The Dangers of Smoking in Bed By Mariana Enriquez

The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez

Argentinean fiction

Original title – Los peligros de fumar en la cama

Translator – Megan Mcdowell

Source – Personal copy

I’m back on with the last few Booker International prize books with the shortlist been announced yesterday, the shadow jury will announce our shortlist in due course. One of the things I have really enjoyed the last few years is the emergence of a new generation of Latin American writers and in that, we have a lot more female writers to read than there were when I started Winstonsdad. This is the second collection to be published but as is the way in the world of translated literature this was actually the first book of stories to be published by Marian Enriquez. She studied journalism and Rock Journalism and was a fan of Stephen King and HP Lovecraft when growing up.  Both masters of the Horror short story. She has also written four novels her last won one of the Major book Prize the Herralde Prize.

I found the bones after the rainstorm that turned the back patch pof earth into a mud puddle. I put them in a bucket. I used for carrying my treasures to the spigot on the patio where I washed them. I showed them to Dad. He said they were chicken bones, or maybe even beef bones, or else they were from some dead pet someone must have buried a long time ago, Dogs or cats. He circled back around to the chicken because before, when I was lttle, my grandmother used to have a copp there.

What are the bones who are they ?

This collection opens with a Will Oldham quote which to me was a sign I would like these stories. When the collection opens with the spirit of a dead baby after the bones are found by a granddaughter in the grandmother’s garden. These stories all hark back to those dark years of the Junta and Dictatorship. So we have teen girls using an ouija board to try and talk to those they have lost. I loved the opening of this story as it mentioned the Band Slayer who my best friend is a huge fan of this is a nod to those classic horror genres of teen girls horror films and Metal music a nod to the times. Then I was reminded of a book I read earlier this year by another story in the collection when those children that disappear start reappearing which reminded me of the Novel A luminous republic which had a group of list children suddenly reappearing this is another classic horror story and movie. The rest of the stories all have classic nods to the horror genre and a look at the times they are set in especially the abuse of Girls which crops up in a number of the stories a powerful collection.

At that age there’s music playing in your head all the time , as if a radio were transmitting from the napoe of you neck, inside your skull. Then one day that music starts to grow softer, or it just stops.When that happens, you’re no longer a teenager. But we weren’tthere yet, not even close, back when we talked to the dead. Back wthen, the music was at full blastand it sound like slayer, Reign in blood .

We started the Oija board at Polack’s houser locked in her room. We had to do it secret because Mara, the Plack’s sister was afraid of ghosts and spirits. She was afraid of everything – man, she was a stupid little kid.

The last story in the collection.

Like the later collection Enriquez, she is a master of the Horror Genre I used to read a lot of Stephen King stories in my teens and she has lifted the lid on the dark corners of the human souls and the darkest of times in her homeland this is like a collection of testaments to that time this is a theme I see cropping up time after time in a lot of literature from Argentina it seems the time has come to look back and try and piece apart what happened. This isn’t a collection that sits easily with the read no it is dark and brutal at times may be less polished than her later collection it is still worth reading. A mix of the macabre, folklore, and the dark of the times. Let’s hope her novel is as good when it comes out next year in English Our share of the Night the one that won the Herralde Prize.

Winstons score – B+  a dark collection

Earthlings by Sayaka Murata

Earthlings by Sayaka Murata

Japanese fiction

Original title – Chikyu Seijin

Translator – Ginny Tapley Takemori

Source – personal copy

I got this book last week for my birthday i had given Amanda a list of books that I thought maybe on Tuesday’s booker longlist and this was one of two Japanese novels this was one the other was Breast and Eggs which if it is on the list Tuesday i will get otherwise it will be a while before I get to that one anyway back to this the second book by Sayaka Muruta to be translated into English the first Convenience store women was a hit and one of those books I didn’t read due to the hype but this had been on my radar mainly because I loved the cover art which in fact relates to the book. Sayaka Murata grew up reading sci-fi and mystery novels from her family see even started to write a novel when she was 14. Finally publishing a novel when she was 24 she has published 11 books so far winning one of Japan’s biggest book prizes Akutagawa prize for her book convenience store women. Her books deal with Family, sex, celibacy, asexual relationships, and sci-fi elements.

I took Piyyut out of my bag. He loked like a white hedgehog plush toy, but actually he was an emissary sent by the magic police on Planet Popinpobopia. Piyyut had given me the magic wand and mirror to help meuse my maigical powers, I explained.

