A Nobel Double Two by Svetlana

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I have in the last few days received two books from last years Nobel winner. This the first book that arrived Second hand time is a selection of interviews she has taken to form a piece on the post soviet world and how it has formed a new world and in her use of many voice to individual monologues see how the post soviet society is affecting the every man and woman on the street. This is the first new work from her since the Nobel win to reach us in English and is out from Fitzcarraldo editions. Penguin are also releasing new editions of her previous books I have reviewed this one in its earlier release as Voices of Chernobyl I had reviewed this last year as it was the only book I could get before the Nobel prize was announced .So as with Patrick Modiano the year before we now have a number of books from this wonderful Non fiction writer whose ability to work the people she talks to into a chorus of voice on the soviet and post soviet world she grew up in .

Have you read any books by her ?

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Winstons books Sheffield and Chesterfield

Well I did review yesterday The boy who stole Attila’s horse which was one of three books I brought earlier this week from Sheffield as I have been off this week and we both had monday off we went for the day and as there waterstones has a slightly better selection of translated books I always love a look round.

20160129_160447First up is a trilogy of Novels by Samuel Beckett , which mix’s my wanting to read more Irish fiction and still reading translation add to this I see that World republic of letters have two translation of the same book out a Gaelic classic , I feel I be reading both Irish lit and Translated books. The second book is A school for Fools by Sasha Sokolov, which grabbed me for two reason first it is from NYRB classic a name I trust the other reason is a quote on the back if James Joyce had written in russian this would be the last two chapters of Ulysses.Another for my russian list this year.

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Then I meet Amanda after work yesterday and we spent a few hours in town I found three books, the first two in Oxfam Two Adolescents by Alberto Moravia is made up of two novella Agostino and Disobedience , I remember someone  reviewing last year  the first novella Disobedience , which is a NYRB classic book now. The second book is a book by Roland Barthes on how myths are made and semiotics have come to me so much.

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Strange how books I get connect in some way talking Myth and semiotics, the one writer we may think of is Umberto Eco and I happen to get this Baudlino is the one of two novels by him I don’t own I haven;t Numero Zero but I have read it over christmas but I want to have all his books on my shelves.

What books have you brought recently ?

 

 

Winston’s covers If Orson Welles was a fan I’m sold

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I subscribe to Mubi, A movie streaming service with a new film every day to watch so when Last Monday a film from Orson welles The immortal story , a french production for tv he made in the late 1960’s. I had to watch it firstly I hadn’t seen it before but also in looking up about the production for the film Welles was a fan of the writer of the story Karen Blixen (AKA Isak Dinesen). He had planned to do a number of short stories by her but end up making just this one. So when this weekend my great luck at seee or finding a book I have just discovered  struck again when I found the collection containing the Immortal story .I had to laugh another lucky find.

Have you read Blixen/Dinesen ?

Liveforever by Andrés Caicedo

andres caicedo liveforever

Liveforever by  Andrés Caicedo

Columbian fiction

Orginal title – ¡Que viva la música!

Translator – Frank Wynne

Source – Review copy

“Caicedo is the missing link of the lost boom. He is the first enemy of Macondo. I do not know if he committed suicide or maybe was killed by García Márquez and the dominant culture of those times. He was less the rocker that the Colombians want and more an intellectual. a super genius tormented nerd. He had imbalances, anguish of living. He was not comfortable with the life. He had problems to stay on his foot. And he had to write in order to survive. He killed himself because he saw too much.”

Albeto Fuguet the acclaimed Chilean writer on his early death .

Now as any one who has been following the books read section of this blog will know I read this a few months ago ,but at time I was reading it was when Richard and I started discussing Spanish Lit month again .I want this to be the first book of the second Spanish lit month .I first heard of this book when Frank the translator mentioned it was meant to be coming a couple of years ago ,but with delays it didn’t arrive to this year .What first grabbed me was when I read up about  Andrés Caicedo life ,this was his only book ,he killed himself after this book came out .He had said to live more than twenty-five years was madness .He lived in Cali the main setting for the book ,had a deep love of cinema which meant he had dreamed of selling his plays to Roger Corman .He ran a club showing films and discussing the films with the students and intellectuals of Cali .Anyway for more go to his Wiki page  .

