Homage to Czerny by Gert Jonke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homage to Czerny by Gert Jonke

Austrian fiction

original title – Schule der Geläufigkeit.

Translator – Jean M Snook

I return to Austria with my next stop on German lit month and a writer I have featured before with his book the system of Vienna an inventive novel based around the tram stops in Vienna. An experimental writer Jonke. He studied many things history, philosophy, music theory and german studies but never complete any of his studies. He won most of the big literature prize in German including the Austrian state literature prize. In this book, he is said to have wanted to explore remembrance and the present.

Everything should be exactly as it was at last year’s party, answered the photographer’s sister. Whispering so that I wouldn’t understand, she consulted with her brother, who was passing by, after which he looked at me sternly, sizing me up, and with an expression that showed he was aware of the great responsibilty wieghing on him, hesaid in his most serious voiceas if he werer entusting me with managing the empty coffers of the city council. If you promise not to talk about it and not to give anything away, we can tell you something important, albeit confidential

The nioght has taken plannning and is run like a three at drama.

The book itself is two stories a novella book and a short story. I am focusing on the short story as it captures the feeling Jonke wanted and the is a remembrance in the present. It focuses on Anton he is a photograph and his sister Johanna they live in an elegant house with wonderful gardens they have decided the theme of this years garden party they have this year is the theme is that everyone has to do the same thing as the year before. They hired a painted Florian to create a cycle of painting that exactly copies the garden and then cover the garden with exact copies in pictures of the garden a cellist has to play his cello music on a piano. The guest is a mix of the high-class art and city officials which have a bizarre discussion about smoke in a part of the city between two officials who Jonke just refers to by their titles town planner and city manager  and then they have a musical pond, But how can you keep everything the same in the year that has passed it is the feeling of trying to hard are narrator fritz is a guest and he is maybe an unreliable narrator the second tale involves to brothers fritz again and his brother Otto not as talented as his brother he is a piano mover by trade I lived this comic observation Saki in style almost. They are stuck in an attic with a lot of pianos.

Several ladies and gentlemen who held high positions in the city administration had seated themselves on a corner of the terrace where there was a good view of the city lights at night, of course they were always thinking and talking about many and diverse problems of the municipality and , relaxed by the festive mood of the evening, they were exchangong their opinons on these matters much more freely than usual and in an informal manner.

A sort tongue in cheek look at the absurd nature of the city council and its officals is the case in the book!

Jonke was interested in using fiction like a musician and this is a piece that maybe shows how he used rhythms and phrases the title refers to the man called the godfather of modern piano teaching Carl Czerny Jonke tries to lift his style onto fiction. I am not a huge fan of classical music but the title of the second story refers to a piano work from Czerny. For me, it has feel of last year in Marienbad which sees a man return to Marienbad and see a woman he saw the year before but she had forgotten him. it is a book about what we can’t capture no matter what they do they can’t repeat the past and the more they try the more distant they go from the year before so to copy the garden in every detail is like capturing a photo it is a moment but the same moment a year later is different. this also clicked to another film scene that of the film Smoke and the picture that Auggie takes every day at the same time initially the other character flicks through them but he is told to look and yes its the same spot but the moment light day even on the same day a year apart is never the same a repeat is always slightly different. This is a thought-provoking work and I am pleased I still have two more works from Jonke on my shelves to review in forthcoming years, Have you read him ? what do you think to his style of writing?

The Pledge by Frederich Dürrenmatt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pledge by Frederich Dürrenmatt

Swiss fiction

Original title – Das Versprechen

Translator – Joel Agee

Source – personal copy

I move on my german lit month reading to a new to me writer and a book that I have had a while and wanted to read. Frederich Durrenmatt was a multi-talented writer his theatre was often compared to that of Bertolt Brecht he was called the most original theorist. He was a critic of crime fiction and with this book he had worked on a crime script that he felt hadn’t a realistic ending this is the work he wrote as a result of that.as the subtitle goes a requiem for the detective novel.