“Wow, Natuski, thats amazing” YUu said, his face serious. “It’s thank to you protecting the earth that we’re living in peace”

“Right”

“HEy. What sort of place is that Planet Popinpo- What’s it called again?”

“Popinpobopia. I don’t know really. Piyyut said it was secret.

“OH”

She is given magic powers to help save the earth by the plush to that is an emissary from another planet.

The novel is told from the point of view Natsuki she grows up spending her summers with her family in the remote mountains with their grandparents in the WIld Nagano Mountains and also there is her Family her Aunt and Uncle and her cousin Yuu. it is during these summers she buys what Piyyut which she thinks at the time is a white hedgehog toy but he is really an alien from the planet Popinpobia to give Natuski magic powers to save the earthlings. What follows is an account of her youth which has two events that shape her future and that of her family the first is abuse from a teacher that sexual abuses her and the other is a sexual awakening alongside her cousin Yuuwhich they are caught meaning the family unit is split and they stop talking to the aunt and Uncle. So when many years later when she is trapped in the city she describes it as a baby-producing factory and she is stuck in a sexless marriage. As she is driven to go back to the mountains this leads to a reunion with her cousin and also the secrets of her youth breaking through the loss of family she missed the after ripples of the kissing and sex with her cousin in her youth. This leads to a shocking end to the journey through the book.

I once asked my husband why he’d registered at Surinuke dot.cpm. “I thought it was written into our contract not to pry into that”, he said, clearly uncomfortable.

“I’m sorry, that was out of order. I didn’t mean to infringe on our contract>”

“No it’s okay. I feel suprisinglu relaxed talking with you. Natsuki.”

It wasn’t that my husband had no interest in sex. Instead he thought it wasn’t something to do rather something to observe. He enjoyed watching, but he was apparantly disgusted by the notion of touching and being touched by someone else who was discharging fluid. Another problem my husband had was that he hated working. This was obvious in his behacviour at work, so he found it hard to hold a job down.

Her advert and contract husband isn’t all she had hoped for at times.

I am not a huge sci-fi fan as you may know but this uses the sci-fi to drive the narrative and also to point things out. This is studio Ghibli if they let the writers from Law and order special victims unit had written it this uses the sci-fi element as a sugar coating to the horrors of sexual abuse from a teacher which then leads her fumblings with Yuu which then leads to suicide and a family break up these events then lead to her marriage and the events at the end of the book. Murata manages to tackle the subjects subtle and with a uniquely Japanese take on events Piyyut is like a Pokmon character manga creation, then things like advertising for her husband in a very Japanese way the loneliness of the city, and being friendless as a teen the knock-on effect of abuse is seen. A powerful work Natsuki is the flip of those lonely males of Murakami’s novels a female perspective on modern Japanese life. Have you read this book or her first book ?

Winstons score  -A an unusual book

A Luminous Republic by Andrés Barba

A luminous republic by Andrés Barba

Spanish fiction

Original title – República luminosa

Translator – Lisa DIllman

Source – personal copy

I move to Spain for the third book of the year and to a writer I have featured once before Andrés Barba he was one of the Grant list of the best young Spanish writers featured 10 years ago when you look back on that list it has produced many great reviews for this blog over the last ten years. Barba has had four books translated into English, I reviewed Such small hands by him which like this book had very otherworldy themes to it. He been nominated for the Premio Herralde a sort Spanish booker prize and has written 14 books and has translated books into Spanish as well.

The Day I arrived in San Christobel, twenty years ago now, I was a young civil servant with the department od Social Affairs in Estepi who’d just been promoted. IN the space of a few years I’d gone from being a skinny kid with a law degree to a recently married man whose happiness gave him a slightly more attractive air than he no doubt would otherwise havve had. Life struck me as a simple series of advertises, relatively easy to overcome, which led to a death that was perhaps not as simply but was inevitable  and thus didn’t merit thinking about.

Our narrator who got married and then ended up in the town.

The book is the story of a number of children with a language all of their own that Turn up in the town of San Christobel. A small Argentinean town on the edge of the jungle that is starting to go places the story is told from the point of view of a young civil servant when he had arrived with his wife twenty years earlier who has to cope when one by one these children appear. Lawless begging. Then vandalism as they grow in their numbers from a few to 32 unkempt, uncared and like wild animals where are their parents that isn’t really asked as they start to become a real nuisance. As this goes on the locals want something done but when an adult is murdered by them things start to turn against them and the locals start to want something done about the children. But is the reaction of the locals too much? A sort of flipped childhood viewed from the Adult’s side turns children into demons and almost like stray dogs to this small town.