I’m blonde ,blondissima .So blonde that guys say ,hey angel ,you only have to flick that lustrous mane of hair over my face to free me of the shadows hounding me .it was no shadow on their faces but death .And I was scared to lose my sheen .

The opening lines of Liveforever .

 

Now to the book ,it’s a sort of coming of age story ,we spend time with María del Carmen Huerta ,Her story is told as she is now a high class prostitute ,her best days in that job behind her she looks at her life and this one day .The day she he miss school and just dance the way through the city of Cali ,from her own end of the city the upper class part of town ,her father is the man the photos the upper classes of the city ,the music she hears and moves to is the rolling stones western rock ,but as she moves down into the seedier darker side of the city ,junkies and drugs but also the salsa beats drive the city out open doors ,dance schools we see Maria drawn further into this world as her body pulsates with the beats of this part of town .As we see Maria drift between the groups within the city .Maria journey is one for her of discovery about herself and her world .

Who knows who maps our path through this world or how they do so ; here in beautiful Cali I am the queen of guganco I stepped out into the street ,into the sky so clear ! An enormous moon and deep wind from the mountains bore witness to my devastating revelations in that moment : that everything in life is lyrics ,is words .Maybe my words are of  a different order .

I found these lines so poetic ,Guganco is a type of Cuban rumba .

Now its hard not to miss connection with other books ,frank posted a review of this book that mention catch in the rye ,yes I agree partly with that but Maria isn’t a Holden for me .Caicedo was known for his wanting to break away from the writers of the Latin american boom in his writing ,so it hard to compare with writers around him from that time like of Marquez or Lllosa  as seen in the opening quote on this review .No this is far more a book about setting forth ,setting free a mind .A woman discovering herself and her body at the same time ,of course Nada springs to mind ,the Spanish catcher in the rye ,but also the style of literature she was involved with the Tremendisomo ,the world told in its brutal and true way ,having just read Cela another master of this art ,I can see part of this in Caicedo writing the brutal nature of the city of Cali comes alive and burst of the page .Add to that his love of films Corman in particular ,Corman made the film The trip about LSD ,which ike this book caught the experience of taking drugs .The other main part of this book is the music there is a three page discography of the music that is feature within the book ,from the driving rolling stones of the seventies ,through salsa ,I brought a number of the tracks from the discography into a spotify playlist  which I suggest you listen too and get a real feel of the book and the pace of Caicedo writing .So welcome to spanish lit month .

 

Near to the wild heart by Clarice Lispector

Near to the wild heart

Near to the wild heart by Clarice Lispector

Brazilian fiction

Original Title –  Perto do coração selvagem

Translator – Alison Entrekin

Source – personnel copy

 

He was alone. He was unheeded, happy, and near to the wild heart of life. He was alone and young and wilful and wildhearted, alone amid a waste of wild air and brackish waters and the seaharvest of shells and tangle and veiled grey sunlight.”
― James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man via goodreads also inspired the title for this book .

Well it’s nearly here the world cup in Brazil ,so for the next couple of post I’ll be reviewing a couple of Brazilian ,this the first is a cornerstone of Brazilian literature from the most well-known writer of her generation Clarrice Lispector .I had long wanted to read Lispector but inertially when I started blogging ,there wasn’t any in my library system ,then New directions brought out this and four others in us and in Uk on import but then heard Penguin was doing a uk version  ,that I am reading in the Uk penguin Editions .Clarice Lispector was born in Russia and with her family escaped the aftermath of world war one ,the family settled in Brazil .She was studying and working as a journalist on the side when she wrote this book her debut novel .It was translated once before but this is the latest translation from 2012 .

