The booker international diaries 2022

Edited in Prisma app with Watercolor image from booker

Well it is time for the second part of the booker international diaries. its has been over a week since I posted the first part and am starting to work my way through the pile of books this year has been one where I have had to read more than others so it has been a new challenge to get through the book and indeed getting the books I still couldn’t find my review copy of Cursed bunny’s I ordered one from Hanford star but I was a little late as they sold out which is great news anyway it would be here and then next week Paradais comes out. I have read four books so far and reviewed two Happy stories, mostly , which i had and is one of the most refreshing collection of short stories I have read the story of a mother going abroad after her son had taken his own life struck me  and Heaven a novel about two bullies connections and a horrific suffering of bullying. Then I read The book of Mother by Violaine Huisman which is the one book I knew nothing about when the longlist came out it and is an intriguing piece of auto fiction about her mother that is one of those figure that is memorable and deserved to be written about. The I read the David Grossman which as some one that has read his other books was one I probably would have read at some point it is the sale of the generations of family that settled in Israel after leaving Yugoslavia over three gernrations of the females in the family it took its inspirations from a documentary that Paul one of the fellow shadow jurors pointed us in the direction of when we started discussing each of the books which we are doing all the time as we read them. I hope to post reviews this week of the two books I have just finished in the next week. I have just turned 50 a few days ago so have been spending time with Amanda over the weekend. I have also invested in a new laptop which I am using as my old Chromebook had only a couple of moths of software updates left as they only cover the software for 5 years anyway as I am wanting to do more on my laptop I invested in the whistles and bells MacBook Air my first Mac it will take me time to get use to the OS of this but that said I have had iPhones for years so shouldn’t be that much of a struggle I am reading the other book that was on my radar at the moment after the sun which had passed my by and I decided to start my reread of tomb of sand which I am still loving as much as the first read it has  a style that draws you in as a reader as it sometimes seems to take down the fourth wall and talk to you the reader which I like also it is seems to capture that juxatapose between generations well between the mother and her favourite son Sid as he has flown not just the Nest but also India I always like this sort of family insights the way time and just the speed of the world know drifts people apart and also takes them from that community and small world they live in I was remind of stories like Please look after mother and also one of my favourite films Tokyo story that show that generation gap as well as the world shrinks and people move and leave their home villages. I will leave you there it is another insight into the world of me as a reader, blogger and  shadow juror. Have you tackled any of the longlist this year o planning to if so which books ?

The end of Eddy by Édouard Louis

The End of Eddy by Édouard Louis

French Auto-Fiction

Original title – En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule

Translator – Michael Lucey

Source – Personal copy

Any of you that have followed this blog for any amount of time will know I am wary of what I would call the “It Book “. One of those books that seem to be everywhere when they come out and here is such a book from the current star of French Literature  Edouard Louis a young man that grew up in a small town in Northern France in the Picardy region. In a working-class family in a working-class town. His father had an accident and was unable to work making their lives even harder having to live off government handouts. Anyway, he has written a number of books about his life using that great French tradition of Autofiction so Edouard becomes Eddy Bellegueile from The small French town of Hallencourt which is also Edouard Louis hometown.

The Kicks to my stomach knovcked the wind out of me and I couldn’t cath my breath. I opened my mouth as wide as I could to let in some oxygen. I expanded my chest, , but the air wouldn’t go in, as if without warning my lungs had filed up with some dense kind of sap, with lead. They felt so heavy all of a sudden. My body was shaking, as if it had a mind of its own, as if I had no control over it. The way an agening body that is freeing itself from the mind, or is being abandoned by it, refuse to obey it. A body becoming a burden.

A descriptioin of an attack to him at school.

I was drawn to read this book when I saw it on holiday last year and read the Blurb. I am a fan of Autofiction, although I am not gay I was a skinny backwards kid soft-spoken and into arty things and had a stepfather that made my life hell so I knew that this story is one I would really connect with. We meet Eddy a young boy that is subject to Bullying he has always been out of sync with his family he is just one of those boys that like me at that age stands out. He also has a double-ended problem with school and home life equally being hard. From the Bullies that act him in school a particularly brutal attack in the school corridor reminded me of some of the bullying, I had school I endured at school. Then at home his father lack of accepting his son. We see Eddy’s life the poverty and the homophobia of the town are shown it is a place out of time with other places like many small towns and villages this place isn’t as forward as it should be. Will he make it through?