Still, the events laid out by the cheif of police were far from invented; a couple of officers had approached a goup of kids who’d been hanging out in Plaza 16 de diciembre for several days and had robbed several pedestrians. According to one of the officers, the children repled to their questions in “An incomprehensible language” and attacked them when they tired to take the younger of the two – who was about twelve, he claimed to the police station. In the first account the officer maintained that one of the kids had snatched his gun and “fired wildly”, but later the testimony of the witness forced to admit hat the struggle had in fact caused the officer himself to fire accidently/ The bullet hit his parner, Officer Wilfredo Argaz, penetrating the man’s groin, and he’d died several minutres later, opposite the medical facility

The police man intially lied about what had happened with the children to great more fear !!

a lot of people mention lord of the flies in their reviews of this book. But I was more reminded of the feral child in the film Mad max. I view them as like those children having never being civilized the lord of the flies see children descend into Violence but this is more a group of people acting like a pack of apes or the feral child in Mad max films where civilization has lost its boundaries. Like his other book I have, it has children and strange children at its heart the narrator shows the view of them from the outside what happens when they become demoi=nised it is more about what happens when a group is turned on by society rather than asking how and why they got like the way they are? it is a short book but one that leaves you with questions and disturbing by what you have read and in thought about what you would do which is a good thing in a book I always feel.

Fracture by Andres Neuman

Fracture by Andres Neuman

Argentinean fiction

Original title – Fractura

Translators – Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garcia

Source – review copy

It has been a while since I reviewed a book by Andres Neuman. I met him when his first book made the shortlist of the old IFFP and I was lucky to have got invited to the award and managed a  chat with him which was amazing as he was aware of my blog. Anyway, the years have passed and when I saw this was out I was pleased it was on I managed to get a review copy of. this his latest to be translated to English as for me he is one of those writers that I want to read all he has written over time.

An earthquake fractures the present, shatters perspective, shifts memory plates.

As soon as Watanabe sticks his head out , a torrent of feet engulf him, He takes a deep breath before emerging. He is still has the feeling that the world is swaying slightly, that every object emits the memory of its instability.

Fortunately, everything outside appears more or less in it place he hadn’t been at all sure of this. The force of the jolts made him fear the worst.

I loved this pasaged it captured te earthquke and Yoshies life in one.

So the premise of this book is based around two characters the first is a retired Japanese Executive Yoshie Watanabe. His life has a circle like quality to it there is the beginning where he was one of the few people to survive the bombings at Hiroshima and Nagaski. the story starts when the earthquake in 2011 and the disaster that hit the nuclear plant at Fukushima. This is the bases of the story as he has seen so much and had spent a lot of time abroad in his life trying to escape the first nuclear disaster he had saw and he lost his family along the way. He is contacted by Pinedo an Argentinean journalist wanting to hear about Yoshie’s life as a man that had lived to see both the Nuclear bombs of world war two but the disaster and fractured world of the 2011 Earthquake. Yoshie has been around the world trying to run from his past but in this journey, he had been in a place like Vietnam and Madrid when major events happened around him. He is a man that has enjoyed his life but was damaged to start with so the fractured way he tells his life is how he lived it.

It was around that time that Phil Ochs rook his own life. According to him, he had died a long time ago. Later it was revealed that the FBI kept a five-hundred-page file on his activites. It still considered him a dangerous individual even after hi death.

Just like the country, I began a new life. I met up again with Richard. I think we had always liked each other, but when he was available I was with someone else and vice cersa. We had unfinished buiness. Despite claiming to be a liberated woman, I hadn’t yet learned how to live alone. I avoided the grieving process by eagerly moving on to the next challenge. Which is part of me indentified with Yoshie in this?

Phil ochs the protest singer in the sixties one of those times Yoshie was there to see!!

This is a story of one man’s life that is told in fragments. Using the journalist connects the story to Andre’s homeland which Yoshie had spent time. He is a sort of dumb witness to the 20th century by chance that happened to be at the crucial place at crucial times as he stands on the line between being safe and in danger by Fukushima power plant as he visits the place at the request of the journalist.” Sit by my side, come as close as the air, Share in a memory of gray; Wander in my words, dream about the pictures That I play of changes” is a song by Pil Ochs mentioned in the book due to the CIA keeping a huge file on this protest singer this captures Yoshie a bit as we wander in his words and the world he lived !! A rare story of some from Japan traveling the world. Have you read this ?