“Daddy , what shall I do ?”

“I already told you : go play and leave me be !”

“But I’ve played ,I swear ”

Her father laughed

“But there’s no end to playing …”

“Yes there is >”

“Make up another game ”

I thought this conversation when I was looking after my nieces just yesterday , kids hey !

 

So near to the wild heart is a modernist piece of fiction (I know some people cringe at that word , but for me it always seem to me something challenging or innovative ) .The book is the story of Joana ,her life is told in snippets in the stream of consciousness style ,from her as a youngster, whom is  beguiled with her father telling herself poems about him ,through growing up temper tantrums ,her marriage to a man with a wandering eye , the book has an episodic feel at times as we jump in and out of Joana’s life the good ,the bad .She is called a strange creature by family members and through her thoughts and emotions  as we read them comes across a  a women ill at ease and very complexed .

The dense ,dark night was cut down the middle split into two black blocks of sleep .Where was she ? Between the piece s, looking at them (the one she had already slept and the one had yet to sleep ) isolated in the timeless and spaceless in an empty gap .This stretch would be subtracted from her years of life .

I felt this could have easily come from Marquez the feel of her words remind me of his descriptions and magic realism .

Now this just knocked me back ,I still can’t believe she was 23 when she wrote this book ,especially in the passages when Joana is older  married .Her writing mixes, the best of European modernism but with a shot of Latin american Heat and Humidity at times ,its hard to describe yes of course  its stream of consciousness but that is banded about so much but the book for me  evokes ,James Joyce ,at times the early Joana  parts of her life reminds me of Stephen Dedalus in a portrait of artist as a young man  describing his childhood ,but later on I felt more of Virginia Woolf, Lispector does a similar thing to Woolf in books like Miss Dalloway when she captures Joana disappoint in her marriage and husband .I choose this of the two Lispector books my wife brought me the other being Hour of the star ,but now I feel maybe I want to read her books in order to she her development as a writer .A must for fans of a strong female voice ,Modernism and wanting during the world cup to discover a bit about Brazil and its culture .

Have you read Lispector ?

To the Islands by Randolph stow

to the islands

To the Islands by Randolph Stow

Australian fiction

Source – personnel copy

aussie lit month

Randolph Stow is one of those writers I feel that time is forgetting I only heard about him a few years ago when this book was considered one of the best Australian novels on the old ABC book show .He won the Miles franklin the year after Patrick white did with Voss in 1958 the second winner of the prize with this book .I looked up and he has been described by one person as the Australian Camus .Anyway he lived in the uk from the mid seventies and died a couple of years ago .This book was revised in 1991 but my copy is the old Australian Penguin version from 1962 .

I am an old man ,an old man .J’ai plus de souvenirs que si j ‘ avais mille ans ,and this cursed .Baudelaire whining in his head like a mosquito ,preaching despair .How does a man grow old who had made no investment in the future ,without wife or child ,without refuge for his heart beyond the work that becomes too much for him ?

Very good bit of existentialist angst here I felt

I read both Kim and Lisa’s review of this book and Knew it was one I would love .SO what is it about well the action is set in worth west western Australia in a Mission that is run by the church (you just know how this is going to go ,don’t you  ) ,this is for the Aboriginals to use (be converted they meant  no matter what the cost  ) anyway the mission is run by Stephen Heriot ,this guy fits you typical missionary view he sees the Aboriginals as people to covert but years in the desolate place has changed him into a twisted man anyway the is a man he has had run in with over the years Rex an aboriginal he has had run in with in the past and he considers evil anyway ,he ends up killing him and Heriot goes on the run  but what happens next ?.

Without bending ,without touching him :”dead” ,said Heriot ,feeling in himself the thickening of blood ,the stiffening and relaxing of fingers . Rex –

The moment the book turns .

