Thank you for not reading by Dubravka Ugresic

thanks you for not reading

Thank you for not reading by Dubravka Urgesic

Croatian non fiction

original title – Zabranjeno čitanje

Translator – Celia Hawkesworth

Source – personnel copy

At the record company meeting
On their hands – a dead star
And ooh, the plans that they weave
And ooh, the sickening greed
At the record company party
On their hands – a dead star
The sycophantic slags all say:
“I knew him first, and I knew him well”
Re-issue! Re-package! Re-package!
Re-evaluate the songs

Paint a vulgar picture by the smiths is about how music is a product .

I mention this book a week or so ago and how blown away by it I was .Ugresic had long been on my list of writers to get too , so when this work of essays and observations on writing was in a recent sale at waterstones in Nottingham ,I couldn’t resist it . Dubravka Ugresic studied Russian literature at Zagreb , she  has written a number of novels  her best known books in the jaws of life , described as post modern .She  left Yugoslavia in 1993 ,since then she has lived in the US and most recently the Netherlands .

What does this all have to do with literature ? Almost nothing .Then why mention something as trivial as Joan Collins pink suit ? Because trivia has swamped contemporary literary life and become , it seems more important than the books .A books blub is more important than the book itself , the author’s photograph on the book jacket is more important than it’s content , the authors appearance in wide circulation newspapers and on tv is more important than what that author has actually written .

Joan Collins or any celeb writing a novel is just the sad state of books and reading .

Thank you for not reading is a collection of essays all based around books , the market for books and her observations on coming to the west to promote her books . , it starts when she is at the london book fair in the 90s and the fair is being opened by Joan Collins . This is the first of a number of observations by her of what is the market force lead western , well english book market . This is contrast with her memories of growing up under Tito where books and writers where values how the soviet system treated writers in one way and then in other ways both good and bad but they were valued for what they wrote not who they were !

Milan Kundera wrote that one day , when everyone writes , nobody will listen .The markets , it seems , is creating utopia .But nevertheless , in the whole commercial whirlgig , there is a sad and paradoxical truth :glamour is a populist longing , a sign of absence .Literacy can have an aura of glamour only where literacy does not exist .

I agree with this statement , literacy is so important !

A breif description as it is more my reaction to this book that is what I want to talk about as for me it touches on a point about books that I often go on about , but feel I struggle to get across . I will give an example that mirrors the book I was at the recent launch of Olja Savicevic book Farewell cowboy , which was being filmed t=by the Croatian news to be broadcast on the evening news .There was an air of surprise when I pointed out that this wouldn’t happen here in the uk .Like this book it is a sign of what books have become and this is my constant point the big selling books and writers now can like Urgesic observed can be celeb writings or celeb writers (if you know what I mean !).But the flip of this is what I call “Adding to the critical discussion on books in translation or in general  ” that is raising books to high culture thus making them seem unreadable or unobtainable to the masses  . I mean just today we are talking about giving every kid a library card .It is not just that gets people reading it is making books seem interesting not adding to a critical discussion on books !!  An example  would  be John Buchan was the most wide read writers in the trenches of Flanders when the Everyman was reading his books . Now Buchan is considered a literary writer , but back then was read by the masses , so I agree with Urgesic view that making writers seem like heroes but heroes we can touch ,so in one book she has touched on so much that makes me blow my top the putting of books on high peaks whilst promoting drape books to the masses , it is our right to choose what we want to read not to be told book a is right because we come from a certain social or educational background Jesus would you have been the one top grab the 39 steps out of the hands of the Tommy because they couldn’t add to the critical discussion of books !! I have drift into arant her but isn’t that what a great book can make you do . For me this is the heart of why I read books from around the world knowledge is free to all well here and too most readers of this blog so don’t let books scare you because you are told they may be high culture .This book is funny and possibly ahead of its time when it was written .

Winston’s books Open Letter books and Nobel winner ?

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Well I arrived home to three brown envelopes through my door a real bonus , on a day that had been busy at work . I opened them to find three more books to add to the one I got on Saturday from US publisher Open Letter which is attached to the university of Rochester and their three percent website (a real joy for serious lit in translation fans ).The three books were a collection of Poetry from the Italian poet Lucio Mariani , A  well regard and translated poet .Then there is The physics of sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov , a Bulgarian writer , I have reviewed two books from Bulgaria and have a third on my pile of books to review , so I am pleased to read another what seems by the cover blurb another witty and clever books from Bulgaria and he was suggested back at london book fair to me as another writer from that country to read  .Then last but no means least is  a French novel and writer that has been on my wish list for a good while since I heard of an earlier book Minor Angels by Antoine Volodine , I have want to enter the future world of radical writers and exploring the power of writing this book is part of a great project that interconnects a lot of his books . Then below is the book that arrived is another to add to the 10 other writers I have read from Argentina Juan Jose Saer latest translation is a collection of three stories around Exile and memory .He sadly died a few year ago but is another I had on my radar for a while . I am hoping this may spike interest in the uk to this publisher making it easier to get their books in the uk .I know they are easily available on amazon , but I like to buy my books in a bookshop and the nearest place to get their books to me is Nottingham or Manchester .

