Now,Now, Louison by Jean Fremon

Published on 24 September 2018, paperback original with flaps, 180x120, 115 pages

Now, Now, Louison by Jean Fremon

French Fiction

Original title – Calme toi

Translator -Cole Svensen

Source -personal copy

Jean Fremon is a French gallerist famous for promoting a number of the best-known artists of the 20th century including the subject of this book Lousie Bourgeois also the likes of David Hockney and Franci bacon are just a few that have been through his Leong gallery over the years. His writing is described as cross-genre and a mix of art history essays and fiction he has written a couple of long books like this based around the artists lives the book is a mix of his years of knowing Bourgeois for more than thirty letters and personal accounts of her.

But you, you love spiders. They’re beautiful, they’re clean, and they manage to simultaneously both quick and calm.They wait, motionless, in corners, never flustered, never obsessive, never hysterical; they’re serenebeings, holding themselves apart. With an animal patience. And they destroy various things that make life unbearable, such as flies and mosquitoes. Ah! the mosquitoes in Easton! how we could have used a good herd of spiders ! and it must be said the take good care of their young. Ypu watch them, in the garden , in the attic, on the stairway, in the basement.

I loved this description of spiders she hit the nail on the head I don’t like spiders but they have there uses.

Fremon has tried to enter Bourgeois world and describe her life in short burst a mixture of her inner monologue glimpse of personal history and the artist she has seen or heard about. There is another thread that is called the spider book. I most remember her as the spider woman from the Tate exhibition a number of years ago where her giant spider sculptures rose in that huge space frighting visions that both scare and intrigued me as a person like a natural version of HG wells martian invaders walking the space. Family life things like her mother passing is captured when her mother was the only person she felt secure with. A mixture of art antidotes like Duchamp visiting an aviation show and the outfall of that. Her visiting controversial exhibits like Serranos works which include the work Piss Christ where he mixed bodily fluids and religious symbols like Bourgeois who had to defend the use of sexual imagery in her own work over the years. Then the spider book which has facts she finds over the years about spiders. A mix of styles of writing makes a mosaic of a great artist that lived here.

You don’t sleep. Insomnia has always been your friend, though it’s a stormy friendship, it must be said. When the children still lived with you, you would wake them up in the middle of the night. Simply because yoiu were the only one not sleeping. Now that you no longer have anyone to wake up, you ponder, you draw. In the morning, there are drawings everywhere, on the bed, on the rug … Jerry picks them up .They’re called insomnia drawings.They are cries, letters of love or of pique

One of the glimpse and the art she made when she didn’t sleep here is a glimpse at them

I knew a little about her life I saw the Tate show an interview with her at the time. Her first love was maths then art Jean Fremon builds a wonderful tone to her voice and the way he uses inner monologue the glimpse of her life on a personal and artistic level. It is a biography more an art piece itself what he has done is take her life break it into small piece and build a mosaic image that has a small glimpse of her life from her Exile in the US the loss of her parents to small everyday glimpses. slowly build a picture of this artist an impression an abstract view of her world it is an unusual style of writing compelling I read it through twice and each time found little gems in the short choppy paragraphs that range from a couple of lines to a few pages. I choose this as one of a few books I’d buy pre Man Booker as it fits my criteria of what prize-winning translations should be that is fresh, different, challenging to the reader, small press this is the sort of book we only get due to those small presses and those that run them, in this case, it is Les Fugitives which is bringing the best of French writing to use.

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Agnomia by RÓBERT GÁL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agnomia by Róbert Gál

Slovakian fiction

Original title –  Agnómia

Translator – David Short

Source – Personnel copy

I had ordered this book last year as the description of it grabbed me as it was One long, unbroken paragraph, blending, memoir, fiction and philosophy. That description grabbed me plus when I read an interview by Frank Garrett with Gal about his use of Aphorisms in his books. Gal has lived in New York, Brno, Berlin and now Prague all these crop up in this book. He has had two earlier books translated to English this is his third book to be translated to English with a fourth to come out this year, Gal has said of his writing he writes in condensed form, in fragments, in aphorisms, and in blocks. This book is 70 pages long and follows a writer called Robert Gal from New York back to Europe.

