Moment Of Freedom by Jens Bjørneboe

bookshelves: spring-2014, published-1966, norway, under-500-ratings, summer-2014, picaresque, noir, author-in-the-mirror, germany, jewish, nazi-related, wwii

Recommended for: Don
Read from May 02 to August 21, 2014

 

Cover image: Frans Wideberg: Selvportrett (1976) 91.5 x 76 cms oil on canvas. Property of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo. Photograph Morten Thorkildsen

Original title:Frihetens øyeblikk: Heiligenberg-manuskriptet

Translated from the Norwegian by Esther Greenleaf Mürer

Opening: During the several years that I’ve now been a Servant of Justice, I haven’t been able to avoid acquiring a certain perspective on life.

Re-booted twice due to travelling.

Our depressed and oppressed Servant of Justice has a very prominent nickname that we are not privy too. He has teeth missing behind his beard and no-one knows he wears glasses because he only uses them for reading, and that he never does in public.

Hilarious, that is the only way to describe this, yet it is not really meant to be so as we are looking inside the author’s mind, and he commited suicide. The episodic narrative becomes more dire with each new adventure. Page 92 for instance:

In the town wall I found a narrow gate down at the end of one of the back streets, and outside was a road which was more than usually filthy. I hadn’t discovered this road before; the earth was black and moist, slippery, polluted. There was a placard nailed up on a dead tree trunk at the road’s edge: “This area is infested with…” Then followed a word I don’t understand, a monstrously long word containing something with “…ixo…”

Doesn’t that read like an old text adventure?

Have marked up the other two book as wishlist, however, unless they leap out at me and at a reasonable price, that is where they will stay. Four blackest of the black skulls.

The Brigade by Howard Blum

bookshelves: summer-2014, wwii, nonfiction, history, published-2001, jewish, military-maneuvers, nazi-related

Read from March 13 to August 18, 2014

 

Description: Although the official history of the Jewish Brigade Group (a unit of some 5,000 Jews who fought with the British Eighth Army in Italy in the waning months of the conflict) has been written, Blum (Wanted! The Search for Nazis in America) breaks new ground by looking into the clandestine operations that occurred after the shooting had stopped. Once they learned the true extent of the holocaust, soldiers of the brigade began using intelligence reports to pinpoint the location of former SS officers and camp guards. The enraged Jewish troops took vengeance into their own hands, eventually slaying hundreds of Nazi death dealers. Blum follows the story of three men Israel Carmi, Johanan Peltz and Arie Pinchuk in detail, interviewed dozens of others, read unpublished personal memoirs and had Hebrew-language documents translated for him. During the war, the more daring Jewish soldiers formed a secret unit that appropriated British supplies trucks, weapons and food and diverted them to ships heading illegally for Palestine The plan included the “repatriation” of thousands of war orphans, who were clandestinely taken from displaced person camps and smuggled to Palestine. The underground Jewish Haganah figured prominently in these operations, which contributed directly to the creation of Israel. Blum, twice nominated for a Pulitzer as a New York Times investigative reporter, and now a Vanity Fair contributing editor, presents the material masterfully, building suspense and carefully documenting all the action.

Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds is loosely based on this – from the US pov only, of course.

So this is the start of the group that were to dedicate their future lives to the hunting down of Nazi criminals. And this brings me smack bang back into an interesting discussion at the end of The Railway Man – would forgiveness given straight away have been a better way forward: the unforgivers turning bitter and twisted over time. Is that how we view Israel today? HAH – big questions and only little old me; perhaps there are no answers.

Further reading is Leon Uris ‘Exodus’

The Brigade is a fascinating, action-packed non-fiction that reads like a full-on adventure thriller, which proves yet again, fact is waay more bizarre than fiction. Fully recommended, and four gleaming menorahs.

The Physician by Noah Gordon

 

Description: In the 11th century, Rob Cole left poor, disease-ridden London to make his way across the land, hustling, juggling, peddling cures to the sick—and discovering the mystical ways of healing. It was on his travels that he found his own very real gift for healing—a gift that urged him on to become a doctor. So all consuming was his dream, that he made the perilous, unheard-of journey to Persia, to its Arab universities where he would undertake a transformation that would shape his destiny forever.

Not an item for the rigid, pedantic historian as there are anachronisms galore. Black Death, for one glaring instance and, wait for it,… the discovery that fleas were the carriers. Yes this is 11th century. Who cares, ’tis romping fun!