Well this book has so many themes it hard to cover them all , Christianity and Aboriginals this isn’t just a Australian thing it can be seen in a wider context of africa and Asia .Heriot a man in crisis is a classic figure of existential fiction a man questioning – What he did ,who he is and why he is ? easy to see why he had been called the Australian Camus .Heriot could easily be a  character from say Camus or Beckett  .then we have ,Culture clash the white folk as they are often called here by the aboriginal as there views on life differ greatly thus cause a build up of tension especially in Heriot  .For me one of the  things I loved was the Language this is something I really loved, Stow’s voice especially the dialogue which to me as an English reader sound very authentic like the “old days  ” Aussie we used to hear in my youth thirty years ago  ,to coin a term ,he used some terms which now seem very out-of-place but were in common usage at the times ,these I believe have been to some extent removed in the revised edition which is shame lisa did not she would like to she what was cut and I will second this myself ,I feel books may date to me this hasn’t te themes at its core are still the same today maybe not in Australia but elsewhere ,the terms are of the time and added for me as a reader .As for him being like Patrick White he is a bit but when he wrote this at just 22 he hadn’t read White’s Voss .

Have you read this ?

Sarajevo Marlboro by Miljenko Jergovic

Sarajevo Marlboro by Miljenko Jergovic

Bosnian fiction

translator Stela Tomasevic

This book was sent to by my friend Simon of Inside books .I was happy he sent it as it was one I d meant to get around the time it came out but hadn’t and then it had dropped out of my mind .The book is a collection of stories set in and around Sarajevo the capital of Bosnia before and during the war .As I mention before I work in Germany around this time and many of the people in the factory I worked were refugees from Bosnia and Croatia.So as I got to know many of them I heard similar things to the stories in this book . My favourite story is one called Bosnian hot-pot we follow two young women Elena and Zlaja  around the the city  of Zagreb during the war for a clay pot to make a Bosnian hot-pot  like they would in Sarajevo .This story is familiar as it partly metaphor for the city pre war every one made the same hot pot of many parts like the city they had Bosnia , Croat and Serb  living side by side in a harmony  in the pre war Sarajevo .

For a long time Elena and Zara searched everywhere in Zagreb for a clay pot .In the end they found two pots – at opposite ends of the city – that were ideal for preparing the traditional dish .

they find the pot .

Other stories look at pre war and like many of the people I worked with the former Yugoslavia  president Tito is mention as the man who held the country from the second world war ,he was respected and in some ways feared by all .We meet people who lived in Sarajevo that have got out and now looking at the horror unwind from the sidelines ,upset and not understanding the horrors .Then we find how the book got its title in the story The Gravedigger as A man offers the gravedigger packet of cigarettes wrapped up that turned out to be  some old Sarajevo Marlboro (it turns out Philip morris allow each country and even places make slightly different versions of this brand ,I can acknowledge this as I smoke Marlboro for many years and always notice subtle changes when in different places ) .This makes the gravedigger wonder what the man an american makes of them maybe he things we re all mad he says .

the american is curious too ,but he has no idea what I’m doing at last I undo the  cigarette packet to reveal a Marlboro wrapper the old brand from  Sarajevo

we discover the meaning of the title of this collection from the story the Gravedigger .

The Croat writer  said of the many book written about Bosnia that it is perhaps the best collection of stories .I couldn’t agree more this brings you into the besiege city and the people that live there or lived there .I ll end with a video of a song from  Passengers  featuring Pavarotti called  miss Sarajevo about the city and a beauty pageant that went on in the city during the war .

Have you a read any books around the Yugoslavian conflict ?

 

Proust 90 th anniversary readalong ?

 

I saw it was 90 years since the death of the french writer Marcel Proust next year and the little voice in my head said read along ,this tied with a recent ABC books show where yet another person picked his masterpiece in search of lost time or if you’re a bit older remembrance of things past as one of their all time favourite reads .It is also a favourite on desert island discs as the desert island read

It was published in seven volumes from 1913 -1927

  1. Swann’s way
  2. Within a budding grove
  3. The Guermantes way
  4. Cites of the plain
  5. The prisoner
  6. The fugitive
  7. The past recapture

 

What I thought was a 14 month readalong two months on every book with a monthly post for half way and complete reading .ending in 2013 would tie in with 100 th anniversary of the publication of volume one .My editions are the older Moncrieff / kilmartin editions published in the late eighties from penguin I brought second-hand .