Money to Burn by Ricardo Piglia

 

Image result for ricardo piglia money to burn

Money to Burn by Ricardo Piglia

Argentinan fiction

Original title – Plata Quemada

Translator – Amanda Hopkinson

Source – Personal copy

I have always had a great love since I started this blog of fiction from Argentina with 27 books under review. I knew it was time I featured Ricardo Piglia, a writer, and critic best known for introducing Argentina to Hardboiled crime novels from the great American writers. He also wrote a number of crime novels. This one came out a number of years ago. His last book to be translated came out a couple of years ago from Deep Vellum, I have a copy of that as well to review at some point. But started with this as it seemed to be a great genre-defying piece of work. A novel based on an actual crime that also saw Piglia sued by relatives and people he had depicted in the book. which saw a payout for how they were depicted in the novel.

They are called the twins because they’re inseparable. But they aren’t brothers, nor do they even look like one another. In factit would be hard to find two more different physical types. What they have in common is a way of looking at you, withtheir pale, placid eyes, a savage stare in a suspicious face. Dorda is heavy and quiet, with a ruddy face and an easy smile.Brgnone is thin, slightly built, agile, has black hair and a complex so pallid, it looks as if he’s spent more time in jail than he actually has.

The opening lines describe the twins or as they are nicknamed The gauch and the Kid. Dorda is a simple soul it turns out.

The book follows a crime that actually happened in Buenos Aires on the 27 September 1965 a group of bank robbers who had considered themselves like Urban Guerillas robbed a bank. They went on the run til six weeks later they were surrounded by the military police and a siege occurred which became the stuff of legend. These men the twins Dorda and Brignone were depicted as lovers hence being called the twins because they were described as inseparable. together with twelve other men in a gang, they were called the Tascura gang. they commit the robbery and go on the run with millions in one of the biggest crimes in Latin American history. The main focus of the book is these two men and the relationship also what happened during and after the crime. As the two called the Gaucho and the kid during the book add a sense of the outlaw feel of the book a sense of the crime harking back to the great crimes of the wild west or even before that with characters like Dick Turpin. We also see the nature of the men as two gay men in the society that wouldn’t accept them as Macho males. Then we also see how relationships suffer when under pressure as the law captures up with them in the form of Silva the policeman in charge of finding the gang.

Next day the newspapers carried pictures of Police commissinor Silva in the act of identifying the corpse of Twisty Bazan in a bar beside the harbour. His pronouncements were both sententious and contradictory (mutally incompatiable, even), as befits a perfect example of police logic.

“in this country criminals fall to illing ine another in order to avoid coming to Justice, We are on the trail of the gang of assassins who robbed the San Fernando bank and their hours are now numbered.

The dead man was an inform but it looked like bprogress early on in the case.

The bond between the two main characters is that of the classic partners in crime butch and Sundance, Bonnie and Clyde, Frank and Jesse James. The novel is formed of reports of the time and Piglia actually started writing the book just after the actual events coming back to it many years later. He said in an interview when the book came out he was influenced by Oscar Lewis works but also the New journalism of the 1970s. .He said he used the actual record events and placed a fiction on top of this. I said he was a writer I liked to feature as he in some ways is the Heir of Borges for the way he liked to defy genre but also subverting the crime and detective novel something Borges did in the early forties with his stories. The only problem with this book is that we may have lost something in the translation as the Spanish edition is known for his use of slang that was used at the time. Something that is hard to transfer. It has a great sense of pace at times and keeps the tension that must have been in the original book.

To back of Beyond by Peter Stamm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To back of beyond by Peter Stamm

Swiss fiction

Original title – Weit über das Land

Translator – Michael Hofmann

Source – library book

I usually try over the new year to catch some books that may be on the man Booker longlist. A good place to start is writers that have been on the list before so this is the first of two books I have got from the library from previous longlisted writers. Peter Stamm has won a number of prizes in Germany for his writing which is described as being sparse.I have reviewed his books twice before on the blog, he is a writer I feel could be on the longlist this year.

