12 Birds to save your life by Charlie Corbett


12 Birds to save your life by Charlie Corbett

British Nature writing

Source – Library book

I take another step along the path of the Wainwright longlist books. It is strange I picked a book last month of my Trio of books that I had enjoyed was a memoir about grief this is another book around Grief. Charlie Corbett is a writer and a farmer that has spent his time between the Wessex Downs and Isle of Mull( you couldn’t get two places further apart in the Uk.he lives with his wife on the downs with his sons and a field full of skylarks which is one of the 12 birds of the book where he uses his love of birds and mixes into a memoir of Birds and the death and how his family coped when their Mother died and how birds have been viewed through time and he mixes them up this is his life in a hard time.

Peewits (otherwise known as lapwings or green plovers) are, in fact, a bird of the coast – a wader – but they breed up on hills during the spring and summer. And if you scan the sky in February, you might see great flocks of peewits circling up above looking for suitable places to nest. I almost drove off the side of the motorway when I saw such a sight not that long ago (once you develop a love for birds, almost crashing cars will become a common occurrence, I’m afraid)

I used to see these on a drive between towns growing up a bird we see a lot less of these days.

The book uses twelve birds native to the UK, which are common bar two of them which are harder to see the sections combine Charlie’s family life at what is one of the hardest times in people’s lives and that is the loss of a parent the effect on the wider family and how the sight of the birds and connections about myths and legends around the birds and how they have seen them over time. He also has a comic touch to describe some birds and their wider family-like calling a Jackdaw like the Danny deviate of the crow world. Then at the end of each section a guide to how to see each bird and how common they are and also it highlights how some birds over time have drastically declined those so common and still common mare getting less so like the little sparrow. It shows how we have to feed and make sure our gardens make birds welcome.

And if Danny DeVito had an extrovert cousin who liked to dress in Paris clothes, then that would be the Jay. The Jay is another characterful member of the Corvid clan. Though instead of the usual sombre black ensemble, the Jay sports a pink suit, bright white shirt with dazzling electric blue wingtips and a snappy black moustache under the beak. You’ll certainly hear a jay before you see one(its Latin name is Garrulous Glandarius). If you are walking through woodland, your ears will be assaulted by a shattering shriek, just as you remark to your walking companion, ” What the hell was that bloody awful noise?”, you’ll see this pinky-blue-white blur fly past with a kind of lazy undulation lollo. Yet despite its shouty call and garish costumes, the jay is, in fact, really rather a shy creature.It lives in woodland and really ventures out.

I loved this description of a jay in the section about Magpies.

I loved this as many of you know I love books that connect objects to things to memories it has always been something that has driven me as a reward this was one of the books that really jumped out at me of the Wainwright longlist. especially as I have always had a love of birds but also the myths and legends around birds which is something I have always loved. I often look for a robin when a bird is meant to be the soul visiting you at my mum’s grave site. They are one of the birds Charlie talks about. Then he talks about Kingfisher a bird I had on my wall as a kid one of the birds I love to see as you only ever see a brilliant blue flash as they so often disappear so quickly. He also has anBarn Owl which made me think of My work Owl there is a Tawny owl I have seen a few times it sites of a post at the back of work and I see it there and think I have seen a couple of things it has killed on the gardens at work. I think it is great as the first time I saw it a patient showed it me it made their day, especially showing me. Have you a favourite book that deals with Grief and its effect on a family?

Winstons score – B solid book around birds and grief and how they enter our lives their but sometimes we notice them more.

The Military Orchid by Joceyln Brooke

The Military Orchid by Jocelyn Brooke

English Nature writing

Source – personal copy

Well, I read Copsford last week and was bowled over by it and love the actual book itself it was a nicely presented work from the publisher Little Toller which until I brought that book I had never heard of so I went and had a look at there backlist of Nature writing classics and I choose two more to read and this is the first of those two books I selected Orchid Military which is the first of a trilogy by the English Writer Jocelyn  Brooke He was one of those old English characters he was in the military and had run away as a kid and then dropped out of Oxford before he joined the military in the medieval core this is also where he started to write and also discover the Orchid of the title of the book and also sent him what would be a google rabbit hole but then was discovering book after book and a journey of finding Orchids and the hunt for that one mystery Orchid.