That aside it is a fabulous tale fully worthy of an encounter.

Isfahan

Three and a half genie lamps

The Falcons of Fire and Ice

The Falcons of Fire and Ice - Karen Maitland

bookshelves: cover-love, published-2012, summer-2012, historical-fiction, iceland, hardback, paper-read, portugal, roman-catholic, jewish, medieval5c-16c, mythology, ouch, slaves, seven-seas

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Pat
Read from August 27 to September 03, 2012


No dedication
Three front quotes
Cast of Characters

Prologue – gripping, high drama twinned with a prophecy.

Opening of Chapter One:

Anno Domini 1539

The Queen of Spain once had a dream, that a white falcon flew out of the mountains towards her and in its talons it held the flaming ball of the sun and icy sphere of the moon. The queen opened her hand and the falcon dropped the sun and moon into her outstretched palm and she grasped them.

Cheese before bedtime will do that.

I wonder if anyone else felt the auto-da-fé section went on too long?

Some very exciting moments in this story however it is within the similarities of the Iberian Catholics and the Danish Lutherans of the period that gripped me most.

 

On the topmost branch sits an eagle, and perched between the eyes of the eagle is Vedfolnir the falcon, whose piercing gaze sees up into the heavens and down to the earth, and below the earth into the dark caverns of the underworld.” 11 comments

 

Little King Sebastian of Portugal 1564″

 

She was the most beautiful creature who ever lived”

 

Sintra, Portugal”

 


Torre de Belem portugal”

 

He is a Draugr, a Nightstalker.” 3 comments

 

Lucet is a method of cordmaking or braiding which is believed to date back to the Viking era. Lucet cord is square, strong, and slightly springy. It closely resembles knitted I-cord or the cord produced on a knitting spool. Lucet cord is formed by a series of loops, and will therefore unravel if cut.”

 

The doorway to possession = Dyra-dómr of Draugr (approx.)”

 

1 comment

 

Gilitrutt the troll wife”

 

Zaphod Beeblebrox is remembered, lampooned, a dress-up favourite; I have a feeling the characters here won’t pass the test of time in the same way”

 

Ptarmigan”

Solid 3*

5* Company of Liars
5* The Owl Killers
4* The Gallows Curse
3* The Falcons of Fire and Ice
TR Hill of Bones (in bedroom stack)

=====================================================
BOOK BLOG – the lead up:
9/3/2012 email to Karen Maitland:

Hello there Karen,
We* are wondering where we can get our handsies on The White Room, are you planning to re-publish now you are garnering such prestige?

* Goodread readers Bettie and Pat

Thanks in anticipation.

……………………………………..

10/3/2012 email back:

Dear Bettie & Pat,
Thank you for your email. I only wish I was garnering any prestige. But its lovely of you to say so.

No, I’m afraid there are no plans to republish The White Room. It was a a modern story about a British girl being drawn into the fringes of terrorism. At the time it was written no Middle Eastern Terrorist acts had been carried out in England, but events have now sadly overtaken fiction. It was based on events I experienced in Belfast and Nigeria, so was in a sense a piece of cathartic fiction I had to get out of my system before I could write anything else.

I’m in the process of getting a new website (going live next Thursday I hope) and I will drop the mention of the book on the new website, as it isn’t available, apart from the occasional 2nd hand copy popping up from time to time on Amazon etc.

Sorry, I can’t be more help, but thank you so such for getting in touch and happy reading!
warmest wishes,
Karen

……………………………….

Karen Maitland with a side order of Iceland is my only weakness (hah) – jeeeepers this is going to be good. Now I know of this it will seem like a l-o-n-g drag until the autumn.

More recent history: The Order of the Falcon or Hin íslenska fálkaorða is a national Order of Iceland, established on July 3, 1921 by King Christian X of Denmark and Iceland.

The Order has five classes:
Keðja með stórkrossstjörnu or Collar with Grand Cross, only for heads of state
Stórkrossriddari or Knight Grand Cross
Stórriddari með stjörnu or Grand Knight with Star
Stórriddari or Grand Knight
Riddari or Knight

DAY OF PUBLICATION 16/8/2012: You know how I swore that there would be no new books bought because of our boracic straits after crawling over northern europe like a cheap suit – I lied.

I lied to myself and to you.

Just pressed the ‘place order’ button. I can’t be trusted.

23/8/2012: Still not here!

