Expanding Spanish lit month into Spanish and Portuguese Lit month August

I have reviewed so few Novels from Portugal , I have decided to add some next month and expand our Spanish lit month through to its Iberian neighbour Portugal there has been some great Brazilian Novels and I want to read a few more writers from Portugal. So I treated myself some books from my first wage in my new Job and choose ten books  eight  of which are from Portuguese translation.Here are the titles I have ordered.

  1. Fields of Fate by Fernando Namora
  2. Crossing a story of East Timor by Kuis Cardoso
  3. Equator by Miguel Sousa Tavares
  4. The ultimate tragedy by Addulai Sila
  5. A God strolling in the cool place by Marie De Carvahlo
  6. The piano Cemetery by Jose Luis Pexito
  7. The painter of birds by Lidia Jorge
  8. The three Marias by Maria isabel Barreno , Maria Teresa Horta and Maria Velho da Costa

I have this selection from my shelves to read-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Novels by the Brazilian Master Machado De Assis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A classic from Miguel Torga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One from the old master Saramago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A modern novel from Portugal

I have a few other lying around not sure will make the cut but here are a few choices and be nice see some novels short story collections from around the Lusophile world especially some African works maybe! Have you a favourite writer from Portuguese ?

 

The 6:41 to Paris by Jean-Philippe Blondel

 

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The 6:41 to Paris by Jean-Philippe Blondel

French fiction

Original title – 06H41

Translator – Alison Anderson

Source – Personal copy

 

Another French novel to start July, one been on my radar since it came out a couple of ears ago so when I found a cheap copy of The 6:41 to Paris, I decided it was time to get it. Jean-Philippe Blondel Jean has been teaching English in the Troyes and has written a number of novels and he has won various awards this was a bestseller in Europe and one of the first books published by the American Publisher New Vessel.

Any more of my bullshit and I would have ended up standing for th entire trip- or sitting across from the toliets on one cheek.

Having said that. I did hesitate.

Because when I realized that the only seat available was next to Cecille Duffaut. I felt slightly dizzy, like the heroine of a nineteenth century novel, and i said to my self again, No it can’t be, and I thought I’d move on to the next car.

I’m almost positive she didn’t recognize me .

Philippe sees her but has she seen him .

I’ve always loved stories set on trains, from Christie’s various stories about train travel in the twenties stories like the Blue train and Plymouth Express and of course the Orient Express, through fiction like the train to Budapest on the blog and compartment no 6 which like this involves two characters on a train journey. The setting for this as the enter the early train to Paris a woman Cecille in her forties is joined by Phillippe her former lover from thirty years earlier as the train sets off the two gather they now have two hours journey together. So as the book unfolds each chapter is told by each The painful memory of Cecille, she loved him so much he was the catch of the year they were in and everything seemed perfect catch when they were twenty then. Philippe he is a little bigger, a little older and little worn into he remembers their time , but also the bad years since a terrible failed marriage and other things he wonders if she sees past the past into what has happened to him since  The book flips from side to side as like in the UK the train is running slightly late.

We regret to inform our passengers that the train is currently stopped on the tracks and we ask that you do not try to open the doors. The train will be moving again shortly.

Grumbling and muttering up and down the train.

Sighs

“shit we were almost there . Thats the SNCF for you ”

I was tickled with this as I have often heard this on UK trains , see we are not alone could be worse it could be leaves on the line !!

This is a perfect example of a clever use of framing, setting and timing to make a perfect read . To give us a perfectly paced tale of two ex-lovers meeting by sheer chance but then spend two hours in the same space. A wonderful look at what remains after times, but also what difference can make those decisions we make when we are younger have a brief meeting that has led to two different paths one could say almost exact opposites now faced with their past what to do? This is like many of those novels that discuss the couple’s meeting when a lot of time has passed like in the end of an affair, also the way the story unfolds was like the male story in the novella Tomorrow Pamplona about how a relationship feel apart. A tight book about facing one’s past and present and what might have been.

Eight years

 

I got a notification yesterday to tell me it was eight years since I started winstonsdad so i have posted 1400 odd posts which even after eight years is near one every other day , although this last two year I have slowed down due to life more than lack of interest in blogging . 109 countries have been covered in the time of the blog, I have nearly hit 100 french books and 50 german novels .But for me it is the people and place I have been because of the blog , people like Susie , Daniella , David ,Rob , Simon , Nicci , Paul , Frank and so on even last week I met Grant for the first time and had a wonderful chat.Events like the old IFFP and london book fair also a couple of great drinks and meals in london all of this because of this small blog. I have been so lucky that a support worker from derbyshire has managed to stretch a blog that has been seen around the world over the years and I have written about the world . I love to see what the next eight year bring the one thing I am sure now is we will contiune to see more books in translation. I feel it is great to have been blogging through what is a golden time for literature in translation .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That was the month that was May 2017

