The Spinning Heart

 

Description: In the aftermath of Ireland’s financial collapse, dangerous tensions surface in an Irish town. As violence flares, the characters face a battle between public persona and inner desires. Through a chorus of unique voices, each struggling to tell their own kind of truth, a single authentic tale unfolds.

Dedication:

to the memory of Dan Murphy

Opening: MY FATHER STILL lives back the road past the weir in the cottage I was reared in. I go there every day to see is he dead and every day he lets me down. He hasn’t yet missed a day of letting me down. He smiles at me; that terrible smile. He knows I’m coming to check is he dead. He knows I know he knows. He laughs his crooked laugh. I ask is he okay for everything and he only laughs. We look at each other for a while and when I can no longer stand the stench off of him, I go away. Good luck, I say, I’ll see you tomorrow. You will, he says back. I know I will.

Rashomon effect at play in a small town after the Celtic Tiger died, the local employer went to the wall, and rotting canker was all that was left of where hearts used to be.

‘There’s a red metal heart in the centre of the low front gate, skewered on a rotating hinge. It’s flaking now; the red is nearly gone. It needs to be scraped and sanded and painted and oiled. It still spins in the wind, though. I can hear it creak, creak, creak as I walk away. A flaking, creaking, spinning heart.’

Bobby, the main-stay of these linked stories: ‘I had that King Lear’s number from the start, well before the teacher started to break things down slowly for the thick lads: he was a stupid prick.’

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Tales Of London’s Docklands by Henry Bradford

 

First published 2007 as Slaves, Serfs and Wage-Slavery – A Tale of London’s Docklands

Description: Presents an anthology of true stories, drawn from the author’s personal experience as a Registered Docker in the Port of London. This work is an attempt to preserve the memories of day to day life of the docklands in the past. It is of interest to those whose relatives worked as dockers, and to social historians.

Opening: Eric was a year younger than me. Although we had been to the same school in Gravesend and I had encountered him as a boy, we came from different areas within the Borough and never got to know each other for two specific reasons. First, his father was a shipwright, employed by a ship repair company that operated within Tilbury Docks and on vessels on the River Thames. He was therefore classed as an artisan in full-time remunerative employment. This meant Eric was prime candidate for the A and B forms when we were at school. The second reason we didn’t get to know each other was that I was a docker’s son.

Liberally spotted with some fab photos from the author’s collection, I was engrossed in all the little anecdotal stories and built up a good idea of how it must have been working in the Port of London. The overall impression was it must have been a tough life no matter which rôle one worked.

Location 28/140: ‘He never took chances with men’s lives in an industry that had a horrendous number of accidental injuries and deaths. Dock working was always a dangerous game of chance.’

Three canny crane drivers who double up as important bods from the film industry.

The Blind Contessa’s New Machine by Carey Wallace

bookshelves: e-book, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, summer-2014, historical-fiction, love, published-2010, nutty-nuut, italy, debut, newtome-author

Recommended for: Laura, Wanda, Dagny, Karen Legge, Joy, Susanna
Read from March 03 to August 05, 2014

 

Description: An iridescent jewel of a novel that proves love is the mother of invention
In the early 1800s, a young Italian contessa, Carolina Fantoni, realizes she is going blind shortly before she marries the town’s most sought-after bachelor. Her parents don’t believe her, nor does her fiancé. The only one who understands is the eccentric local inventor and her longtime companion, Turri.

When her eyesight dims forever, Carolina can no longer see her beloved lake or the rich hues of her own dresses. But as darkness erases her world, she discovers one place she can still see-in her dreams. Carolina creates a vivid dreaming life, in which she can not only see, but also fly, exploring lands she had never known.

Desperate to communicate with Carolina, Turri invents a peculiar machine for her: the world’s first typewriter. His gift ignites a passionate love affair that will change both of their lives forever.

Dedication:

  for my mother: your trip to Italy

Opening quote:

‘Until morning comes say of the blind bird: His feet are netted with darkness, or he flies His heart’s distance in the darkness of his eyes.’

 — Wendell Berry, “Elegy”

Opening: ON THE DAY Contessa Carolina Fantoni was married, only one other living person knew that she was going blind, and he was not her groom.
This was not because she had failed to warn them.
“I am going blind,” she had blurted to her mother, in the welcome dimness of the family coach, her eyes still bright with tears from the searing winter sun. By this time, her peripheral vision was already gone. Carolina could feel her mother take her hand, but she had to turn to see her face. When she did, her mother kissed her, her own eyes full of pity.
“I have been in love, too,” she said, and looked away.

A tale as pure as the driven snow, and do you know what is even better? – The Blind Contessa’s New Machine is a fictionalised account of a real breakthrough in the printed word. From A Brief History of Typewriters:

‘But the first typewriter proven to have worked was built by the Italian Pellegrino Turri in 1808 for his blind friend Countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzano; unfortunately, we do not know what the machine looked like, but we do have specimens of letters written by the Countess on it. (For details, see Michael Adler’s excellent 1973 book The Writing Machine. Carey Wallace’s 2010 novel The Blind Contessa’s New Machine is based on the relationship between the Countess and Turri.)’

