Some recent arrivals and xmas gifts

Well, here we have the fist of a few new arrivals. I haven’t read lullaby yet but when I saw this copy of Adele the follow-up book to come out in English was unread in the local Oxfam and I haven’t read the Raymond Carver collection which was the first collection that came out by him as a writer. He was the master of the short story.

Then I have a gift from my darling wife the second Murakami diary to come out it is a hardback whereas the first one that came out a few years ago was a smaller pocket type diary it has all the publication dates of Murakami’s works, Cycle of the moon, and Japanese holiday. She also got me the recent Gregor Von Rezzori novel to be published, Abel and Cain. An episodic work that covers the post-world war years through the second world war to the sixties. I have had my eye on a while so when Amanda got it me for Christmas I was really happy it will be one for German lit month this year,

Then another find in the flea market a copy of Boswell’s London Journals. where discovered for the first time in 1920 and published in 1950. where among the earliest of his writing to be published. I have been a fan of his writing for a while since I was young and hadn’t read this but had his life of Johnson years ago so I have been buying a few other works he wrote and this is the latest to the collection of his works.

Last, is Tyll by Daniel Kelhlmann Who I thought I reviewed but turns out I didn’t I did read F by him but think I was in such a rush with the iffp reading when it was longlist that year as I struggled to get the books it missed a review anyway this is meant to be his best book and use a fable-like quality to tell a story that is historic but with echoes of the modern world?

 

 

Winstonsdads Dozen books of the year 2020

Well it is the 2nd January and I am revealing my books of the year in no order these twelve are the ones that at the end of they year I felt had touched me most over the last twelve months.

1. Now, Now louison by Jean Fremon 

The French gallerist Jean Fremon tries to get into in the life of the renowned artist Louise Bourgeois with this miz of inner monologue, personal history, and antidotes another gem from Les fugitives.

2. Aviaries by Zuzana Brabcova 

I now move onto the last night novel by a Czech writer. That captures a darker underbelly of a fragmented Prague of bums homeless people and Chavs

No photo description available.

3. The years by Anne Ernaux 

Just brilliant this should have won the booker but it is a Fineline between fiction and memoir as she looks back on her life and how she dealt with those ups and downs we all have in our own lifetimes.

4. Termin by Henrik Nor-Hansen 

A look at the out fall of an attack on a normal everyday man and what happens when you have a severe brain injury.a short gem and another from a very small publisher.

 

Termin front cover.png

 

5. When death takes something from you give it back Carl’s book By Naja Marie Aidt

This touching memoir of her son who lost his life in shocking circumstances. Carl deals with a mother getting over the loss of her son at such a young age.

6. The train was on time by Heinrich  Böll

A long-overdue reissue of the debut work of Heinrich Boll on a train to the front there is a man daydreaming and remembering the war at the same time,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Doppelganger byDaša Drndić

Two novellas from the late Croat writer Daša Drndić her we see that love can be found in older age but we all have that baggage we carry and this is the case in these two getting together.

8. And the wind sees all by  Guðmundur Andri Thorsson

Here we see a mere moment caught from the whole of a village. The local choirmistress Kata is a stunning red dress head to choir practice . As we look behind the curtains in the small fishing villages we see the inner lives of those there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. 10 minutes 38 seconds in this strange world by Elif Shafak

It is a shock that two books from the Booker shortlist have made my best of year. This glimpses the life os a prostitute through those she knew in her brother and her life before her time in the brothel what drove her there in a series of smells and tastes that she had known throughout her life.

10. Ducks Newburyport by Lucy Elman 

I am one that tends to avoid hype but this 1000 page novel is the inner monologue of a midwest housewife living in the trump era rying to work out in a way how they got there where they are. A long journey but worth taking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Falstaff: Apotheosis by Pierre Senges

A reworking of the Falstaff character and his place in literature by the underappreciated French writer Pierre Senges someone we should all try I think.

