Bird in a cage by Frédéric Dard

 

 

Bird in a cage by Frédéric Dard

French Noir fiction

Original title – Le Monte-charge

Translator – David Bellos

Source – Library book

This is my third choice for Pushkin press fortnight and the first from the Vertigo range I have read , which is a collection of Crime and Noir novels from around the world . This one really caught my eye after Jacqui’s review . Now Frederic Dard is another like his fellow French language writer Simeon that had written an amazing number of books over 240 , a large number of those are from the series San-Antoine , a french detective whose name he choose by pointing a figure on the map of american and choose the nearest place to his finger he wrote 170 books in that series. Pushkin is translation a number of his books into English.

The place was like a fairy grotto piled high with glittering treasures. Christmas tree decorations were stacked on the shelves : glass birds, paper Father Christmases, baskets of fruit made of painted cotton and all those dainty balls as fragile as soap bubbles that help make a tree in a fairy tale.

I was next to be served.There were people waiting behind me

“What can I get you”

I pointed to a silver cardboard birdcage sprinkled with glitter-dust. inside it an exotic bird mak=de of blue and yellow velvet stood on a golden perch

The birdcage but also a dream like feel to the shop .

This is one of Dard’s novel of the night series , a series rather like the Roman Durs of Simeon that look at the darker side of human nature. The novel set in the build up to \Christmas and follows  Albert a man return to his home patch , his mother has died and it is christmas eve and he is back home  in his childhood home for the first time in a long time to bury his mother . He goes to the local area to remind himself of the past , he buys a little silver birdcage that some how reminds him of an image from the past . He then goes for a meal in  a local bar and  he’s meets a mysterious women who  is their with her daughter, but is this woman all she seems   how invites him to her apartment . But is she all she seems and is she leading him into the darkness. and maybe into a trap

She was leaning on me heavily.I could feel her womanly warmth spreading through my body. A troubling desire for her had been nagging me ever since we started walking side by side , with our hips brushing each other.

Ar one point i felt a shiver go through her.

“Are you cold ?”

“A bit”

“Do you want to go into a bar ?”

“i don’t want to see anybody ”

Albert’s  woman as they leave the bar is it a shiver of cold or something else !!

I was remind somewhat of works of David lynch with this where you are never quite sure if you are in a real world or a dream world there is a sense this is maybe Albert’s nightmare world . Did he get to his mothers and fall asleep and all the has followed is a dream. What is the mean of a birdcage , is he cage by his past , of is he now like a wild bird caught in a cage to be an attraction for some else . I kept half expecting a dwarf or a giant to appear like in a Lynch piece  . Dard use the bare bones to guide you through the story rather like Simeon his great friend there is a sense of the darkness with in the human soul . Another writer I was reminded of is Magnus Mills a writer that use the labyrinth of time and being drawn into situations so well in his books I was remind how easily his characters fall into a world they don’t know . I still shocked Dard hasn’t capture the English reader before if this is an example of his novel of the night series of books  I will be visiting the other Pushkin have been publishing as this is a classic dark evening read one of those books you can sit and read in a sitting no problem . Have you a favourite from the Pushkin Vertigo range ?

 

 

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Breathing into Marble by Laura Sintija Cerniauskaite

 

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Breathing into Marble by Laura Sintija Cerniauskaite

Lithuanian Fiction

Original title – Kvėpavimas į marmurą

Translator – Marija Marcinkute

Source – review copy

As I said yesterday in my wrap up there was three new publishers last month and here is another Noir press is a new small press focusing on Baltic fiction. They contact me and said This may be perfect as my first book from Lithuania as I had yet to review a book from there. Laura is a prize winning writer this book won the EU prize for lit .She studied Lithuanian become a Journalist and then a writer she has had a number of books published and translated into a number of languages this is her first to be into English and the first by a living Lithuania writer to be translated to English.

HIS EYES wer brwn, with irises that seemed as thick as steel- they had none of the softness that would be characteristic of a child.When Isabel was taken to the group, they all simultaneously turned towards the door and a hush fell upon them. Isabel froze in deadly silence, pierced by fifteen pairs of starring eyes. And the a ripple out from the corner, a short, slight stir as the boy pressed his tiny fists into his mounth and his eyes flashed.Hardness was probably his most distinctive quality

She meets Ilya for the first time maybe she saw more than she realised in his eyes there

Breathing into marble is a story of family Isabel , who has a son Gailus , but this lad is suffering from Seizures which are  getting worse, the family are trying the best for him. The Isabel meets an orphan Ilya whom she decides they are going to adopt to help their son and also give him some company.This new arrival to use the old saying is like setting a cat amoung the pigeons and he is trouble he wrecks this quiet families life .What we see is the ripple effect of his arrival on how people get effect by one event .The mother and father trying to maybe replace the faulty child with a new one but he isn’t no this six year cause a rift and doesn’t take to his new step brother .