(WE would go there once a month, it was true, to collect the boxes of food they gave out to the poorest families. The volunteers grew to recognise me and, when we arrived, they would slip me a few extra chocolate bars beyond our allotted share. There’s our little Eddy, how’s he doing ? and my parents would tell anyone, no one, that we go to the food bank, that’s a secret that stays in the family. They didn’t realise thart I’d already understood, without being told, how shameful this was, and that nothing would have made me tell anyone about it. )

The family really struggle with money and have toi go to a food bank such a common occurance these days for so many.

But what sets this apart is how evenly he tells the story it is written with an eye that hasn’t painted the world with a biased brush no this is a view of someone in the eye of the storm observing the storm. The poverty, the bullying, the racism and the homophobia are all written with the sense that they can’t help their views and having grown up in a similar environment with the Bullying and a hard father in my stepfather luckily we weren’t as poor as Eddy to add to his woes. But this book is the first step in books like this that show the horror of being in the eye of a storm you can’t stop the storm only batten down and brave it then tell others about it when you make it to the other side a survivor of the events and that is what this is a person that got through those events and struggles when many others didn’t and so it is a powerful work. I regret leaving it so long to read this book in fact the same thing has happened today with another book. Have you ever left a book because of Hype or do you think it may not be a book for you? Do you love connecting with books on a personal level, for me this is what reading is connections inspirations and discoveries an endless journey we should all be on?

Winstons score – +A – A tough childhood told without prejudice even though they suffered it so much.

 

 

Vesper flights by Helen Macdonald

Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald

Nature writing

Source – Personal copy

I said to myself at the start of this year I need to add a couple of non-fiction books here and there which is something in all the time I have blogged has been thin on the ground I always see other Bloggers and Vloggers mention different non-fiction books and think I should read some of the books they have mentioned and I have always been a fan of nature writing but had only reviewed one book a year in the woods in my time blogging I had read a couple of other books A roger Deakin being one but not reviewed any of them anyway the second book from Helen Macdonald I brought last year when we visited were we scattered my mum’s ashes in Cheshire (which is an odd connection given the cover could be Jodrell Bank the radio telescope that dominates The area of Cheshire I grew up so the Linocut cover caught my eye). So I brought it last summer and the other memory of that day was a squirrel that was so tame it stood a mere couple of feet away as I place some flowers near when we scattered my mum’s ashes.

This creature was not what I expected, despite its slap of familiarity. It had the forward-meancing shoulder of a Baboon and the brute strtength and black hide of a bear. But it was not really anything like a bear, and what surprised me most of all was that it was nothing like a pig. As the beast trotted up to us, a miracle pf muscle and bristle and heft, I turned to the boy, and said, surprised, “It’s nothing like a pig!” With great satisfactionhe grinned and sad “No they’re really not.”

The meeting of a wild boar in the woods when it was reintroduced to the UK

 

I was immediately grabbed by her writing when Helen Macdonald talked of this collection as being like a Wunderkammern ( a box of curiosities ) this collection of Nature writing. that we get insight into how she first wanted to be a naturist the opening story talks of Nest and egg collection which Naturists used to do in the past but now seems so out date to the modern Naturist. I was reminded of Gald Durrel and his Amateur Naturalist series and book I loved when I was younger the way he collect things like Nest and eggs. Then we see how the reintroduction of Wild Boars makes walking in the wood different these days !! ( this also remind me of the film Beast of the southern wilds which had a recurring motif of an ancient giant Boar running ). An essay that touched me was her connection with a boy that Autism a touching tale of when they met. Then a tale of old Field guides which mention an old guide written about seeing birds through your opera glasses Elsewhere we see the effects of building on birds and An essay about Ants. Hares are the subject of another essay I was reminded of Moring in  Northumberland where I see the Rabbits and hares out in force near Alnwick Castle in the fields around as I walked my first dog.

The process of indentifying aniumals in this way has a fascinating history, for field guides have closely tracked changes in the ways we interact with nature. Untilthe earlyyear of the twentieth century, bird guides, for example, mostly came in two kinds. Some moralised, anthropomphic life hiostories, like Florence merra’s 1889 Birds through an opera-glass, which describes the bluebirdas having a “model temper” while the catbird possessed a “lazy self indulgence”. “If he were a man,” she wrote of the latter “you feel confident that he would sit in short sleeves at home and go oin the street wthout a collar.” The other kind was the technical volume for ornithological collectors.