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Then I got two books from the library today that I had ordered one writer that maybe should have won the nobel in his time Alain Robbe Grillet was a leading writer in the Noveau Roman movement also a filmmaker , last year in Marienbad was his film .I managed to find my library system had one this one project for a revolution in New York .Then there is a name that has been around as a future winner the last few years and thankful my library managed to find the copy they had at last of Voices from Chernobyl the oral history of  nuclear disaster written by Svetlana Alexievich , I always try to read one or two of the names not mention in regards Nobel Literature prize .

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Bye bye #translation thurs but welcome #translationeveryday from here and I’ve a new blog as well !!!

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Well I decided to start a small sideline blog today to this blog , I’ve had an itch I’ve want to scratch to cover english lit from pre 1960 which has always been a love of mine so instead of ending this which is my love and real passion , I started winston my boy a small occasional blog  focusing on the books mention but maybe english tv drama not sure yet post will be a couple a month . Now I maybe came accross wrong on twitter earlier this blog is now just translation and will be carrying on I have the target of a thousand books reviewed to reach and now want the next 440 to be just translated books or african fiction .But as I said on twitter , I find it hard to do the #translationthurs hashtag every week I will not be rt it as much and may just tweet my own reads .I feel I have supported it enough to step back and let people just use it week in and week out .So witmonth is nearly done I’ve a few more reviews to come and then I feel like a week in Africa I have a few books with African connections to review that I have read so not to worry much the same as ever just a new blog from me and me stepping back from #translationthurs .But from here much the same as ever if not more so .I will be using the #translationeveryday hashtag for my own post to reflect the fact that this blog does translated fiction  365 days a year  and will carry on well forever lol  .But I will be reviewing a few Wnglish books other at the other blog .

Hello , hello from Soho to Finland dead bodies are dead bodies

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I started this weeks as a change and I had two already and couldn’t justify get another from the British library crime classics and this book a wartime murder in soho fits perfectly an easy reading break from the recent books I have read which include two books by Nobel winner Patrick Modiano . The book is about missing plans and a dead well-known figure in Soho life .I was remind some what of the Rathbone Holmes films with this book .The sort of books and films that sold well in the war years .

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Then as a by chance this arrived yesterday from Finnish writer Kati Hiekkapelto the second book featuring her detective Anna Fekete the first from Orenda books thou . Anne and her husband both work for the police and one is investigating a murder with an au pair as the suspect the other illegal gang of immigrants .LIke a scream in soh a cast of suspects from outside the country .That is the only comparison I can make but I am neck high into crime this week .A welcome change of pace and two interesting books from different times and places .

Do you use crime sometimes as a break from Lit book ?

Heloise is Bald by Émilie de Turckheim

 

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Heloise is bald by Émilie de Turckheim

French fiction

Original title – Héloïse est chauve

Translator – Sophie Lewis

Source – review copy

when i first saw the child brides

two bridegroom boys at their side
genevieve in union with -holy communion
marriane the younger wife

and the child brides
went down to the water
neptune calls out to his daughters
throw yourself at the tide
i’ll see you on the other side

in a loveless marriage – when i was fourteen
all brained knees and black knees
then you come round here
with your fancy talk and your big ideas
what have you done with your wives

I choose The auteurs lyric Child brides , the is a seedy nature to their songs that match this book in a way .

Back in France again for woman in translation month and another read I have saved until later in the year . Emile de Turckheim , Studied French and American law , then after that taught for a while in prisons french and english . She then at the age of 24 published her first novel .She has since written 8 books in total , she has also written articles including one about being a life model to artists .She has won a number of prizes  for her books in France .

Heloise is bald . She still has a long life ahead of her . Her dress has the anxious stiffness of new clothes .Not a single smudge of varnish spoils her short red nails .Upright in her high chair , she is lower than the others , her toes squeezed into a pair of ballet slippers that struggle to contain the plump flesh of her feet .

The opening lines and the bay Heloise is in her high chair ,when Lawrence calms her .

 

Heloise is bald is a strange tale of love between a young girl and an older man. When I first mention this book I connected it with Lolita . I maybe was wrong in some ways . The story start when the baby Heloise in her parent house as a babe is really upset and is calmed by the family friend Lawrence  as she sucks his thumb and falls for this strange man  .This sparks a connection between the two that see the young baby grow into a girl on the verge of womanhood .But the connection between her and this older man , who is a doctor and a real charmer is one that is very sensual and daring in its nature as the two grow closer in their  natures .

Heloise slides both hands around Lawrence’s hips  , and he finds himself counting the years .he will be sixty when she is twenty .He’ll be snuffing it on the stroke of eighty when she in the happy valley of middle age , will be celebrating her fortieth .He realises that Heloise is sucking….

I leave that hanging as it is a very sexual scene that follows as the young girl gets her man .

This is a twisted story of a girl growing in love from five months old .I compared it Lolita but these are two different stories this is a girl who knows what she wants and that is Lawrence .But lawrence is a man whom is married and has had an affair with her own mother to name one .But he  is easily caught by this young girl when she finally get what she needs from Lawrence . I was reminded on some ways of the English film wish you where here something in Heloise character remind me of the character played by Emily Lloyd in this film  the way she is free of convention in the way she acts round men .This is a tale of growing up with the wrong idols .About men that let woman down but also on the surface seem all charm .A extraordinary story that could have only come to us from French literature .

Have you a favourite story of an age difference relationship ?

 

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