Tremor of Intent by Anthony Burgess #Burgess100

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Tremor of Intent by Anthony Burgess

English fiction

Source – personnel copy

Well today sees the 100th anniversary of the nirth of Anthony Burgess. You may ask why  me the translated fiction fan likes Burgess so much. Well like many young men of my generation his Clockwork Orange was part of those books us boys read back in the day, alongside brave new world, on the road , naked lunch , the naked and dead etc well I did read clockwork orange .But I feel Burgess really didn’t hit me to I read Dead man in Deptford around the time it came out in 93 I was really grabbed by him and read everything I could get my hands on at the time which was maybe half his books . But as this year loomed I had tried to get back and read more by Burgess I decided to buy all the books I haven’t got so far I have all his novels bar three early books one of those is changing hands for 300 pound , m/f ,man of Nazareth and beard roman woman. that said I have 27 novels by him to start reading as with Dead man in Deptford which has a spy twist in it I decide to read Burgess only outright spy novel.

“This damnable sex, boys – ah you do well to writhe in your beds at very mention of the word. All the evil of our modern times  springs from unholy lust, the act of the dog and the bitch on the bouncing bed , limbs going like traction engines , the divine gift of articulate speech diminished to squeals and groans and panting .It’s terrible, an abomination before god and His Holy Mother

The two lads are taught this at school , how can Hiller ever be like Bond !!

He wrote this as he found the spy novels of the time lack a sense of humour in them , so he decide to redress the balance with this book. The hero of his book is Dennis Hiller a spy sent to try to bring back a scientist that has defected. Roper the man who has defected is an old school pal . The two like Burgess himself grew up North and in a catholic school this is where the pair met . But also left Hiller scared so i=unlike Bond say he suffers Catholic guilt every time he make it with a woman and is remind of his teacher at school .So he arrives on the cruise where he has to try to persuade Roper to change his mind and not join a cruise , there is a woman Miss Devi a femme fatale  and a teen girl for him to contend with a and the Huge and mysterious mr Theodorescu , whom sound like he was a missing Bond villain a huge balding man who smoked cigars .This is more tension missed chances than action of the bonds say. This is a cat and mouse cruise through the Med as we see if Hiller comes back or was he meant to !!

This must be her boss , Mt Theodorsecu . He was nobel fatness; the fat of his face was part of its essential structure, not a mean gross accretion, and the vastly shapely nose needed those cheek-pads and firm jowls for a proper balance,..The chin was very firm.The eyes weren’t currants in dough but huge and lustrous lamps whose whites seemed to have been polished .He was totally bald , but the smooth scalp – from which a discreet odour of violets breathed – seemed less an affliction than an achievement, as though hair was a mere callow down to be shed in maturity.

The Villian is straight out of a Bond script , a sort of man like the Beast from fantastic four .

This is a tongue in cheek take on a spy novel . He want to change the dry books of say Le Carre,  so Hiller is flawed character  not from OXBridge , but deeper in a way  and unlike Bond isn’t easy with woman due to his upbringing  and for me this is of course the bit of Burgess I like for me he was the first writer I knew that was Northern but with out shouting I am Northern he grew up in the Manchester the same time as my own grandfather in those inter war years he like my grandfather is from a working background his father a piano player and tobacconist , my own great grand parent was a builder my grandfather trained to be architect but at night in the day he work with my grandfather on the build sites sort cleaning brick putting up walls etc so I imagine the two must have crossed paths at some time , not sure they ever did but for me Burgess is after his childhood and teen years he travellled , translated books ,wrote music and was a linguist which all connect him more to this blogger so watch out over the next year we will be travelling the world of Burgess .he is my pile to work through .

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Constellation by Adrien Bosc

Constellation

Constellation  By Adrien Bosc

French fiction

Original title – Constellation

Translation – Willard wood

Source – review copy

I again go back to France as I seek to move the total of books reviewed on the blog from France towards the hundred mark with this the 80th french book reviewed , from a rising star of french fiction . He has set up the publisher edition Sous-sol a very succesful French publisher. This was his debut novel it made a number of longlist and shortlist of major french prizes when it came out and I also noted when it arrived that it was one I felt , I would love as it remind me somewhat of the fellow french novel windows on the world  that also followed  a group of people after a major event.