Old field guide this made me smile with the description of  the old guide looking through Opera glasses.

I think you can guess from my description how much I loved this book I love books that make you think of your own experiences and I have always loved Nature I used to love walking in the Northumberland countryside and now these days in the Peaks I think it was Durrell’s book that opens my eyes and that is the beauty of a book like this is that it reminds you to appreciate the world around us and it also reminds us how fragile the world around is us is and how much effect we can have on the world around us. If you like nature writing I would say pick this up it left me wanting to read more from Helen Macdonald and also wanting to go out and observe the world around us again afresh. Have any of you read her Memoir H is for Hawk?

Winstons score – +A, A gem and uplifting read for a dull January day !!

#ProjectSolenoid lets get ready !!

I am starting a project around the forthcoming Publication of the first English translation of Solenoid.I felt as though as a reader it was above me but then I decide why was that the case?  I have read 1100 translations over the last twelve years  of winstonsdad have many people read many more?  I often belittle my knowledge as often it isn’t that I haven’t the knowledge of books etc. I am not able to often make connections etc this is mainly due to time as most reviews I write in an Hour as I hate loss reading time, But Now the time is to maybe turn this around and this is why I am starting Project Solenoid if you like me have felt that people are discussing a book and you feel as thou it is above you why? I used to feel this about Uylsess a book I have read umpteen times but over the year I pushed and pushed reread the book listen to podcasts read lots of books about Ulysses and Joyce’s world. This is a book that is very similar to  Joyce’s work so let’s break it up to little bits and build a base to start are reading from if we have read books abut the time, influencers on his writing, films from Romania etc let’s get to the heart of  Solenoid and lets discover ourselves !!  I have read 8 books from Romania more than most, in fact, I have read a lot of Eastern European fiction  This is a book from the Romanian writer Mircea  Cărtărescu a name that is often on the list of potential Nobel winners he has had a number of books translated I have already read one by him Why we love woman. A lesser work but to me, it seemed a great intro. Now there is a great post about the book from The Untranslated here. I am wanting to start a simpler guide to the book before we read it or even just I read it what I have in mind is using this post and any interviews I can find  I have this one so far from Music and Literature Here where we see him mention a number of Books to build a reading list of books that could be read before the English translation comes out. So where to start I decided that maybe the history of Romania at the time be worth it reading so I found this to start Paul Kenyon history book came out a while ago I have ordered this to read from the Library.

I have also ordered books that were mentioned by E M Cioran and Thomas Ligeti . Also The Gadfly by Ethel Lilian Voynich I am now reading which is mentioned in the book and meant to be a book widely read in Eastern Europe at the time. There is also a mention of The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann which I did read years ago but will be reading and reviewing here. He also mentioned Giacomo Leopardi I have read most of Zibaldone when it came out great work and I’d be interested to read some of it again and see how it inspired Cărtărescu and see if it is an influence on the book.

I can also link in with Thomas Bernhard reading week as he said in the Interview this was a writer he like.I then look at the cinema and have discovered there was a new wave of films after the  Ceaușescu years as ever there is a Wiki page here about the films made. I have ordered a DVD of The Death of Mr. Lazarescuand on Mubi the is a recent film from Romania THe happiest girl in the world. 

What I am thinking is just starting a discussion before I get my book when it comes out later this year I am not after a copy of the book this is just about wanting readers like me that maybe read a lot but often feel as though a book is maybe above you as a reader as if  !! I want to promote reading a challenging book I want to show we can all understand and build the knowledge to open a book I did the same years ago with Joyce and have sat back and just done my quick-fire reviews mainly due to time and ofter just it is a habit quick easy template and boom it is done it is that easy and often that is all I can do after a couple long day but this is to work toward longer reviews that open books to other readers bit by bit which is something I feel I can do to help other readers which I am sure there is many that worry lets do it together lets start our Project solenoid !! What would you add I have started a good reads group here.  MY next stop in regards Cărtărescu’s  is Nostalgia next month. I am reading Gladfly at the moment come in join in add books to the GoodReads thread etc (I am no expert at these groups at Goodreads this is my first group ) I hope people join in and let’s get a great book to a wider public not just a few!