Matthai had a hard time making senseof that jumbled report, the chief continued. “it was one of his old “clients” calling from Magendorf, a little hole in the wall near Zurich. The man was a peddlar named Von Gunten. Matthai wasn’t really in the mood to take this up this case on his last afternoon on his job. He had already brought his plane ticket, he’d be leaving in three days. But I was away at a conference of police chiefs and wasn’t expected back to the evening.

How Matthai is drawn in the case is by chance and meant his carreer never really ends

The book starts with a crime writer meeting the former head of Zurich Cantonal police who criticized his works as he says Chance plays no role in his works. So the writer then thinks up a new story and that is the main bases of the book that follows lieutenant Matthai. He is sent to find the killer of a small girl in a small town. The girl Gritli Moser was found in the woods killed with a razor. Matthai has to tell the parents about the loss of their small girl  . The crime was reported by von Gunten who found her but he is later convicted of something else and is connected to the two girls that earlier died in a similar way to Griti he is interviewed He then confesses. Matthai is just about to leave when he is drawn in another way by this case that initially then seemed shut as the young girl is buried but there is also the young girl’s drawings in the weeks and days before her death with images that may be known she may have known her killer? Matthai made a promise to get the killer and ends up running a petrol station to finally sort this case out or is it just a wild goose chase for this serial killer.

Back in Magendorf, Matthai met with his first difficulty. The emergency squad’s large van had driven into the village and was waiting for the inspector. The scene of the crim and its immediate vicinty had been carefully searched and cordoned off . Three plainclothes policemaen were hiding in the woods. Their assignment was to observe the passerbys. The rest of the squad was taken back to the city.

The other old crime novel cliche of the killer return ing to the scene of the crime here .

This shows the foibles of crime fiction and that is chance the obvious story Von Gunten fits that old inspector  Morse line that the person that finds the body may also be the killer. There is the picture pf the young girl that leads them in another direction what is the meaning of the hedgehog? What happens when you have got a confession and it was the wrong man it shows how someone can be haunted by that giving it all up to trap this killer to have that petrol station it is a strange twist in this book that shows how far one man will go with his pledge to the mother of the dead child. This is a book that reminds me of Paul auster at times another writer that has taken a different twist in his detective fiction this is a postmodernist crime novel that twists the tales and characters as far as you can. It has been made into a film I haven’t seen the recent us version but I believe it cuts a lot of the framing device out and resets the book in the US. The English version from the 90s seems near to the book and it has Richard E Grant in so I hope to watch that at some point.  Have you read this book? what do you think of the twists and turns in it ?

The night circus by Uršuľa Kovalyk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The night circus by Uršuľa Kovalyk

Slovakian fiction

Original title – Travesty šou

Translators – Peter and Julia Sherwood

I come to the second of three Slovakian writers currently touring the UK in part to celebrate 30 years since the velvet revolution. Her we have another strong Female writer. Uršuľa Kovalyk is a feminist writer and also works as a social worker. She has published three she has won the short story collections and two novels one of them is also available from this publisher Parthian. She has won the most prestigious literary prize in Slovak the Anasoft litera award and also the bibloteka award.

“That hair of yours is going to blind me one of these days” I say,  winding the car window down. Paula tosses her red mane and bares her teeth at me flirtatiously. A predator, I think. Not even a corpse could resist Paula’s sex appeal. She isn’t all that young or beautiful nor even particularely fit, but every time I see her I’ m ensanred by her charm, like a fly falling into a pot of honey. I tried to puzzle out what makes her so attractive. It must be her velvety voice or perhaps those taut blue veins on her beautiful neck that put me in this wicked frame of mind.

Predator her friend isn’t stunning but is appeal to twist men around her fingers.

This is part of the collection mention but has had a few stories added it is still a very tight collection of stories mainly female voices and also very short stories this collection is 98 pages long and in that we have 16 stories. We start with two women driving in a car that picks up a hitcher but one of them warns the other one Paula who she says is a predator, not a woman that lets the men hunt her but hints the men so when they pick up this man she is told to leave him alone. An unnamed person wakes in a room with a fridge that has parts of a large white dog that opens into another world. This story is maybe the most surreal in the collection. THen a woman Julia has sex with a man but her mind seems elsewhere before during and after the act itself. she is described as a porcelain doll, in fact, is described as a ghost.  A dying woman talks about sex with her three daughters. The title of the original collection Travisty show sees a fading star that was a famous singer but over the years her demand wained until there is a time when no invitations to events arrive at her door until a reunion invitation where she ends up at a strange stage show of her life with earlier versions of herself.