  1. War and turpentine by Stefan Hertmans
  2. The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen
  3. Traitors Niche by Ismail Kadare
  4. Fish have no feet by Jon kalman Stefansson
  5. Monte Carlo By Peter Terrin
  6. Mourning diary by Roland barthes
  7. Bodies of summer by Martin Felipe Castagnet
  8. Hair everywhere by Tea Tulic
  9. Belladonna by Dasa Drndic
  10. The Children by Carolina Sanin
  11. Listening for Jupiter by Pierre-Luc Landry

Things got back to normal on the blog this month after a couple of lean months review wise. I managed to finish the man booker longlist. I managed to read books from 10 countries .No new Publishers this month but the second book from Notting hill editions the Barthes Diary. So I have reviewed 49 books this year on the blog leaving me on course to read over 100 books this year.

Book of May

Belladonna by Dasa Drndric

It is a tough month as there has been a number of books that have touched me the Barthes is a great book for me at the moment but in the long run Dasa’s book is one that needs to be read Andreas Ban is a anti hero that shows us , what we need to be thinking about.

None book discovery

 

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I am due to leave work tomorrow after 17 years , I am sad but also looking forward to my new job in three weeks. I have just brought a Lomo La sardina Camera for my holiday next month, a retro camera with flash filter should make some memorable photos from our holiday.

Looking forward

 

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I have had a little extra money last few months so have slowly been getting some US translations from publishers like Open letter, Dalkey archive , Deep Vellum and archipelago books . The Castagnet from this month was the first of these books , I have a Magdalena Tulli I am reading at the moment. How was your month and what plans have you to read next month ?

Bodies of summer by martin Felipe Castagnet

Bodies of Summer by Martin Felipe Castagnet

Argentinean literature

Original title – Los Cuerpos del Verano

Translator – Frances Riddle

Source – personnel copy

I just had another new talent from Argentina latest book arrive today Rodrigo Fresan The invented part an epic new novel to go along sidfe this slim yet thoughtful novella by Martin Felipe Castagnet shows that they are still producing great writers , this was Castagnet’s debut novel it won for young latin american literature when it came out. He is also the editor of The Buenos Aires review his books have also been translated into french and Hebrew.

When I went through the process of entering into flotation, my body was destroyed. At that time they hadn’t yet figured out how to conserve bodies and burn people into new ones.The technological advances we’ve seen since then have been astonishing. First mothers began to put their children on the waiting lists for new bodies . Just in case they were to die in an accident .Bodies came to be seen as a valuable natural resource .

One can just imagine what happens when this could become a reality not a novella !!

This is set in a distant future , in Argentina where they have managed to perfect capturing in computers the soul of the dying . this is story of Ramiro who has got his family to bring him back to life from the net  and floatation as they call it  , to sort out something from his past. Now the only body his family could find to upload the mind of one of the first souls to be saved on the net is that of a fat over weight middle-aged woman , which leads to a strange feeling in Ramiro as he feels the shape of his new body for the first time  and finds parts missing from it . But also he has n’t seen from the net world how much quicker and darker the world has gone. We also see even thou he has a different body and time has flown Ramiro still has a number of axes to grind. This is a future where the world isn’t limited by bodies anymore.

I still haven’t found my former best friend . I still haven’t discovered what happened to my wife. I can find any of her descendants. Teo doesn’t recognize me. I feel useless in my own home. My desire drives me forward , but I get frustrated when my desire can’t be fulfilled. To think that for decades I missed pain, and now that I’m back I’m incapable of feeling it .

Ramiro struggle to get use to the world he has missed and his new body !!

I am not a huge sci-fi fan but this isn’t Heavy sci-fi it use the future more as a way to question important questions about what our souls are , the body or the mind can the mind leave the body and return. I was reminded in some ways of Cronenberg films this is a dark view of the future where souls drift on the net and sometimes it is hard to tell who is in the body that is facing you .As it is hard to decide where you are as we see in the family his daughter was on the net with him and her brother and his son still lives in the real world.Even when brought back he finds it hard to escape the net Ramiro . This is like a dark side of the old kids tv series where joe of Joe 90 could take the mind of many people to save the day  and be an avatar like the bodies in this book can be used for revenge and death and so much more !!!

 

 

A book to help with Mum’s passing

I read a piece last week by Scott Esposito called On books we read (and write) to get by . The piece was about Naja Marie Aidt on her  struggle to get by with the death of her son . She was given a number of books by her fellow writers one of those was Mourning Diary by Roland Barthes , which hit me as it followed his life a year in little sections after his own mothers death, I have just had a numb hole in my heart and mind for the last few months as I put my Mum’s passing to the back of my mind as I struggle to process all that I have lost.This arrived yesterday and I already read half of it as a shared journey . This may not be the total but maybe like Naja reading her books which lead to her own book as she puts it her (translated ) Grief is giant fucking monster that destroys everything  , she wrote a book about her son Carl and how she dealt with the loss  .I’m not talented enough maybe to write a book about mum but I want her to be remembered so I may write something even if she gets a mention in a review.Have you ever find solace in a book ?