When astrid realized that Thomas wasn’t lying beside her, she would suppose he was already up, even though she almost invaribly got up first. She would go upstairs half asleep and wake the children and go downstairs again. Ten minutes later, freshly showered and in her robe she would emerge from the bathroom and call the children, who were bound to be still in bed. Konrad!Ella! Get a move on! If you don’t get up now, you’ll be late,Always the same sentence.

Astrid goes into auto mode when Thomas goes.

Like his other books, this has a moment at the start of the tale. The moment this book starts is when a perfect or so it seems couple Thomas and Astrid with their 2.4 children return from a perfect holiday in Spain. Next Day Thomas walks out of there house and starts to do a Forest Gump and walk around Switzerland. Meanwhile, his with Astrid is like a rabbit caught in headlights and just stays as she is covering for her missing husband.Thomas initially stays in a caravan then heads to the mountain trying to live off the land as best he can stumble into a brothel. Well, Astrid tries to help the children then she decides to let the world know what has happened. Why did Thomas escape, why hasn’t Astrid acted sooner? This is about keeping face in a way for Astrid there perfect life had tiny cracks in but they failed to see them.

It was daybreak when Thomas awoke.The moon was high, but it didn’t shed much light in the brightening sky. The group if trees that Thomas had seen as an outline the previous nightwere just a few sick specimens with leafless crowns, their trunks a tangle of ivy. A sweetish smell hung in the air.

Thomas clothes were sodden, but he didn’t feel cold. He rubbed his hands on the damp grass and wiped the sleep from his eyes .

Thomas is in a dream state at times .

This is a novella and touches on what modern life is about in a way. Those who like Thomas just drift off this isn’t quite Christopher Mccandless into the wild Thomas isn’t making a point in a way he seems  more hunting for what is seldom seen these days in our towns and cities and that is as Kierkegaard said “I found I had less to say, until finally, I became silent, and began to listen.I discovered in silence, the voice of God. Maybe not quite God, but Thomas is seeking that clarity it brings to people sometimes. Their life isn’t all it seems this is classic Stamm in a way he has a way of going under the veneer of modern life. He has a way of placing his characters into situations using a starting point.Like in seven years he uses a classic storyline a man leaving his family in a mid-life crisis a Reg Perrin or Frank Bascombe life falling apart. What is your favourite Peter Stamm book?

All days are night by Peter Stamm

 

All days are nights by Peter stamm

Swiss fiction

Original title – Nacht ist der tag

Translator – michaael Hofmann

source – library book

Have I said something wrong?
How can I know if you’re not going to speak to me?
There I am, in your eyes
And we’re only playing, but what am I saying?
Oh, what am I saying?
Oh, what am I saying?

Oh, there’s no one like you, no one like that now
There’s always some way that you could bring me down

Maybe it’s just that I fly too high, that the ground is hard
It always hurts me
When I fall over sideways and break out in sores and people start laughing
But it’s not what I’m into

I don’t expect you to know
I don’t expect you to

I’ve  choosen an old wedding present lyric as no one caught heart ache and bitterness better than David Gedge in his songs Gillian could been in one of his songs .

 

This the second book by Peter Stamm I have reviewed here, I reviewed Seven years two years ago and was blown away, but I then download his stories to my late kindle but never got to them so when looking for some ideas for this years German lit month I decide it was time to try another book by Peter Stamm. Stamm started out working at accounts then decide to return to university and studied subjects as varied as English , business and Psychology .He started in radio drama in the early 1990s and has written a number of novels stories and plays Since I last reviewed him he won the frank O’Connor short story prize and been on the man booker international list.

Half wake up then drift away. alternatively surfacing and lapsing back into weightlessness .Gillian is lying in water with a blue luminescence. Within it her body looks yellowish, but wherever it breaks the surface, it disappears into the darkness. The only light comes from the warm water lapping her belly and breasts, It feels oily, beading on her skin.She seems to be in an enclosed room, there is no noise, but she still has a sense of not being alone. Love is somewhere filling her up

The opening lines as she wakes up to what has happened to her .

All days and night is the story of a woman Gillian, she starts the book waking after a horrific crash after she had argued with her husband. He did in the crash leaving her with a broken life , broken body and worse of all in a way a broken face.The book follows her struggle to piece together her life together and also we see how the point at which the crash happened her pre crash life with her husband Mathias he was an editor and she was a presenter on tv , this is where she meet the man the caught the problem and why they had a drunken fight that lead to the crash Hubert is the man.He is an artist and took Nude pictures of her , that is what he does takes pictures of women naked at home and Mathias saw them which leads to the crash but why had she a problem with Hubert what part has he in her future ?