 

A Broken Hallelujah: Rock and Roll, Redemption, and the Life of Leonard Cohen by Liel Leibovitz

bookshelves: published-2014, summer-2014, jewish, music, poetry, canada, biography, nonfiction, recreational-drugs

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from May 29 to June 06, 2014


BOTW

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0458063

Description: As Leonard Cohen turns 80, a new biography by Liel Leibovitz explores the life, work and passion of the poet-turned-musician. What makes Cohen such an enduring international figure in the cultural imagination?

Granted extraordinary access to Cohen’s personal papers, Leibovitz evokes a complicated, sometimes contradictory figure. Born into a Canadian religious Jewish family, for years a reclusive lyricist on the Greek island of Hydra, known for his bold political commentary, his devotion to Buddhist thought and his later despair over contemporary Zionism, Cohen hardly follows the rules of a conventional rock star.

Read by Julian Barrett, with Leonard Cohen quotes read by Colin Stinton.

Abridged by: Jo Coombs
Producer: Pippa Vaughan
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

Episode 1: An intimate look at a man who, despite battles with depression and years spent in hermit-like isolation, is still touring and now seems to be reaching a new peak of popularity. The loss of his father when he was just nine years old shaped the muscician forever.

Episode 2: Despite success as a poet, Cohen feels the need to escape to the Greek island of Hydra

Episode 3: Having altered the course of his life with the decision to start writing music, Cohen faces a creative struggle with those around him in the recording studio. Will the release of Bird on the Wire change his fortunes?

Episode 4: Disasters threaten Cohen’s first European tour, but in Buddhism he finds the spiritual solace which enables him to write the groundbreaking Hallelujah.

Episode 5: Cohen begins the 1990s as a hugely successful songwriter, poet and performer. Yet spiritual crises still plague him, and he retreats to the San Gabriel Mountains to spend time with his guru. By 2006, he’s forced to start touring again when evidence emerges that a long-time employee and friend may have stolen millions of dollars from him.

The music:

Story of Isaac
Hallelujah
So Long Marianne
Bird On A Wire
Suzanne
You know who I am
Avalanche
Lover, lover, lover
Dance Me to the End Of Love
GOING HOME which I could totally see Roger Waters covering

Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller

bookshelves: spring-2014, norway, library-in-norway, one-penny-wonder, hardback, oslo, those-autumn-years, published-2012, mental-health, families, debut, jewish

Read in February, 2013

 

Description: He will not admit it to Rhea and Lars – never, of course not – but Sheldon can’t help but wonder what it is he’s doing here..

Eighty-two years old, and recently widowed, Sheldon Horowitz has grudgingly moved to Oslo, with his grand-daughter and her Norwegian husband. An ex-Marine, he talks often to the ghosts of his past – the friends he lost in the Pacific and the son who followed him into the US Army, and to his death in Vietnam.

When Sheldon witnesses the murder of a woman in his apartment complex, he rescues her six-year-old son and decides to run. Pursued by both the Balkan gang responsible for the murder, and the Norwegian police, he has to rely on training from over half a century before to try and keep the boy safe. Against a strange and foreign landscape, this unlikely couple, who can’t speak the same language, start to form a bond that may just save them both.

An extraordinary debut, featuring a memorable hero, Norwegian by Night is the last adventure of a man still trying to come to terms with the tragedies of his life. Compelling and sophisticated, it is both a chase through the woods thriller and an emotionally haunting novel about ageing and regret.

Frogner Park – Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943) worked on the sculpture park from 1924 until his death in 1943.

Dedication: For my son

Opening: It is summer and luminous. Sheldon Horowitz sits on a folding director’s chair, high above the picnic and out of reach of the flood, in a shaded enclave in Oslo’s Frogner Park. There is a half-eaten karbonade sandwich that he doesn’t like on the paper plate cradled in his lap.

Nothing major at fault – it just proved to be an also-ran in my reading career. Three stars by the skin of its teeth.

Unexploded by Alison MacLeod

bookshelves: spring-2014, radio-4, published-2013, fradio, booker-longlist, brighton, historical-fiction, wwii, britain-england, under-500-ratings, books-about-books-and-book-shops, jewish, anti-semitic, music, newtome-author

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from March 27 to April 12, 2014


BABT

Description: A tale of love, art and prejudice set in wartime Brighton.

“Fear was an infection – airborne, seaborne – rolling in off the Channel, and although no one spoke of it, no one was immune to it. Fifty miles of water was a slim moat to an enemy that had taken five countries in two months, and Brighton, regrettably, had for centuries been hailed as an excellent place to land.”