We’re in New York, she repeats, and the words reflects states of different worlds like cannabine wafts of neat tomorrows from dug-up todays.We need to pinch ourselves to believe. She’s looking at me with that serpentine gaze of a young Prague intellectual who has come to New York at her parent’s expense to seek analogies between this and that and to talk twaddle. There’s a pile of books on the desk from which she would be forever copying out bits and pieces. Once she took me to a pseudo-intellectual hellhole to meet some feminists. The whole ambience had me feeling quite sick.

I remember night in Germany in the late 90s like this before the internet when the books we read mattered more than titbits of books.

The book opens as Gal is the lone Slovak in a group of Czech and Slovaks in 1993 where he met Eugene at a party a brief encounter but he tells us about riding pillion with a girl there discovering complete works of Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Beethoven stories like Mike Patton who encourage people that spat at him in concert by telling them to spit more. that drift into a female photograph doing nudes and a sid story of Kant pissing on the stage. Time is intersped as we drift forwards and back marks like Yeltsin’s death music he liked such as John Zorn’s Six Litanies for Heliogabalus a piece that features Mike Patton a sort of looping back in time. Too see Zorn play live his self the Zorn connection is one that rings true about this book.

an, say, a Slovak, as a Slovak, feel democratic anywhere other than in Slovakia? And this leads consquently to other questions, which , once one has mentally posed them and immediately answered them, lead to a gradual appreciationof why most citzens of small, insignificant countries remain struck in them as if there were no other option.It isprecisely in small and insignificant countries that we encounter writers who take it for granted that hey are reproducers of reality, but why reality needs to be reproduced rhey don’t reveal. Claiming – as we do -that reality shouldn’t be artistically reproduced but produced, we also should probably seperate “Work of art” from “art” .

Here he hits the nail on the head about his homeland and the place in the world but also maybe his voice is a new one that needs to be heard .

Zorn is an avant grade experimental saxophone player that has overridden genres in the styles he has chosen to play over the year and this in the Narrative form is what Gal is trying to do. We talk a lot about the current rise of Autofiction. But for me, there has been another slow rising style of writing that has been around but that last few decades has been growing a genre-defying sort it has its leader in a writer like Sebald, Bernhard, Magris even earlier Emil Cioran. In recent times books like river and Panorama all do similar mixing memories of a time, dreams and places into one narrative that is about what is being for one person where it is a trip to the center of Europe or a river remind one of another river and time. Here Zorn and his singer of choice Patton link from Prague to New York many a similar link her in Gals work that mixes his experiences with small philosophies on life. This book is like free form Jazz drifting unprepared startling and compulsive reading. Another challenging writer from Slovakia I have read three books from there in the last few years they are showing literature finally coming out of the shadow of Czech literature with a new twist on the Mittel European work that like Bernhard is sometimes just thrown on the page in one long paragraph.He has a good website here .

Have you a favorite Slovakian writer?

 

Among the lost by Emiliano Monge

 

Among the lost by Emiliano Monge

Mexican fiction

Original title – Las Tierras arrasadas

Translator – Frank Wynne

Source – review copy

Some of the best books I have read in recent years have been from Mexican writers they seemed to have been an explosion of great writers from the from Yuri Herrea, Valeria Luiselli and Guadalupe Nettel. So when I got chance to read another rising star of Mexican fiction Emiliano Monge is a political scientist journalist and writer. His works have featured in the 25 best-kept secrets of Latin American literature and Mexico twenty this is the second of his books to be translated into English Arid sky was translated by restless books. But this has been translated by Frank Wynne which I have long been a fan of his translations.

After a brief silence, Epitafio brings his left hand to his pocketand, as he takes a was of banknotes to give to the boys, he feels a pressure in his bladder. I’m pissing myself,he thinks, handing over the money, then, unbucklinghis belt, he adds; how about we say same place, next thursday? Fine, we’ll be here, promises the older of the two boys, who dragging the younger boy by hand, heads back into the jungle.

As his body empties, Epitafio watches how the two boys hop overa root and how they pull back the curtain of liana.But he does not see the two disappear beyond the wall that separates the clearing from the jungle, because at that moment the petrol genartor belches again and he looks anxiu=ously at the old truck: Fucking hell …I’ll have to wake her up.

