While the women are sleeping by Javier Marias

Source Library

Translator Margaret Jull Costa

Javier Marias is one of Spain’s top current writers his your face tomorrow trilogy is considered on fo the best spanish books published of recent year ,Javier ran away to paris at a young age ,translated English books into Spanish and taught Spanish literature at Oxford university.I did have your face tomorrow from library last year but was unable to reach it in time and read it so had to return it un read ,so saw this slim collection of short stories from the various points in his career   which is his most recent translation .

the stories all centre strange and unnatural ghost stories an homage to the English ghost stories in some ways ,the title story follow a large voyeuristic man  watching different women on the beach in their bikini’s   then his steady descent into darkness and shadowy world  ,in other tales a butler recounts an incident involving the lady of the house ,another tale is told by a dead man ,some one meeting the double in another .There are stories set around the world ,a lot involving english people Marias is well-known for his huge love of england .these range from the late sixties to mid nineties so show the breadth of Marias writing

It is quite possible that the main aim of ghosts ,if they do still exist ,is to thwart the desires of the mortal tenants ,appearing if their presences is unwelcome and hiding away if it is expected or demanded .

opening of one of the tales a kind of nostalgia perhaps

Now this book is only 128 pages long and contains ten tales ,what did I learn from it ? well Marias definitely likes england and the english there are enough characters thrown through these tales to mark him out as a Anglophile ,His pace is slow even in these shorts the pace is slow almost like watching Barcelona play gentle passing the ball or in this case slowly build the stories every time .One story has a made up bio of an English writer Lord Randall , which is a bit like Bolano another Spanish language writer and one of my favourite themes in writing ,made up writers bio just imaging the books that don’t really exist .    A great intro to a writer I want to get to know well in the future .the translation is by Margaret Jull Costa who has won awards with her other translations of his work

Have you read him ? if so what to try next ?

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Merry christmas from winston and me

wow dad snow merry christmas from us

seasons greetings all .Hope you have a great christmas .

2666 XMAS TIME HAVING ROBERTO OVER FOR XMAS .

Well a quick post ,just wondering if any one fancy joining me with a Xmas readalong of 2666 Roberto Bolano’s masterpiece I m think starting about 20th of this month and reading through the Yuletide period and through to new year .I know its a busy time of year for people but any company be great as I tackle my second 900 plus book of the year .I ll be reading the us paperback version ,think it is same page count as UK version .

what give a book the X FACTOR !

Well call me shallow I ve used the fact it is the X FACTOR final tonight to do a book related post I hate the show it is a meaningless money-making venture for mr Cowell and doesn’t high light real talent which would be writing the songs they sing as a lover of sing /songwriters  a show that focused on that talent and help people establish a realistic career rather than a Warhol  15 mins of fame !

Well to the point what makes the X factor of A book I ve Pick 8 from the last year that on cover and style would make me buy them above others on the shelves .

 

The books are from top left clockwise –

The Whitsun wedding by Philip Larkin ,I love Larkin this is from Faber’s Poetry first collection the book reminds me a little of a ladybird books from my youth if a little large and with lovely end papers inside .

The last brother by Nathacha Appanah ,Now I think Maclehose always do wonderful covers this cover sums up this book tropical but sorrowful and would always catch my eye on the shelf .

Senselessness by H C Moya ,this is a wonderfully produced book from New directions ,and like last brother catches the spirit of this book a blood soaked report being read during the book .

The thousand autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell ,this is a tactile book ,but evokes its setting Japan also love the fact it goes all round the book so both front and back cover are beautiful wonderful foil detail make it glisten in the light .

Beside the sea by Veonique Olmi ,what more can I say I m a huge fan of all thing Peirene the cover ,font and flaps all perfect make reading these little gems a pleasure .

A year in the woods by Colin Elford ,the simple drawing throughout this book and eye pleasing font size made it a lovely book to read and own .But most of all a gift from my lovely wife made it special to me .

Sunset Oasis by Bahaa Taher ,I ve yet to get to this but read few Arabic books in summer so will get to this early next year I love the raised effect on this cover making it very tactile in your hand ,this was the arabic booker winner .