12.The Trap by Ludovic Bruckstein 

Romanian fiction to round off this years best-of list and a look at a bygone world of villages that were full of Jewish life a lament of a world that has gone by. This is a lost gem of Mittel European writing brought to us from the great Istros books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well if there is a theme in these books it is to do with narrative om a whole they all challenge what is narrative for us the reader. I think this is what draws me so much to translated fiction and small press. Her is a huge thanks to those who have support this blog over the last twelve months.

my reading goals for 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been busy most of Christmas I was lucky to have three days off Xmas Eve to Boxing day. It has given me time with Family my in-laws and there two latest foster kids came Christmas day and Boxing day I traveled to spend it with my dad which was a long day with a hold upon the drive back. I then did two long days work and time has caught up with me I return for two twelve hours shifts tomorrow and new years day. So I will be posting my books of the year after the new year and my first new review in the new year. Anyway, I have never been one for reading goals but as for a second year, I have just missed the 100 reviews in a year I need some motivation.

My first goal is to get to a 1000 reviews on the blog that will be 30 books time I have given myself a deadline of my birthday in the middle of march to get there. I feel this total has loomed in fact in a way that has made me worry about getting there. I felt it would be a let down after that this goal had been reached.

100 reviews in a year this has been my goal for the last few years I have reviewed more than a hundred in other years but since I changed job I struggle to get a good blogging routine in place. I have let my routine slip this last few months after doing thirty posts in a month which I got a routine in place doing the post in advance. I need to be more of a planner in regards to the blog.

I saw that Tony messenger is doing this and it grabbed me as an on running idea and the is reading books from 1980 as it is 40 years since then. I feel this is one I could run with for the next ten years and those early years of me reading novels. There is a couple great books turning 40 years Midnight’s children and in the name of the rose to name two I hope to get half dozen through the year.

Booker international Bingo I hope I get lost of people to join in on this fun twist on shadow jury by getting more bing lines and calls for reading more books. I had planned to read this year’s longlist like last year and wonder what will make the list.

Hopes I hope to add a few more Arabic and African books this year than the last few years.

It has been fun 2019 and I have read a lot of exciting books many thanks for following me over the last year. I hope to bring you more reviews and fun ideas in the coming year. What are your reading plans for the coming year?

Lives and Deaths essential stories by Leo Tolstoy

Lives and Deaths essential stories by Leo Tolstoy

Russian Fiction

Translator – Boris Dralyuk

Source – review copy

It has been 8 years since I read the new translation of War and Peace by Tolstoy so when I was offered the chance to review a collection of stories by the master that revolved around life and death. I couldn’t say no when I was offered the chance to read these for new translations from Boris Dralyuk. The stories are mainly from later in his writing life the earliest is from 1859 the latest is from 1905. The main story in the collection is the Death of Ivan Ilyich a novella the pother three stories in the collection are Three deaths, pace-setter, and Alyosha the pot. all center around death.

The announcement was bordered in  black ” It is with deepest sorrow that Praskoyva FyodofovnaGolovina informs relatives and friends of the demise of her beloved spouse, Member of the appellate court Ivan Ilyich Golovin, which occured on 4TH Febuary 1882. The funeral will be held on friday at one o’clock in the afternoon”

Ivan Ilyich had been a collgue of the assembled gentlemen, well liked by all of them. He had been ill for several weeks; they had heard the illness was incurable.His position had been kept open, but itwas assumed that, in the event of his death, Alekseyev would be appointed to replace him.

The opening of Ivan Ilyich that sees him=s death notice and we then see what haopened in the weeks before.

Well,  the main part of this collection is the Death of Ivan Ilyich. Ivan is a Judge and has a settled life the story opens with people reading a notice of his death but then we see the events that lead to his death. He has just moved into a new house when he has a fall and gets pain on his left side, Then he starts to have a bad taste in his mouth as he gets worse one of his friends Peter sees his friend is getting worse. His wife Praskovya is well to put it one way more of a lady who lunches and has her own life and is only trouble when Ivan’s illness affects their activities together. Ivan questions after he gets the word from the doctor that he is going to die why it is happening to him. We have the three deaths of a noblewoman a lady is traveling on a coach and at the posting station is seen by a doctor who says she won’t make it home but she wants to be home to die. Uncle Hvedor an old coachman is dying in the common room of the posting station. we have a tree dying as the third death. The Pacesetter is set in a stable and told from the point of view of the horses in the yard. Then the last story Alyosha the pot about a quiet young man called the pot after he broke a pot when he was a youth and is a meek soul.