The passengers are strapped in , Marcel Cerdan jokes with Jo Longman, while Paul Genser stares fixedly out of the pothole. Ginette Neveu clasps the case containing her two violins , A stradivarius and Guadagnini – a week ago she only owned one. At the front of the aeroplane, their seat harnesses clinched, the cockpit crew prepare for landing

The violin in piece later turned up in pieces by the Azores

 

Constellation follows the 48 people who where on an Air France plane a Lockhead Constellation from Paris to New york one of those wonderful post war planes all silver and gleaming like the cover of the book . The plane has to stop at the Azores to refuel this is where the plane had crashed. What Bosc does here is tells the post war years through those 48 people in little pen pictures of them all. From five Basque shepherds that are trying to get to the new world to make a new life for themselves following a path that many Basques did at that time. Then there is a boxer on the way to a title fight in America, a former lover of Edith Piaf . Then the story that touch me most is that of a Ginette Niveau a child prodigy on the violin now an adult she is heading to america to perform as her career is on the p Piaf’s lover also on the flight Marcel Cerdan lover Piaf said afterwards she and him would have travelled a thousand miles to Her Neveu . Then we see the pilots story of the war years, then the man who brought Disney merchandising to europe that meant every child had chance for mickey mouse on their wrist.

Only world war II slowed Disney’s rising power. THe company built on its popularity by taking part in the war effort. On July 14, 1942, the studios – in collaborations with Lockhead aircraft (The company that would build the constellation) – released a cartoon on the techniques of riveting aeroplanes,, an instruction manual in the form of a short animated film, Four methods of flush riveting , aimed at the governments civilian contractors.

Disney’s war years through there war films is just a small hiccup in their eventual rise to a mega company they are today .

I loved the way Bosc sitch together fact and fiction from Niveau a well-known person so her life is fact to that of the lowly five Basques who have left their village in search of the new world. Then the modern world from Kay Kamen and the birth of merchandising to coming to America to box or perform . This is a collection of lives just as europe was getting on it feet caught in an air crash that end their lives but we see the paths they were taking and what France and the real world was like at that time a nice slice of historic fiction for those who like me aren’t always the keenest on historic fiction.

Pickwick and Pickwick Doubling the reads

death and Mr Pickwick

I fetched this book from the library the other day , I had wanted to wait till I could buy it but saw it in the Library and just couldn’t wait .Death and Mr Pickwick is a historic novel  about the writing of Charles Dickens novel and the characters around the book that inspired Dickens or Boz  and the guy Robert Seymour that did the illustrations for the original books . He later killed himself  . So I am preparing to dive into both this and the original book that was the starting point for the book , this and Stephen Jarvis finding out about Robert Seymour’s life and using him as one of four main characters in this epic book Death and mr Pickwick is 800 pages long  .I will also  be reading my step grandfather edition of The Pickwick papers , which is the same edition I read many years ago on a holiday at my dads in my teens . So in twenty-five years , will the book seem different .I think over that quarter of a century it maybe has fallen down the ranks of Dickens novels maybe as it hasn’t had a new tv or film version since 1985 , which I watch at the time which made me read the book at the time  , this version appears to be online and the 1952 film as well on you tube both worth watching .The best film is the 1952 one , in which the main character is well portrayed by James Hayter , this film also lead to the book being a huge hit in Russia at the time , as the film was the first british film to be shown in Russia after world war two . So at end of this month it will be all Pickwick here as I try to read both books .

Have you read either book ? I will be bringing review of both at some point next month !

the pickwick papers

Injury time by Beryl Bainbridge

Injury time Beryl Bainbridge

English fiction

I read this as part of Gaskella Beryl Bainbridge week .I had Beryl Bainbridge down in my list of big scary Women writers ,those you who follow the blog know I struggle sometimes with big female writers .So Beryl Bainbridge is a name I ve been aware of for twenty year since my early days of following the booker prize .She was shortlisted on a number of occasions but never actually won the prize but shortly after her death they ran a Bainbridge booker of the books she’d had shortlisted and the book master Georgie won (I may try that next ).She grew up liverpool and her books mainly psychological and set in the working classes .She published over twenty novels .I saw a documentary on her that bbc showed a couple of years ago that involved her family and meant to try her then  so must thank Annabella   for giving me the push to read one of her books at last .