 

lastly

Intimate stranger by Breyten Breytenbach ,this is one of the lovely books published by non-profit publisher Archipelago books in the us I ve three from them and will get more next year there books are truly wonderful and quirky square print on heavy paper with unusual cover art .

SO WHAT GIVE A BOOK THE X FACTOR FOR YOU WHEN IN THE BOOKSHOP ?

 

 

Purge the Prize winner

winner 2010 sofi oksanen

Sofi Oskannen together with Robert Saviano for a essay called beauty and Hell won the Le PrixLivree europeaan the European book prize in its third year the award site is here .This goes with the Nordic Council prize Purge won earlier this year .My review is here

Windows on the world by Frederic Beigbeder

Frederic Beigbeder is a french writer ,commentator and lit critic .He word as an advertising executive and work with the french communist party .He also had a talk show on the french tv channel Cannel+ called the hypershow .he has written many novels in french with a couple in translation .This is like many of his books autobiographical in many way .although I enjoyed reading this book I found it hard to review .

Windows on the world is set mainly in new york during the 9/11 attacks and imagines what happened over this time to the people in the windows on the world restaurant .The book is two stories really the first on 9/11 is the tale of a texas estate agent Carthew Yorsten who is having breakfast with his sons in the windows on the world you find out about them ,but I always feel sorry for them as I know what is coming ,maybe that sounds strange but I found it hard to connect with imagined people on this day when I knew what would happen to them .The second story is the writer writing the story and recalling his visits to new York eating at the windows on the world before the attack also,where he was the day of the attacks,I connected more to this section of the book I think Everyone remember what they where doing that day  .The story unfolds minute after minute with each really short chapter defining a minute of the time from the attack to the tower collapsing .

8:56

Everyone knows precisely where they were on september 11 ,2001 .Me I was in the basement of my publisher Grasset ,giving an interview for culture pub at 2:56 PM french time ,when the presenter Thomas Herve ,was informed via cellphone that an airplane had Just flown into one of the world trade center towers .At the time ,we both thought it was a small tourist plane and went on with the interview .

the writer remember where he was that awful day .

Well I enjoyed this book any book on 9/11 is hard to talk about ,for me I was getting ready for work that awful day and remember seeing it on tv just before I went to work and being stunned in to disbelief .As my family lived in Ulster and some still do, bombs and troubles are something I got use to hearing about. But 9/11 was terrorism on a new scale ,Frederic has caught and tried in a sympathetic way to connect with his feeling and emotions due to this .I ve read a couple of other 9/11 inspired novels and this is the best I ve read so far but is still flawed ,maybe some subjects need space and time before you can write about them and I think 9/11 is one of these events .the translation is top draw but Frank Wynne is a great translator and this book won the Independent foreign fiction prize in 2005 .

Have you read this book ?


Novella reading wrap up post

Had planned to do this yesterday ,but a visit to dentist and Tooth being taken out I thought it was just check up but the  tooth needed taking out so had a few injections as I hate the dentist with a passion ,all due to my sweet tooth I do like my cakes and biscuits !!! Well this weekend Simon at stuck in books had a novella reading weekend well I ve managed to get through 4 novellas this weekend which was great ,may do this on my next weekend of in the new year still have a lot on the shelves to read .

THE FOUR NOVELLAS READ –

So I spent summer in Finland ,a small village in Argentina as it falls in to chaos ,a fisherman’s dilemma over a large pearl and its fall out and a young women’s romance in 1930’s china .Not a bad weekend review to follow in next few weeks .

 

Winstons books

Been a while since I got any books but last week had a splurge at Nottingham where that is a large waterstones and at local Oxfam .

The books –

The wild ass’s skin by Honore de Balzac ,choose this at oxfam due to its 70’s cover will read it for pink sheep cafes bad cover challenge next year ,plus my good friend linda is enjoy Balzac at moment and thought I d read another of his read one in twenties this will make two ,still loads of his to read .