His first times in the jungle he is nervous Epitafio

 

 

 

This is a love story in the middle of the hell that is the world of being trafficked through Mexican jungle. Although it is described more of Dante like a trip through hell. The two main characters Estela and Epitafio are the lovers that grew up in a lonely orphanage became lovers then the world tore them apart on too two sides as we see their worlds of brutal trafficking of kids and adults where life can be swift and brutal and for the woman here harrowing. We see there lives as they often have no names just a jumble of words stuck together as a description of them like Estella who is called shewhoadoresepitafo . He Epitafo forced by the head of the gang into a marriage, not to Estella has a wife and son constantly tries to get in touch with Estella but in this hinterland of Mexico his mobile phone rarely works and the vehicles he uses are broken and old so he catches glimpses and seconds with his old lover. Will, they ever escape the hamster wheel of hell that is their lives to be together again.

Two metres from IHearonlywhatiwant, in a nest build unto the rock face, two hatchlings cheep and the sound attracts the attention of this woman, who, on seeing the nest, shifts her thoughts to another person, thinks for a moment about Cementeria: back in El Paraiso, they were responsible for feeding the chickens.

turning back from the sheer drop, estela stares at the fledglings and once again wonders what happened to Cementreria ,where she was all that time she was missing, and why the hell she tookher own life. But her minds quickly accepts that now is not time to think about such things, and her friends suicide is once again replaced by thpoughts of Epitafio: Fucking hell …I didn’t even respond to your message!

I bet you’re pissed off

A brutual world weere they lose friends but estela still after all thinks of her man !!

This book uses the divine comedy as a sort of companion to describe the hellish world the two lead characters find themselves in this is shown by the frequent Dante quotes through the book. I also read he is a Joyce fan as he is one of a group of this is shown to me in the Names of some of the characters which in a way echo Joyce’s way of combining words in Finnegans Wake. This is a grim world that hasn’t been shown through rose colour glasses this is a brutal world where the migrants are the currency for those taking them to the north and the end of the journey for that get to the end that is or those that like Estella and Epitafio are born into this world and never really have a chance to escape this world. A powerful view of his home country wonderfully translated by Frank who has a great intro around names and words used in the novel.

Fleeting Snow by Pavel Vilikovsky

Fleeting Snow by Pavel Vilikovsky

Slovakian fiction

Original title – Letmý sneh

Translators – Julie and Peter Sherwood

Source – review copy

I now move over from France to Slovakia and the second book from there I have reviewed. Also, the first to be published by Istros press from there as they move a little further afield. They have chosen a writer considered the greatest living Slovak writer. He only wrote two books whilst communism was in control of the country. but since the regime change, he has written over a dozen books. This was his latest Novel to come out in Slovakian. He is also a leading translator of books from English into Slovak including great writers like Faulkner, Conrad, and Woolf. It is great to see more Slovakian fiction coming out.

1.B If, as the saying goes, every person is unique, their name ought to be unique too. Except that it doesn’t work like that. What is unique about say, Stefan Kovac, whose name is about as common as Stephen Smith is in english? In this country, no first name can ever be truly unique – the church and the clerks at the register office have seen to that – and if your surname happened to be Kovac the to boot, you’ve had it: you’ll end up being known as Kovac up the valley, or Kovac the shepherd. Slovak is a garrulous language, we don’t mind throwngin an extra word here and there, but even with additional piece of information, does a name convey anythingunique about a person?

the second part of the first story about how come the name is but also how they use extra wrds to identify a stefan Kovac who is ours ?

This is a book that has five interweaving stories at its heart. This is a fragmented book almost like a snowflake with the five points coming out. The first story is the tale of a man at the end of a long marriage that seems to be losing his mind early on we hear he is called Stefan Kovac but has now taken the name Cimborazka and is a self-declared Cimborazka. The second story tells us about a pair of step twins and talks about the soul. The third starts with an avalanche and the fourth story strand a scholar called Stefan, that has recently had a book about North American Indian languages in the US. This fourth links to the first story and where we have a talk about certain US place names that may have Native American origins. The fifth strand finds someone looking through old photos. The strands of the stories cross and the link they are about life, language particular Slovakian and old age. The loss of memory in old age. The snow is the metaphor in a way for so much in this book memories fade like snow old age leads to dementia which is like an avalanche that clears that top layer of one’s memories leaving what was under.  There is a sense of the fleeting nature of life art tines and what makes us as people who is Stefan Kovac a name we are told early on is as common in Slovakia as Stephen Smith is here.