Poor colonel Mackenzies! His book was not the best of introductions to its subject. Yet he was a true ochidomane, and I salute him across the years. I imagine him living in comfortable retirement in Surrey, in a red house with a drive and spiky gates, among pine trees; pottering on the downs above Betchworth and Shere but not often venturing further afield. Probably he did possess a copy of Bentham and Hooker, but he could have seldom have looked at it. It is a pleasing thought that another retired officer, colonel Godfrey, has written the standard Monograph on the British Orchidaceae (He also lives in Surrey)

His intro was the Colonel’s book on Orchids

The book opens as we see via a Mr Bundock how the young Jocelyn was drawn into Orchid and the first orchid he discovered was the Lizard Orchid this is the time he got one of the first of many books about the Orchids of Britain this was the colonel Mackenzie Orchids of Britain that was an example of a book that was written by the amateur nature writer. . But this book is where he discovers the Military Orchid ( `orchis Militaris). Which is the one orchid we see him hunting to discover if this very rare orchid is even confirmed as the book unwinds we Follow Jocelyn in the English countryside where we meet a cast of characters that are from a bygone age where the countryside is a mixture of snobs and those old country figures ( this remind me of living in Northumberland in my teens and the characters I used to pick up for my job in a day centre which had a number of character that reminds me of those that Jocelyn crossed. He also spends time abroad in his army career this is a mix of his military life and his growing love of Nature and Orchids as he gets more and more Orchid. books and he tells us about the writers on the whole a collection of amateurs like himself. We see if Evers gets to find this orchid and if it is even real.

Les seuls Vrais Paraadis, said Proust, sont les paradis qu’on la perdus: and conversely, the only genuine infernos, perhaps, are those which are yet to come. After the post-Munch period, with its atmosphere of slowly gathering crisis, the outbreak of war itself was like a sudden Holiday, bringing a sense of release, almost of relief: the kind of relief which an invalid feels when a definite disease has declared itself, replacing the vague, indefinable mails by a set of recognisable physical symptoms

I love this Proust quote(a little jealous I never got past the first books of Proust)

This was just what I need it is one of those books that is written by someone with a passion for their subject which for Brooke is Orchids alongside his growing up and witnessing Both wars and the inter war years and his Military career and home life. He mixes a comical view of the time of the world around him. Add to this is the wonderful Orchid pictures we get that illustrate a lot of the plants that we have read about. This is a mix of styles Memoir, Satire and military history during and after world wars it is also a quest work his ask is the Military Orchid you can see as the years go by and he hasn’t seen this rarely record Orchid does it even exist. It has a bit of Waugh, a bit of Edith Holden and added to that is his Quest it is a sort of Holy grail search for his beloved Orchid.He wrote a number of other books after this book, I will be looking out for the other two books in this collection of the collected trilogy as the other two books are meant to be as good as this one is. Have you read any books by Brooke? do you like memoirs that combine a love of Nature?


Winstons score – A two wars and the inter war years are a hunt for a mythical Orchid. Sees a man grow and discover a passion.

A stunning book !!

I have just started this and I just wanted to share the great illustrations that the are part of this classic piece of nature writing that we see how one flower became an obsession for the writer Jocelyn Brooke he spent years trying to grab a look at a rarely seen and observed Orchid The Military Orchid of the title this book is the first part of a loose trilogy that merges memoir , fiction and a love a nature. So here are a couple of the illustrations that were done by Gavin and `Stephen Bone.

They are stunning and just pop the prose to life as I am reading about him just discovering the Militar Orchid and how rare it was .

It is farewell not now thou !!!!

