The Third Lie by Ágota Kristof, Marc Romano (Translator)

bookshelves: spring-2014, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, series, translation, nutty-nuut, e-book, lit-richer, mental-health, medical-eew, ouch, dodgy-narrator, adventure, betrayal, eye-scorcher, families, hungary, incest-agameforallthefamily, lifestyles-deathstyles, metaphor-parable, period-piece, psychology, published-1991, revolution, suicide, under-500-ratings

Read from April 02 to 03, 2014

 

Translated by Marc Roma.

Opening: I am in prison in the small town of my childhood.
It’s not a real prison but a cell in the basement of the local police station, a building no different from the rest of the buildings in town. It too is a single-storied house.

She says, “Yes. There are lives sadder than the saddest of books.”
I say, “Yes. No book, no matter how sad, can be as sad as a life.”

This is the book where all is tied up and circumstances appear even gloomier because we were treated to a few strands of illumination in Book Two – The Proof. The lies we tell ourselves and others just to make life seem a little more bearable is never worth the cost extracted from sanity.

5* The Notebook
5* The Proof
4* The Third Lie

Angels of the Universe by Einar Már Guðmundsson

bookshelves: film-only, tbr-busting-2014, spring-2014, dodgy-narrator, amusing, iceland, mental-health, published-1993, under-1000-ratings, translation, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, slit-yer-wrists-gloomy, suicide, tragedy

Read from April 25, 2013 to May 04, 2014

 

Universums änglar (2000)”Englar alheimsins” (original title)

Description: Born on the day Iceland joined NATO, this novel’s unstable narrator worries this and other incidental phenomena into a highly complex, hilarious, and tragic cosmology. More interested in David Bowie and the Beatles than the Nordic sagas that shape the lives of the working-class peoples of Reykjavik, Paul retreats into his own fantastic, schizophrenic, painful world. His madness springs from bits of reality and brighter strikes of insanity. Out-of-work and aimless, tormented by bouts of drinking and ferocious tantrums, Paul walks Reykjavik’s streets scaring his family lusting after women, recounting petty humiliations, and imagining the forces that both guide and haunt him. Paul’s behaviors lead him to Klepp, a psychiatric hospital outside Reykjavik where he plays out his days in therapy and frantic conversation with its resident patients. Sparsely inhabited, Klepp tends to a variety of disturbed people creating comedic havoc.

The Narrative of Cabeza de Vaca by Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vac

bookshelves: spring-2014, film-only, spain, north-americas, mexico, under-20, adventure, anthropology, autobiography-memoir, cannibalism, casual-violence, christian, desert-regions, dodgy-narrator, doo-lally, epic-proportions, magicians, mental-health, mythology, napoleonic, ouch, recreational-homicide, sussex

Read on May 03, 2014

 

Cabeza de Vaca (1991)

Description: The dramatic narrative tells the story of some of the first Europeans and the first-known Africans to encounter the North American wilderness and its native inhabitants. It is a fascinating tale of survival against the highest odds, and it highlights Native Americans and their interactions with the newcomers in a manner seldom seen in writings of the period.

Expedition des Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca 1528 bis 1536

We open up in the year 1536…

This film is, as far as I can tell and am open to wiser interpretations, based on the short report (80 pages) by de Vaca entitled ‘Naufragios’.

Wiki sourced bio:

Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca was born around 1490 into a hidalgo family, the son of Núñez and Teresa Cabeza de Vaca y de Zurita, in the town of Jerez de la frontera. Despite their status as minor nobility, the family had modest economic resources. In 16th-century documents, his name appeared as “Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca”.

he Notebook, The Proof, The Third Lie: Three Novels

Read from April 02 to 03, 2014

 

Book 1 – The Notebook

Book 2 – The Proof

Book 3 – The Third Lie

Three novellas rolled into one of the most powerful reads I have experienced about how ordinary people try to cope from day to day in times of war and political upheaval. Does it still have relevance in today’s world? You just have to look at Crimea to arrive at the correct answer to that particular question: within a week the area changed nationality, a perimeter minefield was dug in, barbed wires fences raised, old troops replaced by foreign troops, people executed or gone missing, certain books, songs and flags have become unacceptable, curfews in place and Whoosh!! a time-zone change. I bet the people there have either fled or are having to use new tactics just to survive.

I’m thinking a re-read will be needed now I know the story; a little more attention to detail to see if there were any cracks I could have prised open earlier.