Alyosha was the younger brother. They nicknamed him Pot because one day his mother sent him to the deacon’s wife with a pot of milk, but he stumbled and fell, and the pot broke. His mother gave him a whipping and the boys teased hom, called him “Pot” .The nickname stuck – Alyosha the Pot

Alyosha was a thin little felow, with lop-ears (His ears were like wings), with a big nose. The boys used to teasehim, shouting “Alyosha’s nose is like a dog on a hill” There was a school in the village, but Alyosha didn’t have much time for it

THe youg mannamed pot is a meek young man in his lfe.

I hadn’t read Ivan Ilyich before so was pleased to have read this new translation from a Judge that in many ways his life with a wife that is caught up in her own world and a man that has maybe been to up himself that hadn’t seen his impending death coming it brings up the question of what our lives are valued for and even we think we may be entitled to live longer that is not always the collection the other stories show three different deaths from the highest and lowest of society to that of a tree. Then we have the goings-on of a  stable told from the horse point of view his imagining of their social world is interesting then the quiet Alyosha life is summed up in a mere ten -pages. The stories show how he viewed death change from the earliest story three deaths which were written nearly thirty years earlier than the other works the later maybe shows how when we get to view death differently the older we get.

The Rebels by Sándor Márai

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rebels by Sándor Márai

Hungarian fiction

original title – A zendülők

Translator  – George Szirtes

Source – personal copy

When I was looking at the list of writers and books published in 1930 I saw this and remember I had it on my Shelves, in fact, I had read embers before I started blogging which is Sándor Márai is his better-known novel in English, I brought this to read this was his first novel. He was born into a Nobel Hungarian family. He traveled growing up spending time in Berlin, Frankfurt, and Paris. He did consider writing in German but chose to write in his native Hungarian. He wrote more than fifty books in his lifetime he has only had a fraction of his works translated into English.

For ther years Abel sat in the middle of the third row from the door. Erno was stationed behind him, Tibor to his right in the front row. That’s how they spent three years . One day at the beginning of the fourth year ABel was staring blankly ahead, bored with physics, slowly surveying the rows of other desks when his gaze settled on Tibor who had his head in his hands oblivous to evrything, absorbed, reading a book under the table. It wasn’t that Abel was particularly taken by the sight, nor was he the subject of some miraculous instantaneous illumination.

The boys at school and the gazes between them.

The rebels is set in a small Hungarian town that given that it is May 1918 is empty of male role models as we meet four boys that are just about to Graduate from School. Of course, this means that they may have to join the other missing males of the town at the front. There father range from a religious Zealot to a Colonel that expects his boy to do his duty. So these four Abel, Tibor, Bela and Erno decide they aren’t following there-fathers and brother that have gone to the front. They buy cloth to make a costume to wear and they rent a room to hideaway in. This club is their way of growing up as they try to be adult in there costumes and parading in front of one and other. There is a feeling of homoeroticism the same feeling you get in the novels of a writer like E M Forester, in fact, the growing relationship between the boys and the background of war remind me of the homoerotic undercurrent in J L Carr A month in the country as the bodies return and the try to set it aside in the club world this was like the working on the church and trying to forget the horrors of world war for the two characters in A month in the country.

The boys – this gang – in whose midst he suddenly happened to find himself, who seemed to have materialized around him, were not entirely what he would have chosen. He never dared to confess this to anyone. He was ready to sacrifice his life to the gang because the gang would have sacfificed theirs for him.The military ethos of his father had somehow percolated through to him and excerted a certain inluence. All for one and one for all.That “one” was Tibor.

There is an echo of three musketeers here with the all for one one for all !

This is an early book from this writer but he has so many more books to be translated into English. He had spent time in London in the twenties so I imagine he would read Foresters books maybe even have been aware of forester there is the same feeling of homoeroticism that he has in some of his works the sort of male friendship that all-male school or university get. He also captures the fear of the war on the youth of the day 1918 as the bodies come home the time has ticked as this is May and the have the club but then someone appears that could end the boy’s plans of being in their own world. It’s about rebelling against the expectations of society the fear of war also about discovering one’s self. an interesting second choice for the 1930 club! have you read this book?

