Atlantic Hotel by Joao Gilberto Noll

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Atlantic Hotel by Joao Gilberto Noll

Brazilian fiction

Original title – Hotel Atlântico

Translator – Adam Morris

Source – personal copy

Well, it is back to Brazil and a second helping of Joao Gilberto Noll. I so enjoyed the quiet creature I decided to try another and of the two I had this one appealed. Even thou he died a few years ago, he still has a lot of works to be translated into English. He was a guest writer at Kings College in London in 2004 which lead to the other book I have by him called Lord which I will review at a later date the book is set in London partly.

I glanced at the time: eight thirty. It took some effort to get up; my legs hurt. I slipped my blazer on and went to the bathroom, steadying myself on things, feeling a sort of disability- the image of a convalescent getting ready to leave the hospital came to mind.

In the mirror I saw deep circlesunder my eyes, skin all scaly, parched lips. I slid my tongue along an inflamed cavity in one of my teeth, figuring it wasn’t doing me any good to stay here emumerating thesigns of my body’s deterioration.The time to leave has come.

After his first night in the hotel. This remind me a lot of DOA the way he said he was falling apart.

This is a very different book from Quiet creature was. The book opens with a narrator who arrives at a hotel. The Atlantic hotel and has a room where a murder had occurred, he had just flown in he said but has very little luggage and asks what happened in the room but then he is a taxi and the narrative becomes like the road trip from hell, as we follow him from dark seedy motes to motel as he starts to meet people like Susan on a Bus but she is a troubled soul like a narrator as she takes fatal overdose this increases the sense of death and the world drawing in around our unnamed narrator. later he seeks refuge at a church but who is the narrator as the man says various jobs he has done and various things he has done to the people he meets along the way. As he is accused of something who is this man what has drawn him to be the way he is on the run through Brazil but always being close to death as he does almost as though he has a cloak of darkness that tinges all that is around him.

I was drinking coffee with milk and eating a thick slice of butter bread, in Father Anselomo’s old frock. Antonio was sitting in the same chair I’d found him when I arrived at the house. Only hehad bow turned the chair in my direction.

He told me he lived in Rome for four years.There he’d known hunger , absolute misery. He’d wandered the streets in rags. Eaten whatever he was given Sometimes he sat in the doorstep of a fancy restaurant until a cop gave hium the bootor a waiter brought him something to eat- the ramains of the customers meal into a cardboard carton.

Everyone he meets have dark stories to tell him in this road trip around Brazil.

I felt this was more Lynchian than his last book the feeling of our narrator falling down a dark hole as he like the main character in Mullholland drive seems to be drawn into a dark seedy world that he isn’t quite sure what he is doing. There is as I said that sense of disjointedness that is in his works I was reminded of Toby Jones character in Berberian sound studio where he is drawn into the world around him without seeing it happen and the darkness of the film he was doing the sound for. The other film I was reminded of was a classic film noir that was made twice and that is DOA the man on the run here is obviously trying to escape something dark from his life it says early on that he aged forty years overnight at the first night at the hotel. Like the film his world becomes stranger as the days move on like in the film, his world draws in around him and his body starts to fall apart. Have you read this book at all ?

Quiet creature on the corner by João Gilberto Nollrr

Quiet creature on the corner by  João Gilberto Noll

Brazilian fiction

Original title – O quieto animal da esquina

Translator – Adam Morris

Source = Personal copy

I move from Spanish lit to Portuguese lit well Brazilian lit and a short Novel I have been wanted to read for a couple of years. Gilberto Noll wrote his first short story in 1970 at a very young age and went on to Study at the Iowa writers workshop in the early eighties which is when he started publishing novels and short stories collections around the early eighties as well. He also ran a twice-weekly short story in a Sao Paulo daily paper. He published a number of novels before passing away two years ago in the city of Porto Alegre which happens to be the setting for this book as well.

Suddenly I realized I was so close to the singing girl that I could almost feel her breath- I didn’t say anything, she stopped singing, I noticed there was a speckled wall that hid us from the building – I hit her with a kiss and she fell with me onto the wet earth, my tongue passing through a murmur stifled in the girls mouth, for sure a scream if I were to take my mouth off hers, and it was to late,

He goes round to the singing girl but this leads to him goinjg to far but I like the waty he noticed the speckled war that seems sinster in a way !!

The book is narrated by a 19-year-old poet, a drifter it seems having lost his job within the first lines of the book. Still living at home with his mother early on in the book whilst his mother slept. So he decides to sit and write a poem taking the most of the silence but then he is interrupted ! he goes round to a neighbor who is singing and covers her mouth to stop he screaming and then has sex with her thus he has raped her. return to the shredded sofa at his mother’s house next morning he sees the police around and fails to escape this is where things get strange he is arrested but within a few moments he has ended up in a large country estate  were he is held captive by two people a couple Kurt the German and his wife Gerda also Otavio in this strange house. Where he has been whisked to. The estate is different all they want is for him to write poetry for them, just that.  But why? this is a disjointed world where one moment our narrators is in one place then arrives in another.

