Lost Empress by Sergio De La Pava

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Lost Empress by Sergio De La Pava

US fiction

Source – review copy

I don’t often review non-translated titles these days. But there is maybe one writer I would always review it would be Sergio. Naked singularity was a great slice of modern America the madness and chaotic world of the legal system. So when I saw this book took two more uniquely American themes. That of Sport, which for me as a none American has always fascinated me the way the stats to these sports become such an integral part of the sport. Also, the nature of Franchise in sport is an American idea that I hope doesn’t creep into UK sport. The second thread is Prison the overcrowd privatize nature of American jails is also a trending coming over here.

Legless woman runs out of time

A Bronx woman, who a decade ago lost her legs following a vicious assault by her boyfriend, was killed yesterday in the apartment of that same man, when he savagely beat her to death using one of her prosthetic legs.

Miranda Johnson, 39, apparantly crawled on he belly to dial 911 during the assault, but was then unable to speak into the line provide any information. 911 operator 7744 was unavailable for comment, but her inability to procure the information is beinf viewed ad a proximate cause of the tragedy.

One of the 911 calls, this had a slightly dark humour to it.

The book follows two lives. Nuno DeAngeles An inmate of Rikers Island that has been locked up apart from Dia who is the Love of Nuno life. But she Dia is the deputy of the other main character Nina She is the daughter of a wealthy sports team owner and had been running the Dallas Cowboys where she had to lead them to a number of championships. But when her father passes, she is only left with a small indoor football team the Paterson Pork.he arrives there and we see a glimpse of Paterson a town famous for the poems of Wiliam Carlos Williams and the recent film from Jim Jarmusch set there. So when her brother no in control of the Bigger Dallas cowboys gets greedy and causes a lockout of all NFL games. She tries to attract the crowds to watch the less popular Indoor game. Then we have Nuno who is a criminal that is on the ladder each time he commits a crime he is going up the ladder of the scale of crime so he wants to escape the prison to get to the money that he sees will get him back to Dia. These three lives are a slice of the various class and worlds in Modern America. Nuno is wanted to avenge a death of a young boy and this is why he has to get free to avenge a mistake in the justice system.. He is a strange character he asks for the books the Tunnel in Spanish and Man without qualities in German when first in prison. Add to this a third storyline some different items like 911 logs, pamphlets. Then we have a thrilling climax but I leave that to you to find out.

What the hell is Paterson, New Jersey anyway? That the pork are based there is close to happenstance. Their original owner, Marion Bent, a highly respected Mobster who was dogged by constant rumors that he had ties to egtimate buisness, had essentially exhausted what little community goodwill there wasfor his Edison Emperors.One night, or early morning, under the cloak of darkness(a cloak that was entirely unnecessary as no-one really cared), he loaded all Emperor chattel, most of which had already been heavily lienedon, into several company trucks whose acquisition involved more broken thumbs than Bent’s nearby littlest league catchers Camp nd translorted everything north into the welcoming arms of the then-Mayor of Paterson

How the team arrived at Paterson could never see an English fooball team moving town but who knows it has happened once !

I used to want to try the great American novel and over the years have read books that fall into this category. From Moby Dick through the Great Gatsby, Herzog the rabbit books the epics of Norman Mailer. I only fell down of Infinite Jest which is a shame as this book has a sports theme like that one did. But I did read Underworld which for me was the great American novel of the later 20th century and for me, Sergio is writing books that capture the Trump world of America the overblown nature of sports is shown here. The nature of the world were sports is overblown run by money. I was reminded of the film Idiocracy where the sport has become primitive and overblown over time. Nina shows how sports are run and when her team isn’t on tv it is unknown outside New Jersey she tries to get the contract to fill the void left by the lack of NFL. Then we Have Nuno and his prison his trying to help his cousin who had lost his son and felt justice hadn’t been done. Again like in Naked singularity bring the cracks in the US legal system to light like the myriad of podcasts that have appeared since Serial first came out a few years ago. When books capture the Zeitgeist of the time they may be called the great novel of that time and maybe this is what Sergio is doing in his books. This has a lot of threads and isn’t at the time the easiest to follow but if you want easy you’d not be reading this blog or trying a 600 page novel about indoor football in New Jersey and a prison break from the unbreakable Rikers Island!!

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Winstons covers 4 Infinte fail ?

infinte jest

Todays cover is one of those rare failed to reads for me. I was struck by Jonathan’s post here. Where he spoke about failing and trying again which is something I didn’t do with Infinite Jest I tried a few summers ago when there was a mass reading called the Infinite summer which I tried, but stuggled when Wallace start on about tennis , I have mention this before call this a silly scarred childhood of watching wimbledon after school at a family friends house when I would rather be at home or even outside. Lets face it Tennis in those days was a bit drawn out, any way this book was already in my mind after watching the trial to a forthcoming film The end of tour which is about a long interview he gave when a fellow writer joined him on the later stages of the tour for this book .The end of tour looks great what do you think ?