 

Love in the Big city by Sang Young Park

Love in the Big city by Sang Young Park

South Korean fiction

Original title –  (대도시의 사랑법)

Translator – Anton Hur

Source – Personal copy via subscription

This was one of the last books I read at the end of last year I subscribed the last April to Tilted Axis I am looking to join other subscriptions but this was my first and as they are locally based in Sheffield it was an easy choice to pick them also the books they have brought out this year so far are ones that appealed to me as they cover a broad area of subjects and countries around Asia. This was the one that caught my eye mainly due to the cover it is the debut release in  English by the New star of Korean fiction Snag Young Park. He was born in Daegu, which is an interview I saw with him he described as a conservative city he went to Sungkyunkwan University to Study French ( the same as the Narrator of this book ) He said he felt more at home in the cosmopolitan Seoul where he now lives this is his first book to be translated to English although some of his short stories have been translated and are among the most on words without borders website.

Things moved along quickly after Jaehee announced her marriage. For the three months before the weddin, I got to witness how shitty it was for a man and a woman in Korean society to unite as One family, which made me cease resenting the fact I couldn’t even dream of marriage. Not that I was confident it wasn’t jealousy,

Meanwhile, Jaehaee had a whole lot of things she needed from me. Her promotion came with a murderous workload, and with her future husband being largely absent from the preparations, I was her stadin groom.I accompanied her to the bridal shop, to the hanbok shop, to interior design firms and so on, helping her pick things out

The end of their time together is come close.

Our narrator in this novel or interlinking story collection the book grew out of one story follows the narrator from his years as a student where he shares an apartment with his good friend Jaehee as they experience the nightlife and the men they meet one of the things I discovered is putting cigarettes in the freezer, I wonder what difference this made to the Malboro a brand I did smoke when I smoked it made me wonder what the sensation was like. I often go off on little tangents like this what we get in the first part is a student life free wild and as these things are ends this happens when the two drift apart when she meets a man. Then we see our narrator heading home and looking after his mother a devout Christian and at this time he also has a relationship with an older man. The next story follows Kyu-ho and our narrator this is his big love affair they travel to Japan as But as a past lover reveals an HIV diagnosis or as he calls it Kylie this overshadows the couples happiness and his life with Kyu-ho as it restricts travel options and ultimately has a long term effect on their relationship.

I first met Gyu-ho at what’s now a defunct gay club in Itaewon it was Chuseok and they were having an all you can drink Tequilla event. Not having a family to join for Chuseok- being a certified unnatural focused in bringing shame to the family ( not much has changed since then) and genrally stuck in poverty (yup, still)_ I could hardly afford to pass up such an opportinity. I left the foloewing mesage in out group chat:

Hey guys theres an unlimited teguilla eent at G today

See you all there.

How he meet the main romance and relationship in the book Gyu-ho one what is the equivilant of Korea thanksgiving

I don’t read a lot of LGBT books well not enough is translated into English, so it is great to see some new voices getting translated into English the beauty of the book is in Anton Hur’s translation he has given it a clarity that must be in the original version of the book, our narrator live pops of the page but it is also an insight into the LGBT world of Korea which although open in Seoul this shows that there is an undercurrent of Homophobia and what faces most modern people loneliness our Narrator is a character but at its heart, there is a man trying to find his way in the world as we all our but also dealing with his feeling with his black Humour cutting at times. This is the first of my subscription and one of the best books |I read last year I hope to see it on the Man booker list let’s hope. Have you a favourite LGBT book that has been translated? How has your new year reading started ?

Winstons score – +A simply brilliant one of the strongest narrators I have read in years.

3 Minutes and 53 Seconds by Branko Prlja

3 Minutes and 53 Seconds by Branko Prlja

Macedonian fiction

Original title – 3 минути и 53 секунди

Translated by Paul Filev

Source – personal copy

Branko Prlja grew up in Sarajevo graduated from the Josep Tito high school in Skopje which he moved to in his teens as the Balkan conflict start and Yugoslavia fell apart he made his home in Macedonia. He is a writer and graphic designer he set up the first prize for Electronic literature in Macedonia as well as the KAPKA (Creative activism through parody, criticism, and allegory) organization. This book came out under his pseudonym Bert Stein which he has published two books under that title of this book is a nod to the average length of a single but is about the time it takes to read each of the chapters that follow the 20 years from 1984 as we follow an Unnamed character growing up in similar circumstances to that of the writer. One boy growing up as the place he remembers fell apart and he start a new life in Skopje.

That winter the temperature dropped below -20`C, but it didn’t prevent my dad from taking me skiing on Mount jahorina.