In May 1940, Geoffrey and Evelyn Beaumont and their Philip, anxiously await news of invasion on the beaches of Brighton. Geoffrey, a banker, becomes Superintendent of the internment camp on the edge of town while Evelyn is gripped first by fear and then quiet but growing desperation.

A discovery widens a fault-line in family life.

Alison MacLeod lives in Brighton. She was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award in 2011 and her story ‘Solo, A Capella’, about the Tottenham riots, featured in the Radio 4 series ‘Where Were You …’ in 2012. Her previous works include The Changeling and The Wave Theory of Angels. Unexploded was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2013. Alison is Professor of Contemporary Fiction at the University of Chichester.

Reader: Emma Fielding
Abridger: Jeremy Osborne
Producer: Rosalynd Ward
A Sweet Talk production for BBC Radio 4

Episode 1: With Brighton braced for an imminent invasion on its beaches, Geoffrey comes home with some shattering news.

Episode 2: After a difficult evening and a restless night, Geoffrey wakes up hoping to reconcile with Evelyn.

Episode 3: Who is the other patient – hidden behind a screen – in the internment camp infirmary?

Episode 4: Relations between Evelyn and Geoffrey remain strained – but Evelyn plans a brief diversion from everyday pressures.

Episode 5: The Beaumonts are set on ever-diverging paths. Geoffrey has begun to see Leah, while Evelyn – against his wishes – has decided to visit the internment camp.

Episode 6: Evelyn has become interested in the fate of internee Otto Gottlieb. But according to Geoffrey, there’s more to Otto than meets the eye.

Episode 7: Things come to a head between Geoffrey and Evelyn. And Orson’s brother Hal comes home ‘on leave’.

Episode 8: Otto has started work on a fresco in a local church. The internment camp has closed, but Geoffrey now has observer duties with the UXB unit

Episode 9: Stung by Otto’s off-handedness, Evelyn has thrown herself into her work with the WI and at home. But can it last?

Episode 10: Evelyn is not at home. Prompted by Philip’s anxiety and suspicions, Geoffrey has gone looking for her. And why is there smoke coming from No. 5?

Catch it here

Well this is a book of two halves. Totally limp-wristed inertia, then, too late for the bailers I’m afraid, this gets an edge that becomes quite compelling.

I did rather dry retch at the Woolf moment though – that was a ‘(name)drop’ too far, and sort of out of context, no? Kind of an inauthentic plot developer

3.5*

Burning Girls

bookshelves: shortstory-shortstories-novellas, published-2013, e-book, spring-2014, anti-semitic, boo-scary, conflagration, disaster, doo-lally, eye-scorcher, families, fantasy, gangsters, jewish, lifestyles-deathstyles, mythology, newtome-author, ouch, tragedy, women

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Melki
Read from April 10 to 11, 2014


Opening: When we came to America, we brought anger and socialism and hunger. We also brought our demons. They stowed away on the ships with us, curled up in the small sacks we slung over our shoulders, crept under our skirts. When we passed the medical examinations and stepped for the first time out onto the streets of granite we would call home, they were waiting for us, as though they’d been there the whole time.

Within a few years, I was able to help my bubbe as she wrote out amulets to preserve infants from the lilim[..]

Bundism is a Jewish socialist and secular movement that originated with the General Jewish Labour Bund, founded in the Russian Empire in 1897. (wiki sourced definition)

Read online here

Spoilers after the break

Continue reading

The Adventures of Augie March

bookshelves: jewish, one-penny-wonder, paper-read, spring-2014, published-1953, nobel-laureate, picaresque, north-americas, tbr-busting-2014, chicago

Read from April 17, 2013 to March 17, 2014

 

From the description: With this teeming book Bellow returned a Dickensian richness to the American novel. As he makes his way to a full brimming consciousness of himself, Augie careens through numberless occupations and countless mentors and exemplars, all the while enchanting us with the slapdash American music of his voice.

Introduction by Christopher Hitchens.

Dedication: To My Father

Opening: I am an American, Chicago born – Chicago, that sombre city – and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes not so innocent.

Reading season? March of course!

Episodic adventures of a boy growing up and trying on all modes of life to see if they suit. The writing is fantastic with sharp and witty observations; the characters are so real they jump out of the page and practically demand to sit down at your table and have a cup of tea.

But I can’t say that I enjoyed it overly much.

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*