The evening takes the faintly lit room in its lazy embrace. Julia has just finished washing her body under the shower. It seems even paler than usual against the backdrop of brightly coloured towels hanging in the bathroom, She rubs in some aromatic oil and looks at her face in the mirror, lost in thought. The sound of an engine starting can be heard through the open window. He is waiting in bed. Julia is rubbing the oil into her dry skin, \slowly, her skin gfeedily devours the greasy drops of oil. It is white. Like a china bowl,Julia thinks.

Julia a pale girls just about to sleep with her partner but her mind seems elsewhere.

This is a tight collection of stories no weak tales each has a strong female voice the only one that is different is the dogs in the fridge which is a surreal tale. the others are mainly set at home. from the Julia in her bathroom then the bedroom, three daughters around the bed of there dying mother. There are other strange events transporting us to the rainforest. The real world is here but just to the left at times each character views the world through there own prism making this an interesting collection of stories of modern women’s lives in Slovak. Slithers of life and like real life itself some of these tales haven’t that big punch but leave you thinking. Have you read anything by this writer? I must also not this is one of my favorite covers this year.

The Rebels by Sándor Márai

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rebels by Sándor Márai

Hungarian fiction

original title – A zendülők

Translator  – George Szirtes

Source – personal copy

When I was looking at the list of writers and books published in 1930 I saw this and remember I had it on my Shelves, in fact, I had read embers before I started blogging which is Sándor Márai is his better-known novel in English, I brought this to read this was his first novel. He was born into a Nobel Hungarian family. He traveled growing up spending time in Berlin, Frankfurt, and Paris. He did consider writing in German but chose to write in his native Hungarian. He wrote more than fifty books in his lifetime he has only had a fraction of his works translated into English.

For ther years Abel sat in the middle of the third row from the door. Erno was stationed behind him, Tibor to his right in the front row. That’s how they spent three years . One day at the beginning of the fourth year ABel was staring blankly ahead, bored with physics, slowly surveying the rows of other desks when his gaze settled on Tibor who had his head in his hands oblivous to evrything, absorbed, reading a book under the table. It wasn’t that Abel was particularly taken by the sight, nor was he the subject of some miraculous instantaneous illumination.

The boys at school and the gazes between them.

The rebels is set in a small Hungarian town that given that it is May 1918 is empty of male role models as we meet four boys that are just about to Graduate from School. Of course, this means that they may have to join the other missing males of the town at the front. There father range from a religious Zealot to a Colonel that expects his boy to do his duty. So these four Abel, Tibor, Bela and Erno decide they aren’t following there-fathers and brother that have gone to the front. They buy cloth to make a costume to wear and they rent a room to hideaway in. This club is their way of growing up as they try to be adult in there costumes and parading in front of one and other. There is a feeling of homoeroticism the same feeling you get in the novels of a writer like E M Forester, in fact, the growing relationship between the boys and the background of war remind me of the homoerotic undercurrent in J L Carr A month in the country as the bodies return and the try to set it aside in the club world this was like the working on the church and trying to forget the horrors of world war for the two characters in A month in the country.

The boys – this gang – in whose midst he suddenly happened to find himself, who seemed to have materialized around him, were not entirely what he would have chosen. He never dared to confess this to anyone. He was ready to sacrifice his life to the gang because the gang would have sacfificed theirs for him.The military ethos of his father had somehow percolated through to him and excerted a certain inluence. All for one and one for all.That “one” was Tibor.

There is an echo of three musketeers here with the all for one one for all !

