Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky

 

rosado mp3 on the road.

Description: Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those strange misfits compelled to venture illegally into the Zone and collect the strange artefacts that the alien visitors left scattered there. His whole life, even the nature of his daughter, is determined by the Zone.

Picnicers from SPAAAAAAACE!

Our poor human ego takes rather a pounding with the idea here. So insignificant are we that an alien ship stops off on planet for a minimal amount of time and fails to announce arrival. Same sort of discourtesy that anyone of us shows the ants etc. when we take out the ACME red-checkered picnic cloth over their pitch and squash the grass, drop our crumbs and wrappers, take a dump behind a bush.

There is a film loosely based on this book: Stalker (1979)

Three gold spheres as rating:

The Government Inspector by Nikolai Gogol

Classic Serial

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00fvg6c

Episode 1/2: A VIP visitor to a village is soon the target of love and gossip. Stars Julian Rhind-Tutt, Trevor Peacock and Bill Wallis.

Episode 2/2: The ‘Inspector’ becomes plied with cash and love. Satire of civic corruption in 19th-century Russia.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky played the postmaster Shpekin in a charity performance in April 1860

Tbilisi Unanchor Travel Guide – Weekend Break: Crown Jewel of the Caucasus

currently-reading, georgia, e-book, essays, spring-2014, journalism, nonfiction, published-2014, travel

Read on May 13, 2014

 

This is a short essay on Tbilisi available online here

Opening: Lermontov’s house is gone now. The foundations have crumbled in upon themselves; the mock-ups of the reconstruction are now covered in graffiti. There will never be any reconstruction. The restaurant called Pur Pur, with its Victorian lampshades and Friday night chanteuse, has closed down without warning. We trade black-market rumors about the reopening. Of course, we don’t know anything. In Tbilisi, nobody knows anything.

Tara Isabella Burton‘s travel writing and essays have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, The Paris Review Daily, The Atlantic, on the BBC, and more. In 2012 she received the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize for travel writing. She has recently completed a novel set in Georgia.

The Cold Song by Linn Ullmann

bookshelves: translation, spring-2014, under-500-ratings, published-2011, mystery-thriller, norway, currently-reading, books-about-books-and-book-shops, one-penny-wonder, paper-read, abandoned, bettie-s-law-of-excitement-lost, casual-violence, contemporary, doo-lally, duck-shit, families, gulp, lifestyles-deathstyles, mental-health, midlife-crisis, newtome-author, ouch, next, room-101, slit-yer-wrists-gloomy

Read from April 10 to 30, 2014


Description: Ullmann’s characters are complex and paradoxical: neither fully guilty nor fully innocent

Siri Brodal, a chef and restaurant owner, is married to Jon Dreyer, a famous novelist plagued by writer’s block. Siri and Jon have two daughters, and together they spend their summers on the coast of Norway, in a mansion belonging to Jenny Brodal, Siri’s stylish and unforgiving mother.

Siri and Jon’s marriage is loving but difficult, and troubled by painful secrets. They have a strained relationship with their elder daughter, Alma, who struggles to find her place in the family constellation. When Milla is hired as a nanny to allow Siri to work her long hours at the restaurant and Jon to supposedly meet the deadline on his book, life in the idyllic summer community takes a dire turn. One rainy July night, Milla disappears without a trace. After her remains are discovered and a suspect is identified, everyone who had any connection with her feels implicated in her tragedy and haunted by what they could have done to prevent it.

The Cold Song is a story about telling stories and about how life is continually invented and reinvented.

Translated from the Norwegian by Barbara J Haveland

Dedication: For Niels

Opening quote: ‘Tis Love that has warm’d us?’ – John Dryden

Opening: Jenny Brodal had not had a drink in nearly twenty years. She opened a bottle of Cabernet and poured herself a large glass. She had imagined the warmth filtering down into her stomach, the tingling in her fingertips, but there was none of that, no warmth, no tingling, nothing, so she drained the glass and waited.

Linn Ullmann is the daughter of actress, author and director Liv Ullmann and director and screenwriter Ingmar Bergman.

THOUGHTS DURING READING: Not far enough in (~40 pages) to say if the storyline is good or not but two points have struck me thus far:

1) affected, forced and belaboured descriptions that say more about a writers’ workshop than sincere heartfelt scribbling:

exhibit 1: the brushing of the hair
exhibit 2: Liverpool FC

2) too many views of Ullman’s real-life family connections – it smacks of thinly veiled name-dropping and it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.

exhibit 1: Fårö
exhibit 2: Liv

That said, I am intrigued enough to continue on…

Trivia – two hours south of Oslo is Arendal and a spit off shore is the island of Tromøy, where the main man and I hunkered down for a year. Knausgård’s book one of My Struggle (A Death in the Family, first published 2009) was set on that island, an estate just up and over from our gaff. SO, the point I am getting to is this bit in Ullman’s book:

The final part of his trilogy was to be about time. Jon planned to write a hymn to everything that endures and everything that falls apart.

It all seems connected in a plate of worms type way.