The day before the second operation, a sunday, Gillian visited her parents.She hadn’t seen then since the accident. When he mother opened the door and saw her, she turned aside and started crying.Her father stepped up and with an expression of annoyance pushed her mother out of the way

Come on in , he said

The new Gillian after the crash is to much for her mother .

This book has just the same feeling I had when I read seven years Stamm seems to be very good at cold characters, Gillian is a cold woman in a way her life is all face and scratch below that her life with mathias was all for show really. She was jut the face on tv her life had become a show really so when she loses nearly everything and everyone around her as she is now faceless looking for her old face but getting a new face and outlook. Yes Gillian is one of these woman who seems to have everything , but when it comes to that point of the crash what has she nothing for me that is what stamm captures so well in his prose a woman broken rebuilding herself but at the time she does the flaws of before are clear. Stamm has said all character are fiction even if based on real people such is the case her Gillian and mathias are a mix of characters but when you see them on the page you instantly know the sort as I would say .

Have you read Stamm

This house is not for sale by E C Osondu

this house is not for sale

 

This house is not for sale by E C Osondu

Nigerian fiction

Source – review copy

Tell ’em that the house is not for sale
We’re still livin’ here, how come nobody can tell
They’re takin’ all the furniture, movin’ our things
Come on little honey, put your head on my knee
Tell ’em that the house is not for sale
And calm down, calm down, calm down
Calm down, calm down, calm down

Do you remember when we even bought this thing?
I danced you across the wooden floor and you signed the lease
What happened in the car that night?
What happened in the car that night?
Tell ’em that the house is not for sale
And calm down, calm down, calm down
Calm down, calm down, calm down
Calm down

I couldn’t miss the chance that one of my favourite singers had written a song with the same title as this book so This house is not for sale by Ryan Adams

So another trip to africa and this time a rising star of Nigerian fiction E C Osondu , has already won the Caine prize for african writing in 2009  for his story waiting here it is online .He has an MFA from Syracuse university , he currently teaches in Rhode Island in the US .This is his second book following Voice of America that came out in 2011 .That was a short story collection so this is his debut novel .

When we asked Grandpa how the house we called the family house came into existence , this is the story he told us .

A long , long time ago , before anybody alive today was born , a brave ancestor of ours who was a respected and feared Juju man woke up one day and told his family , friend and neighbours that he had a dream ,In the dream he saw a crown being placed on his head .He interpreted this dream as signifying that he was going to be crowned a king soon .

I loved the story of how the house became the house so to speak .

This house is not for sale is a story of a house and the man who managed to get the house many years before and has been the driving force of the house .The house in Lagos is seen through the eyes of those who have lived in the house over the years .Grandpa life and those living there is recounted through the eyes of his grandson .From Grandpa story of how he got the house of the King .Through thieves entering the house .A cousin Ibe that makes money in many ways not all that honest that bring life to the house  .Then there is husbands playing away , murder and many other things going on inside the walls of “The Family house “.What we see is a vibrant house through our young narrator eyes .

The british love tea and will drink tea when they are happy and drink tea when they are sad .They’ll drink tea when they are hungry and when they are full .They love their cats and their dogs and all their pets ,They have a society for the protection of animals and none for the protection of their fellow humans .

I highlighted this as it made me laugh ,well just to note this Brit hates tea but does love his dogs .

I said E C Osondu first book was a collection of short stories , I feel he loves this form as the second book is a novel but one of those loose novels that seem very much the fashion these days (I say this knowing that the great american novel  winesburg Ohio is a cycle of stories ) .This is also the fourth book I can remember that has used a house as a framing device for the book .The nearest to this of the ones I have read is The yacobian building .But this book also has a great child narrator as the darkness of some of the events in the house are told in that childlike way of ttwelling things straight but not tainted by expereince or judgement .What comes accross is a vibrant house run by a sly old man who has managed to keep this huge house despite the city around it changing but has also provide a roof over the head of a number of people that have washed up at the door of  Grandpa’s house over the years .

Woman in translation Five from the Archive

One of the beauty of blogging for six plus years is I have a good selection of reviews to look back on so today as others have I ‘ve decide to look back on five books from the archives

The rest is silence by Carla Gulfenbein

The rest is silence

 

A young boy discovers there is more to his mother dying , when he discovers a mp3 file of her talking .She manage to capture a good child narrator in this book .A great way of how we view the world when young and what happpens when that falls apart .