This is an early book from this writer but he has so many more books to be translated into English. He had spent time in London in the twenties so I imagine he would read Foresters books maybe even have been aware of forester there is the same feeling of homoeroticism that he has in some of his works the sort of male friendship that all-male school or university get. He also captures the fear of the war on the youth of the day 1918 as the bodies come home the time has ticked as this is May and the have the club but then someone appears that could end the boy’s plans of being in their own world. It’s about rebelling against the expectations of society the fear of war also about discovering one’s self. an interesting second choice for the 1930 club! have you read this book?

Agnes by Peter Stamm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agnes by Peter Stamm

Swiss fiction

Original title – Agnes

Translator – Michael Hofmann

Source – review copy

I have reviewed Peter Stamm three times before on the blog over the years. so when I got the chance to review his debut novel I jumped at the chance as he is a writer whose works I had enjoyed his other books. Agnes had come out in the UK but was never brought out in the US so it gave me a chance to go back twenty years this book came out in 98 in Germany and 2000 in English for the first time. He has written several novels but was a journalist iuntially and has written radio plays as well.

I was back in the library early the next morning, and even though I was waiting for Agnes, I had no trouble concentrating on my work. I knew she would come, and that we would talk anc smoke and drink coffee together. In my head our relationship was already much further advanced than it was in reality. I was already wondering abouther, beginning to have my doubts, though we hadn’t even been out together.

I was working well, reading and making notes, When Agnes arrived, around noon and she nodded to me, Once again, she put her foam rubber cushion down on a chair near me, spread out her things as she had done yesterday, picked up a book and started reading

The beginning of the relationship as they keep meeting in the library sharing coffee and a smoke,

 

An older writer he is unnamed is asked by his younger girlfriend Agnes a cellist studying physics and free spirit in her own way to write a story about her. Our narrator is in Chicago to write about luxury trains. He does what Agnes wants and writes about their relationship He does that but as they are happy and the everyday life of these two. The way they meet and fell in love but this doesn’t lead to the most interesting story about their relationship. As they work together on the story. But, when she tells him she is expecting a baby the narrative changes as he is older and doesn’t want a child he tells her that he doesn’t want the child this is a turning point in their relationship. but also in the story, he is writing about there relationship changes as he starts in that narrative to try and control the younger woman by making her into what he wants her to be as the two worlds the story and real life start to come intertwined as the relationship cracks apart.

We celebrated Christmas Eve together. It was some time since I’d shown Agnes what I’d written. Now I printed out the story on white paper and put it in a folder with a dedication.

“I haven’t got an ending yet,” I said,”But as soon as I do.Ill have the whole thing boiund into a little book for you ”

Agnes had knitted me a sweater

“God knows,I had enough wool, she said.

“Black wool”

“No I had it dyed. Light blue doesn’t really suit you.”I didn’t say anything. We were sitiing on the sofa, with a little christmas tree in front of us that Agnes had decorated with only candles.

Later on the feeling between the two has changed in the story.

As ever Stamm is a master of describing how relationships work but hew also is great at getting that moment when the relationships change the turning point so to speak that unseen event at the start of the narrative that initally seems like the perfect relationship even thou there is an age difference. This sees the writer trying to idealize Agnes later in the book. This is maybe free in style than his later books it is like he is trying a different way of writing in this book it is looser than his other books. But worth reading I alwaylike to try and see how a writer has grown this isn’t as cut and cleaned as say seven years but is still an interesting insight into the dynamics of relationships and also about writing about a relationship which when it is good can seem very boring. Have you read this book?

 

The Marquise of O by Heinrich Von Kleist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Marquise of O by Heinrich Kleist

German Literature

Original title – Die Marquise von O

Translator – Nicholas Jacobs

Source – review copy

Well I have only one before reviewed a book where it has two translations that was the double translations of Cre Na Cille that came out a few years ago well I have an updated translation of one of the greatest German writers works that of Heinrich Von Kleist a writer that influenced writers in particular Kafka he was describer in the encyclopedia Britannica as Kleist’s whole life was filled by a restless striving after ideal and illusory happiness, and this is largely reflected in his work. He was by far the most important North German dramatist of the Romantic movement, and no other of the Romanticists approaches him in the energy with which he expresses patriotic indignation. I have reviewed this a part of a collection a number of years ago but didn’t focus on this story.