I had !! decided to stop blogging here I wanter  a new blog but am not sharing it at mo till I build up some content I’ve just run out of steam. 13 Years is maybe a good place to stop here.I did try set a new blog up but it now seems you have to pay for WordPress and only have the new editor so I am going to continue here but the focus of winstonsdad is changing to wider writing and also more none book content I have just felt railroad by the blog last few years and just recently I am more into nature writing this may just be a short blip I love translated fiction but I just a little fed up and wanting new directions and had felt trapped as this blog has been so focused on Translation so maybe I need to just broaden the scope of post here as I want do post around days out and some just pictures I have taken here and there so anyway it will all be coming here I didn’t know that WordPress now see to charge and also use the new set up for post that I just don’t get on with so I am here to say. But expect new and different content from me .


Copsford by Walter J. C. Murray

Copsford by Walter J. C. Murray

British Nature writing

Source – personal copy

I have decided a couple of years ago that every time I go and put flowers and visit where we scattered my mum’s ash which is about an hours drive from where I live in Derbyshire .I would by some nature writing my Mom and my Granddad who are also scattered on the same site in Macclesfield in Cheshire with were great nature lovers my granddad had a love of birds and birdwatching he paid for my old YOC membership growing up (the youth section of the (RSPB). So there is a mid-size Waterstones there which is slightly big than the one we have here so I went to the nature section and had a look round and actually had another book in my hand when this one caught my eye with its Black white cover which by the sheer tone of the photo you could tell it was an old print. The book was written by Walter Murray he was from Sussex and had been living in London in a third-floor flat when he decided he want to do a Thoreau (as in Walden) and he decide to return to Sussex and rent a heap the hep on the cover a cottage called cops ford and try and make a living of the land grow and drying herbs and making a simpler life.He had a lifelong love of nature and took photos of Nature the photos in this book are from the original book when it came out in 1948( The Copsford year was in the 20s though)

“No one ain’t lived in Copsford for more ‘an twenty year’ he protested “Its do be out of repair like’

“You’m best go an’ ; ave a look around first,’ he suggested. Then returning to the familiar rut, ‘Ice going ‘ ploughin’ in the ten-acre.’

He readjusted his hat and began to harness his two horses. He was happy again, so I set off across the field to inspect Copsford, this cottage “sech a mile from nowhere” where no one wanted to live.

He goes to look at cops ford after the farmer warns how it is derelict.

I am drawn to the idea of living away from it all one of the things I want to do in the future is go back to Northumberland and live in a small village. So the book opens when he decides to leave his third floor flat and his life in London and with his Dog floss his sheepdog. The farmer iS taken back when he asks if he can take on Copsford the cottage had been empty for decades and was broken down as you can see ion the cover also it is full of rats. So the opening few chapters we see him first trying to get at least one room liveable as he then tries to get rid of the rats from the property all this as he is having to fetch water and live by candlelight as he also reconnects with his childhood sweetheart a music teacher, this is about the time in the mid-twenties when Murray became a teacher and eventually a headmaster at his own school. What fools is his upon and downs as he Lears to live on the land and also at the end chapter sees him comparing what he made to how he lived in London to the money earned for rent and living costs in Copsford.

If the herb is taken too late from the drying-room, and this quite frequently happens when a spell of dry weather suddenly succeeds a long damp, blowdrying period, the plant is so brittle that it crumbles to dust. The rosette of pale green leaves of cleavers is so slight that there is always some loss of herb at the bagging-up time, but that is better than mould. Other herbs, if allowed to become to dry, just cannot be handled; they smash and crumble and fall away into useless fragments, Others again – a few – one never seems to be able to dry enough; they always feel moist or oily to the touch, no matter how many days they hang on the line

He learns how to dry the herbs he is wanting to harvest dry and sell



I said in the intro I called this a Thoreau he did similar when he went to live next to Walden lake it was a way to escape the pressure of the present and this is similar he just wants to capture the countryside and live on the land with his dog Floss and he does what he does is also start to notice the seasons and the world around him as he struggles to collect and work at his plan to gather and forage for Herbs to dry and sell. Then there is also the budding romance between him and his childhood sweetheart who lives near Copsford. The cottage itself becomes a character in the book, even more, when he decides to stay in the winter as he said it was the last gift it gave him. This book is timely there seems to be a movement toward a simple life post-Lockdown people have reconnected with nature and want a simpler life it’s strange that the Similar events in the 70s with strikes and cost of living crisis lead to the likes of the Good Life. I think we all love a bit of the countryside I know I love the mix of that and going to the city or a large town. This was republished just before the lockdown and maybe should be read if you like a year of nature-type books or want to see how the simpler life was never to simple even 100 years ago. Maybe it is the prototype Cottagecore book if you want to be present and live in the moment and be sustainable this is the book for you. Also, it has his wonderfully evocative pictures to bring to life the text and the year he spent there. Have you a favourite back-to-nature book?

