A whole life by Robert Seethaler

A Whole life by Robert Seethaler

Austrian fiction

Original title – Ein ganzes Leben

Translator – Charlotte Collins

Source – Library book

Every year on the Old IFFP and now on the first man booker there is a book on the list that I hadn’t heard of and a writer that is new to me and this was this years book. Robert Seethaler is an austrian writer, the german wiki page says he has sight problems so went to a school for the blind. Then drama school , he is an actor as well as a scriptwriter. He has also written five novels this is his fifth novel.His first to be translated . I am pleased to see his fourth novel The tobacconist is in the pipeline to be translated.

 In 1910 a school was built in the village, and every morning, after tending to the livestock, little Egger sat with the other children, in a classroom that stank of fresh tar, learning reading, writing and arithmetic. He learned slowly and as if against a hidden inner resistance, but over time a kind of meaning began to crystallize out of the chaos of dots and dashes on the school blackboard until at last he was able to read books without pictures, which awoke in him ideas and also certain anxieties about the worlds beyond the valley.

I was reminded of the Herzog actor Bruno S a man who never is in time with the world either .

I must admit I am so pleased this was on the longlist as it may have passed me by maybe until,a german lit month. This book is the story of one mans life Andreas Egger a man who arrives and then spend the rest of his life in one small mountain valley. This is the early 20th century and the world Andreas is living in is slowly giving way to the modern world as we see through his eyes bit by bit his life but the world he lives in getting to grips with the modern world. From his arrival to work on his uncles farm where he first met the woman he loves over time Marie but this is a love that will never be.So as Andreas First build cable cars, then help electricity then the war take him away from the farm and the valley he always come back to the world he is meant to be in. As much as he tried to escape .

That was in the late fifties. It was only much later, in the summer of 1969, that Egger had a second encounter with the television – which in most households by then already constituted the central focus and primary purpose of the evening family gathering – that made a profound impression on him, albeit in an entirely different way. This time he was sitting with almost a hundred and fifty other villages in the assembly room of the new parish hall, watching two young americans walk on the moon for the first time.

A world no gone without tv or wanting to see a tv Eggger is really a man out of time in his valley .

I must admit I loved this book  it is a really pretty gem. I was reminded of  one of my favourite books Stones in a landslide Andreas life and the way he lives in the valley that is sort of out of time with the world around them remind me of the world in Stones in a landslide. I also pictured this in a way as being a lost script for a Werner  Herzog film on the other hand Andreas is a simple man like most of the classic roles in the 70’s Herzog films, a man who has the world against him in the way like the classic Bruno S films  Herzog made . A beautiful world of the valley is like quicksand slowly killing the man but not just the man but also his spirit is slowly dragged into the ground of the valley.As for man booker I feel the simple sparse nature of the narrative that as the Irish times review saaid remind that review of Stoner as for me I felt this is a better book than Stoner which I may be the one person that felt stoner was like a  afternoon film of one mans life. No egger is a character you believe in he is like a man in the background of Heidi brought to the fore.

Have you read this book ?

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Wilful Disregard by Lena Andersson

 

Wilful disregard a novel about love  by Lena Andersson

Swedish fiction

Original title – Egenmäktigt förfarande – en roman om kärlek

Translator – Sarah Death

Source – Review copy

You spurn my natural emotions
You make me feel I’m dirt
And I’m hurt
And if I start a commotion
I run the risk of losing you
And that’s worse

Ever fallen in love with someone?
Ever fallen in love?
In love with someone
Ever fallen in love? (Love…)
In love with someone
You shouldn’t’ve fallen in love with

I can’t see much of a future
Unless we find out what’s to blame
What a shame
And we won’t be together much longer
Unless we realize that we are the same

I thought of Buzzcocks Ever fallen in love with just for the line Ever fallen in love with some one you shouldn’t fall in love with , just perfect for this book .

Well I move to Sweden for the second book for this women in translation month .A prize-winning novel from Lena  Andersson .A well-known Journalist and radio presenter, she has hosted a show called summer over a number of years  .She also writers a columnist for the Dagens Nyheter  .She has so far published seven books this is her fifth novel and won the August prizeone of the biggest book prizes in Sweden .This is her first book in English .

Two weeks had passed by the time she went to him , one carefully chosen evening .In the course of those weeks she had thought of nothing else .The fact he had asked her to drop round to the studio for copies of his early works meant she had the right to seek him out ,So as not to seem too eager , she waited for as long as she could bear to

I was reminded of a scene in the film swingers where they talk about how long before you should contact some one . Has Ester waited to long .

Wilful disregard is as it says a novel about love and being in love and maybe not being in Love  .The say love comes in all shapes , sizes and they say you never know when it is going to hit you .This is the love story of Ester Nilsson , she is a sensible girl in a steady relationship .When she gives a talk about an artist she loves Hugo Rask .She doesn’t know the man himself is there .He introduces himself and ask her to come to his studio , but is this just an innocent invite . They talk and then start meeting this becomes a pursuit for Ester ,as Hugo isn’t maybe quite what he seems to her and maybe what she sees he doesn’t .His disinterest is hard for her to get over .As one woman risks losing it all .

When you love and someone receives that love , the body feels light .When the opposite happens , one kilo weights three .Love that is just beginning is like dancing on a finely honed edge .It can happen that kilo never regains its proper weight , which generates a degree of apprehension in the fearful , the experienced and far-sighted .And in those who do not have esters extraordinary capacity for hope .

Haven’t we all felt this before when in love that light then heavy feeling as we start on the road of love

This is a book about love and how it makes us each act .I was sent this pleased I wouldn’t pick this to read my self and even though I read it early in the year . I knew it would be perfect for woman in translation month .The book is about what we view in others Ester has put as we used to say on a pedestal , so no matter what he does she sees no wrong .In reading swedish interviews with the writer and about the book , the events in the book thou not directly about her , events in her life had an effect on the writing of the book  and some of what Ester went through she has gone through herself .I have maybe been painting a black picture , but no this has humour in it as well a sort of comedy of modern loving in some ways .Lena takes love and breaks apart what makes one woman rick in Ester , how we maybe don’t always take the easiest path in life

Have you a favourite book about love ?

 

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