Monte Carlo By Peter Terrin

Monte Carlo by Peter Terrin

Belgian  fiction

Original title – Monte Carlo

Translator – David Doherty

Source – Review copy

Now on to the books that could be on next years man booker list and first up is the second book I have reviewed buy the rising star of Belgian fiction Peter Terrin , I reviewed him first when he was part of the best european fiction in 2010. Since then he had his novels the Guard and post-mortem come out in english this is the first of his books I have read , I do have the earlier books and read the guard but it slipped the review net at the time. But this is a book about a time I love the golden age of motor sport in the 60’s when we got the feel of this book in the film Grand prix .But the other side of this book is obsession Male obsession and also how scars can become attractive to woman .

It happens by accident . The woman has been holding the camera for some time , peering through the viewfinder now and again, taking the occasional snap. But now she waits, realising that the film is almost full, that she probably has only one photograph left. She wants to wait for the right moment, yet later she will not be able to recall taking the final shot .The fuel is no longer liquid , the transition is taking place.She remembers the heat hitting her face, an invisible cloud, the fire not yet fire

The photo misses Jacks part in saving Dee Dee

The book starts as we join jack Preston ,he is a mechanic for Team sutton, the rising team on the grid. They are in the city of Monte Carlo for the Monaco Grand prix , probably the most iconic of all the race on the formula one circuit and always one to attract the beautiful people and One such is Deedee one of those sixties starlets , I got a feel of cross between Bardot , Fonda and Rigg . Even to later in the book having a part in  the Avengers .Well she has caught Jack’s eye and as an accident on the grid cause a fireball and he save her  from it and after wards has to return to his old home to recover and awaits a thank you but no mention .This is where the book turns and the screw of obsession turns as he waits for her and for his team to come to his aid and free him from provincial life.His wife also has become a bit of vixen driven by her husbands scars

One evening Deedee looked straight into his eyes

Steed had disappeared without trace and she did not know whether he was alive or dead. Speechless, racked with doubt, she wnet into the bathroom, leaned against the washbasin and gazed into the mirror – straight into the camera’s lens – for seconds on end

Jack Prestons nails deep into the arm of the settee.

there was no need for her to speak.

She was entrusting something to him.To him alone.Her look was like a whisper in his ear.

Jack’s obsession with Deedee has grown since he returned home .

He has been compared to Kafka before but at times this was to me an Homage to Hitchcock in a way the way Dee Dee is described made me think of the classic starlets that made the golden age of Hitchcock films like Vertigo or rear window(even Grace Kelly is at the track ) .He manages to get the feeling of male obsession as Deedee becomes both a thing of love and hate in Jack’s eyes . Terrin manages to get the feel of the time a new tobacco sponsor for the team reminds you of when the cars where Jps or Malboro colours  . This novel is about  how Jack  thought he saw something in a glimpse of a second just  before the  disaster struck and how that small moment has led to a mix of obsession and hate as he awaits being acknowledge for what he did. Then there is the return home and his obsessive wife for his scars  that has made her a vixen.While Jack grows in love and loathing at lack of thanks for what he did from Deedee which means a year later the race has a sad start as things come to a head.Terrin has written a short novel that has a classic feel to its writing and settings .

 

Fish have no feet by Jon Kalman Stefansson

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Fish have no feet by Jon Kalman Stefansson

Icelandic Fiction

Original title – Fiskarnir hafa enga fætur

Translator – Philip Roughton

Source – Review copy

So I reach the final post of this years Man Booker journey , with one of my favourite writers and a writer that has been on the longlist for the old iffp . Jon Kalman Stefansson is another of those talent Icelandic writers. This is also the first time he has tackled a more modern-day Iceland than before in his books the earlier two I reviewed were from his trilogy Heaven and Hell and The sorrow of angels . Like his earlier book it also involves family and  but in a more personnel way than before.

I mean no disrespect , but ari is the only person who could have dragged me back here , across  the expanse of black lava that ground to a painful halt hundreds of years ago, naked in places, but elsewhere moss has softened and soothed it, clothed it in silence and serenity; you drive out of Reykjavik past the long aluminium smelter and into the lava, which at first is an old scream , and then moss-covered silence .

Ari returns to a changed place with his friend !!