A fantastic trilogy that was utterly jarring on the emotions and galling in its dispassionate cruelty.

The Lewis Man (Lewis Trilogy, #2) by Peter May

bookshelves: nutty-nuut, e-book, gr-library, britain-scotland, series, published-2011, spring-2014, mystery-thriller, bucolic-or-pastoral, bullies, casual-violence, contemporary, cover-love, dodgy-narrator, families, handbag-read, hebridean, lifestyles-deathstyles, mental-health, ouch, protestant, religion, roman-catholic, those-autumn-years, tragedy

Read from March 19 to 20, 2014

Description: A MAN WITH NO NAME. An unidentified corpse is recovered from a Lewis peat bog; the only clue to its identity being a DNA sibling match to a local farmer. A MAN WITH NO MEMORY. But this islander, Tormod Macdonald – now an elderly man suffering from dementia – has always claimed to be an only child. A MAN WITH NO CHOICE. When Tormod’s family approach Fin Macleod for help, Fin feels duty-bound to solve the mystery.

Dedication: In memory of my dad

‘That is where they live:
Not here and now, but where all happened once.’

– from ‘The Old Fools’ by Philip Larkin

Opening: On this storm-lashed island three hours off the north-west coast of Scotland, what little soil exists gives the people their food and their heat. It also takes their dead. And very occasionally, as today, gives one up.

Mona and Finn say their goodbyes just down the cobbles from St. Giles on the Golden Mile; sixteen years, ~20% of their lives just written off, and now deeper strangers than they ever had been when they first met. So it’s back to the womb, amongst the Wee Frees on the Isle of Lewis, for our hero Finn.

An eye-scorcher that has definitely ratcheted up a couple of notches from the first book. This is a fictionalised story set around the factual and gruelling Roman Catholic practice of sending orphaned kids to the islands to work as slaves.

Sphagnum bog

Beinn Ruigh Choinnich/Ben Kenneth, S. Uist. Strong Roman Catholic community.

Oiled wool Eriskay jumpers: the individual family patterns were as good as a fingerprint.

The Dean Gallery is an art gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is part of the National Galleries of Scotland. It was opened in 1999, opposite the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which is its sister gallery. In 2011 the buildings were renamed Modern Art Two and Modern Art One respectively. The building was originally an orphanage, designed in 1830 by Thomas Hamilton. The conversion of the building into a gallery was designed by Terry Farrell. Since its opening it has housed the Paolozzi Gift, a collection of his works given to the Gallery of Modern Art in 1994 by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi. It contains a large collection of Dada and Surrealist art and literature, much of which was given by Gabrielle Keiller. It is also used for temporary exhibitions. (wiki sourced)

3.5* The Blackhouse (Lewis Trilogy, #1)
5* The Lewis Man (Lewis Trilogy, #2)
TR The Chessmen (Lewis Trilogy, #3)

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The Murder of Halland by Pia Juul, Martin Aitken (Translator)

bookshelves: mystery-thriller, one-penny-wonder, paper-read, denmark, impac-longlist, series, translation, newtome-author, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, dodgy-narrator, lit-richer, lifestyles-deathstyles, spring-2014

Read from February 27 to March 10, 2014

Translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken.

Dedication: With thanks to Herman and Gustav

Opening quote:

May they come together,
happy in heart forever,
who long to be as one!
SWEDISH BALLAD (trad)

Opening: The night before, we sat in the living room. I had coffee; he drank a beer. We watched a police drama. ‘I wouldn’t mind looking like her,’ I said, referring to the detective, Danish TV’s only mature heroine. ‘You don’t, though, do you?’ I looked over at him. Women’s faces shrivel; men acquire substance. ‘You’ve acquired substance,’ I said. ‘Where?’ he asked, worried. ‘Ha ha ha,’ I laughed, mockingly.

This is number eight in a series and I ordered it not because it is a series I have been following, but because some flisters have returned positive reviews and high star ratings. 3* and up is a good result, isn’t it. This is also a book that qualifies for IMPAC 2014.

Books in this Peirene Press collection where the strapline is fab: ‘Two-hour books to be devoured in a single sitting: Literary cinema for those fatigued by film.’