At the lunch table there were three people besides me: Kurt at one-end, Otavio at the otherm and a woman with blue rinsed white hair across fromme. Kurt introduced me: Gerda, his wife, silent most of the time she asked my age then drank a sip of white wine from her glass.

Kurt had the same solemn air as his wife, Otavio did not. otavio seemed like the Plebeian of the household, besides the miad, obviously, lowering here eyes threatrically when they encountered mine.

He meets Kurt and his two companions as things take a really weird turn and things start getting surreal.

It’s easy to see why he has been called a Brazilian David Lynch for his writing style it has that sense of drifting place that Lynch has done so well in his later films where we think we are on one path only to be abruptly turned onto another. Our narrator is a troubled man a man that has just lost his job cleaning the drains and really wants to be a poet the world he describes is poetic as it makes what is a dark part of the city of Porto Alegre. Then he ends up in the mansion with the German Kurt this part is like Kafka in a way our narrator has no idea why he is there other than having to write Poems. The title of the book is one of the poems he writes whilst there. This is a jumpy book that sometimes feels as thou he has taken some parts out of it to make you the reader work like I feel Lynch does so well in his films why do we need to know the full picture sometimes filling in the gaps is very interesting. I have two more books by him on the tbr pile so don’t be surprised to see him crop up again in the next couple months.

The tiding of the trees by Wolfgang Hilbig

The tiding of trees by Wolfgang Hilbig

German fiction

Original title – Die Weber, alte abdeckeri, Die kunde von baumen

Translator – Isabel Fargo Cole

Source – personal copy

Well, it is German lit month and I start with a new writer and new press for this blog I have actually read two books by Wolfgang Hilbig but hadn’t reviewed the earlier book which I hope to bring later in the month. But this is the last of his books to appear on Two line press. Wolfgang Hilbig grew up in East Germany he was initially a poet after giving up his job as a stoker. He wrote a number of works till in 1985 he got a visa and traveled to West Germany and wrote his first novel. His works look on life as a writer in the former GDR and the politics of the time. He won many prizes and wrote twenty books.

What do I know now , said Waller, of the preplexities that came over me as I tried to write my first stories? right here I falter: back then I’d never have dared to put it that way! that act of story-wrting consisted in an ongoing routine of crossing out words that had found their way to paper with no effort on my part. I seemed to have set them down in some kind of madness – I found whole lines, whole passages filled with words what could have arisen in no other way, all I couldaccept was the branching frame work of the conjunctions – and suddenly it was as though someone, not I , had shone a lamp on them: my words, if I could still read them at all, were the falest conceivable way to express what I actually wanted to name

The openiong lines show Waller isn’t really writing at times and also the sense that he could only writer freeier later on in his career.

This novella is narrated by a shift worker called Waller. He is a man similar to the writer himself he is in his twenties as the book is written this is 1961. The Berlin wall has cut of the east german. The writer lives in the city of V with his mother on Cherry Tree Avenue where the tree has disappeared and in their place is a dump and the Garbagemen that he sees working that dump. He is writing a report and also trying to write about the disappearance of the trees. But he seems to get caught in a cycle of start with the city of w and living on cherry tree avenue but never writes any further as thou he is blocked from writing more in his mind and wanting to tell who the open pit min turn a wood into a pit and when that was used into a dump and the dump is manned by these barely human garbagemen shifting through the trash of the locals. Will Waller ever finish his writing!

How long ago, I asker myself, had I last been in that area? many years must have passed, and the terrain had changed utterly. The ash had grown into an extensice plain, leveled, but in contrast to earlier times impossible to survey: it was covered in dense brush, strange weeds that stood yards tall, and nothing led through that tangle but narrow paths forming a bewildering labyrinth. I had no idea what that jungle of  plants consisted of : dry, tough grass, burdock, reedd… things whose yellow flowers caught the eye at a certain time of year, scrubby mugwort, dingy goldenrod, thickets that thrived better on barren ground than in fertile soil..

The local area has been changed beyond his memories of the place and now is a barren jungle of weeds a metaphor for the GDR maybe !!

There is a real darkness and sense of the world the narrator is living in the black air around him the ash that at a point he wipes of the page he is writing these mysterious figures all add to an air of a world where all is not what it seems. A world where the ground has been ripped apart I have seen the open cast pits when I lived in the northeast in the 90s, in fact, my father repaired the huge dragliners so I got to see very close an open cast from the bottom and the effect it had on the landscape but the difference here was after it was filled it was filled with water and became an area where nature flourished here we see the scars opened and the filled with rubbish and the people that live on the tip sorting the rubbish all this from the local area. This is a commentary on the way the GDR ruing parts of East Germany after the Berlin Wall was closed and ravage the land for Coal. The Huge machines that dug open the land like the Blue wonder . Then when they left the government turned it into a tip and the home waller knew when young on Cherry tree avenue is no more the cherry trees are gone. A desolate world captured in a wonderfully poetic work of despair and hopelessness wonderfully captured from one of the best writers of the later 20th century in German.

 

 

 

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