Echoland by Per petterson

Echoland by Per Petterson

Norwegian Fiction

Original title – Ekkoland

Translator – Don Bartlett

I was in the library the other day looking for some new books to read that may be on the Man booker international longlist when it comes out next month. Per Petterson won the old IFFP prize in 2006. This is his debut novel which has been translated into english for the first time it is nice to see that  it has been but a shame that it has taken over ten years since the success of Our stealing horse and twenty years since this book itself came out. But that said time hasn’t effect this book no it has a timeless nature to it .

They sailed across the sea to Denmark. Along the Fjord the bonfires lit up the summer evening and Avrid stood by the railing gazing twoards land, pretending they were stars. The lights rose and fell and they shone on the water and he heard laughter and singing from the shore, but the ship was quiet

maybe the last line of the opening paragraph should be a hint of what is in fromt of him

Echoland is the story of Avrid , he is twelve and like many lads of his age is just become an adult. he is on his yearly family holiday to Denmark to the small island that his grandmother lives on . But he has reached an age where this small island is maybe to small . He captures a couple in the dunes in the middle of the act . He also sees the tension between his mother and Grandmother that he has never seen before , the family coping with the loss of a child  and meanwhile we see a young man struggling to cope with his growing up that awkward sense you have as a chap at that age. Then there is the outfall of previous visits and then we also in the ending what his raging Hormones drive him too.

He wasn’t alone. Some distance away a man was jumping up and down in the water. the man was laughing out loud, and the Avrid saw the man wasn’t  on his own either. A knee was stuck up on either side of his chest above the water and when the man turned Avrid saw her face against his neck. Her long dark hair hung straight down, heavy and wet . She was quite still, clinging to the man and Avrid walked off through the water in the opposite direction, back to the rushes .

Avrid sees a couple up to more than he expected in the beach as he wandered .

I loved this the book Avrid has been in another Petterson book I read and I also know is in another i have yet to read  so he is a character that he revisit through his life. This is like the year after stand by me , I remember the lines in Stand by me about being a boy before you see girls well this is the year after that when hormones get you at the worst times . This is a classic growing up story but like many young men we miss sometimes the world around us the deep scars in his parents relationship that he doesn’t really see. I remember my own youth when my own parents split i was ten but for years I never really saw the fall out in their own lives till I had grown up in retrospective. I remember the years I was like Avrid a holiday in Spain about the same age when I had just discovered girls and my hormones where raging so could connect with some of the situations Avirid finds himself .I wouldn’t been shocked to see this on the Man booker .

Have you a favourite Per Petterson ?

On the edge by Rafael Chirbes

On the edge by Rafael Chirbes

Spanish fiction

Original title – En la orilla

Translator – Margaret Jull Costa

Source – review copy

Another later Spanish lit month book here. Rafael Chribes is a writer I had been aware of for a few years he is often mention on list of writers that had to be translated or list of great modern spanish writers .This is his first to be translated into english. He was considered one of the greatest modern writers in spain he died last year he had written nine novels received the National lit prize for Spain. This one of his last novels captures the moment after the collapse of the spanish economy.

On this sunny morning, everything seems quiet and deserted, not a single crane punctuates the horizon, no metallic noises trouble the air, no buzzing or hammering assails the ears. The first time they made the journey after Ahmed lost his job, his friend Rachid laughed at him when he said he was going there to look for work on the building sites,. Work? Only if you want a job digging graves for suicides, Rachid said mockingly

This captures the collapse so well the silence and the despair in one passage .

Olba is a small town on the sea really as the title of the book says on the edge and the people we meet around this town are all on the edge of life or being driven to the edge of life by the down turn that Spain saw like the one in the UK. First we meet two young Muslims that have grasped on to the edge of europe but as Ahmed sees he is a busboy or was  and just lets down due to the wealth he sees around him from |rich Muslims and how he since recent events is under the microscope now A rotting corpse found on the edge of town  adds a sense of mystery to the story .Then we meet Esteban a man who had a factory one of those rich guys that had a partner that left them holding the can when he left with the money. We see latin american eastern Europeans workers trying to cling to life as the bubble has burst and like a small rockpool when the sea has gone out left them all strand in this small town.A modern classic in every sense

We must cling to the few principles we have left. Paella rice must have that golden caramelised crust at the bottom we call socarrat ; foie gras and truffles must come from perigord; and vinegar from modena . He’s joking now. The new principles, the last thing we have to hold on to, serve to help us choose good wine, wooden masts for our yachts and ammunition for our hunting trips.