At moment I m just want to raise the flag and see what interest there is I ve never got past Swann’s way and feel I need a push to get through it all and want to as it is considered one of the major works of 20th century european literature .

Have you read the book ?

Are you interested in joining in ?



Winston’s books and a visit for #savelibraries

Been a while since I posted books I ve got so done last few I ve got in last week or two .I manage to clear some library books as I always have my quota maxed out but had chance to get 8 books this time for a change .

Monseiur Pain By Roberto Bolano –

This is part of the ongoing translations of Roberto’s early novels a short novella ,A mystery book about a Peruvian poet ,this is the time Bolano changed from a poet to a prose writer .another for the Bolano challenge

While the women are asleep by Javier Marias –

Last year i got the first part of his your face tomorrow trilogy and never got to it so took it back to library ,this seems a better intro his first collection of short stories in a number of year ,characters on the edge of society.

Antipodes – Igacio Padila

Mexican writer ,the cover appealed and knew he was part of the crack movement that want to move latin american literature from the boom style .

The tree and other stories by Abdallah Al Nasser

Don’t know a lot about this writer but like short stories from Arabic ,,so thought I d give it a whirl ,he is from Saudi Arabia he currently live in london .

The character of rain by Amelie Nothomb

This short novella is told from the point of view of a two and half-year old and I thought be great to compare to the room that I want to read at some point this year .

Hidden camer by Zoran Zivkovic

This Serbian novel sounds wonderful a man is invited to a film show gets there and find he is the only one and the film is him on his lunch hour ,dark sounding this will do for my eastern European challenge .

Jia by Hyeiln Kim

A novel about North Korea ,It says it all based on true life accounts of growing up under an oppressive  regime ,I have another book I want about north Korea this caught my eyes as I scanned the shelves .

Lizka and her men by Alexander Ikonnikov

A new russian writer this follows a young women growing up under russia’s new freedoms ,spend time with a number of different men ,I like the cover of this and another for the Eastern European challenge.

The particular sadness of lemon cake by Amiee Bender

This is Bender’s new novel follows a young girl that finds she can sense people’s emotions via the food she eats this follows her to adulthood as she finds out how to cope with this unusual gift ,this was sent after a request from Harvey at windmill books .

Corrections by Thomas Benrhard

I ve been looking for a Bernhard for a while and happened on this at the local Oxfam ,the book is about a character similar to Wittgenstein driven mad by pure thought .

The Murder in the vicarage by Agatha Christie

This is a bargain from the shop the works ,a copy of the original crime club books ,this is the first Miss Marple book ,my Gran loved Christie so snapped this up .

Peter Camenzind By Herman Hesse

This is one of Hesse’s earlier novels I loved the Glass bead game and Steppenwolf ,so this Oxfam buy is great want to see what his earlier works were like and this book is semi autobiographical .

These come from the lovely Lila that has just started at Penguin these are four of the Mini classics for the 50th year of modern classics .The books consists of number of short stories by each writer .

75 Penguins for penguins 75th

75 PENGUINS

This year is penguins 75th birthday ,the idea of Allen Lane who wanted to provide cheap books for the masses ,the orginals where 6pennys ,very cheap at the time and had the design classic orange /white /orange strips ,On the picture i feature a row of different strip designs the earliest is my 1940’s George Bernard Shaw ,I ve try to use all ages of books from 50’s onwards .This year to celebrate penguin has brought out the decades series using a group of designs with connections to the choosen decade ,my favourite in picture is my 3 vol Proust as i have yet to read it .

Habe you a favourite penguin ?

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