The last brother by Nathacha Appanah

the last brother

Now off to Africa and a small piece of history told in this book ,Raj and David meet after David arrives with his family of to try and get to Palenstine after the second world war . One first from Maclehose press worth looking back on .

The belly of the Atlantic by Fatou Diome

belly of the atlantic by fatou diome

Now A real early review on the blog is this tale of dreams and migration , seems more fitting now than it did six years ago . One boy follows his football dream but it goes wrong .With recent scenes in France this is a must read african novel .

The tongues blood does not run dry by Assia Djebar

the tongues blood does not run dry

Off to North africa and the late Assia Djebar , a collection of stories that are about the modern role of women in Algeria and North Africa and after the recent arab springs is an interesting look at the past for woman and what could change in the future .

Accabadora by Michela Murgia

accabadora

The story of a woman that sees to the dying a sort of reverse midwife for the dying .As she face up to her job and rural life in general .

 

 

Now also worth noting my good friend Susan from Istros books has a sale on via Impress books of a number of the Female writers they have published in the last few years such as Exile a wonderful short story collection from this year

The story of my teeth by Valeria Luiselli

The story of my teeth

The story of my teeth by Valeria Luiselli

Mexican Fiction

Original title – La Historia de mis dientes

Translator – Christina MacSweeney

Source – library book

I’ve been up and I been down
When I been between I just been hangin’ around.
Things are quite different
And life ain’t the same
Since I lost my tooth.

Now the women they treat me rude,
Not that they ever really treated me that good
I’m a minority and now I know
What it’s like and how it feels to be a negro.
doo doo doo doo

It’s gettin’ down to the nitty gritty
If you can’t smile nice and you can’t smile pretty
They don’t wantchya around they say you look sloppy
When you eat

I love the songs of Daniel Johnson and his song since I lost my tooth is a perfect lyric match for this book

Well it is upon us the second women in translation month and I start with a crossover book as we decide to carry spanish lit month over for another month ,so the perfect choice is this book from one of the best writers to appear in recent years in translation the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli I have reviewed her first novel Faces in the crowd and her essay collection sidewalks here as well .Valeria Luiselli still is living in New york , she also writes a monthly coloumn for El pais .This is her second novel to be translated to English .

I’m the best auctioneer in the world .But no one knows it because I’m discreet sort of man .My name is Gustavo Sanchez Sanchez , though people call ,e highway , I believe with affection .I can imitate Janis Joplin after two rums . I can interupt Chinese fortune cookies .I can stand an egg upright on the table , the way Christopher Columbus did in famous anecdote . I know how to count to eight in Japanese Ichi , ni san , shi , go , roku , Schicho , Hachi .I can float on my back .

Gustavo tells us all about himself in the opening lines of the book .

I couldn’t resist a book on teeth . This is a tall tale of one man and his teeth both his own and his collection of famous teeth . Gustavo Sanchez is a man of many talents , but all this is overshadowed by the state of his teeth . So along the way in his life he has somehow managed to collect a selection of teeth of the rich and famous and has reached a point where he wants to sell these teeth to get himself a new set of teeth .But where did he get those teeth he is selling and where did his own teeth go ? Gustavo is a real character and his stories of the teeth and how he got them are real gems to read .Also the lot descriptions of the teeth in the sale , he is a real salesman

Hyperbolic Lot No. 8

Some teeth are tormented , such is the case of this one the property of Mrs Virginia Woolf .When she was thirty years old , a psychiatrist posted the theory that her emotional ills were due to an excess of bacteria around the roots of her teeth .He decided to extract the three most affected ones .Nothing changed

I love this tall tale of Woolf and her teeth being the cause of her problems .

Now this is the sort of book I love and for me the sort of book that we only find in translation this isn’t a book that would see the light of day in english I imagine . For me teeth have often cropped up in books from Martin amis talking in his autobiography about his own dental problems is one I remember a lot especially as his novel times arrow had echos of the film Marathon man . Now Gustavo is a character that jumps of the page ,a voice that is maybe a every man who is pursuing his dreams , but it is  how he is trying to get his dream teeth is a unique take on how to get to your dreams in this modern age  .It is maybe also a reflection on what price we put on perfection these days . Add to that a tour of the lives of Plato Woolf and Chesterton to name a few and you have a wonderfully witty and truly unique book .

Have you a favourite book with teeth in ?

 

 

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