Eleven Prague Corpses by Krill Kobrin

Eleven Prague Corpses


Eleven Prague Corpses by Krill Kobrin

Russian fiction

Original title – 11 пражских трупов

Translator – Veronika Lakotova

Source – personnel copy

I was saying I was overwhelmed with reviews and what is annoying I am reading fast than I can review so I let books slip and this was nearly one of those. This book grabbed me with the description of Krill as a writer he is interested in the cultural history of Russia and the Czech Republic. He is one of the founds of Russian Psychogeography and one of his novels is a tribute to Flann O’Brien. Oh, and he is also called the Russian Borges (i do hate that but I can see it here as Borges like twisting the detective short story as well).

Maurice approached me at the fuenral. He said – stuttering as usual and as usual in broken English – ” An apprpriate way of dying for a former restaurant critc isn’t it ? Professional, so to speak. Acute Pancreatitis. Caused by what ? by the excepitonal Czech dumplings pork, and beer. Anf of course, by always exceptional czech doctors. Dammned Prague.” It started to drizzle, the heavy scent of the earht mixed with the smell of damp clothes.It was difficult to breathe. “Dammned Prague”I agreed.” Dammned Central Europe”

His dislike of his hime is shown here but also the inkling of the first death being more than it seemed.

The series of Stories in this collection is narrated by an unnamed narrator. Now I am never sure as it is one guy or a collection of guys all Russian that all have a strong dislike of the home Prague. So the eleven short stories all tell various stories of deaths in and around Prague and how are the narrator was connected to them. From the death of a restaurant critic to the death of a teacher our narrator at times is an obituary writer and seems to be there or hear about these events shortly after they happen from people involved in a High school massacre in the US turning up in Prague. He hates the city and sees it as too Kafkaesque at times the shadow of Kafka hanging over his world as the deaths keep plying up. But Like Holmes he has logic on his side and clearly cuts through each death.

The next day I rang the Private British school to nail down some of the details of the late Mr. Lengthy’s life. Of course, of course, Mr  Taborsky. Such a sad loss for us. Yes, yes, we’ve sent everything you’ll need for the opbituary. Nothing to add. A detail? A striking detail? Hmmm you might be interested – the russian students of our school called him”London Dandy”. Yes yes, in russian “dan-dee Long-dong-ski” You unerstand russian ? oh excellent . Mr Lenghty wasn’t a fop, no, don’t imagine that please, nuthe did dressin an impecable was, and he took special care of his hands. A little old fashion isn’t it?

I was remind of a watson description in a Holmes cases here of small characteristics of people.

This is an interesting take on the detective short that has lots of Nods to classic writers like Doyle and Christie, in particular, there is a sense of this in the use of a British restaurant critic and English master in two of the stories. There is also a sort of Russian distaste of Prague underlying the stories as well the feel of him not fitting into the city now. The sense of Kafka looming over the city. Prague itself is a character in this book rather like the London of Doyles Holmes of the Devon setting of Christie’s books. The Borges claim holds up as the books have that sense of twist styles and shift settings and using plots from other writers in new ways that Borges did so well in his own stories. The narrator has a pinch of Holmes, Poirot and for me a nod to those hard-boiled crime detectives of classic American Noir. There is a clear logical min there like Holmes a man out of place like Poirot the Belgian in England. But also a world-weariness of the classic American detective those that hate there beat at times that are drawn to the dark side of the city.

Borges – Tom Castro ,the implausible impostor

Tom castro – published 30 sept 1933

translated by Norman Thomas di Giovanni

Collection  A universal history of infamy

Well after a couple of months I finally get round to my Borges project ,the stories I choice will be ad hoc todays is Tom castro this is one of Borges earliest stories from the thirties .It is about Tom castro or Arthur Orton a con man from the 1800’s ,he and his manservant a black man called ben Bogle tried to pass them selves of as the long dead Sir Roger Tichborne ,The story actually is an authentic telling of the actual  story .Castro a large built australian man tried to pass him self of as the slim English heir to the ninth largest fortune in england  as his Tichbourne mother believes he is still alive even thou she was told he died .This case made the headlines and had a lengthy court case ,which Castro was found guilty .Borges is at his sparest with his writing here no fleshing out just the bare facts and a little window dressing but enough to get the facts of the story in ten pages .This story was also made into a film called The Tichbourne Claimant  in the 1980’s

Have you read this story or seen the film ?

Entering the library of babel

As I said yesterday the focus is back on translation firmly so I decide to jettison Waugh Wednesday for time being .So I found a suitable if not better replacement and that is working through the works one by one of a writer I hold in the highest possible regard Jorge Luis Borges .I read labyrinths late last year and struggled to review it as it is such a rich mix of stories and styles of writing ,so I decide to review each story individually from the three collections I own  first whilst adding to them over time .Borges is the godfather of magic realism and the Latin american boom ,He lived AND worked in Buenos Airies ,in later life he became blind and had people read to him on such was the writer Alberto Manguel .

Have you read Borges ?

What is your favourite story ?

I ll pick and mix them from collections as I go along

Have you read Borges ?

if so have you a favourite story ?

June 2021


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