This is a journey into the heart of what is modern Iceland told through two generations of the same icelandic family . The first is Ari in the present but also his childhood years  on the seventies and eighties . He has arrived home from Copenhagen and  is remembering his childhood in the town of Keflavik , a town that is home to the huge Us airbase NASKEF that was in use til 2005 , this also had like many airbases there is a ripple effect this is seen through Ari memories of his childhood of trying to grow up in the Iceland of the day which wasn’t the one we know but on the way and being tinged by America .Then Nordfjordur is the setting for the second tale a small fishing village cling to the land and the story of Ari grandparents is a tragic love story . This is juxtaposed by the modern marriage of their grandson. This is a story of nation that has changed so much in two generations .

We walk past the january 1976 bar , from which two middle-aged woman emerge , lighting cigarettes before the door shuts behind them, shuts on Rod Stewart singing “Maggie May” inside, It’s evening and we’re tipsy from the red wine and whisky we drank at the hotel and we walk down Hafnargata street, which is far tidier now than in the past, when we first walked down it with Asmundur ; Mayor Sigurjon has done a good job cleaning things up.

I liked this passage as it was as thou past, present we’re one leading me to think the narrator wasn’t in the present just the past !

Now it is hard not to see Ari in some part as being a veiled version of the writer himself , there is points when he talks about the eighties and growing up the music he listen to you feel him looking at his own collection of music and life , Like Ari Jon Kalman spent time in Denmark and also grew up in Keflavik. He has managed to writer a semi biographical novel using Ari but not as ari but more as a friend of him that is the narrator of the story, I was reminded of tv shows of recent years that use a detached voice as the narrator for the series , especially the recent netflix series thirteen reason why  which like this recounts past events in the present. Also Desperate housewives   where the whole series was told by a woman who was dead at the beginning of the book.Is this unnamed narrator an actual person or a lost friend of Ari that is long gone. In some ways this is maybe his answer to the likes of Knausgaard writing less of rooting in ones own past and pouring it on the page for every one to read no this is a carefully picked version of his history and how it feels to return home and remember what you like because the black side is there but isn’t what we remember this is the sense of drawing what was best in someway in your childhood.This is more personnel than his  earlier books which means it is maybe a harder read but more accessable

The Shadow Man booker shortlist

We choose this year to announce the shortlist after the actual announcement . This was mainly as we all had a number of books to read this year and a number were 400 plus pages we gave everyone chance to read them , I read them all in the time but haven’t reviewed them all yet this week I hope to be done and will look back at the six below titles as we try to find the actual shadow winner .Well our six books are

Fever dream by Samantha Schweblin

Compass by Mathias Enard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen

Judas by Amos Oz

Fish have no feet  by Jón Kalman Stefánsson

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Bricks and Mortar by Clemens Meyer

So there is our six a great list I feel as it has two books by two of my favourite publisher Fitzcarraldo and Maclehose press. What has been your favourite book

That was the months that was March April 2017

  1. Cheese by Willem Elssch
  2. Compass by Mathias Enard
  3. Octavio’s journey by Miguel Bonnefoy
  4. The Major Refutation by Pierre Senges
  5. The principle by Jerome Ferrari
  6. Judas by Amos Oz
  7. Fever dream by Samanta Schweblin
  8. Black Moses by Alain Mabanckou
  9. Mirror , Shoulder , Signal by Dorthe Nors
  10. The Santiago Pilgrimage by Jean-Christophe Rufin
  11. Bricks and Mortar by Clemens Meyer
  12. The explosion chronicles by Yan Lianke

 I Missed last month for obvious reasons so this is a round up of the twelve books I managed to review between April and March . One new press Contra Mundun from whom I reviewed The Major Refutation a quirky french novel .Eight countries have been covered by me in the last two months and I have read a number of french novels pushing the blog total to 90 french novels and nearer the goal of 100 for this year . with the twelve here it brings this years total of books reviewed to 38 .

Book of March and April

Compass by Mathias enard

I think this is a masterpiece an ode to a world that has now long gone the syria of many years ago is told over one night and a love story .

None book discovery

Well being Honest this has been a crap couple of months for me . I lost mum in March we had funeral in April and I am now mid way in the process of getting a new job in NHS , so I am rather sad at having to leave a place I have worked for twelve years but with my mum and step mothers passing in the last couple of year I had decided long term I need a job that would see me best in my last twenty odd years of work. But like many folks in time of trouble we seek solace in what we know and for me that has been the last two star wars film which I got on bluray disc the last few months they have given me many an hours break from what has been a hard couple of months.

Looking forward

well we have the shadow shortlist to come out soon . I have a number books I have brought recently and a huge backlog of review books to read. BellaDonna  I hope finish tomorrow is another great book from an old favourite of this blog Dasa Drndic , also the second Peter Owen world series three books from Spain I have read Nona’s room already a stunning collection of short stories .

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