The song ” Where the streets have no name”, whioch was playing on the old cassette player of pur green 1982 Lada Riva, sounded as it it was coming from afar. The rhythmic sound of the guitar mixed with the hum of the car going up the mountain road as snow -covered evergreeb trees sped past. My dad delibertely jerked the steering wheel left and right, causing the car to skid and spin toward the shoulders of the road covered with huge deposits of snow, while we nearly split our sides laughing. I was happy

I remebr U2 in a VW Golf as we crossed germany years ago.

This is a slice of Bildungsroman that follows our narrator as he grows up from being seven when he first here Michael Jackson thriller remember the video which was a nod to the 80s horror genre of films what follows is a memoir of sorts that ties the music of each year to the growing up of our narrator from the USA to Africa song the following year the end year of Tito reign is seen through the young boy’s eyes. the last few years after the Winter Olympics as the cracks slowly appeared as the country of Yugoslavia becomes a collection of what is now six republics. He was listening to songs by U2 and Simple Mind’s accompanied his memories of the time. Those little memories like a thing alike the design of a cigarette packet was maybe a nod to the future graphic designer. The turn of the nineties saw him in Skopje as he had hoped to return to his home town but as events unfold he has to stay and start his life in Macedonia. What follows is his teen years I loved the music he picks most of which I remember and loved some I didn’t but it showed the power of music as a trigger to memories as he start to publish his first books.

The Guitar on U”‘s “Numb”, catching the world unprepared. Music became a thumping heartbeat, a machine propeller, a car engine … I listened to ant thought about my Einstürzende Neubauten, who’d been making music like that for years … it seemed that opop rock music was evolving and catching up with rap, which was always experimenting. Insane ion the Brain by the timeless Cypress hill and Bacdafucup by the short lived Onyx breathed new life into the scene, whil Body coubt blended metal with rap was a challenging concept. my heavy metal friends teased me for doing it, but hey , that’s a completely different story.

I remember all these I missed seeing EN when they keft a U2 tour early back in the day.

I enjoyed this book I like a bildungsroman as a genre of fiction. So whatever the time and place the is always some connection to our own years of growing up and Brankop choice of music is such a great way to connect to our past what I re3member as ai read is not just Bramko characters memories which is a thinly veiled of the writers own life. Songs Like U2 remind me of my time in Germany, Nirvana I remember drunkenly watching the shambolic first tv appearance on The Word then lastly Chop Suey which My best friend loved and his young daughter danced to all those years ago. This is a short read as Peirene call a movie book a book to read instead of a movie and here it will bring you memories if you are my age of the songs and the times I worked with a number of refugees at the time the Balkans fell apart so could connect to Brankos memories I work with a lad that had grown up in Sarajevo and was in German in the early nites a story similar to the story of the character and many at the time. Do you remember these years and does music connect you to memories? Another hidden gem from Dalkey.

Winstons score A – A Bildungsroman that is a thinly veiled story of the writers own history

That was the month that was November 2021

  1. Dispatches from Moments of Calm by Alexander kluge and Gerhard Richter
  2. ONe day a year by Christa Wolf
  3. Child of All Nations by Irmgard Keun
  4. All the Land By Jo Lendle
  5. Home reading service by Fabio Morabito
  6. The High rise diver by Julia Von Lucadou
  7. Down and out in England and Italy by Alberto Prunetti

 

Well, I managed 7 books this month with a strong German feel to the list this month. We started with Alexander Kluge’s reaction to the pictures Gerhard Richter had used in Die welt to replace the actual news photos that day what came out of that is this book with Kluge’s usual clever vignettes attach and using the pics as a springboard to stories. Then we had the latter art of Christa wolf’s decade long project that saw her write a full diary entry for the same day for decades a view of a great writer ageing and seeing the post 9/11 changes. Then we meet a cheeky teen just as the war is on the horizon in the late thirties as we see her families efforts to escape the Nazis and the darkening clouds. Then we meet the Arctic explorer and scientist Alfred Wenger as he is caught in the middle of the icefield as the winter has trapped his camp and he looks back on his life as an explorer but also as a family man the struggles of the life he wants and what he achieved. Then I had a change of location as we headed to Mexico and the story of a middle-aged man sentenced to read to the elderly and disabled of his home town a task he does with pout jumping into the books he is reading mostly classic til a poet and a connection to his father sparks his interest into his fathers past and this poet. Then a dystopian world of a sports star trying to break free of the world that follows her every move and the person hired to try and bring her back in line? My last stop this month was back to England and Italian finding work in takeaways hotel cleaner and handyman.