Winstons score – +A just loved slipping into his year in copsford.


The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen


The Rabbit factor by Antti Tuomainen

Finnish fiction

Original title – Jäniskerroin.

Translator – David Hackston

Source – Library book

I posted this on the international crime dagger shortlist and it was a book that caught my eye earlier in the year when Karen had posted the cover. I had also seen a few blog reviews of the book. Hence, it was on my radar when I had seen lt in the library I decided I get it when it was shortlisted I decide to try and read the five books well four as I had already read and reviewed Bullet train and had this at hand it seemed like a small project for the next few months and Karen who I had met and known since she was at Arcadia books and know has Brenda books has always been very kind in sending books. Antti Tuomainen has won the best Finnish crime novel in the past this is a funny crime novel this book has been brought to be made into a film by Amazon with Steve Carell who is actually someone I imagine would be good as the main character from this book

I’m looking the rabbit in the eye when the lights suddenly go out. With my left hand, I squeeze the tube of industrial-strength glue, with my right hand I hold the screwdriver and listen.

In the half-dark the rabbit seems to grow, its head swells, its eyes bulge, the tips of its ears stretch upwards and seem to disappear into the dimness, it’s from teeth curve like an elephant’s tusks. in an instant, the three-meter-tall figure looks twice as tall, twice as wide and considerably more threatening, as though it was guarding the darkness within it. Now it seems to be watching mess if I’m an enticing carrot

The opening lines just make you smile and have a dark tinge to it as well !!

The book has Henri as its main character he is an insurance actuary (he. calculates the risks ) he is a man whose life is powered by numbers and is very ordered so when he first finds out when his brother died that he has inhered the amusement park that his brother owned. when he looks at the accounts being the sort of man he is Henri is shocked by what he finds and who his brother had had dealings with as he owns money to some criminal gangs that have kept the park afloat. The park is well full of oddballs a clubber past his best caretaker with dreams of bigger things amongst the park. this is what made me enjoy the book it is a book about clashing personalities and personalities when Henri meets the other main character in the book Laura she is the total opposite of him this free spirit of an artist but the two are drawn to each other as Henri tries to sort out what happened to his brother and how to get off the mess therein and how the park has been run with the criminal money. he has to start to try and sort it all out.  This ipark with the giant rabbit. The rabbit is in the opening lines as he mends the rabbit as shown on the cover with a broken ear. This has a bit of everything for all types of readers, not just Crime fans !!

Laura Helanto had dark-rimmed glasses and brown hair that curled and spread out like a bush until It touched her shoulders. Her eyes were blue-green and had an inquisitive alertness about them. She was around forty, perhaps a year or two over, just like me, about average height for a Finnish woman. I was rather adept at estimating people’s height because I was a tall man myself, one hundred and ninety-two centimetres, so I was used to continuous meaningless questions on the subject.

His first look at Laura

I loved this I maybe had in my head Henri as Steve Carell but he is that sort of character he has played straight-laced at times this is a classic take on the fish out of water story. Add to that the fact he finds out the crime gang has funded the park. This is a dark comedy of errors clashing souls a set of park workers that could have come of a comedy from the likes of league gentleman it shares that sense of when Henri enters the world of the park it was like stepping into a Royston Vassy in Finland a sort of world that has its own rules and cast of odd characters. As I said this is a book that has a wider appeal than just to crime fans it has a little romance as we see Laura ad Henri grow closer over the book, and dark comedy adds to that just some observances on human life and all. So if you took a pinch of Wodehouse, add a couple of dashes of nordic crime add a bit of surrealism and a pinch of the league of gentlemen and shake it in a cocktail shaker you’d have this book a special blend that has one of my all-time favourite covers I just love that rabbit lol.