1.J My real name is Cimborazka but I haven’t told ayone. What would be the point ? It would be the same changing your phone number: your friends will remember your new number but the will still use it to ring the same person as before, the same idea of a person. But I don’t want to receive letters addressed toDear Mr Cimborazka, which would be like addresssing a different person each time. Cimborazka is a clean blank sheeet; a reminder that I am a person – not an entity, just a being, albeit a human one. And that every human possibility is therefore still open to me each and everytime. It is a silent, secret challenge to honour my name

What is a name like the first quote another on identity as Kovacs becomes Cimborazka or does he .

This is a meandering book about the nature of life in a way questioned in many ways. Language and how it is used the short passages that make this book up reminded me of the little snippets in books like The book of Disquiet or Zibaldone thou this has more narrative and a central figure that of Stefan Kovac is he the same person, or a step twin or just another character. As in the end all the strands end in one final passage as a couple talk about how many words are in Slovakian and then as they wander on to find a disk on the ground showing distance to place and maybe placing them back in their world with a thrown word over the fact that Vienna is only 57 kilometers away. This is a writer in his old age trying to write a series of themes that must have been important to him in his life like Slovakian for a translator which is a language he mentions for how many more words there are in it. What we are what he has written about what lies after the writer’s life is gone or like the snow what remains when it has melted just the memory of it.

Blood of the dawn by Claudia Salazar Jimenez

Blood of the dawn by Claudia Salazar Jimenez

Peruvian fiction

Original title –  La sangre de la Aurora

Translator – Elizabeth Bryer

Source – Personal copy

I am always trying to add new voices to the countries I have read books from. I have read four books from Per but they are all bt Male writers so when I saw this one from Deep Vellum by one of the leading female writers from Peru I decided I would give it a try. Claudia Salazar Jimenez studied Literature in Lima and then In new york. She has since living in New York set up a Peruvian film festival and a creative writing workshop. In an interview, she states that her books problematize the limits between history and literature, the point of enunciation of official historiography and the inherent relationship that both disciplines have with the language in this sense, both novels are inserted into the genre of historical fiction , works that controvert the mechanisms by which operates historiographical discourse. Talking about her two novels including this one. 

How many  were there it hardly matters twenty came thirty say those who got away counting is uselesscrack machete blade a divided chest crack no more milk another one falls machete knife dagger stone sling crack my daughter crack my brother crack my husband crack my mother crack exposed flesh broken neck machete eyeball crack femur tibula crack faceless earless noseless swallow it crack right now eat it up pick the ear up off the floor

Just a breif pice of the passage of the masacre gives a sense of the horror i was remind of the lines Brando spoke the horror the horror of war in Apocalyase now

Blood of the dawn follows three women through the early years of the conflict that happened in Peru between 1980 and 2000 between the government and the shining path. This is also a theme in the two of the other books I have read from Peru The blue hour and Red April but both were from a male perspective. This has a woman Marcela a teacher drawn to the dream of helping the poor of the country she becomes a terrorist. Melanie a young photographer who has been left here by a lover who left her to escape to France. and then we have Modesta a poor woman the exact person they were fighting for but she loves her family. All three of the voices intertwine. But the book opens into the violent side of the conflict when in the early pages we have a vivid and bloody retelling of an actual event that of the massacre of Lucanamarca where 69 people lost their lives this village is Modesta home and the aftermath of this event and the effect on three women is told in the book.

I got a call from a reporter who has just got back from the central conflict zone. Usually he has a calming unwavering air, but today he is annoyed, iffitable. His voice is almost enough to make the receiver tremble. I sense he’s being careful not to shout but can’t help raising his voice . They’ve never edited a story of mine in such an outrageous way. Not ever, Mel. It looks like orders from higher up.. They smudge the blood on the paper so it won’t spatter the city of drizzle. It has already splattered, even if they don’t want to see it. National security, they argue.

The violence is tamed down to the wider public after time.cenors so often blur war in the public eyes.

This is a gem of a book given a clear and vivid voice to three women who were touched by the horrors of the violent years that happened in Peru. The opening pages of the massacre capture a real sense of being caught up in the horror of this event and the rest of the book shows the outfall of this violence at the personal level of three women drawn together in the violence and each damaged and changed by it. This is what great historical fiction should do capture the true horror of what was horrific times but here told from a point of view we never really hear from the female involved and caught up in the violence just by living in the wrong place. Another strong female writer from Latin America I have covered so many in the last few years.