In M -, An important town in Northern Italy, the widowed Marquise of O – A women of impeccable reputation and mother of well-brought up children, made it known through the newspapers that she had inexplicably found herself in a certain condition, that the father of the child she would bear should make himself known, and that out of regard for her family she was resolved to marry him. The woman who under the pressure ofirremeediable circumstances took such a strange step, risking universal derison with such fortitudewas the daughter of Colonel G

A sort of whose the father Jeremy Kyle style forthe time

The Marquis of O is a novella set during the Napoleonic wars. it starts with a startling piece from a newspaper THat in M a town in Northern Italy has found herself in a certain condition and she wants the father of the child to make himself known. She is the daughter of Colonel G and has arrived at his home in this state after her husband died some years earlier. The early part of the book follows the events leading to the Marquise ending up this way. which saw her home overrun by Russian soldiers and at the risk of being used by them she is saved by Count F who then saves her but later appears to have died and then return and he tries to gain the hand of the Marquise but in the meantime she has been cast out and is returning to her dead husbands estate.

THe Marquise came with her two children to the forecourt of the castle where shooting, now at its heaviest, was already lighting up the night, forcing her, out of her mind where she sould turn next, back into the burning building. Her she was unfortunate enough to meet a band of hostile riflemen just as she was intending to slip out by the back door. At the sightof her they suddenly fell silent and slung their weapons over their shoulders and took her with them whilst making abominable gestures.Tugged and pulled this way and that by hte terrifying pack fighting among themselves

Her fate seems doomed her when she ran into the gun men by her old house

This has many twists in the tale and like the best of Kafka there is a little of not knowing who is who here with no full names just Colonel G , count F and Marquise of O remind me of the way Kafka never used characters full names them there is the hint that the Marquise may have been raped not clearly in the book but there is a feeling that something is wrong with how the baby was conceived.. Will the count ever be able to make the Marquise his Countess ? The book leans on the lines that see the Count take the MArquise when she is very tired from the group of Russian soldier is this when they had relations? it isn’t said but implied. It is also a studied into how people react under stress Her father the Marquise, the Count each act differently.  I enjoyed this new translation I remember the story didn’t grab me much in the collection as I choose two other stories to describe in the collection I hope that Pushkin get some of the other Von Kleist works to translate especially An Earthquake in Chile and Michael Kohlhaas which where the two stories I liked in the other collection.

Milena, Milena, Ecstatic by Bae Suah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milena, Milena,Ecstatic by Bae Suah

Korean short fiction

Original title – 밀레나, 밀레나, 황홀한

Translator – Deborah Smith

Source – review copy

I read Bae Suah Wiki page and was interested. That she had studied Chemistry and was working in the airport on the disembark desk and had taken writing up as a hobby when she got a story published. An inspiration to all writers I think. I also read there she had spent a year in Germany and has translated books from German in Korean including works by Sebald, Erpenbeck and Kafka. This short book is only 35 pages long.

On his occasional visit to a cafe, he onlyever drinks espresso – It’s the only kind of coffe whose flavour is strong enough to neutralise the taste of machine. He always orders two singles rahter than one double, drinking one first, then the other, so as to experience the difference in temperature, foam and mouthfeel – just like he does at home. It jappens to be a mild day, when the cries of the collared dove can be heard, he set the cup on the table by the window, so the coffee receives the morning light. Cold coffee doesn’t bother him especially. Neither does feel the fine granules against his tongue and against his throat.

His odd coffee habit of two singles instread of a double.

This is a third-person narrative of a day in a man’s life. Hom Yun is a bit of hipster in the way Bae describes him he only drinks Double espresso but has them as two single shots. We see his day from a man that loves to read in the bath he has one book a copy of Letters to Milena which links to Bae time in German and also in a way to this story they are a collection of Kafka letters. The letters haunt him and also the former owner of his collection from the inscription in the book. This story then takes a strange turn as Hom is dressed and of to an interview at a Cultural foundation that he doesn’t quite remember to apply for with his film project that is a mix of fiction and Documentary around the Scythian graves that Herodotus wrote about in his histories. Hom is usually a loner in his filmmaker but this is his biggest idea and he may need an assistant so when he leaves the Foundation the secretary from there follows Hom and then spends the night trying to get him to hire them in a strange Kafkaesque even of cross meanings between the two.

