve grown allergic to it. Like a police dog , I could sniff out its trail miles away, that’s how allergic I’ve become. It’s crossed my mind that she might soak herself in the stuff just to put me off, to make me go in the opposite direction.

The scent affects her but the reaction seems more than that in a way to me!!

This is a classic slice of an Office drama. It is about two sectaries Suzanne the narrator of the book has been at her job as the secretary of Monsieur Meyer for more than thirty years. so when this younger woman arrives she sees this as a real threat to her position as Meyers favorite. She starts to pick apart this new younger woman as they work together. She dissects her rival bit by bit as she is doing so you see the pent-up anger in this older woman as she sees her rival become more important to Meyer as her grip on her life is starting to slip. This is a woman not only losing her job but there is a sense she is getting old and that is the reason for her replacement not just to learn from her but also to easily slide Suzanne into retirement and also accepting her problems. This is a slice of life in an office the jealousies of office rivals the older member like an old lion marking her territory but like in Lion pack or Gorilla families that Alpha in the head has to succumb sometime and this is the moment caught in the book that breaking of an Alpha.

Because I’ve had a dull ache in my chest for seventeen days, I go to the doctor. He asks me if the pain spreads towards the shoulder and along my left arm. No. It’s just in my chest. As if it were digging a hole that opens and close,opens and cloes. While hes gliding his icy stethoscope over my chest, he asks what happen right before the onset of this pain. Imagine you’re straight path, I tell him, wwhich you can follow with your eyes shut, it’s so familar to you. Then suddenly, you no longer recognize it, even though everything you see is identical to what was there before. Do you know what I mean?

Her we see Suzanne has more wrong than we see an underlying problem !!

This is a fun book and a touching book and to do both at the same time is great it is a Tragicomedy of a woman fall. We see Suzanne ripping into the new girl. I was reminded of the scenes in the Office as the David Brent tries to capture his Job as the new man takes his place and that loss of the Alpha role well this is the same the role of being Meyers main secretary is the prize and the Older woman is describing losing the grip but she is seeing it as thou this younger woman has pushed her out but in between the lines there is the sense she is failing in her job but maybe age has caught up with her. She isn’t as flexible as her younger counterpart having got set in her ways as the world around her has moved on. There was that bittersweet taste in the prose that I find in the work of Bernhard the satire of loathing he wrote so well. Lydie has caught what happens when one’s life falls apart in a simple monologue another nod to Bernhard in a way. I was touch by her fall it was a shame like one of those football stars that shone but has stayed on the pitch far too long!!

 

Eleven Prague Corpses by Krill Kobrin

Eleven Prague Corpses

 

Eleven Prague Corpses by Krill Kobrin

Russian fiction

Original title – 11 пражских трупов

Translator – Veronika Lakotova

Source – personnel copy

I was saying I was overwhelmed with reviews and what is annoying I am reading fast than I can review so I let books slip and this was nearly one of those. This book grabbed me with the description of Krill as a writer he is interested in the cultural history of Russia and the Czech Republic. He is one of the founds of Russian Psychogeography and one of his novels is a tribute to Flann O’Brien. Oh, and he is also called the Russian Borges (i do hate that but I can see it here as Borges like twisting the detective short story as well).

Maurice approached me at the fuenral. He said – stuttering as usual and as usual in broken English – ” An apprpriate way of dying for a former restaurant critc isn’t it ? Professional, so to speak. Acute Pancreatitis. Caused by what ? by the excepitonal Czech dumplings pork, and beer. Anf of course, by always exceptional czech doctors. Dammned Prague.” It started to drizzle, the heavy scent of the earht mixed with the smell of damp clothes.It was difficult to breathe. “Dammned Prague”I agreed.” Dammned Central Europe”

His dislike of his hime is shown here but also the inkling of the first death being more than it seemed.

The series of Stories in this collection is narrated by an unnamed narrator. Now I am never sure as it is one guy or a collection of guys all Russian that all have a strong dislike of the home Prague. So the eleven short stories all tell various stories of deaths in and around Prague and how are the narrator was connected to them. From the death of a restaurant critic to the death of a teacher our narrator at times is an obituary writer and seems to be there or hear about these events shortly after they happen from people involved in a High school massacre in the US turning up in Prague. He hates the city and sees it as too Kafkaesque at times the shadow of Kafka hanging over his world as the deaths keep plying up. But Like Holmes he has logic on his side and clearly cuts through each death.