Document 1 by François Blais

Document 1 by François Blais

Candian Quebecian fiction

Original title – Document 1

Translator – JC Sutcliffe

Source – review copy

When someone from Book*hug contacted me to review two of there latest books in translation. I couldn’t say no, I have enjoyed all the books in the last couple of years I have read from Quebec. So I choose Document 1 first to read. As François Blais is considered something of an underground superhero of Quebec literature. This is his most successful book when it came out in French in 2013 he has written nine novels and a collection of short stories. This is his first book to be translated into English.

One amusing and instructive way of learning about America is exploring the Family Watchdog website (www.family-watchdog.us), a service that allows American citizens to learn whether anyone in their neighbourhood has been convicted of a sex crime. The home page asks for the name of a town. Let’s choose ne at random: Anchorage, Alaska. A map pops up with a constellation of little coloured squares corresponding t the houses and workplaces of criminals.

A site that shows the location of all sex offenders in America and we find the colours lead to type of criminals. Another rabbit hole for Tess and Jude.

This is the tale of two slackers in a way. Tess and Jude are daydreamers, they love nothing more than searching google maps for those odd named places in America like Chicken in Alaska and Boring Oregon two examples given in the book. But the one place they really like is a place in Bird in hand Pennslyvania. Which they discover it is nearly a ten-hour drive from there Quebec small town of Grand-Mere.That sets the two on planning how they could make the journey there. That makes them search and leads them to Sebastien Daoust a writer. They then make use of the one writer Sebastien locally. He is a small time writer. They fake an application from him “Hence the document one of the title the title of the document they wrote on Microsoft word”  for arts grant to write a book in the dying travelogue genre as they put it citing books like Sterne’s sentimental journey through France and Italy and Diderot’s journey to Holland. They end up buying a Monte Carlo car and have a dog to come with them on this road trip. But as they are maybe more dreamers than realist!! read the book to see what happens to Tess and Jude.

For a long time, Bird-in-Hand was basically little more than a market. The Amish came there to sell their products a couple of times a week, then went back to their farms. On non-market days, it was essentially a ghost town, with a population that barely made it to three figures. Things changed in1911, when Jonathan stoltzfus brought a sixty-acre farm in the area. Later on, his sons opened a hotel and started devolping tourism in the region.Today, his decendants (The Smuckers) own just about all the two’s businesses.You’re going to say, “If the guy was called Stoltzfus, why would his descendants be called Smucker?” Well, Smucker sounds more American, which is better for Buisnees.Simple as that

I liked the little pen history of the town they want to visit.

Earlier last month the Wodehouse prize was canceled this year for a lack of witty and comic novels. Well, this would have been up there it has a wry dry humor of the underdog world. Tess and Jude reminded me of those characters Magnus mills wrote in his early books those trapped in their own world without really knowing they are. Also, there is a nod in a way to fellow Canadian slacker writer Douglas Coupland the parts on the computer remind me of scenes from his books like Microserfs those endless rabbit holes of searches. I used to love the old zip code stories in National Geographic a patient I looked after used to buy them and we’d look at the different places they had chosen. Similar to Tess and Jude’s odd named towns searches. A tragic tale of two dreamers trapped in their own worlds. This made me smile when I hadn’t had a lot to smile in the last couple of weeks.

Alma Mahler by Sasho Dimoski

 

alma mahler fc

Alma Mahler by Sasho Dimoski

Macedonian fiction

Original title – Alma Mahler

Translator – Paul Filev

Source personal copy

I found this book when looking around recent books that had been brought out by Dalkey Archive. I have been a fan of there books for a while as they are always trying to find new places to bring books from. So when I saw Macedonia was one of the countries they had just bought a book out from there I had to try it. Sasho Dimoski has written three novels and studied comparative literature in Skopje and is currently working as a Dramatist. This is his first book to be translated into English.

We had time, Gustav. Time stood still when we weren’t in it. It came to a halt, and nothing took place here or elsewhere. Nothing. We always had time. Always. Every wrong righted in the present, and smoothed over for the future. Every unspoken word for every innermost place within the soul, for every rise and fall within it.Every you and every I, for the various forms the days took, and that slumbered at night. And whenwe awakened our time, you and I always knew that n the other side of the looking glass stands the unkown. Something only we two could know, That we still know. And that we live today, in thwese final days that I drag along like shackles.

