That was the month that was March 2019

  1. Small Country by Gael Faye
  2. Aviaries by Zuzana Brabcova
  3. Nocilla Lab by Agustin Fernandez Mallo
  4. Mama’s boy by David Goudreault
  5. Mouthful of birds by Samanta schweblin
  6. At dusk by Hwang Sok-yong
  7. Four soldiers by Hubert Mingarelli
  8. The death of Murat Idrissi by Tommy Wieringa

I managed to review eight books last month which still keeps me on course for 100 reviews this year. I managed to pass the 900 books reviewed mark this month. I read books from seven countries no new presses. I read five books from writers I have read before. It also saw me start on the Man Booker longlist having opted to leave the shadow Jury, for now, I may decide to start my own in the coming years. When the longlist came out and I had read so few of these books I wanted to compare my thoughts on what should have been on the list as I hadn’t a single book on my prediction list right. So although I had thought I wouldn’t get to read them all I have nearly now I put my head down the last few days of March to make sure I had only a few left to finish in April. The reviews will follow but for me finishing the longlist is the most important thing.

Book of the month

I will choose Mama’s boy as I don’t want to indicate which of the man booker books I like and Mama’s boy is an interesting view into growing up in care and the knock-on effect that can have on one’s life this is a book that in its heart is universal in its themes. Again showing the strength of French language literature from Quebec.

Non book events or everyday life

The world flies by so the first event I need to mention is expanding my penguin reading week is now going to run for a month this is because I decide we need a holiday so I book that initial week off I had chosen for the Penguin reading week. I won’t be blogging the days I am away we visit Alnwick in Northumberland as Amanda and I will spend time in a place I lived in my twenties also itis home to the biggest second-hand book shop in the UK Barter books which I’m sure I will find some books to read. I have turned another year older this month. It has seen two years since I lost my mother and we went to coroners court.  It hasn’t been the best month add to that on the last weekend I was injured at work I am happy to turn the corner I did manage to get four more of the Man Booker list read so will be reviewing them from tomorrow. Elsewhere I listen to the latest Lambchop album and the Beth Gibbons Album that came out on Friday of her singing Henryk Gorecki symphony no3 symphony of sorrowful songs a modern classical album. Film wise I watch a lost eighties classic They live by John Carpenter a film that imagines the world has been invaded by aliens but you can only see them with special sunglasses.

What events and books have you been reading ?

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The pianoplayers by Anthony Burgess

 

The Pianoplayers by Anthony Burgess

English fiction

Source – personal copy

I review another of the lesser known books from Anthony Burgess this has actually just been reissued by Manchester university press as part of the Irwell series. In fact, if you order the books now there is 50% off for next week or so . I have all the books they have reissued barring Beard roman women and Puma (although I have the end of the world news which puma is a part of the book now removed into a separate sci-fi novel).This book was near the end of Burgess life and in a way was maybe more personal than his other books as it is set in Manchester and one of the main characters had the same job as a piano player as Burgess own father had. Music has been a large part of Burgess life he considered his own music more of an accomplishment than his writing.

My father wasn’t really getting married. What he was going to do was just live with a woman who kept a pub, a woman separatedfrom her husband,her husband had gone off with a young girl, a barmaid I think it was. The woman had had the pub licence from the husband who had died previously , not the one who’d gone off.The pub was called the grapes though it sold no wine except port and sherry, it was in a slummy district it was big and full of brass rails and it had two singing rooms as they were called.

This remond me of the pub in the northern based comedy Early doors like this pub an old pub for the working man the sort that is dying out now.

As I said this book is partly based in Manchester it has two storylines that are in the present which at the time the book was written well earlier maybe but sometime between the late sixties and eighties we meet Ellen Henshaw she is a madam on the French coast her life goes back to the backstreets of Manchester and the story of her fatherBilly  a drunken cinema piano player. He is one of the men that made the music to the silent films before sound took off and  played in pubs as well as she follows him from Manchester through places like Blackpool and the Lancashire mill towns in the ups and downs of his life as the cinema jobs dry up and he starts to fall down the bottle some more this leads to the latter half of the book which is Ellen’s own journey from a convent girl to the sort after girl to spend the time with for money as that career wanes she starts a school of love.

This maggie had a snub nose and a bit of a double chin coming on, but she had these very lovely legs, I’ll say thart for the little bitch. They were very long and you could seethem right up to her bottom, and they were in sheer black silk stockings with the seam absolutely straught at the back.They were beautiful legs, and she didn’t deserve to have them. They were like the legs you see much more of post-war legs having got longer due to better nutriment or Marshall aid or something,My dad played a song for her, nut while she did her bit of monolougue i couldn’t helo notice that he kept looking at these legs

When he has to do Vaudeville with an older act but with great legs as he points out here.

This is a personal book the best character is Billy which is based on Burgess own father who like Billy was a piano player then there is a connection with Ellen who had escaped England which is something that Burgess had done himself in his later years he lived in Tax exile all around Europe. This is a comic lament of a world that is long gone of men playing along to films trying to stay sober to the end of the film and the coming of the talkies meaning they had to leave Manchester and head to the Vaudeville stages that were still around at that time and these pubs with piano players. Maybe not his best book after the death of Billy Ellen story is maybe less believable than that of Billys. But the book is worth reading as the first part evokes those years of piano players in the cinema and how hard it was to improvise to the films there is a number of passages around the musical  notes he played not being musical I not sure how good they were but Burgess was a composer so I expect them to be accurate. Have you read any of Burgess lesser novels I have a lot more to get through by him but this is a fun book by him .

PIllars of Stuart Pillar one WIlliam Butler Yates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I said yesterday , I wanted to remember mum , but as I was thinking of Mum , I thought of how she and my dad had both set me on the road to being a book blogger and lifelinger reader. Now I read as a kid mile most Kids Narnia , BB novels , Tolkien , the adventure series and many more these are like the ground fill my pillars are to be built on. I Say Pillars after WIlliam H Gass and Scott Esposito both of whom have done 50 pillars that made them  the reader and writer they are, also  lot of personnel canons of books  have  been doing the rounds last few weeks, but I felt I need to do fifty post one on each book , writer or even film. Yates is part of my first love at school my teacher Mr Savage (or as we knew him Doc Savage after the Ron Ely Doc savage or mr savage was a tall man that loved poetry ). He sparked an early love of poetry and he gave us a small collection of poems he had selected for us to study. Yates wasn’t in this list but from my love of the band the pogues at the time , I some how managed to get to Yates and his ability to mix the everyday and fantasy world of Ireland , a world I knew from reading my grans book of Irish myth one hoilday , I feel for his poems especially The magi , the stolen child (with a waterboys background ) , a cradle song and so many the front page here above is the collection I brought as a teen for 2.60 is a 1938 collection of his works that has never been far from hand since then. As I looked to build this personnel history of my reading and writing life of the books that made the blogger this was the first that came to mind and the poem below made me think of mum , she never got to be old but she loved the sight of a peat fire and the smell of peat smoke one few things from her time in Ireland she loved . She also used encourage me reading especially poetry , even read my early tries at poetry. LIke Yates says in cloth of heaven I weaved him in my dreams and books and laid them under my feet as a reader stepping forth my books are my dreams each making me the reader , writer and dreamer I am . Each step and book a new pice of cloth in my cloak of reading .

When you are old by William Butler Yates
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars

 

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