The next day I rang the Private British school to nail down some of the details of the late Mr. Lengthy’s life. Of course, of course, Mr  Taborsky. Such a sad loss for us. Yes, yes, we’ve sent everything you’ll need for the opbituary. Nothing to add. A detail? A striking detail? Hmmm you might be interested – the russian students of our school called him”London Dandy”. Yes yes, in russian “dan-dee Long-dong-ski” You unerstand russian ? oh excellent . Mr Lenghty wasn’t a fop, no, don’t imagine that please, nuthe did dressin an impecable was, and he took special care of his hands. A little old fashion isn’t it?

I was remind of a watson description in a Holmes cases here of small characteristics of people.

This is an interesting take on the detective short that has lots of Nods to classic writers like Doyle and Christie, in particular, there is a sense of this in the use of a British restaurant critic and English master in two of the stories. There is also a sort of Russian distaste of Prague underlying the stories as well the feel of him not fitting into the city now. The sense of Kafka looming over the city. Prague itself is a character in this book rather like the London of Doyles Holmes of the Devon setting of Christie’s books. The Borges claim holds up as the books have that sense of twist styles and shift settings and using plots from other writers in new ways that Borges did so well in his own stories. The narrator has a pinch of Holmes, Poirot and for me a nod to those hard-boiled crime detectives of classic American Noir. There is a clear logical min there like Holmes a man out of place like Poirot the Belgian in England. But also a world-weariness of the classic American detective those that hate there beat at times that are drawn to the dark side of the city.

Explosions by Mathieu Poulin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Explosions (Michael Bay and the Pyrotechnics of the imagination) by Mathieu Poulin

Quebecian fiction

Original title – Des explosions

Translator – Aleshia Jensen

Source – review copy

A quick return to one of my favorite place to read books from Quebec and one of my favorite publishers QC. Now after a thoughtful short book we have a clever comic book. Mathieu Poulin initially was a film fan (which given this book is easy to guess), but a teacher inspired him into books and writing. He has cohost a culture show in Quebec and also writes the comic piece about sport this is his debut novel.

At the age of Two, Michael Bay was adopted by Harriett Stamper, a professor of Literature at the University od California, Los Angeles (UCLA) specializing in American and French Poetry(her doctoral thesis, defended in 1964, was titled ” Transalantic Filiations: from Whitman to Ginsberg and Aragon”), and Jim Bay, a plastic surgeon in the midst of forging a reputation as a “magician” and “career-booster” among women with acting or modelling ambitions.

this gives the perfect mix of maybe what made Bay poetry philosophy and films in the beauty of films.

We are all aware of the films that Michael Bay has made. those all action films that are full of explosions and violence and a bit OTT. Well, what we have here is a book that reimagines Michael Bay as a left field man that has used his films to bring a subtle message across. He thinks everyone gathers that is what his films are about? We imagine he was into philosophy and those long films I love but my other half always says at the end what happened!! Directors that made a difference. What is shown is a man want to strive but also one that doubts he is given the appreciation he is due.So instead of bad Boys being a buddy cops film, it is a commentary on colonization hence all the badies in the film being white and Miami is a replacement for Africa. Then other films like Pearl Harbor is a thesis on what is freedom his. The rock is about understanding one’s peers. Then Armageddon is what would happen if the earth end. This rips apart Michaels life then rebuilds it as a very different version of who he is and what his movies mean. He also struggles with his being adoptive at times. But his adoptive parents are the ones that inspired his discovery of books and philosophy.

A brilliant yet restless student, michael studied and was particularly interested in the examination of identity in Shohei Imamura’s films, the influence of Noveau Roman narrative techniques in last year in marienbad , porter’s aesthetics of tableau, the poetry and temporal relationship in Tarkovsky’s stalker, the ethical dilemas raised by Serge Dubrvsky’s fiction, the post colonial discourse in Conrads Heart of Darkness, was also one of the first note the ground breaking theoretical importance of French Philosopher Gilles Deleuze’s the movement Image.

Michael was attractch to the great thinker of cinema and writers Like Conrad.