An undercurrent of her silence and growing unease is here

This book follows the life of the wife of the composer Gustav Mahler. Alma Mahler married him late in his life they were married for nine years this book describes those years just before his death. It uses his symphony as a guide for the chapters. we see their marriage from her point of view. She was a talented composer and a woman that in many ways must have been a muse she later Married the founder of the Bauhaus movement and the writer Franz Werfel. She was also painted by the other Gustav Klimt (that crops up in the book). What we see is the power struggle of a clever woman forced into the shadows and with a husband that at times is so wound up in his music that he doesn’t see her at times. She puts at one point she gave up long ago and now lives day to day. Late on he reveals she was every to him but she didn’t know when he falls ill after his ninth working on his tenth symphony.

There is something I must tell you, Gustav

I Fell in love with the idea of being Alma Mahle. Then I fell in love with you

Assurances? No. What kind of assurances are you talking about? I could have had that from any number of men. Indeed, I did have it from quite a few. I reveled in your greatness, which I later came to learn largely meant profound sorrow.Immencse lonliness. Great effort. Considerable. Numerous sacrifices. Umpteen missed birthdays, countless significant dates forgotten, unshared beds. Symphonies concerts, different towns, changing residences, searching for new homes, suitcases, makeup, tears, silence, sadnees,silence, tears, make up, grief, suitcase, anguish, sorrow!

That silence again her looking back on wanting to be his wife, but regretting it for the missed reasons.

This is a short book. sixty pages of a poem like prose. It is one of those books that defy being place in a pigeonhole a prose poem, a novella and it also has music notations in places of each symphony also a strong feeling of a monologue. In an interview in Bosnian, I translated on google the writer talks about the silence in the book. There is many spaces and also the silence of the love between them and the silence in the music. as he says the silence that stands against the music. this is a book about the gaps in their relationship in a way a great mind and a woman of great will silenced, she had written music but early on she shows she now lives in his shadow. An interesting intro to Macedonian lit. I understand this has been made into a stage show. In the Bosnian interview, he is asked about the theatre in Macedonian Lit. For me it would work well as a monologue piece the vice of Alma comes through in the text I could see it working as a stage piece.

The day before Happiness by Erri De Luca

 

 

The day before Happiness by Erri De Luca

Italian fiction

Original title – Il giorno prima della felicità

Translator – Jill Foulston

Source – personal copy

Another of the books I recently brought on holiday. There was something about this cover the cheekiness of the boy on the cover and it is a coming of age story. Which I really enjoy. Erri De Luca is a well-known writer in Italy but not in English so far.  He has been writing since his twenties but wasn’t till later in life he got his first book published. Since then he has published over seventy books, had them translated into a number of languages. He has also translated a number of books into Italian from Hebrew as a self-taught translator. He is also a keen climber and has been active in the opposition to a rail line between Turin and Lyon. He grew up in Naples.

I went to the school. My adoptive mother enrolled me, but I never saw her. The porter, Don Gaetano, looked after me. In the evenings , he’d bring me a hot meal, and in the morning before scholol, I’d take back the clean plate while he warmed me a mug of milk. I lived in a little room, the Sstanzino, by myself Don Gaetano hardly spoke at all. He’d grown up as an orphan too, but in an orphanage, unlike me. I was free t come and go in our building and around the city

Intially Don Gaetano says little but as the book goes pon he opens up to the young boy.

This is a story of a childhood in Naples told through the eyes of young Orphan. He is living with his adoptive family. But as it is said early on they are rarely there for him and he is mainly looked after by Don Gaetano he is the elderly caretaker of the blog of flats where the young boy lives. He starts of trying to fit in by first rescuing a ball and trying to join in with a game of football with the older boys but he never fits in. But he catches a glimpse of pretty girl via reflections in the window this is a sign of an early sexual awakening in the boy. later he meets an older woman. He also discovers books reading a book a day during the summer holidays he borrows from a shop. He also learns the city via the older man telling him of the Naples he knew during and before the war also how he hid a jew during the war.

Don Gaetano missed nature as he’d known it in Argentina. On the plains where herds grazed freely, lighting struck to the rhythm of the tarantella, and the earth was the sky’s dance fllor.”It was normal to be an orphan there. Everyone was, animals and men alike kn the plains ias vast as the ocean. Theives defrocked priests, anarchists, the Irish.. Argentina lifted the wieght off your heart and gave you back all the spaceyou could ever want.