Loc 24/129: ‘The summer that Turri began to visit her lake, when she was sixteen, Carolina had no reason to believe that she was a favorite with Pietro. But she had several well-worn bits of hope.’

Charmingly envisaged without playing to heavy romantic conjecture, this is a lovely short read. Three prototype typewriters that aid the blind.

In a German Pension by Katherine Mansfield

bookshelves: gutenberg-project, e-book, published-1911, tbr-busting-2014, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, dip-in-now-and-again, nutty-nuut, under-500-ratings, germany, spring-2014

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Wanda & TA
Read from May 05, 2012 to May 23, 2014

 

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1472

Description: In a German Pension is a remarkable collection of short stories, displaying all Katherine Mansfield’s skill in the genre. Written shortly after the author visited Germany as a young woman, these short stories form a series of satirical sketches of German characters. From a young wife’s preoccupation with her husband’s stomach, to a society lady’s inability to see beyond the latest fashion, Katherine Mansfield depicts, in exquisite detail, the minute changes of human behavior. In a German Pension reveals her as a true disciple of Chekhov. A key figure in the Modernist movement, Katherine Mansfield is most remarkable for perfecting the art of the short story.

I have a feeling that I will like this ‘write-back’ to EvA’s romanticism – all in the the contrast, what!what!

**Hattip Blair** Also available here: http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/schola…

Germans at Meat 7
The Baron 19
The Sister of the Baroness 29
Frau Fischer 43
Frau Brechenmacher Attends a Wedding 61
The Modern Soul 79
At “Lehmann’s” 105
The Luft Bad 125
A Birthday 135
The Child-Who-Was-Tired 163
The Advanced Lady 185
The Swing of the Pendulum 211
A Blaze 239

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

The Chessmen by Peter May

bookshelves: spring-2014, britain-scotland, hebridean, published-2012, tbr-busting-2014, e-book, music, mystery-thriller, nutty-nuut, gr-library, art-forms, series, poachers

Read from April 29 to 30, 2014


Lewis Chessmen in the British Museum

Description: Fin Macleod, now head of security on a privately owned Lewis estate, is charged with investigating a spate of illegal game-hunting taking place on the island. This mission reunites him with Whistler Macaskill – a local poacher, Fin’s teenage intimate, and possessor of a long-buried secret. But when this reunion takes a violent, sinister turn and Fin puts together the fractured pieces of the past, he realizes that revealing the truth could destroy the future.

Dedication: In loving memory of wee Jennifer

Opening: When Finn opened his eyes the interior of the ancient stone dwelling which had sheltered them from the storm was suffused with a strange pink light. Smoke drifted lazily into the still air from the almost dead fire and Whistler was gone.

Golden eagle.

I don’t want this to be the last book! I know, I know, the appearance of circumstances until now never mentioned when Finn’s background had been pretty much trawled is an author’s ploy to extend a story. Hands up in overt submission, this is the case here. I acknowledge, however this really is a story worth cottoning on to, so put those connivences aside and go with the ride, it is worth it.

From wiki:

The Iolaire was carrying sailors who had fought in the First World War back to the Scottish island of Lewis. She left the port of Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland late on the evening of the 31 December 1918. But, at 2:30am on New Year’s Day, as the ship approached the port of Stornoway, a few yards offshore and a mile away from the safety of Stornoway Harbour, she hit the infamous rocks “The Beasts of Holm”.

The Beasts of Holm

3*The Blackhouse
5* The Lewis Man
4* The Chessmen

MB Entry Island

Stunning photos celebrate the stark cliffs, ghostly mists and lonely beaches of the Outer Hebrides … as seen through the eyes of the Lewis trilogy’s fictional hero

Enoch Soames by Max Beerbohm

bookshelves: books-about-books-and-book-shops, britain-england, doo-lally, e-book, library-in-norway, lit-crit, newtome-author, nutty-nuut, poetry, published-1916, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, time-slip, under-50-ratings, spring-2014

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: ‘Three Brothers’ – Peter Ackroyd
Recommended for: Gerry
Read on April 18, 2014

 

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/760

Opening: When a book about the literature of the eighteen-nineties was given by Mr. Holbrook Jackson to the world, I looked eagerly in the index for Soames, Enoch. It was as I feared: he was not there. But everybody else was. Many writers whom I had quite forgotten, or remembered but faintly, lived again for me, they and their work, in Mr. Holbrook Jackson’s pages. The book was as thorough as it was brilliantly written. And thus the omission found by me was an all the deadlier record of poor Soames’s failure to impress himself on his decade.

A 48 page tale concerning Catholic diabolism