Dreadful is closest.
;O)

Lady of the Butterflies

one-penny-wonder, paper-read, currently-reading, winter-20132014, published-1999, tbr-busting-2014, somerset, civil-war-english, britain-england, sciences, historical-fiction, under-1000-ratings, plague-disease, floods, zoology, lifestyles-deathstyles, philosophy, politics, restoration, religion, love, cover-love

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Jae
Read from June 13, 2013 to February 16, 2014
Dedication: For Tim, Daniel, Gabriel and Kezia.
Also in memory of my mother, Muriel Swinburn

Opening quotes from Sir Francis Bacon and John Ray

From the description: On the ancient marshlands of Somerset — a place of mists and magic — a girl grows up in the shadow of the English Civil War, knowing that one day she will inherit the rich estate which belonged to her late mother. Her father, a stern but loving Puritan, once a distinguished soldier in Cromwell’s army, fears for his daughter in the poisonous aftermath of the war, and for her vulnerability as an heiress. But above all he fears and misunderstands her scientific passion for butterflies. Eleanor Glanville was in fact destined to become one of the most famous entomologists in history, bequeathing her name to the rare butterfly which she discovered, the Glanville Fritillary. But not before she had endured a life of quite extraordinary vicissitude. Two marriages and an all-consuming love, which proved her undoing, a deep friendship with one of the great scientists of the day and finally, a trial for lunacy (on the grounds that no sane person would pursue butterflies) are all played out against the violent events of the Monmouth Rebellion and the vicious controversy over whether or not to drain the Somerset marshes. Now, if you drive down the M5, you will cross Kings Sedgemoor Drain — one of the first great ditches which reclaimed the land for farming and destroyed the precious habitat of the Glanville Fritillary.

Glanville Fritillary is what I know as Meadow Butterfly.

Discarded from Tower Hamlets Libraries

Prologue opening: November 1695: They say I am mad and perhaps it’s true.

(view spoiler)[Oh dear, the wearisome has blurbed on the front cover ‘One of the best historical novels I have read in ages’ – let’s hope this Alison Weir endorsement is not the kiss of death! (hide spoiler)]

Part I opens up in the year 1662; Christmas Day in a Puritan household and it is a tough day for a nine year old girl who has to fast and not join in the fun.

Charles II is on the throne: ‘We had a merry King on the throne of England now, a King who had thrown open the doors of the theatres again and restored the maypoles, much to father’s disgust.

Tickenham is a wealthy village and civil parish near Clevedon and Nailsea, North Somerset, England. Looking SW at Tickenham Court with the church tower of St Quiricus & St Juliet in the background. The buildings are now a farm but parts date from the 14th Century

Eleanor Glanville is the daughter of Major William Goodricke ‘of the Parliamentarian army, Cromwell’s formidable warrior.’ (page 14) Her mother and sister are dead.

Book Trailer

A major part of this story is about reclaiming land, the Somerset Levels, and today 28.1.2014, the talk is of the flooding there and the impact of rising temeratures and increased rains upon those very marshes.

David Cameron – Somerset Levels

(page 74) The lone mound of Cadbury Camp floated above the greyness like a galleon, the only easily distinguishable natural feaure for miles.

This was a comfortable ramble for 400 pages; a book that I could pick up, place down and not lose a ha’p’worth of interest… and then came the action.

I had to sit up, back straight, be alert to take in what I was reading. Fan Me Fast!

Both comfy then exciting modes hit at the right times, which makes for a very enjoyable conclusion.

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The Golem and the Jinni

The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel - Helene Wecker bookshelves: currently-reading, e-book, fantasy, cover-love, flufferoonies, handbag-read, published-2013, tbr-busting-2014, winter-20132014, historical-fiction, jewish, muslim, medical-eew,magicians, love, lifestyles-deathstyles, mythology, gr-library, philosophy, debut, christian

Read from January 18 to 24, 2014

 

Opening: The Golem’s life began in the hold of a steamship. The year was 1899; the ship was the Baltika, crossing from Danzig to New York. The Golem’s master, a man named Otto Rotfeld, had smuggled her aboard in a crate and hidden her among the luggage.

Updates:

“Do you know what a golem is?”
“A person made of clay,” Rotfeld said, uncertain.
“Wrong. It’s a beast of burden. A lumbering, unthinking slave. Golems are built for protection and brute force, not for the pleasures of a bed.

““I’m sorry, Uncle, but it’s how I feel,” said Michael. “I look at what we call faith, and all I see is superstition and subjugation. All religions, not just Judaism. They create false divisions, and enslave us to fantasies, when we need to focus on the here and now.”

““In the dark, the enormous marble carvings seemed to change and ripple like waves. “It serves no purpose,” he said, trying to explain his fascination, to himself as much as her. “Buildings and bridges are useful. But why this? A gigantic arch from nowhere to nowhere.”

The Golem and the Jinni is flawed, overlong, drags in places and yet it has a magic about it. I certainly wanted to know what happened to the characters and waited for the evil one to get his comeuppence.

3.5*