The old man spent time in Argentina and opens the boys eyes with tales he tells him making him see beyond the city at times.

This is a short novella it is just over a hundred pages and like most great novellas it seems so much more. This is the story of a boy growing but without his parents, Don Gaetano does his best to help the boy. The relationship between the two brought to mind to me the relationship between Salvatore and Alfredo in Cinema Paradiso. Like that film, there is also so a large character of the Place her in this book it is Naples that city of the Southern Italy that at one point the narrator says is more like a Spanish city. This book came out of course after the success of the Neopolitan novels of Elena Ferrante. Erri De Luca has been around longer than Ferrante but it is good to see as a knock on of the \Ferrante novels other books set in Naples have been published.

One clear ice-cold January morning at the beginning of the twenty first century by Roland Schimmelpfennig

 

One clear ice-cold January morning at the beginning of the twenty-first century by Roland Schimmelpfennig

German fiction

Original title – An einem klaren, eiskalten Januarmorgen zu Beginn des 21. Jahrhunderts

Translator – Jamie Bulloch

Source – review copy

Well, I decide to via of the MBI list and this is one book I have been dying to read since it arrived at Winstons towers earlier this year. It is based around Berlin which for me has always been a city that has given me as a reader rich pickings. Roland Schimmelpfennig is best known as a playwright in Germany. Where he has developed a unique style where the actors interact with the public and his stories often have surreal or fantasy elements to them. One clear ice cold… is his debut novel.

Then he saw the wolf was standing in front of the sign at the side of the snowy motorway, seven metres in front of him, no more

A wolf Tomasz thought, that looks like a wolf, ot’s probably a large dog, who would let their dog roam around here, or is it rerally a wolf?

He took a photo of the animal in front of the sign in the driving snow.The flash in the darkness.

A moment later the wolf had vanished.

Tomasz takes his later to be famous picture of the wolf where he hasn’t beenin a century and a half.

One clear ice-cold January morning .. starts with a snowy day and a wolf is seen for the first time in more than 160 years. A Polish Man Tomasz is stuck on the motorway between Warsaw and Berlin heading back to Berlin to be with his girlfriend Agnieszka. He is a hard-working man in construction that is trying to keep him and his girlfriend together. When he looks out to the hard shoulder and glimpse the Wolf and manages to do what no-one else has so far and that takes a photo. Which he later sells as he struggles to get by and keep his girl with him. Then we have a boy and girl that are on the run and initially befriended by an older man who was a failed teacher but later drawn into just getting by on the streets Of Berlin but occasionally get some help. A woman burns her mothers diaries. A Romanian Chilean man also trying to get by in the Modern Berlin.

The girls mother did nothing. It wasn’t the first time the girl had failed to come home.

But that evening a woman from the police was at her front door and then the missing person announcement was issued.

Yes she and her daughterhad quarrelled.

The policewoman was also from the village. She knew the two children, she knew the boys family and she knew the girls mother two

A boy and girl elope to the city but will the dream of Love and everything live on.

The book is told in a series of small stories as we jump in and out of the characters lives. This is the outsider’s view of Berlin like the Wolf wandering west it shows the struggles of the Modern immigrants to the city. Also like many children in the past the boy and girl seem to disappear onto the streets. Like many the classic tales of Berlin this like Berlin Alexanderplatz shows the underbelly of the city. I was remind of Wim Wenders angels wandering the city especially in the second film he made in the city Faraway so close a film which  like this  book shows, the unified city but also the cracks for those just getting by and like Cassiel and Daniel we jump in and out of many peoples lives as we see how all those that had been touched by the wolf whether seeing it or its tracks as they also headed to Berlin.Detached voices at times the Boy, the girl the older man all give a sense of a wider story of the modern city and the people who are drawn to it. The book is out this Thursday to try it have you a favourite Berlin-based book of Film.

Happy Easter that was the month of March 2018

  1. The gold rimmed spectacles by Giorgio Bassani
  2. Carte Blanche by Carlo Lucarelli
  3. The dinner guest by Gabriela Ybarra
  4. Vernon Subutex by Virginie Despentes
  5. The white book by Han Kang
  6. Six Memos for the next millennium by Italo Calvino
  7. Die, my love by Ariana Harwicz

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