As you see this is a clever twist on the Autobiography. I know very little about Michael Bay other than his films are very OTT and sometimes more about the special effects than the story. now it is believable he could really be a man trying to be the new Goddard trying to show the woes and mistakes of the modern world through the lens of his camera. An unsung hero underrated and misunderstood! This what Mathieu has done so well this tongue in cheek book is fun. He has taken a character that has often been held up for the dumbing down of cinema plowing the same furrow when he made follow-ups to the transformer movies. It is a book that can make you laugh out loud at times it is one of those books that shows you how comic novels should be. So nect time you lick on to a Ba film just linger and think what is behind this film really !!! then turn over.

 

Drive your plow over the bones of the dead by Olga Tokarczuk

 

 

Drive you plow over the bones of the dead by Olga Tokarczuk

Polish fiction

Original title –  Prowadź swój pług przez kości umarłych.

Translator – Antonia Lloyd Jones

Source – Review copy

I read flights but one thing and another last year I never reviewed it which was a shame as I really liked it as it turned out it was well reviewed and my little review would have been a small piece in a larger yes for the book. So when I was sent her latest to be translated I decide I pull my finger out and review it as soon as it came out. Olga has been writing since the late 80’s and has twice won the NIKE prize in Poland which is their version of the Man Booker prize. She also won the Man Booker international prize last year. This book is very different to flights.

The naming of Big foot occurred in a similar way. It was quite straightforward – it suggested itself tp me when I saw his foor prints in the snow. To begin with. , Oddball had called him “Shaggy”, but then he borrowed “Big Foot” from me. All it means that I had chose the right nam for him.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t choose a a suitable name for myself. I regard the one that’s written on my identity card asscandalously wrong and unfair- Janina. I think my real name is Emilia or Joanna. Sometimes I think it’s sometimes I think it’s something like Irmtrud too. Or Belldona. Or medea.

Meanwhile Oddball avoids caling me bymy name like the plague. That means something too.Somehow he always finds a wa to address me as “You”

The use of names bring the human characters near the animals in a way.

The book opens with the main character Janina Duszejko a sixty-year-old that is a translator of William Blake, works at the local school. She also is interested in Astrology ad loves her animals. She is with another local Oddball at the home of another neighbor Bigfoot a local hunter who has died. In bizarre circumstances choking on a small deer bone. The two of them dress him before the police come. But they can’t explain the animal footprints around the dead man and the exact cause of his death. Now for Janina, this seems like the animals are maybe getting the revenge she even starts seeing this in the stars she likes to read the signs she says are in the movement of the planets. This idea grows when more local hunters and people that abuse animals start turning up dead around the local Valley. But the valley has also changed in recent years this is told in a long spoken warning by Janina. Then Janina tells the police but they think she is just an old busybody. Who is the real killer?

That evening, just after dusk, Big fFoot’s dog began to bay again. The air had turned blue, sharp as a razor. The deep, dull howling filled it with alarm. Death is at the gates, I thought. But then death is always at our gates, at every hour of the day and night. I told myself. For the best conversations are with yourself.At least there is no misunderstanding.I strtched out on te couch in the kitchen and lay there, unable to do anything else but listento that piercing wail

The dog of Bigfoot miss his master.

I like this it had a piece of classic Noir. In other places, it drifts into Magic realism as Janina sees the Animals doing the killings as she sees how the stars have written what is happening in the way she is reading them. I also felt echoes to classic crime writers the use of Endless night by William Blake which is also used as a title for an Agatha Christe novel. The busybody nature of Janina is rather like Miss Marple if Miss Marple had been written by Gabo she’d have been Janina reading the stars and living in her own world of Blake. But she starts to scare her pupils with her ideas.This questions on what we would do if the animals did turn on us we have seen this in other media over the last few years the tv series Zoo that saw animal turning on people. But the nearest comparison for me was the video for Queens of the stone age video No ones knows which saw a deer attacking humans. This is a thought-provoking work about the changing world of hunting how we treat animal development in rural areas. Add to that The words and thoughts of William Blake a man that had a lot to say about good and evil. This is a novel that subverts crime and noir and uses a different lead character that isn’t a detective but at the heart of the events happening.