Winstons score – +A genre-bending crime fiction worth seeking out !!

Angel Station by Jáchym Topol

Angel Station by Jáchym Topol

Czech fiction

Original title – Anděl

Translator – Alex Zucher

Today I am in Czech Republic and a book from a writer who I have once before his book The devils workshop I reviewed in 2013. This book is part of a loose trilogy this is the second book being Sister silver (which is in the 1001 books to read before you die). Tool was in a rock band in the 70s and 80s he also because his father was a dissident he wasn’t able to go to university so he had a number of jobs such a stoker, construction worker and coal delivery man. I wonder if tat is where he observed the characters in the book.  and during the velvet revolution he wrote for the an independent paper at the time that would become an investigative magazine Respekt. He lives in Prague where the book is set it is set around the angel station which at the time the book was writer is a rough working class part of Prague.

His new job had seemed pretty fun at first. He’d never come across anything like it in his reading. But he soon realised it was wretched work, worse than all the rest, the kind of work that takes only the most severe extremes from the pristine flames and squalid filth that go into it, and first scars, then destroys whoever stumbles into the furnaces’ path. The guys who worked down in the factory basement were the true lowlifes. At first time he’d felt like a spy in enemy territory. Till it all ran together for him

I was remind of Hrabal

The book follows the lives of people that live in. and around angel station in the late 1990’s just as things in Prague are changing this is a place that has change this is a Moment caught in time. We have a collection of characters around the station we meet through or in passing with our main character Hooks he is a drug addict and has mental health problems at one point he is called Hooks the screw up and this is a man at the bottom of society an off relationship with Vera as he tries to get by in life. As we follow them shoot hop drugs and trying to get by along side this we see the other waif and strays around this rough working class station the religious preacher , the shopkeeper. this is a look at the harsh underbelly of a big city this is a time before Prague was the Prague of now the crime and dirt of the post soviet era is still there as we see capitalism creeps in.

But hooks, Hooks the Screw-up, says nothing. And Brownie comes again. And Hooks squints. And brownie comes again. With Jams, smokes, and stuff. Even a dirty magazine. He knows what comes in handy. But Hooks says nothing. Not out of stubbornness, he’s ashamed. He just can’t. He stopped talking little by little, like this: he turned see-ch-le-ss. But brownie talks. Including about Lubya

The crazies, who got used to Hooks like a new chair, and the doctors, who keep their opinion to themselves, everyone walks right past each other, jabbering away, just there somehow

Hooks is a twisted soul with lots of his own problems just trying to get by but is on as Nine inch nails put it a downward spiral.

this is a tale of its time which is the mid 90 it is like a lot of books around them The Will Self,  Irvine Welsh and Douglas Coupland to name a few it also has a dirty lit feel to it has nods to  Czech writers of the time (There is an obsession with rubbish I find sometimes in Czech Lit or is that just me) I was remind as the is a description of working by a furness and burning stuff (which has a bad scene in for animal lovers) which remind me of Hrarbal but also at times I was remind of Ivan Klima works of course these were writers before and around the time Topol started writing also I was struck with the black humour and world that could also remind me HIlbig the bleakness of this world of course both wrote curing and after post soviet Europe. I said in the intro this is a place caught in amber it is a place long gone in fact the sort of place described isn’t there or is there in big cities but isn’t at place like Angel station which is now been gentrified like many of the places that were like this in Prague or say Berlin. The book is a world of lost should in fact many years ago I used the term flotsam and jetsam to describe a novel set in a working class district in Paris and this is the same it is the washed mop and washed out of  society. I was a fan of Topol and Zucker his translator which always seems to capture the writers voices so well in his translations. Have you read any books from Either ?