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In the Blood by Lisa Unger

bookshelves: published-2014, e-book, mystery-thriller, winter-20132014, north-americas, dodgy-narrator, psychology, epistolatory-diary-blog, boo-scary, forest, newtome-author, mental-health, eye-scorcher, families, recreational-homicide, revenge, bullies, the-wrong-pyjamas, doo-lally

Read from January 19 to February 25, 2014

Description: LANA GRANGER LIVES A LIFE OF LIES. She has told so many lies about where she comes from and who she is that the truth is like a cloudy nightmare she can’t quite recall. About to graduate from college and with her trust fund almost tapped out, she takes a job babysitting a troubled boy named Luke. Expelled from schools all over the country, the manipulative young Luke is accustomed to control┬¡ling the people in his life. But, in Lana, he may have met his match. Or has Lana met hers?

Dedication:

For
Ocean Rae
I love you like the cherry blossom loves the wind

Opeing quote:

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

William Blake, “The Tiger”

Opening to prologue: There are twelve slats of wood under my bed. I know this because I count them over and over.

Onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightnineteneleventwelve

I whisper the numbers to myself and the sound of it comforts me as I’m sure a prayer would comfort someone who believes in God. It’s amazing how loud a whisper can be. Surrounded down there by the white glow of my bed skirt, the sound of my own voice in my ears, I can almost block out the screaming, the horrible keening. And then there’s the silence, which is so much worse.

Suspend your belief and scorch your eyeballs through this suspense novel. You’ll have everything sussed by the time the denoument comes in the book, however there were some taut moments.

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Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess

bookshelves: booker-longlist, gr-library, vatican-city, italy, winter-20132014, published-1980, lit-richer, those-autumn-years, books-about-books-and-book-shops, glbt, religion, christian, catholic, malta, art-forms, dodgy-narrator, historical-masturbation, historical-fiction

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read from February 02 to 10, 2014

Dedication: To Liana

Opening: It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.

William Foster Harpsichord

Chapter Four: ‘On the walls of my study I had a Willelm de Kooning female in mostly red crayon and one of the first sketches Picass had done for Les Demoseilles d’Avignon…’

Flaunt out O sea your separate flags of nations!
Flaunt out visible as ever the various ship-signals!
But do you reserve especially for yourself and for the soul of man one flag above all the rest,
A spiritual woven signal for all nations, emblem of man elate above death,
Token of all brave captains and all intrepid sailors and mates,
And all that went down doing their duty,
Reminiscent of them, twined from all intrepid captains young or old,
A pennant universal, subtly waving all time, o’er all brave sailors,
All seas, all ships.

Walt Whitman: I. A Song for all Seas, all Ships. Book XIII: Song of the Exposition

The fictional Pope Gregory XVII bears a certain resemblance to Pope Paul VI, what with the dates and the inclusion of Mussolini, that said however, all dates, and the characters peopling events, must be taken with a pinch of salt. One could go nuts trying to pin down a definitive, trust me. All further investigations either to blind alleys or to loose fits that are so baggy that one could be accused of making the scant facts fit the way this reader wants it to evolve.

Excellent language, as one would expect; this is one hell of a class act, however if you simply must have someone in a story to like, there will be disappointment. For all his arrogance, name-dropping and snobbery I came to have a soft spot for Mr Toomey in the same way the selfish, arrogant Charles Arrowby of Iris Murdoch’s ‘The Sea, The Sea’ got under my skin by the end.

✮✮✮✮½

Rustication

books-with-a-passport, giftee, published-2013, architecture, author-love, britain-england, families, eye-scorcher, gothic, lifestyles-deathstyles, lit-richer, love, mystery-thriller, paper-read, period-piece, recreational-drugs, victoriana, archaeology, dodgy-narrator, betrayal, bettie-s-law-of-excitement-lost, bucolic-or-pastoral, bullies, casual-violence, doo-lally, epistolatory-diary-blog, gambling, gangsters, gorefest, medical-eew, mental-health, ouch, revenge, sleazy, suicide, too-sexy-for-maiden-aunts, washyourmouthout-language, winter-20132014

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read from May 08, 2013 to January 26, 2014

 

Synopsis: Christmas 1863. Seventeen-year-old Richard Shenstone has been sent down from Cambridge under a cloud of suspicion. Addicted to opium and tormented by disturbing sexual desires, he finds temporary refuge in the creaking old mansion inhabited by his newly impoverished mother and his sister, Effie, whose behaviour grows increasingly bizarre. Threatening letters circulate among the locals, where almost anyone can be considered a suspect in a series of crimes and misdemeanours ranging from vivisection to murder. Fans of Charles Palliser’s books, as well as readers of Sarah Waters and Michel Faber, will delight in this, his first new novel in over ten years. Hailed for fiction that is “mesmerizing, meticulous” (Entertainment Weekly), Palliser confirms his reputation as “our leading contemporary Victorian novelist” (The Guardian).