Lost Empress by Sergio De La Pava

Lost Empress_HB.jpg

 

Lost Empress by Sergio De La Pava

US fiction

Source – review copy

I don’t often review non-translated titles these days. But there is maybe one writer I would always review it would be Sergio. Naked singularity was a great slice of modern America the madness and chaotic world of the legal system. So when I saw this book took two more uniquely American themes. That of Sport, which for me as a none American has always fascinated me the way the stats to these sports become such an integral part of the sport. Also, the nature of Franchise in sport is an American idea that I hope doesn’t creep into UK sport. The second thread is Prison the overcrowd privatize nature of American jails is also a trending coming over here.

Legless woman runs out of time

A Bronx woman, who a decade ago lost her legs following a vicious assault by her boyfriend, was killed yesterday in the apartment of that same man, when he savagely beat her to death using one of her prosthetic legs.

Miranda Johnson, 39, apparantly crawled on he belly to dial 911 during the assault, but was then unable to speak into the line provide any information. 911 operator 7744 was unavailable for comment, but her inability to procure the information is beinf viewed ad a proximate cause of the tragedy.

One of the 911 calls, this had a slightly dark humour to it.

The book follows two lives. Nuno DeAngeles An inmate of Rikers Island that has been locked up apart from Dia who is the Love of Nuno life. But she Dia is the deputy of the other main character Nina She is the daughter of a wealthy sports team owner and had been running the Dallas Cowboys where she had to lead them to a number of championships. But when her father passes, she is only left with a small indoor football team the Paterson Pork.he arrives there and we see a glimpse of Paterson a town famous for the poems of Wiliam Carlos Williams and the recent film from Jim Jarmusch set there. So when her brother no in control of the Bigger Dallas cowboys gets greedy and causes a lockout of all NFL games. She tries to attract the crowds to watch the less popular Indoor game. Then we have Nuno who is a criminal that is on the ladder each time he commits a crime he is going up the ladder of the scale of crime so he wants to escape the prison to get to the money that he sees will get him back to Dia. These three lives are a slice of the various class and worlds in Modern America. Nuno is wanted to avenge a death of a young boy and this is why he has to get free to avenge a mistake in the justice system.. He is a strange character he asks for the books the Tunnel in Spanish and Man without qualities in German when first in prison. Add to this a third storyline some different items like 911 logs, pamphlets. Then we have a thrilling climax but I leave that to you to find out.

What the hell is Paterson, New Jersey anyway? That the pork are based there is close to happenstance. Their original owner, Marion Bent, a highly respected Mobster who was dogged by constant rumors that he had ties to egtimate buisness, had essentially exhausted what little community goodwill there wasfor his Edison Emperors.One night, or early morning, under the cloak of darkness(a cloak that was entirely unnecessary as no-one really cared), he loaded all Emperor chattel, most of which had already been heavily lienedon, into several company trucks whose acquisition involved more broken thumbs than Bent’s nearby littlest league catchers Camp nd translorted everything north into the welcoming arms of the then-Mayor of Paterson

How the team arrived at Paterson could never see an English fooball team moving town but who knows it has happened once !

I used to want to try the great American novel and over the years have read books that fall into this category. From Moby Dick through the Great Gatsby, Herzog the rabbit books the epics of Norman Mailer. I only fell down of Infinite Jest which is a shame as this book has a sports theme like that one did. But I did read Underworld which for me was the great American novel of the later 20th century and for me, Sergio is writing books that capture the Trump world of America the overblown nature of sports is shown here. The nature of the world were sports is overblown run by money. I was reminded of the film Idiocracy where the sport has become primitive and overblown over time. Nina shows how sports are run and when her team isn’t on tv it is unknown outside New Jersey she tries to get the contract to fill the void left by the lack of NFL. Then we Have Nuno and his prison his trying to help his cousin who had lost his son and felt justice hadn’t been done. Again like in Naked singularity bring the cracks in the US legal system to light like the myriad of podcasts that have appeared since Serial first came out a few years ago. When books capture the Zeitgeist of the time they may be called the great novel of that time and maybe this is what Sergio is doing in his books. This has a lot of threads and isn’t at the time the easiest to follow but if you want easy you’d not be reading this blog or trying a 600 page novel about indoor football in New Jersey and a prison break from the unbreakable Rikers Island!!

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