Galius had never met a person who took up so little space “Its like ILya always trying to become smaller ” he said to Isabel .He behaved as though he was not two but ten years older than his brother. He would not complain to his mother when things began disappearing from the drawers of his desk – pencils and his Tragi-comical everyday reflections – what he called the pieces of paper with his scribblings on them.

The two brothers meet and the older orignal son observes something about his step brother .

This is a tough one to describe in her winning interview about this book for the EU lit prize she notes the books isn’t plot driven its a book of psychology of the human soul she says it is to see how people react to one event the event here is a death at the heart of the story that turns the wife and husbands world upside down . This is like a lot of new fiction around europe about famlies in the worst points , I felt a connection to The Boy which I reviewed last year another novel dealing with the fallout of a child’s death. This also seems to be part of a group of writers In Lithuania writing Noir fiction another influence I felt is Simenon roman Durs novels those psychological novels he wrote about the darker side of human nature at times and how we all react in certain situations . This is a dark look into ome couples past and secrets they had to bury many years ago , death and recovering or trying to recover from it .

 

Total Chaos by Jean-Claude Izzo

Total Chaos by JEAN-Claude Izzo

Total Chaos by Jean-Claude Izzo

French crime fiction

Translator – Howard Curtis

Original title – Total Khéops

Source – Review Copy

Early on, in this blog I reviewed on of Izzo’s   stand alone novel by Jean-claude Izzo ,A sun for the dying that wasn’t a crime novel ,I really fell for Izzo prose style ,he was very good at atmosphere .So when the offer to review the Marseilles trilogy came from Europa editions , as part of their new imprint World Noir ,I couldn’t say no .Jean-Claude Izzo was born and died in the  City of Marseilles ,He was initially sent to technical school in Marseille as he was an immigrant ,but then took a job in the book  shop got involved in a movement for peace  involved in the catholic church  called Pax Christi   ,then he did his military duty  in 1964 in France and Africa during this time he started to write for a military paper and published his first novel in 1970.This book was published in 1995 Europa have published five of his books in English .He died sadly in 2000

The gun .A present from Manu , for his twentieth birthday .Even then , Manu had been a bit crazy .He’d never parted with it ,but never used it either .You don’t kill someone like that .Even when you were threatened .That had happened to him a few times , in different places .There was always another solution .That was what he thought .And he was still alive .But today he needed it .To Kill a man

Manu was always the wayward on in the group of friends .

Well Total chaos follows three old friends Ugo ,Manu and Fabio ,these three all grew up on the streets of Marseilles close almost you could say blood brothers , but as they grew there lives took different paths Ugo and Manu were drawn to that dark underbelly that the city is well-known for and joined a gang ,on the other hand Fabio went into the police and is now a detective .Then Manu is killed ,Ugo who has been living away from the city comes back to find out who killed his friend and does and in that classic gangster way like in the bible for  it’s a body for a body  in Ugo’s view ,but he is captured by the police in what seems to be a bit of a set up , then steps in Fabio ,like his friends he is an immigrant child of this dark city  . Fabio is drawn by a promise the three boys made to watch out for one another no matter what feet he treads on or what rules he may break ,this draws him into the dark heart of the city he lives in as he finds who wanted  his friends dead !

The aroma of coffee woke me .That was something that hadn’t happened in years .Since long before Rosas getting her out of bed in the morning was no easy matter .Seeing her get up to make coffee was little short of a miracle .Carmen maybe ?

Izzo is so good at setting the scenes in the book places and smells .

Well I thought I try this book  before I get to the latest big French Crime Novel Alex ,because Izzo is considered the father of the modern French Noir novel .This book lives up too that our hero Fabio is a flawed man .We have a women Lole she is maybe the classic femme from a classic noir film two of the men have been involved with her .Then we have the city itself and in this book it is a character ,Izzo is the master of setting the city comes alive as a place of dark corners seedy cafe and bars ,inhabited by a cast of what seem like extras from every gangster movie you’ve ever seen .You come out of  the other side  of the book wanting to know  where the story goes in the next two books ,but also feel like smoking a packet  Gitanes,having a glass of wine in one of the seedy bars in the background .

Have you Read Izzo ?

Do you have a favourite Noir novel ?

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