Fear of De Sade by Bernardo Carvalho ,A Brazilian writer this book set in 19th century France is considered one of the best writers in Brazil at moment so really looking forward to this one .

Embers by Sandor Marai ,this is for my Hungarian week that means I ve four books now for that week next year ,this is set in Carpathians so expecting a dark tale and loads of suspence .

Kye by Lukas Tomin ,this is a twisted spoon book a book from 80’s a autobiographical novel set in london where Tomin lived at the time it is about identity .

The Tartar steppe by Dino Buzzati ,a book written just before the war follows a man that is post to a remote fort where he spends the rest of his life as he is forgotten considered Italian classic ,I loved the poem strip when I read it and want to see how two so different books could have come from the same pen .

Solibo Magnificent by Patrick Chamoiseau ,I jump for joy when I got this in oxfam as it is from Martinique a unusal police procedural ,written in french and creole .

The discovery of heaven by Harry Mulisch ,his recent death made me want to read his opus ,considered the best Dutch book ever ,I read another of his books a few years ago but this looks awesome .a book following a quest  and a couple onno and max .

Winter -a dance to the music of time by Anthony Powell ,this mean I ve books 4,5,6, 10.11and 12 I ve read the first two and have book three from library so this  is for when I get this far which will be a way of yet but was a bargain for two pound .

 

 

 

I ve add this post to the story siren mailbox post .have you read any of these books ?

November round up

book of the month .

Well I ve let the blog go a bit to pot this month and also my reading .hope to make up this month on blogging and reading .I ve read  this month .

  1. City pick amsterdam edited by Heather Reyes and Victor Schiferi .
  2. Autonauts of the cosmoroutes by Julio Cortazar and Carol Dunlop.
  3. Purge by Sofi Oskannen .
  4. three trapped tigers by G Cabrera Infante .
  5. Tail of the Blue Bird by Nii Ayikwei Parkes.
  6. ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco
  7. windows on the world by Frederic Beigbeder
  8. A buyers market by Anthony Powell .
  9. The book of chamleons by Jose Eduardo Agualusa .

That is 9 in all the least for some months ,I m not a winter person and hate dark nights so have been reading less .

Challenges –

books for the year 119 want to read hundred but passed that a while ago hope to finsh with over 125 .

around the world in 52 books 20/52 one more from orginal list read .

Next month Novella reading first weekend and want to clear library pile that has built up .and finsh year reading 2666 .

The gift of translation for Christmas

Well yuletide is nearly on us and after a weekend of buying presents for the family I ve decided to put forward some gifts for people that loves books these may also spark a love of translation .

STEIG LARSSON TRILOGY HARDBACK BOXED SET –

Now there isn’t many people who haven’t heard of the late Steig Larsson ,and his trilogy ,well Quercus via their sister press the Maclehose press have brought out a wonderful hardback box set .These are truly beautiful I ve looked at them a couple of times in the local bookshop .They’ll make a perfect gift for close family member or crime fan or anyone that loves pretty books like folio ones .

Peirene press 1,2 and 3 and subscription .

Peirene the wonderful translation press run by Meike ,that this year has been like an adrenalin shot and electric shock into the dying european novella in English translation .the three books have all feature female characters at the centre of the books a women on the edge in a French seaside town a stoic Spanish women and a young pregnant women in Rome have all feature this year and next year there are three male stories as Meike says the year of the man .There is a gift subscription for either three or six books available here

An INTERLUDE IN SPAIN ?

now a duo of books the very short introduction to Spanish literature from Oxford ,a book I reviewed a while ago a great guide to Spanish literature  this is an essential way to find out whats beyond Zafon and Cervantes .and the perfect companion to this is Granta 113 the new edition of granta on new Spanish writing that contains 20 of the rising stars of Spanish language fiction .

A Russian winter ?#

lastly is the new Oxford version of War and peace by Leo Tolstoy .This is the definitive version in English and comes with extensive footnotes .This is the version I m using for the war and peace readalong start in January .I know people have favourite versions but this is a lovely book to hold and is an ideal introduction to the long russian novels .

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