HIm yun examines the inside cover. There, someone has written a sentence in German, in pencil stiff and crooked as though the writer were not familiar with the German alphabet and had simply copied out the words, the handwriting scattered clumsily and slanted irregularely and in indvidual strokes that did not join up with each other

“Ecstatic MIlena”

There are no marking other than that single sentence, whichhe absolutely had not written himself. This means that this book is not Hom Yun’s

THe letter to Milena that he owns isn’t his own !

This book has some subtle details in it like Hom habit of splitting his double espresso into two single shots so he can experience each shot at a different temperature. The sitting in the bath reading, the way he dressed in all black made him seem like a real hipster to me. There is a number of nods to Kafka the love of his book the evening he spends with the secretary which takes many odd turns. Then Hom being haunted by his letters to Milena. This is a short novella but feels like much more after you have read it He jumps of the page this hipster filmmaker and his mad film idea is well built around his idiosyncratic behaviors. This is part of a collection of short Korean works called The Yeoyu series from stranger press there are seven other books in the collection.

One hundred year of solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One hundred years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Columbian fiction

Original title – Cien años de soledad

Translator – Gregory Rabassa

Source – Personal copy

I said this was this year read-along for Spanish lit month. I got out my copy which isn’t the one I read but a later edition I read it from the library as I did most of my books in my late teens the little Library in Alnwick was a great gem. I am not much of a rereader but I decided to go back and cover this as it has been five years since Marquez passed he is still the giant of the Latin American boom. I dod wonder if I would find it as engrossing as I did when I read it all those years ago sometimes my not wanting to reread is a wanting to avoid the disappointment of a book seeming less on second reading.

MAny years later, as he faced the firing squad, colonel Aureliano Buendia was to rememeber that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe house, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormus, like prehistoric eggs.The world was so recent that many things lacked names and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point

The stunning opening of the book as some one on twitter sad maybe the best !!

I then set off to the strange village of Macondo and to the founding family of that Village the Buendia family. The village is an island or is it that is the point of the book it is a family history but a lot of the book you see each generation as similar or as a pale copy of the previous in a way the use of similar names in fact in most generations the same name Aureliano is a name a family name that crops up in the second generation after Jose Arcadio Buendia the founder of the village, in fact, the opening lines is his son and the closing lines is another Aureliano in a more modern Macondo. The village seems to want to avoid moving forward the solitude of the title is the village it ways each generation is a subject to some family intermarrying first cousins etc. Each generation also has a beautiful and alluring female Remedios, Santa Sofia, Remedios the beauty (another recurring name !). A band of visiting gypsies that bring the great inventions of the day and whose lead dies but comes back to the village.pilar that lived for 140 odd years after sleeping with some brothers. These all add to the mystic and strange feeling of the whole place being caught in a revolving door of time.

During a pause in the caresses. Jose  Arcadio stretched out naked on the bed without knowing what to do while the girl inspire him. A gypsy woman with splendid flesh came in a short time after accompanied by a  man who was not of the caracan but who was not from the village either, and the began to undress in front of the bed. Without meaning to, the woman looked at Jose Acradio and examined his magnificent animal in respose with a kind of pathetic fervour

The women in Marquez’s book always seem similar as thou remembered from his own past

So was it worth rereading well yes I loved it like I did the first time I know some people get lost with the names and generations but I let flow over me like a river and just drift with Marquez prose for me, the book is full of him as a writer? I have cover five of his book before on the blog. The pace Macondo is a veiled version of his home town of Acacataca part of the history mirror-like the arrival of the fruit company something that happened itself in the village. A beautiful woman well this is maybe where he will fall down at some point in the future as Marquez loved to describe beautiful women in his books I often feel he is describing the same group of young women from his teen years over and over again. Then there is the revolving sense of the village and this is something that seems more distant now than it did when I first read the book I remember visiting the distant village in Northumberland and the people I picked up for the elderly  day centre known the history of these places back for years and generations like the Buendia family also the way he misses giving technology encroaching on Macondo something that has been lost as the internet and everything it brings has steamrollered that world. It is fair to say yes this book was as good in fact in a way it has changed how I viewed it in the twenty-plus year since my first reading Marquez was a master of what he did