Chribes has a dry humour at times as he with what matters very tongue in cheek .

This captures the despair of the bubble when it burst. The one who had it and lost it those who never where going to have it like lifting a rock we see all that has gathered under it for shade for the fierce sun and world. This book is deep in narrative and description he was frequently compared to William Faulkner in his writing there is a shared richness in his prose style like Faulkner Chirbbes world seems to be small town spain and the underclass some what.This is the best book I have read about the collapse of the financial markets around the world but what that meant to people on the ground level which is sometimes behind the news headlines what we don’t see the Ahmed or Esteban’s on the ground level.

Have you a favourite read about the financial crash ?

 

7 years bloganniversary let’s go to Spain

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The wordpress app told me at weekend it was seven years since winstonsdad started its trip around the world of Literature. In that time I have managed to review 635 books from 103 countries a real tour of the world . I miss the old days of blogging when it seemed new and fun but the recent move and a new library have spurred this old blogger on to carry on so we start off with the next spanish lit month which is next month. I have five books I plan to read one is reread.

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First up is two books due out from Harvil secker The first from a new star of Spanish Literature DIvorce is in the air by Gonzalo Torne one for the fans of Ferrante and Knausgaard says Harvil . Next is On the edge by Rafael Chirbes one of the great writers of recent times from Spain he won two of the biggest prizes in Spanish literature.

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Nocilla dream is the reread of the pile a wonderful odd collection of short snippets like a trail of photos with stories made up about them. I enjoyed it on the first read but felt a second reading would be worth it for this collection .

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Next up is Loquela by Carlos Labbe the chilean writer is compared to Borges and this is a warped love story and detective novel in one . One of those books that challenges the reader.

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Lasr but not least is the won derfully witty Sky over lima which sees two writers in Chile write and start a love affair in letter with the famous Spanish poet Juan Ramon Jimenz .In what started as a plan to get his latest book early turns it a love in letters .

Have you any plans for Spanish lit month ?

How do you keep your blogging fresh after a number of years ?

Some rain must fall by karl Ove Knausgaard

Some rain must fall by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Norweigian fiction

Original title – Min Kamp Femte Bok

Translator – Don Bartlett

Source – Library book

Well I said in last post I am still reading but with three weeks til we move we are busy buying stuff and packing for the new house move. I really want to read this although I hadn’t reviewed part four of Knausgaard I have decide to just review part five now as I really enjoyed this last but one part of Karl Ove life. As was noted in the LBF talk I saw Karl Ove is maybe in part to thank for the increase in Translated sales that was mentioned in the Man booker post on sale yesterday .

“That book you were reading, could I have a look at it? ” I said to Kjetil.

“Of course”, he said and passed it tome. I skimmed through it.

“Where’s he from?”

“Argentina , I think, but he lived in Paris for a very long time.”

“is it magic realism?” I said

“Yes you might call it that ”

“I really like Marquez.” I said “Have you read him ?”

Kjetil smiled

“Yes but he’s not quite my style. Its a bit too high flown for me.””Mhm” I said, handing the book back and writing Julio Cortazar in my notebook

I love discovering writers and the connections with other writers around the world .

So we meet karl Ove as he is really starting on his journey as a writer , as he becomes a student at a writing course in Bergen where one of his tutors is Jon Fosse, a writer i have to try but one that is often mentioned in the nobel betting the last few years. What we see here is Karl Ove struggling to find himself as a writer as he starts to tackle those writers that matter James Joyce is one he has trouble with but also Claud Simon a writer I reviewed last year I can understand why he struggles to get these writers as they are so far from what Karl Ove is as a writer but I am sure this is part of what made him the writer we know. What we also see is how voliatile his personnel life is but also the first inkling of him as a a writer and also a close friendship with Fellow Norwegian writer Tore renberg whose See you tomorrow I hope to be reviewing soon as they bounce writing ideas of one another and share a taste in music .

“My manuscript has been accepted. It’s coming out this autumn! I’m going to make my debut!”

“Is that rue? But fantastic, Tore” I said

All the energy I had drained away. I walked beside him, black to the core inside. It was so unjust. It was so bloody unjust. Why should de, four years younger than me, have the talent and not me? I had reconciled myself to the fact that Epsen had talent his debut was no surprise, it made sense. But Tore? and so young?