Winstons score – + A lifting the stone and seeing those c aught underneath scurry around

Among the Almond trees by Hussein Barghouthi

Among the Almond trees by Hussein Barghouthi

Palestinian Memoir

Original title – Sa’ akin bayn al-Lawz

Source – personal copy

I wanted to add a lot more arabic literature this year but have failed so far I looked at a list from Arablit where they had some books coming out this year and this was one that was mentioned although I had to wait ages for it to arrive as the publication got pushed back of I had to wait for a reprint maybe. What had caught my eye about this book was the description which remind me of one of my fav orate books from year ago I saw Ramallah from Mourid Borghouti which was one of my favourite books and now years later sticks with me with the images of a man returning to his home of Ramallah after many years away. This has a similar premise we see Hussein come home to the countryside around Ramallah where he grew up. But this is a man that is near the end of his life coping with terminal cancer. He had Taught in Europe mainly in Hungary and was the found of the House of Poets in Palestine and also worked on a number of literary magazines. he passed away twenty years ago.

After an absence of thirty years I have returned to live in the countryside near Ramallah – “returned to the beauty that had been betrayed” I had exiled myself from my beginnings and chosen to live as an expatriate. I am one who has perfected “Beginnings” but not” endings”. My return therefore is an imperfect ending

The opening paragraph I was so touched with the ending comment to face death is so hard

As the translator says h=in his intro this is a man struggling with lymphoma and it is his thoughts of life and art but also how he is going to die and ascending into heaven. He has returned to a place that he left thirty years earlier he is near the end of his life and as we follow him as he walks out in the countryside around Ramallah the past and present and future all blend as he walks in the shadows of those almond trees in the day ion the night as he looks back and forward. The book is a poets looking and gathering the final curtain of his life the people he knew his wife and young child his parents. The mountains as memories of his youth flood in as we see a memory of place open up. as we see what was more wilderness in his day now changed but he still finds the wild parts of the area and the Monastery which look large in the story. He talks about people having country and cities of there names as he sees his city in the book.

Among my friends would be Ali Baba and Enkidu, and all those who were born and loved and lived in stories, Stories are the windows of the Spirit and the imagination. When, for example, quaddura spreads his abs on the roof of the monastery and sang and played his rabbi, looking out moonlit wadis, on orchards ploughed planted, on wide obscure distances, he opened a window for his voice in the moonlight space and his voice occupied an eternal domain. His song would then become the city of his name

Where are you from ?

I’m from the country of windows

Stories is often how people are remembered when they pass !

This is a short memoir of a man who has come home to far e the ghost of his past a poet a writer this book is a man looking at a police he once knew and reliving the past as he faces the end and trying to remember the past the translator mentions this as a work as a memory of place the ghosts of our past. I am someone that remembers most events in my life and the places they happen I am haunted and often relive them like Hussein does when he returns after all the years away from his homeland. It remind me of Sebald at time the way he used place to link to the past. This is one of two works he wrote near the end of his life they are both coming out from seagull book the other book Blue light is a flip of this book as it is set around his journey from Seattle with a homeless madman. This book is different to I saw Ramallah as  this is a lot more personal and lot more around the view of the end of your life. But it has the same feeling of loss in the past and returning to find the world you once knew gone or just there as ghosts in your memory. This is a powerful work of memoir of a man facing death. Do you have a favourite book set in Palestine ?

Winstons score – +A touching and sad memoir from a poet

Standing Heavy by GauZ

Standing Heavy by Gauz

Ivorian Literature

Original title – Debout-Payé

Translator – frank Wynne

Source – Copy

Well it seems apt to review a book that frank has translated the day after we all watched him announce the Booker international winner last night this is the first book for a few month I have read that Frank has worked on this jumped out with its eye catching(lol) cover art. It is the debut novel by the Ivory Coast writer Gauzthe pen name of writer Patrick Armand-Gbaka Brede. As a young man he loved the books of Amadou Kourouma and Louis Ferdinand Celine and has also said the Maryse Conde and Romain Gary have influenced his writing. This was his debut novel and came after he had spent a number of years living in France and it follows a number of fellow Ivorians over three generations. as they try to get by in France.