Another blurb: Charles Palliser’s work has been hailed as “so compulsively absorbing that reality disappears” (New York Times). Since his extraordinary debut, The Quincunx, his works have sold over one million copies worldwide. With his new novel, Rustication, he returns to the town of Thurchester, which he evoked so hauntingly in The Unburied.

Rustication:

1. To go to or live in the country
2. Used at Oxford, Cambridge and Durham Universities to mean being sent down

Well, that was a tricksy tale, and the core of Rustication being small town maliciousness, ugly letters and heinous crimes redolent of that within ‘Arthur and George’. Not that I need to have a cast of adorables peopling my fiction, however it was odd that there was no-one at all here to cheer for, to get behind. A technically clever novel that was bereft of any heart.

NB – for those who have marked this as horror, it is not.
3* no more, no less

5* Quincunx
4* The Unburied
3* Rustication
3* Betrayals
1* The Sensationist

Any Human Heart

bookshelves: impac-longlist, booker-longlist, fraudio, published-2002, winter-20132014, tbr-busting-2014, spies, historical-fiction, lit-richer, lifestyles-deathstyles, art-forms, epistolatory-diary-blog, south-americas, uruguay, britain-england, cults-societies-brotherhoods, sport, gr-library, france, paris, oxford, glbt, spain, books-about-books-and-book-shops, norfolk, teh-brillianz, greece, adventure, cover-love, epic-proportions, eye-scorcher, london, madrid, war, wwii, lisbon, portugal, filthy-lucre, nassau, bahamas, switzerland, britain-scotland, iceland, suicide, teh-demon-booze, new-york, germany, picaresque, tongue-firmly-in-cheek, travel, edinburgh, those-autumn-years, too-sexy-for-maiden-aunts, washyourmouthout-language, north-americas, music, midlife-crisis, african-continent, afr-nigeria, skoolzy-stuff, dodgy-narrator, afr-somalia

Read from November 28, 2013 to January 16, 2014

Read by Mike Grady

From the description: The journals begin with Mountstuart’s boyhood in Montevideo, Uruguay, then move to Oxford in the 1920s and the publication of his first book, then on to Paris where he meets Joyce, Picasso, Hemingway, et al., and to Spain, where he covers the civil war. During World War II, we see him as an agent for naval intelligence, becoming embroiled in a murder scandal that involves the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The postwar years bring him to New York as an art dealer in the world of 1950s abstract expressionism, then on to West Africa, to London where he has a run-in with the Baader-Meinhof Gang, and, finally, to France where, in his old age, he acquires a measure of hard-won serenity. This is a moving, ambitious, and richly conceived novel that summons up the heroics and follies of twentieth-century life.

In the fashion of Zelig, Forrest Gump and the 100 year old man, Mountstuart is in all the right places meeting all the important people, however Any Human Heart is an absolute joy as Boyd’s writing leaves those also-rans in the starting gates.

Purringly enjoyed Logan’s slamming of the Bloomsbury set, that circle of spite who lived in squares and loved in triangles. Not sure about the portrayal of Duke and Duchess and for this reason I support a flawed, dodgy narrator scenario.

And that goodreads product description box – WTF! It is just a review filched over from Amazon book sales, with its inherent bias. Bad News! Check the product description elsewhere.

Born on April 20, 1893 in Barcelona, Joan Miró Ferra was a Spanish painter.

From wiki: Sir Harry Oakes, 1st Baronet (December 23, 1874 – July 7, 1943) was an American-born British Canadian gold mine owner, entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist. He earned his fortune in Canada and in the 1930s moved to the Bahamas for tax purposes, where he was murdered in 1943 in notorious circumstances. The cause of death and the details surrounding it have never been entirely determined, and have been the subject of several books and four films.

Have the TV miniseries to watch at some stage, however, for now, I will mull over the full life of Logan MS – I am in my weeds for you.

4* Restless
5* Any Human Heart – recommended
4* Brazzaville Beach
WL Waiting for Sunrise
3* Armadillo
AB Solo