The Midnight swimmer by Edward Wilson

the midnight swimmer

The midnight swimmer by Edward Wilson

American fiction

Source review copy

Edward Wilson own life reads rather like a novel when you read his bio ,he has served in Vietnam with special forces got a bronze star and ,when he left the army he decide not to return to the us but settled here in the UK and since has been a teacher in Suffolk .He has written a number of other novels .

Catesby hated his office in the bowels of the Olympic Stadium ,Berlin .There were no windows and no – gemutlichkeit .It was the German word for “cosines “,but the full sense of glowing warmth conveyed by the expression was untranslatable .It was funny ,though Catesby ,that the germans ,who valued Gemutlichkeit so highly , constructed buildings that completely destroyed it .

I choose this passage  as it mention words and translation !

Well I was a bit nervous as this is the third in the series of novels ,but it did work as a novel in itself .The book features Catesby ,he is a spy but not in the Bond mode ,no for me he fell between Smiley and Harry Palmer a rough diamond a working class lad that has grafted his way to the top ,but is no man’s fool ,Any way this is the start of the sixties, a world where lady chatterlys lover trial  is happening ,Profumo is unmasked  here in the UK .In america JFK and his beautiful wife have come to the white house ,Vietnam is brewing in the background and of course the is Fidel Castro in the background .Anyway Catesby is set on a mission that could stop the cold war falling further down the rabbit-hole into total chaos .This sees him go from Washington to Cuba .He has to meet a Russian who may have something to tell him  ,along the way he meets the Russian’s beautiful wife .He has a message to go from east to west .All this is happening in October 63 just before the events that shock the world in November 1963 .

Dallas . 22 November 1963 

They wanted to blame it on Havana .That’s why the fall guy .Lee Harvey Oswald , was told to become a member of the fair play for Cuba committee and to make a big show of handing out Pro-Castro leaflets .The truth was otherwise .The gang still wanted Cuba back and that was one of the reasons Kennedy had to die .

An interesting after word near the end of the book .

Now I don’t read many thrillers so being offered this book was a chance to go back to my past growing up we had a lot of thrillers in the house my father is a huge thriller read and I did read a lot in my late teens ,the ones I tend to remember had like this an enigmatic outsider at the heart of the story .Catesby is an outsider a man who has outgrown his working class roots ,but has it seems never felt totally comfortable in the world that surrounds him .I always felt he was a bit more sympathetic to the Russians than other character I have read like Smiley or Harry palmer .In fact at times I was reminded of the admiration Jack Ryan had in the hunt for reed October for the Russian he was trying to find . The world Catesby lives in is one that as history has shown if one wrong move had happened at this time the world we live in would be very different . So if you like fast paced intelligent thriller this is one for you .

Have you a favourite character from thrillers ?

Vox by Nicholson Baker

Vox by nicholson baker

source – review copy

I was very lucky to get sent the four new reissues from Granta of Bakers work which is good as I ve only read a couple of his book .Nicholson Baker is an american writer he writes both fiction and non fiction and is known for stream of consciousness writing and his voyeuristic style at times ,he got a ba in philosophy from Haverford college .

Vox was Nicholson’s fourth book and was published in 1991 ,the book is a shortish novel at only 167 pages long .the book focuses on two characters that are on the telephone on a telephone chat line ,they decide to go to a private room to chat one to one ,the book is that one to one chat ,things start slowly then as the two open up the conversation and subjects get sexier and sexier ,as they talk about their encounters and dreams .This is  not a story if you turn red at steamy scenes on tv as it goes into close details of what they want to do in the bedroom ,so as we find out what Jim and Abbey like we feel a bit like a voyeur or an old stasis agent listening into something private that maybe we shouldn’t be listen to but can’t hang up and in a way its the same for Abbey and Jim as they’re paying a lot for doing this as it is a charging chat line there on .

“what are you wearing ?” he asked.

she said “I m wearing a white shirt with little stars,green and black stars ,on it ,black pants ,and socks the colour of the green stars ,and a pair of black sneakers I got for nine dollars .”

“what are you doing ?”

“I m lying on my bed ,which is made .That’s unusual thing .I made my bed this morning .A  few months ago my mother gave me a chenille bedspread,exactly the kind we used to have ,and I felt bad that it was still folded up unused and this morning I finally made the bed with it ”

The opening of the book and you jump in the middle of the conversation

As you can see Baker’s style is a little different to many writers you don’t get any intro ,no here you jump straight in .So what did I think I loved it ,ok at times the sex scenes described are very sexy and made me go red but it is a book you just want to keep reading like being on the bus and sat behind people as there having a juicy conversation about people you don’t know but you just want to sit there and catch it even if you miss your stop .The book is also more famous for supposedly being the book a Monica gave a very famous Bill ,now if that story is true I had no doubt Bill knew what was on Monica’s mind after reading this book it wouldn’t be a book you’d give to the other sex without expecting a reaction  from the person you had given the book too .the book has a wonderful new cover from Village green design that have done the four new covers for these books .

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