Now to injury time ,which I may say is a book of its time firsted published in the seventies .We meet Edward a man married to Helen but having an an affair with Binny ,He felt bad that his mistress is unable to do the things a wife could do so the book opens with him asking someone he knows Old Simpson and his other half Muriel he is the sort chap that is able to keep a secret .Now to be truthful the opening of this book just didn’t grab me .I saw this as a typical bit of seventies social commentary the dinner party being the big thing of the seventies as families got more disposable income this came the dinner parties in fact my heart started sink , think oh no is this a different take on Abgails party social satire I loved Abigail’s  party and would find it hard to get anything to match it    for the humour .But as we moved further on the fact this party has to finish at half  ten as Edward need to be home is maybe the first bit that tells you something is going to happen at this party to maybe mean Edward is going to be found out ,so the clock ticks as they await the guests .Then they arrive  late than expected and the party gets under way .This is where the book really drew me in as the party is suddenly crashed by a group of bank robbers .As one can imagine this adds a new dynamic to Edward’s rush to finish at half ten  and also means he won’t be home so as the party descends into farce .Well that’s enough of that I let you read the book to find out the rest .

They began dinner at a quarter past nine. Edward wondered agitatedly how he could possibly manage to eat ,help with the washing up,and be out of the house by half past ten at the latest .It would seem fearfully abrupt .

Edward start to panic ,when they arrive late .

I think the title is an allusion to the football game where if things are tight the amount of injury time can make the world of difference I remember the United game in 1999 where they won the European cup in injury time so like that this is Edwards injury time . I was also  reminded after reading the book  of two things by this book the first is the Harold Pinter play The birthday party in which a party is gatecrashed by two men,though that play is very dark the context of a party being gatecrashed is there and fact it been out for twenty years and Bainbridge did a lot of theatre criticism  she probably saw this and maybe it was a slight influence on the idea of the story .The second is an episode of only fools and horse where Del and Rodney suffered an intruder whilst on holiday he turns out to be an escaped prisoner and much farce follows as they try to make him go .Well I did in the end like this book not love it ,it was enough to make me want to try her again and yet again shows the value of having a reading week devoted to one writer .

Dickens 2012 how far did the ripple go round the world

Well today is the 200th  anniversary of Charles Dickens birth .I ve tossed and turned in my head how to cover this and involve the main focus of Winstonsdad that of fiction in translation and I decide that is to see how in my view he has had an effect outside the UK on writers .At the time Dickens wrote he was along side a couple of great French writers Zola and earlier Balzac these where all social realist writers .so lets see how in my view dickens has effected writers from round the world .

THE CITY –

Now London is Dickens city the sooty dirty back streets dark alleys and cobbles inhabit his london make the city a central character in a lot of his books .Now Orhan Pamuk in a lecture in 2009 acknowledge how both Dickens and Joyce had shown him how important making the city feel right can be to the book ,I read his last book last year the Museum of innocence and this book has loads of dickens links the city Pamuk’s is Istanbul ,class this book is all about classes and love always crops up in Dickens .Although he said he wasn’t a huge fan the great chronicler of Cairo Naguib Mafhouz said Dickens had made cities important to the novel .Joyce also would have read dickens and how many of the scenes in Ulysses wouldn’t have been possible if Dickens hadn’t written so much about working people  and the streets they live in .

CHILDREN AS A NARRATOR 

Whether it is Pip ,David Copperfield or Oliver twist ,Dickens wrote great children as Narrators but also children facing great struggles and meeting the most awful characters along the way from Magwitch and Bill Sikes as evil ,to school or workplace as a horrific situations .Now last year I read two great child Narrators heir to Dickens great Narrator and both from the spanish speaking world Tochtti from down the rabbit hole lives in a nightmares world of the modern criminal class Fagin and Sikes look tame compared to this world but if Dickens lived now this would be his world .The other book is Kamchatka and Harry and his family on the run  face a terrifying world  and danger at every turn .I interview the writer and he had read a lot of english fiction although he didn’t mention Dickens I m sure he would have read him .

SOCIAL JUSTICE 

Now there is one name jumps out for this Leo Tolstoy who was known to be a huge Dickens fan and like Dickens his books have a lot of social realism in them .Tolstoy called Dickens the greatest 19th century writer ,even have pictures of Dickens on his wall .Elsewhere I noticed Heinrich boll mention Dickens in his book the Irish journal  and the recent German short story collection from Clemens Meyer a rough edged book is the heir to Dickens in its view of people on the edge is the rough parts of east german that much different to the Victorian London of Dickens I wonder .

So there is just a few people from round the world that could be called the children of dickens but I like to point out Sarah’s post and the fact that I love dickens but as Sarah says there are lots of over looked writers like Henry Green and Lawrence Durrell would be another this year is his 100th anniversary .The top image is one I took recently at the dickens museum which is at his home .


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