Transfer window by Maria Gerhardt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transfer window by Maria Gerhardt

Danish fiction

Original title – Transfervindue

Translator – Lindy Falk Van Rooyen

Source – review copy

Maria Gerhardt was a Lesbian icon, Dj she was known as Djuna Barnes, she was called the Queen of the night. She was a judge for a while on the Danish X factor. She started a Magazine and wrote three novels that all dealt with her Breast Cancer this was her last book and came out a few days before her death to cancer. This is Nordisk latest books. This seems the perfect choice for my last Women in translation book. I have posted my 30 covers and maybe not done as many reviews as I usually do but feel I taken part more than other years.

The further I fell, the cleaner our place had to be; our books were colour-coordinated, our music was sorted, nothing depressing, please, and our beffing from Egypt was always washed and ironed. Where we’d acquired such tast, I really don’t know. The terrace cane chairs were scored on an auction, likewise, the saucers with a label. Stuffed butterflies danced on the display in the corner cabinet There was not a fault to be found in our French mirrored wardrobes, and nothing but my bare toes adorned our white pigment floors. Monday mornings saw me submerged in a tub with marble lion feet, the black moroccan soap within my reach. The only hitch was my psyche, my sickness and a sprinkle of ah from our fireplace.

A utopia but is it or just a waiting area for death ?

This is an unusual book told in very short vignettes some longer passages. We have a female narrator her life story is a mirror of the writer her self. But this is a parallel universe in the future. She lives in a large Hospice this hospice occupies part of what is Copenhagen now and is run by New age Nuns that grow cannabis for the patients. This Hospice come town in itself has no music, but they can relive there lives through VR booths and they have Juice bars and health food shops instead of the coffee and bars they usually have. This other life she lives away from her friends but reliving her past as the present and future have drawn in as time gets short.  A world she lives in with her fellow patients seem perfect but there is always that clock ticking in the background.

We are given such healthy food to eat. farmers arrive with their produce from Samso, Hven and Amager. Tuborg Harbour looks like a food market in Bangkok, every day of the week. I decide to go for a vegetable juice, I choose to sit out in the sun. This is what grown-ups do; this is how to take care of yourself. The difference is that I din’t have to wash up, and I don’t have to deal with the oesky pulp.A lady in her sixties with a sullen face and crutches jumps the queue. Aruckus about the lack of fresh beetroot juice ensues. I give her a cold stare. “take it easy, lady,”I say, “I’m just here for the sugar”.

The world is healthy as they try to keep them healthy !

This is a very short book 90 pages but as most of them are small vignettes it is probably only fifty pages I love the idea of the city as a hospice the other space within the city of Copenhagen I had seen this done before in the Danish film Allegro that had a part of its character past trapped in a part of the city called the zone here we have a woman dying in the present reliving her past via VR in  a hemmed of community in this city. An autobiographical work of a weird future utopia that is really a dystopia as we see a writer facing death by escaping into this world of community hospice but still in the world she wrote having to face the future which like the book itself is short. It is a heart-wrenching work and a perfect example of my love of what make small publishers so valuable in the world of translated fiction a book like this is such a perfect example!

 

30 covers for #WITMONTH A Slovenian fonz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There have been three collections in the Peter Owen world series this is from the Balkan collection. Jela Krečič is the wife of the well known Slovenian thinker Slavoj Zizek. She is a philosopher and journalist best known for an in-depth interview with Julian Assange. I really liked the way she chooses a male character as the lead in this novel as I said in my review that Matzaj the main character was a Slovenian Finz a charismatic character as we follow his ins and out with various women. Her is my review

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