Book of the month

I am becoming a huge Kuge fan he is a hidden gem of German literature. He has a lit of what appealed the first time I read Sebald but he is so much more than Sebald his works go here there and everywhere and fire my berain as a reader every time I read it. Have you read his works ?

Non book events

Well, I have started watching an old police series on Talking pictures tv dial 999 follows an Us detective as he works in sixties London only half an hour-long they aren’t in death stories but have a great nostalgic look at the city that has mostly gone places like the docks and certain nightlife places another world that has gone. Then the new version of P D James Daglish was very well made set in the timeframe she wrote them the seventies we got three of the stories with more to come I believe.  Now I don’t often do gift idea I thing this is the first time but a recent look for gift ideas on youtube gave me two ideas which I got one to send to people the other a personal gift.

 

First, instead of a Christmas card, I found this small collection of Christmas theme poems and prose around Christmas movies there are other titles available from candlestick press , I brought and gave Amanda the selection called Christmas together instead of a card. I love the cover of this one and the idea of this instead of cards.

The second I brought for myself is this small box that has six letters that fold into envelopes from pigeon post a way to keep letter writing alive with these bright designs from Angela Harding. I don’t write many letters but will try to write a few more now I have these. Music-wise I got the new Richard Dawson cd a collaboration with the Finnish metal band Circle with a collection of songs with plants as the title of songs but the diverse subject matters those songs the lead track Lily was the story of his own mother a Nurse in Newcastle his home town.

Next month

The sand of time in 2021 is running out it is that time of year for the end of year list I feel I will do both a book and music ones again this year I will be reviewing the last couple of German lit books I had planned to read last month I did write a more post last month than any month this year but left reviews I had hoped to get that 100 books reviewed mark this year but that has passed me by but I have already reviewed two more books than 2020 so that is an improvement and have written the most words for five years already. I have two epic books to try and read before the end of the year I always like a big book at the end of the year. What are your plans for the last month of 2021 ?

 

 

One day a Year (2001-2011) by Christa Wolf

One day a year by Christa Wolf

German Memoir

Original title – Ein Tag im Jahr.

Translator _ Katy Derbyshire

Source – personal copy

I had wanted to read the first of the two series of diaries (well not sure if that is a right yearly observation)  That Christa Wolf had lept she choose just one day the same day every year to write a diary entry, these entries are both Personal and observant of the world around her she had done this for 40 years from 1960 – 2000. The date 27th September every year.  Which made the first volume of this book which came out in the early 2000s and with the cheapest second-hand copy online for 50 pounds I made do with the second collection that came out after her death and was edited By Her husband Gerd who observes that the entries since 2001 were of a more personal nature than the earlier ones. So what is collected here is the last ten entires of her life which ended shortly after the last year 2011.

I remember that two questions arose within me in a short space of time while I stood in the unfamilar room, hypnotized by Implausible TV images: is this how the Third World War begins? And is this beginning of the end? O began to work on these questions while I packed up my manuscript and then had to wait a long time for the taxis, which had been held up by an ordinary traffic jam, while the reporters stunned and agitated voices came over the car radion and driver, a measured man, to my relief, showed shock and sympathy. These two sentences have accopmpanied me since then, as statments, as words of doubt, aswuestions, and they have produced varying answeres, none of which is enough for me.

The aftermath of 9/11 and where we on the edge of destruction ?

In regards of a time to start this book the fact that in 2001 the entry came just over a fortnight after 9/11 Wolf observes a world on the end after the collapsing of the twin towers, she has her 9/11 moment that second when we all saw what happened that day and the aftermath which by the time she wrote two weeks later had seen the eys of the world turning to Afghanistan. The other part of the entry talks of her life and this is how the book progresses the events of the day but nothing quite touches 9/11 in fact she observes how few of these events like 9/11 there are where we all see what has happened We also see the change in Germany over these first years of the century a while after reunification and her view on the politics and politicians. This also saw Merkel come to power a figure from the East Like Wolf herself. We also see how those writers and people she had known as her contemporaries are now dying. People like Andre Gorz Wolf had loved his poems to his dead wife which I had enjoyed. She tells us about other books including The tower by Uwe Tellkamp a book I loved but she didn’t like it much. She and Gerd s are starting to see her age creeping in as she struggles, she is also struggling writing her last book City of Angels. This is an insight into the twilight years of one of the leading figures of German Literature.