Shit

Tore  was beaming like a sun

His friend and sounding board Tore is first to the post with a book out but in the long run well time will tell !

Tony in his much deeper review of this book says we all look for more in Karl Ove than maybe other writers as we are all a similar age to him,  well Tony and I  are to Karl Ove  he is four years older than me and this was one of the first times  in the books  I felt a gap in my taste and that of Karl Ove.  I have never fully got XTC as a band and a few of the other bands he liked I did like in the day in particular the sugar cubes but most of all I connect when he mention Smashing Pumpkins a band I like but never lovered but had seen by chance of being a Catherine wheel fan back in the day on the first uk tour. I  like Karl Ove  have  struggled with writers Like Simon and Joyce , I like Karl Ove read them to discover the world of writers although I’m not told by Jon Fosse to do so lol. I was really touched by his dedication when he said he had read the Danish edition of Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann against the Norwegian as it had been abridged in the Norwegian edition a point which as a fan of translated fiction and not over editing or abridging books in translation. This is the struggle of a young writer in what one may call the Bildungsroman book of Min Kamp.

 

A general theory of Oblivion by Jose Eduardo Agualusa

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A general theory of Oblivion by Jose Eduardo Agualusa

Angolan fiction

Original title – Teoria Geral do Esquecimento

Translator – Daniel Hahn

Source – copy from translator

I was lucky that Daniel saw I was after this when it was mentioned on the longlist for the Man booker international prize. He said he had a spare copy of the us edition (extra bonus as it is an archipelago books copy so very pretty as well ) . I had looked for this on ,my library system just before the man booker but they hadn’t a copy as the book of chameleon by Jose Eduardo Agualusa an earlier book by him had won the prize and also been one I had really enjoyed. Jose Eduardo Agualusa  is not just a writer,  he has a radio show dedicate to African song and poetry and also publish books from around the Portuguese speaking world .

Ludo opened the box. Inside, looking fearfully at her, she found a little white newborn puppy.

“He’s a male. A German shepherd ” Orlando explained. “They grow quickly. This one’s an albino, rather unusual. He shouldn’t get too much sun. What are you going to call him ?”

Ludo didn’t hesitate

“Phantom!”

“Phantom?”

Orlando shrugged his bony shoulders

“Very well. Then Phantom he shall be ”

Ludo gets her dog. Now the strange thing is my Mum has a dog his name is also Phantom he is a greyhound thou I love the way books and real life cross sometimes.

A general theory of Oblivion follows one woman story but not just that the story of her home and homeland post freedom Ludo a woman decides on the eve of Angola becoming a free country to brick herself away from the outside world into her apartment. What follows is a collection of her life and what she glimpses from behind the walls . As she faces life through her collection of books her albino German shepherd dog, also her memories of a man who might have been the one Orlando and the radio the only link to the world apart from the glimpse and chance encounter she has over a number of year like a burglar that she encounters. The book is a wonderful mix of life and dramas real and imagine worlds and how someone avoids madness just in more than thirty years apart from the real world.

The days slide by as if they were liquid. I have no more notebooks to write in. I have no more pens either. I write on the walls, with pieces of charcoal, brief lines.

I save on food, on water, and on adjectives.

I think about Orlando. I hated him, at first. Then I began to see his appeal. He could be very seductive. One man and two women under the same roof- a dangerous combination.

A  short piece this captures almost her being on the edge of madness in her words as she remembers the past and Orlando .

From what I have read I think this novel is actually based on the real life person . Her notebooks Diaries and poems that where all collected after she died after spending 28 years cut off from the world. It seems Jose was given access to this body of work initially to write a radio play. That is odd as I felt when I finished this book  the small pieces that make this book up are almost like turning a radio dial through the years that Ludo had spent apart but also like gems in the dirt of african history waiting to be unearthed. I can see the mix of styles in this book can put the reader off but to me they drew me in as we see Ludo and her world and how her world starts to slowly fall apart from the lose of her dog, to having to burn her books and then the end. But what we also see through these piece is a glimpse of the past and present in Angola using both the real world and a mythical world.  This book shows why we maybe should be trying to get more books out of the Lusophone world!

Have you read any of the other books By Jose ?

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