The two Nobel’s go too

Its that time of year and a treat today we have two Nobel Laureates one for this year and one for last year. we see if a year away has meant the academy gone in a new Nonanglophile and feminist direction that has been mention in recent years. The first winner for the last year 2018 is Olga Tokarczuk for her encyclopedic writing. I have reviewed her book Drive my plough over the bones of the dead Here is an interview with her

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hen for this year, 2019 we have Peter Handke A favorite for many years to win although he has courted controversy in some of his view but I loved every book I have read and he has also worked with Wim Wenders on a number of films including the goalkeeper anxiety a classic film. Here is a review of slow homecoming by him and an interview IT is from a german paper but worth reading

Faces on the tip of my tongue by Emmanuelle Pagano

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faces on the tip of my tongue by Emmanuelle Pagano

French fiction

Original title – Un renard à mains nues

Translators – Jennifer Higgins and Sophie Lewis

Source – review copy

I loved the first book from this writer when it was brought out by And other stories a few years ago Trysting was an unusual book with the detached nature of the voices with in the work. This is a collection of short stories in the french version there were 34 stories but the translator and Emmanuelle decide to trim this down to give the book more of a collective feel. The stories all, on the whole, have unnamed narrators and managed to capture that certain oddness of the countryside this case the french but many of these could easily be set in Rural areas in the Uk. As I show below I linked with a few stories.

I went to the lake every summer when I was alittle girl, I lived on an aec of beach nordered by wooden fences and a forest so thick that we didnt make dens in the trees but dug them in the undergrowth instead. My uncle had built a house on this strip of shore, then a hut for tools and the pedalo, and some wonky terraces where the landsloped down to the rippling water. Near the reeds, right up close to their rustling song and their birds nests, he hadmarked out a meadow where he went in search of sunshine .

My local lake was all the rage every summer.

So we have thirteen tales in this collection. It seems to want to capture the loneliness oddness and quirky nature of the French countryside. Here it opens with a narrator talking about a lake cycling to it this lake in the middle of the nowhere I was reminded of the lake well old quarry that was filled with water near where I grew up, then we meet the local loony as they say I was reminded of a chap the guy in the story had lost his family the guy  I used to pick up on my journey out for the day center he just appeared in the main street in Rothbury never saw his house he was a real country character disheveled and maybe out of pace with time he had a sad story in his past too. Then there was a story of someone that looked very like a grandmother this was another story I could relate to I have pictures of my own grandfather in his army day when he was a bit younger than me but I could see a lot of me and my dad in the picture. Then a cruel tale that I really connect with as we see women waiting at a bus stop she has a learning disability and was told by a cruel doctor that he wanted to marry her so she goes and waits for him.An interesting collection of stories. I connected with them.

The looney and the bright spark. It could be the title of a fairy tale, a bit like “Beauty and the beast”< a sad storywith quite a happy ending. The full title would be the roadside looney and the bright spark at the construction company, but that has less of a ring to it , for a sad story with a more or less a happy ending. My story is sad too, but it has a sad ending, very sad or rather it never ends its starts badly, very badly and nothing comes rightnothing is resolved.I don’t know where it starts.

The looney a man that lost everything waits for them to return in this anti fairy tale !

I was a huge fan of stones in a landslide an early Peirene book that caught a world well this is another world all be it darker and fun at times in that regard I was reminded of the works of fellow Fench writer Pascal Garnier who like some of these tales saw the darkly comic in the everyday and also rural France.. This collection was chosen by the writer and translators as they seem to link in well together from the original 34 stories which means the book fits Peirene two hour read which is about what it took me I had a quick read through and as I did I  make the slow connections which I do as a reader from time to time to my own life having lived in small towns villages in my youth it was easy to make the connection to rural places. Have you read this collection ? or Trysting by Emmanuelle ?

30 covers for #WITMONTH more Vernon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will be getting to this before the year is out it is the second part of the Vernon subtext a trilogy by the French writer Virginie Despentes a writer best known for her controversial book that was made into a film Baise-moi. Vernon subtext follows Vernon a famous record shop owner after his life and store is closed as he tries to get by it has been made into a TV series in France which I hope we get see in the UK.

30 covers for #WITMONTH A swedish one

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I choose a novel today I reviewed here. I move from the African slave trade to a cold novel set in Sweden. This  Karolina Ramqvist novel sees  Karin as her world falls apart after the death of her Ganagster where she sees her friends disappear and her life take a new turn as she loses everything. Did you read this at the time ?

30 covers for #WITMONTH a Cameroonian seagull

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been a fan of Seagull books for a couple of years and have slowly been buying their titles. Here is one from the African series. This is a powerful novel about the start of the transatlantic slave trade. From a prize-winning Cameroonian writer Lenora Miano . Have you read her or tried and Seagull books?

 

 

 

 

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