The television news show has no progress to report between the negotiation partners towards a grand coalition, but it is genrally accepted that thats where we’re heading. The commentators predict that Schroder will have to step back, possibility also Angela Merkel. Up to thi point, both parties are still insisting in the chancellor’s post. In the middle east, the just cleared Gaza strip is being bombed by the Isarelis again because rockets were fired at them from there. Tinka and Maritn are flying to Isarel in a group gthe day after tomorrow.

The edge of Merkel become Chancellor described which she still is just 16 years later.

This is the second book I have reviewed on the blog by the Late Christa Wolf, both non-fiction works I will review a work of fiction next from her. I enjoyed this as it covered the year I remember and also saw the change in Germany when Merkel came to power halfway through the book What comes across is the loss of what she had hoped we see with her talking of how she had voted for the linke party the left-wing socialist party her lament for what could have been this is a writer seeing her life slipping through her fingers as she struggles with her memory, walking and getting up the stairs. It captures the struggle of growing old also the way we view the world when age makes us view the mistakes of the past and the problems oif the present I felt this worked without reading the first book which if I see a cheap copy one day I will get one. This is one for fans of Books Like Alan Bennetts diaries or like me of German Lit fan. This is my third read for this year’s German Lit month where will I go next in Germany ?

WInstons score – A an interesting look at the last embers of a great writer

 

The Lying LIfe of Adults by Elena Ferrante

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

Italian Fiction

Original tilte – La vita bugiarda degli adulti

Translator – Ann Goldstein

Source – copy for blog tour

 

I don’t often sign up for a blog tour but when approached to do one for the Cheltenham Literary festival it was always going to be a yes as the theme is reading the world which is something I always do here. But then I had no idea what the book was till it arrived at the house. So when the latest book by Elena Ferrante dropped on the doorstep of Wintonsdad towers.  I was in two minds as I hadn’t been bowled over by her. As in the past, I had read the first and last book in the Neapolitan series. I was also one to avoid hype and the time the first book came out My Brillant friend was everywhere in the blogosphere so I left reviewing it. There is still the question of who Ferrant is I love that even after all this success she or he or they has stayed hidden from the limelight in a way it has attracted me more to them as a writer as it shows they are in it for the writing. And  I am always willing to try again with a writer I hadn’t got on with a second chance and this time it was the right choice it is a standalone novel set in the Naples of the 90s and follows three teen years of Giovanna’s life. A coming-of-age novel.

Two years before leaving home my father sid to my morther that I was ver ugly. The sentence was uttered under his breath, in the apartment that my parents new,y married, had brought at the top of Via San Giacomo dei Capri, in Rione Alto. Eveything – the spaces of Naples, the blue light of a frigid February, those words – remained fixed. But I slipped away, and am still slipping away, within these lines that are intended to give me a story, while in fact I am nothing,nothing of my own, nothing that has really begn or really been brought to completion: only a tangled knotm and nobody, not even the one who at the moment is writing, knows if it contains the right thread for a story or is merely a snarled confusion of suffering, without redemption

The opening lines told in retrospective by Giovanna years after the event.

The book starts with the 13-year-old Giovanna hearing at the crack of a door her father says she was Ugly and becoming more like his sister Vittoria. This is the first thing she has heard of a family. Her parent’s successful couple life up the hill in Naples in a middle-class area. She loves and has her father as her idol so when she hears this it sets her on a path to first find out why her father compared her to the auntie she knew nothing about and after much persuasion, she is allowed to meet her aunt and this leads to the discovery of her parent’s origins a working-class neighborhood and a family of aunts and uncles that she never knew existed and the Aunt at once enthralled and vibrant draws the young girl in and shows her the working class place her family was from. But then she sees her in the way her father does over time. Add to this her parents start to unravel over this time and drift apart. Giovanna also blossoms over this time and discovers boys. Add to that the truth behind a family Heirloom this is a glimpse into three years that will change her life forever.

I learned to lie to my parents more and more. At first I didn’t tell real lies, but since I wasn’t strong enough to oppose their always well-ordered world, I pretended to accept it while at the same time I cut out for myself a narrow path that I could abandon in a hurry if they merely darkened. I behaved like that especilly with my father, even though his every word had in my eyes a dazzling authority, and it was exhausting and painful to try ti deceive him.

fter she meets Vittoria she has to start telling lies to her parents as she is drawn into a new world.