Accompanied by her husband, her daughter and her dog, a blind woman is doing the sales. The man chatters to her constantly; his accent is from somewhere in the South of
France, and he speaks in precise, carefully constructed sentences. She spends time stroking the fabrics in order to make her choice. From time to time, he gently places his hand
on hers to steer her in the right direction. Another couple compelled to touch. Another display of tenderness. Another relationship based on co-dependency. The woman’s disability enhances the communication of those around her.

One of the character pen pictures we get throughout the book.Here about a Blind woman in the shop.

As I said the bookfollows three generations of a men as they arrive in Paris from the Ivory Coast and how over time they have often end as Security guards as they try to get by with out the right papers. The first in the 60s is Ferdinand(A nod to Celine I wonder) His story remind me of the wind rush literature I have read recently for he like many in those oaks arrived full of hope only to have it dashed. Then in the 90s We follow two Ivorians as they see a Paris in Flux then we have some that maybe is some like Gauz himself that’s traveled in the millennium years and ends up as the all seeing eyes of the security guard. Now that is a quick breeze through those three for me the part of the book is the little vignettes that we get a sort off Guards speak and Knowledge names customers etc what we get is a satirical view of their mundane lives but how they see all there but as so often not see by most shoppers barring the Arab princess.He capture the comradely but also the struggles of the immigrants.

 Security Guards in the Movies

In the tens of thousands of movies and B-Movies that have been made since the Lumber brothers first made The arrival of a train at La ciotart, no security guard has ever been shown as a hero. On the contrary, security guards are usually the characters who quickly and casually killed off as part of the hero’s plan to get final confirmation with the bad guy in the last scene

The Last scene of Brain De Palm’s scarface, when Tony Montana’s house is attacked is a perfect example of the senseless slaughter of security guards in cinema

They are sometime like the Guys in the red uniform in the first series of Star Trek a one episode Job!!

I enjoyed this is as I regularly work with some agency staff at work everyday who work along side us and there to help with the risks we have with a patient and a number of them are from Nigeria and Ghana and when they chat about there work and lives it struck a chord with Gauz  characters and their stories and shows how certain jobs end mainly being done by African immigrants as they are just suited and have the skills for them. So I love it when you connect to works of fiction on a personal level and this especially when it is in books of translation so when these guys chatted it felt like some of the chats we have at work.I loved his eye for detail those little vignettes and pen pictures about what they see and how they work but also however time you can read people so well. It is an insight into those guards. I mean how often do we see them  apart from as it is point out those Babies always seem to smile or they try to make them smile. Now this is Gauz Debut novel and as Tony mentioned in his review he has written another book that sort of flips the story here as it follows a white man in the Ivory Coast in the 19th century. Which I we may hopefully see.If you are after a satirical look at life as a Guard in Paris. Do you know any other novels that highlights those people that we pass unseen in jobs that are there but we don’t see the cleaner, waiters, etc. A great new voice and one I hope we see more from him and Frank has brought this vibrant book to life.

Winstons score – +A an insight to that man in the corner of the shops in Paris.

Shadow winner is for the last time for me


For the first time I have read but haven’t reviewed our winner it has been a strange year. We have spent time discussing books I had time to read the list as I was off work with stress but my focus hasn’t been around for months so I feel upset I hadn’t covered the winner we choose and still have books to review from the list. I will get to them but as time is over to review them we choose as our winner

Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung translator – Anton Hur

A collection of stories well written but just not my thing I loved a couple and will mention in my review as I have never been a horror fan but a couple I loved. It was a close winner and the other book that just got pipped at the post is

`Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree Translator – Daisy Rockwell For me this was my personal favourite by a head and shoulders of all there books and will long be a favourite read for this reader just stunning a woman lives on after her husbands death and starts to open up about her life it is just such a great book on so many levels. So I reach the end of another year and this will be my last with the shadow jury as I feel it is time to change things round I will be doing something else next year with some new people. I look forward to see who Frank and his pals have chosen I miss the old iffy days when I was there but its amazing how big this prize is now!!

What has been your favourite read from the lists this year and who do you think will win ?

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July 2022


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