It is fair to say this impressed me more than the other two books by Ferrante I have read. I have always been a fan of Bildungsroman works those important teen years are the years that we become the adults we can be and here we have so many threads it makes the story more than that. First is why did her father call her Ugly like Vittoria and was that the right term to use. Why did the parents hide this other family this is all about Class and how they tried to escape their past and class moving to San Giacomo when they married a middle-class place far removed from the home. Add to this a girl discovering herself as all this goes on it and also falling in love for the first time as her family falls apart. Then there is the other character to this book the city Naples as in her other books this is a story of a city of class and the city about how people move on. A story that isn’t just a Naples story but it is told so well by Ferrante her love for her home city of Naples that always leaps of the page. Has it converted me to Ferrante well I will try some of her other stand-alone works? What are your thoughts about Ferrante?  Do you read the world?

Winstons score –  A – a brilliant coming-of-age novel with family secrets at its heart!

 

Come with me by Nicola Viceconti

Come with me Nicola Viceconti

Italian fiction

Original title – Vieni Via

Translator – Laura Bennett

Source – review copy

I have reviewed one book from the new publisher Aspal Prime that has here a prize-winning Italian novel from the writer-poet and sociologist Nicol Viceconti a writer of over ten books. A lot of his works have focussed on Latin America where he has worked particularly in Argentina where he was award an honor by the people of Buenos Aires and was called an Italian with an Argentina soul. He likes to travel and has a real interest in Human rights his writing has been called Novelas por la identidad”  which means in search of identity here it is an old professor looking at his past as he hunts an old flame.

Someone had taken Irina to Vladivostok, away from me forever. What if that was really happed, I wondered in a low voice.

Even just the vey thought of this theory sent a shiver down my spine. I dropped the coat on the floor and, still clutching the note in my hand, sank into the chair ]. I closed my eyes and fell back into the seat. I began to wonder about what had haoopend to her. While my eyes followedthe words from one side of the paper to the pther. I heard their sound, as if she was saying them. Suddenly eveything had imagined about her vainshed, bursting like a bubble.

The note is found is his imagined version of what happened right or was it different

Eighty-year-old franco Solfi had completely forgotten about a young Russian girl he had met in the sixties when he was a communist in Paris and not as tainted as he was now.  when she disappeared he thought she had died Irina. But when he finds an old note, that had been left for him in a coat he hadn’t used since that time and the discovery is like a Proustian Madeline as it reignites something he had forgotten.  he is convinced it is a sign and decides to go on a journey to discover what happened to Irina a journey that goes into the past and mix history the cold war and these two peoples journeys as he first goes to Paris and then into what was Irina Homeland as he tries to discover the truth about what happened all those years ago was it was he imagined was all that it seemed at the time as this is a flip of being a communist in the Paris and living under communism in the sixties in Russia the trip will take him to Moscow then through to Siberia and then even to Mexico city. Will he find out if Irina is alive will the present heal the past?

I decided to travel by tain for two reasons: on the one hand I wanted to enjoy the landscape of Europe I had almost forgotten on the other, I needed to give myself the time needed to reflect on some episodfes of my life spent with Irina, A thrity six hour journey seemed to take stock of the situation before I suddenly found my self catapulted into the past.

I have always lived travelling by train. I must have inherited the passion for it frommy uncle Renato, my father’s brother, who spent fifty years of his life as a train driver on the line that went from Rome to the lake as Castel Gandolfo. It was the fifties and to the delight of romans, this, one of the most scenic routes in central Italy had recently been open.

He heads into his past as he tries to foind put what happened to Irina all those years ago.

One of the things I have found over the years is there are so many books not translated you only have to look at the blog the untranslated that covers those gems that have yet to find a translator or have been signed up and never got to us in English so many great books await us so we have books like this a writer that has published a number of books but given his style which is a mix of Latin American and Italian in his style. this book finishes in Mexico and this is all parts that he wanted to bring into the bok the militants of the sixties a certain type of Italian that is marked by Franco then he wants to touch on certain events in Mexico in the 40s, 50s and 60s and then he wanted to use Irina as a way of connecting all these ideas as we follow Franco as he looks for her and in a way discovers what happened to make him the disillusioned 80 years old he is on a quest a short of Odessey into the truth. This is another perfect example of why small publishers do such a great job.

Winstons Score – B is a gem about one man’s journey into his past

Previous Older Entries

May 2022
M T W T F S S
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Archives

%d bloggers like this: